Re: understanding neuroscience

Robert J. Bradbury (
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 10:41:44 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 31 Aug 1999, Clint O'Dell wrote:

> It is true that memories and their associations from a very young age are
> deeply rooted and would require a lot of reassociations but its not
> impossible. If I would get a blow to the head now I doubt I would resort to
> the thinking process I had when I was 9. Instead what would happen is that
> I couldn't perform as well as I use too because some function(s) may be
> damaged.

I think, the reassociations don't remove the memories or beliefs, they simply form a logical "not" on top of them. The fact that you can remember you once believed differently demonstrates that.

A blow to the head might not work, perhaps a stroke would have been a better cause. I believe there are cases of brain damage where a person cannot remember any "recent" information (i.e. you tell them your name, and 5 minutes later they have to ask you for it again). At the same time they remember their childhood quite well. If this type of brain damage extends to higher functions such as recent "decisions" or "conclusions", then I would argue that it should be possible to damage the brain in a way that caused you to "revert" to your former belief systems.

> This overlap reality you talk about can't exist. Or if it can please
> explain to me how. For my model says that memories connect with other
> memories. An over lapping model would have a set of memories at one layer
> and another set of memories at another layer and would connect by vary few
> associations.

Ah, now if I could explain how it all worked then I would be a prize winning neuroscientist and not a flunky engineer wannabe. But you can clearly have separate and distinct logical compartments in the brain for memories, beliefs, etc. People with multiple personality disorders demonstrate that. If you want to understand better how the brain works, you should read William Calvin's books on the subject. My interpretation of your situation is that you have two belief systems and that your conscious "natural selection" mechanism (or meme "breeding" ground), allows one of them to consistently be dominant. If I knock out that new belief system or change the weightings in the selection algorithm, then the old belief system wins by default.

> To reprogram yourself all you have to do
> is remember your associations-physical memories, ideas, thoughts, reflexes,
> etc..., and then bring up other memories-physical, ideas, thoughts,
> reflexes, etc...associate those with the other memories in a way that would
> give a desired output.

Yes, you are "reprogramming" the output, not erasing the input. As James Bailey pointed out in "After Thought: the computer challenge to human intelligence", -- "humans have no delete key".

> I may be only 20 years old and a freshman at a community college but I do
> understand the concepts of neuroscience.

I apologize, if I may have misinterpreted how you described erasing previous beliefs or changing ones mind. I considered the description to be of a "physical" erasing rather than a "virtual" one and that didn't make sense to me.