Re: DIPLOMACY: Memetic Morphing

Anders Sandberg (
18 Nov 1998 13:45:12 +0100 (Patrick Wilken) writes:

> >Anders Sandberg:
> >
> >It is interesting, but I'm not completely buying just this
> >article. What the article seems to say is that psychological abuse
> >causes changes in mental state and brain activation similar to
> >temporal lobe epilepsy. This is another good reason to limit
> >psychological abuse, of course, but what isn't shown is that there is
> >structural damage, just functional damage. The difference is small,
> >but relevant when it comes to repairing it.
> Anders:
> I am interested what distinction you make between functional and structural
> changes in the brain.
> Even if cells are not killed, given that long-term abuse clearly causes
> significant functional changes in people isn't this evidence for structural
> change?

I was thinking in this context of structural change in the sense of deviation from normal neural structure (i.e dead neurons), and functional change in the sense of deviation of normal function. The distinction is admitedly blurred, and might not even be perfect for a "wet" system like the brain.

> I guess I am understand 'structural change' differently from you. As I see
> it any functional difference must be reflected in a structural difference
> (though some of these structural states may be more or less amenable to
> change), but not all structural changes necessarily involve functional
> changes (i.e. functional states are supervenient on structural states).

True. But many functional differences do not cause the neurons to change noticeably from normal (i.e. I can come to believe that the earth is flat; it is a stupid belief and corresponds to some changes in my synaptic connections, but no neurons need to die for me to think it). What is interesting is whether a certain psychological state or history can create structural changes that can be detected in some way.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y