Re: COMP/NEURO: Images Extracted from Cat Brain

Robert Owen (
Sun, 10 Oct 1999 22:43:30 -0400

Robert J Bradbury wrote:

> On Sun, 10 Oct 1999, Robert Owen wrote:
> >
> > None of this is argumentative; but I am always amazed that e.g. every-
> > one everywhere has a chronometry of some kind. Perhaps you could
> > help me understand this phenomenon.

Thank you, Robert, for your reply. I'd like the recall the passage in a post by Christian Weisgerber I was responding to:

>>I find the notion that there exists some universal 'language of mind'
>>encoding system underlying cognition extremely implausible. It seems
>>much more likely that each individual's representation system is highly
>>idiosyncratic. If everyone's high-level codes are different, the
>>prospects for wire-to-brain interfaces seem bleak.

Your observations and inferences coincide with my own, and the knowledge that there are other people in the group who do not subscribe to a "tabula rasa" theory of cognition is satisfying.

> Well, presumably it is "built-in" because it enhances survival.
> We have recently isolated the genes responsible for controling
> circadian rhythms and have begun to unravel how they are
> "reset" by such phenomena as daylight. Obviously animals
> that hunt by sight want to get an early start and be on
> the playing field when the sun comes up. Similarly prey
> of the nocturnal variety wants to wake up and come out
> when it gets dark.

There are remarkable tropistic instances of this in flora, and that is, if anything, more remarkable; in this case, of course, many responses are biomechanical in nature. But anyone who cultivates houseplants is fascinated by the ability of the most entangled plant to reorient itself to sunlight when moved or disturbed.

> Since we have these chronometers built-in, our software
> probably has learned to take advantage of the hardware.
> I've always been amazed at my ability to wake up in
> advance of my alarm clock (if I program myself to do so).
> In theory my brain should be "unconsious" when I'm asleep
> but the internal clock seems to never sleep.

You have applied this concept as I intended to do, but I didn't want send a post of unconventional length. And what a relief! I have experimented with the placement of digital and analog clocks, set the alarms of two such that one is set to the desired time, another to either a time before or after the desired time, and so on, and the result is invariably the same, regardless of how long I have slept: I always wake up spontaneously just in time to turn the earliest alarm off! No one I know shares this experience -- except, now, you! I'm at a loss to explain it, although those who claim to practice "lucid dreaming" or who assert that "out of body experiences" occur in fact would probably explain it that way. These accounts do not satisfy either my curiosity or my intelligence.

> You could say the same about language -- even isolated
> deaf/mute people will "invent" a language to communicate
> with. If that isn't evidence for hardwiring (and of
> the survival advantages of being able to communicate)
> then I don't know what would be.

Q.E.D. as far as I'm concerned.



Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA