Philosophers of mind, both in the conceptual analysis tradition and in the empirical informed school, have been implicitly neglecting the potential conceptual role of the Peripheral NervousSystem (PNS) in understanding sensory and perceptual states. Instead, the philosophical as well as the neuroscientific literature has been assuming that it is the Central NervousSystem (CNS) alone, and more exactly the brain, that should prima facie be taken as conceptually and empirically crucial for a philosophical analysis of (...) such states This is the first monograph that focuses on the PNS and its constitutive role in sensory states, including pain, mechanoception, proprioception, tactile perception, and so forth. -/- The author argues that the brain-centeredness of current philosophy of mind is a prejudice, and proposes a series of original ways in which classic puzzles in the philosophy of mind can be solved once the hypothesis that PNS is a constitutive element of mental states is taken seriously. The author calls this “the Peripheral Mind Hypothesis”, and employs it in a vast range of issues, such as functionalism, physicalism, mental content, embodiment, as well as some issues in neuroethics. -/- Making equal use of conceptual analysis, empirical data from neuroscience, first-person phenomenological data, and philosophical speculation, this work offers a fresh look at, and novel solutions to many philosophical problems. (shrink)
Although individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) typically demonstrate an increased appetitive social drive, their social profile is characterized by dissociations, including socially fearless behavior coupled with anxiousness, and distinct patterns of “peaks and valleys” of ability. The aim of this study was to compare the processing of social and non-social visually and aurally presented affective stimuli, at the levels of behavior and autonomic nervoussystem (ANS) responsivity, in individuals with WS contrasted with a typically developing (TD) group, with (...) the view of elucidating the highly sociable and emotionally sensitive predisposition noted in WS. Behavioral findings supported previous studies of enhanced competence in processing social over non-social stimuli by individuals with WS; however, the patterns of ANS functioning underlying the behavioral performance revealed a surprising profile previously undocumented in WS. Specifically, increased heart rate (HR) reactivity, and a failure for electrodermal activity (EDA) to habituate were found in individuals with WS contrasted with the TD group, predominantly in response to visual social-affective stimuli. Within the auditory domain, greater arousal linked to variation in heart beat period was observed in relation to music stimuli in individuals with WS. Taken together, the findings suggest that the pattern of ANS response in WS is more complex than previously noted, with increased arousal to face and music stimuli potentially underpinning the heightened behavioral emotionality to such stimuli. The lack of habituation may underlie the increased affiliation and attraction to faces characterizing individuals with WS. Future research directions are suggested. (shrink)
The target article discusses various aspects of the relationship between the sympathetic system and pain. To this end, the patients under study are divided into three groups. In the first group, called (RSD), the syndrome can be characterized by a triad of autonomic, motor, and sensory symptoms, which occur in a distally generalized distribution. The pain is typically felt deeply and diffusely, has an orthostatic component, and is suppressed by the ischemia test. Under those circumstances, the pain is likely (...) to respond to sympatholytic interventions. In a second group, called (SMP) syndrome, the principal symptoms are spontaneous pain, which is felt superficially and has no orthostatic component, and allodynia. These symptoms, typically confined to the zone of a lesioned nerve, may also be relieved by sympathetic blocks. Since the characteristics of the pain differ between RSD and SMP, the underlying kind of sympathetic–sensory coupling may also vary between these cases. A very small third group of patients exhibits symptoms of both RSD and SMP. The dependence or independence of pain on sympathetic function reported in most published studies seems to be questionable because the degree of technical success of the block remains uncertain. Therefore, pain should not be reported as sympathetic function independent until the criteria for a complete sympathetic block have been established and satisfied. (shrink)
Title page Representational theories propose a set of sufficient conditions for a state to be phenomenally conscious. It turns out that insofar as these conditions have been worked out in detail, the autonomic nervoussystem (ANS) ought to be conscious - but of course it’s not. In this paper, we’ll describe only a tiny portion of the complexities of the ANS, using these to counterexample only a single theory of phenomenal consciousness, namely, Fred Dretske’s. But we think the (...) ANS comparison strategy is a fruitful one in general, and we hope to convince you of this too. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is to present a new theory of synaptic function in the nervoussystem. The basis for this theory is the experimental demonstration that a nerve impulse assumes five different forms as it advances through the synaptic region, and that five basic mathematical operations have been identified as being involved in the transformation of one form into another form. As a result of these data, the synaptic region is regarded as a functional unit where (...) information coming to it is unpacked, processed, stored, and retrieved for transit to another synaptic region or effector site. The data also suggests that a nerve impulse is a bolus of energy, therefore, without substance; that it contains information coded in its shape or form; that it is precisely described mathematically. Furthermore, the data suggests synaptic regions process these nerve impulses by applying mathematical operations to them; that function in the synaptic region is highly stereotyped (programmed); that chemical substances are associated with the mathematical operations. The basic approach of this theory is to regard a significant portion of the nervoussystem as an interface between the external universe and man himself. As an interface, the nervoussystem receives and processes information from both the external universe and man himself in a programmed manner. The interface functions by converting the information it receives into a bolus of energy, the nerve impulse, then processes the bolus by converting it into numbers or functions and applying mathematical operation to it. (shrink)
Neuro-technical interfaces are technical devices that bridge the electronic world to neurons with the objective to establish a long term stable contact for bidirectional information exchange. What does that mean in detail and to what kind of machine and for what purpose should the central nervoussystem, i.e. the brain, be connected? Science fiction literature and movies offer a tremendous variety of usually uncomfortable scenarios including cyborg and robocop super-humans and mass control. Do these implants change the psyche (...) in general and what is feasible in nowadays therapeutic and rehabilitative approaches? In this overview, the author will not answer these questions but tries to deliver an overview of the technological background, the opportunities and the limitations of neuro-technical interfaces to the central nervoussystem. The fundamental specifications for neuro-technical interfaces will be introduced. Different degrees of implant invasiveness will be discussed and lead to a summary of clinical systems with their application-specific complexity. Actual technological opportunities and limitations will be addressed as well as general physical limitations. Current and future scenarios of neuro-technical interfaces to the central nervoussystem will be presented from an engineering point of view arising some questions that might be of interest with respect to ethical and societal implications when those interfaces are transferred into clinical practice and public applications. (shrink)
A new theory for basic function in the nervoussystem has recently been proposed (Dempsher, J., 1979a, 1979b; 1980, 1981). The major basic themes of the new theory are as follows: (1) There are two fundamental units of structure and function, the fibre or conducting mechanism, and the neurocentre, where nervoussystem function as we know it takes place. (2) The nerve impulse is regarded as a mathematical event. The mathematics is the result of a prescribed (...) fusion of energy and matter. (3) Nervoussystem function everywhere in the nervoussystem is mathematical. In the fibre, the prescribed fusion of energy and matter results in a number. In the neurocentre, the prescribed fusion of energy and matter results in a mathematical function. Basic function in the nervoussystem everywhere requires a transformation of a nerve impulse in the fibre into a nerve impulse in the neurocentre with opposing properties: The nerve impulse in the fibre is confined to the fibre; cannot sum with another nerve impulse; can travel long distances with constant form and velocity; curvature in space and time are not significant features; and it is regarded as a number. On the other hand, the nerve impulse in the neurocentre is confined to the neurocentre; can sum with other nerve impulses; cannot travel long distances - even in a very short distance, it changes form; curvature in space and time is a very significant feature; and it is regarded as a mathematical function.The approach to determine how one form of the nerve impulse is transformed into the other at the input region is based on two of the differences listed above: (1) The nerve impulse in the fibre cannot sum with another nerve impulse in the fibre, whereas in the neurocentre, several nerve impulses sum to form a larger nerve impulse. (2) The nerve impulse in the fibre is regarded as a number, in the neurocentre, it is regarded as a mathematical function. The commonality of (1) and (2) is that the properties defining the nerve impulse in the fibre are associated with the property ofdiscreteness, whereas, the properties defining the nerve impulse in the neurocentre are associated with the property ofcontinuousness. Thus, the basic theme of unification of function at the input region of the neurocentre is the transformation of a phenomenon with the property of discreteness into a phenomenon with the property of continuousness. The solution to this transformation is approached from two directions:biologic andmathematical. In the biologic approach, the unit element of the nerve impulse in the fibre terminations (as.u. as a wave of energy, a spike in the classical theory) fuses with a. calcium-binding protein causing the release of Ca++. The calcium ions then combine with another protein. Associated with the second reaction is a conformational change in the Ca++-protein complex and the unit element in the neurocentre, bs.u., is emitted. Individual bs.u. then fuse with acetylcholine; summation occurs andwave b is emitted. In the mathematical approach, the nerve impulse as a number, is partitioned into two numbers with a precise rule relating these two numbers. One possibility suggested is that the number can be regarded as the value of a trigonometric function. This value then gives rise to an angle with sides related in a ratio or proportionality fashion — a relationship with the property of continuousness, as contrasted with that of a single number, discreteness. Both biologic and mathematical approaches are united so as to suggest that the mathematical (trigonometric) function arose as the result of a fusion of energy (as.u. as a wave of energy) and the calcium-binding protein as matter; following this reaction, bs.u., with opposing properties, is emitted. (shrink)
A new theory of synaptic function in the nervoussystem (Dempsher, 1978) is applied to the simplest system for integration of function in the nervoussystem. This system includes a sensory and motor neuron and three synaptic regions associated with those two neurons; a receptor region, an interneuronal spinal synaptic region linking the two neurons, and an effector region.Information is first received and processed at the receptor region. The processing consists of five components:1. A (...) highly selective mechanism which allows only that information to enter the receptor system which is appropriate. 2. The appropriateness of the information is determined by the alphabet (miniature potentials) already in that area. 3. The information entering the system is assembled in a pattern meaningful for the next processing operation. 4. The assembled information is then disassembled into its subunits and mapped into the alphabet (miniature potentials). 5. These miniature potentials are assembled into another pattern meaningful to fit the role of the receptor region. 6. This new pattern is repacked for transit to the central synaptic region. (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to understand the origin of experimental and scientific models of pathogeny of the diseases of the nervoussystem in the Salpêtrière (Paris). I will analyse the role of the contexts of cell theory, microscopy and the advances in histological techniques in the creation of various pathogenic models, based on the concept of the cell, the Wallerian degeneration and the neurone concept. I argue that, as medicine and pathology remain autonomous in their methods (...) and goals, because of the evident degree of complexity of diseases, close and reciprocal interactions with sciences, their practices and theories, make it possible to establish convergences between clinical observations, pathological data and those from the experimental models of pathologies. The search for pathogenic models behaves like an engine, which is efficient in assembling facts, in testing pathogeneses and reforming nosologies, combined with the breakthroughs in biology. This paper is a case study showing the emergence of such interactions in the last decades of the nineteenth-century in Paris. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to present a bio-physical basis of mathematics. The essence of the theory is that function in the nervoussystem is mathematical. The mathematics arises as a result of the interaction of energy (a wave with a precise curvature in space and time) and matter (a molecular or ionic structure with a precise form in space and time). In this interaction, both energy and matter play an active role. That is, the interaction results (...) in a change in form of both energy and matter. There are at least six mathematical operations in a simple synaptic region. It is believed the form of both energy and matter are specific, and their interaction is specific, that is, function in most of the nervoussystem is stereotyped. It is suggested that mathematics be taken out of the mind and placed where it belongs — in nature and the synaptic regions of the nervoussystem; it results in both places from a precise interaction between energy (in a precise form) and matter (in a precise structure). (shrink)
The controversy of neuroanatomy on the principal structure of the nervous systems, which took place at the end of the nineteenth century, is described. Two groups of scientists are identified: one that favoured the idea of a discrete cellular organization of the nervous tissue, and one that favoured a syncytial organization. These two interpretations arose from different histological techniques that produced conflicting pictures of the organization of the nervous tissue. In an experimental reexamination of the techniques used (...) at the end of the nineteenth century, the present study concerns the impact of these different histological procedures on the controversy about the principle nature of the nervous tissue. This controversy could not be resolved by neuroanatomy itself until the 1950s when electron microscopy was introduced into neurobiology. Thus, in a critical period of the conceptual development of neurosciences, neuroanatomy failed to establish a proper base for an interpretation of the functional morphology of nervous tissues. (shrink)
Chaos theory is a rapidly growing field. As a technical term, chaos refers to deterministic but unpredictable processes being sensitively dependent upon initial conditions. Neurobiological models and experimental results are very complicated and some research groups have tried to pursue the neuronal chaos. Babloyantz's group has studied the fractal dimension (d) of electroencephalograms (EEG) in various physiological and pathological states. From deep sleep (d=4) to full awakening (d>8), a hierarchy of strange attractors paralles the hierarchy of states of consciousness. In (...) epilepsy (petit mal), despite the turbulent aspect of a seizure, the attractor dimension was near to 2. In Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, the regular EEG activity corresponded to an attractor dimension less than the one measured in deep sleep. Is it healthy to be chaotic? An active desynchronisation could be favourable to a physiological system. Rapp's group reported variations of fractal dimension according to particular tasks. During a mental arithmetic task, this dimension increased. In another task, a P300 fractal index decreased when a target was identified. It is clear that the EEG is not representing noise. Its underlying dynamics depends on only a few degrees of freedom despite yet it is difficult to compute accurately the relevant parameters.What is the cognitive role of such a chaotic dynamics? Freeman has studied the olfactory bulb in rabbits and rats for 15 years. Multi-electrode recordings of a few mm2 showed a chaotic hierarchy from deep anaesthesia to alert state. When an animal identified a previously learned odour, the fractal dimension of the dynamics dropped off (near limit cycles). The chaotic activity corresponding to an alert-and-waiting state seems to be a field of all possibilities and a focused activity corresponds to a reduction of the attractor in state space. For a couple of years, Freeman has developed a model of the olfactory bulb-cortex system. The behaviour of the simple model without learning was quite similar to the real behaviour and a model with learning is developed. (shrink)
The author presents an autobiographical story of serious peripheral motor nerve damage resulting from chemotoxicity induced as a side effect of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment. The first-person, phenomenological account of the condition naturally leads to philosophical questions about consciousness, felt presence of oneself all over and within one’s body, and the felt constitutiveness of peripheral processes to one’s mental life. The first-person data only fit well with a philosophical approach to the mind that takes peripheral, bodily events and states at their (...) face value, and not as a body-in-the-brain, which has been popular with most neuroscientists. Thus the philosophical tradition that comes closest to the idea of the peripheral mind is Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s bodily phenomenology. (shrink)
Some philosophers argue that Descartes was wrong when he characterized animals as purely physical automata – robots devoid of consciousness. It seems to them obvious that animals (tigers, lions, and bears, as well as chimps, dogs, and dolphins, and so forth) are conscious. There are other philosophers who argue that it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that robots and other artificial agents may someday be conscious – and it is certainly practical to take the intentional stance toward them (...) (the robots as well as the philosophers) even now. I'm not sure that there are philosophers who would deny consciousness to animals but affirm the possibility of consciousness in robots. In any case, and in whatever way these various philosophers define consciousness, the majority of them do attribute consciousness to humans. Amongst this group, however, there are philosophers and scientists who want to reaffirm the idea, explicated by Shadworth Holloway Hodgson in 1870, that in regard to action the presence of consciousness does not matter since it plays no causal role. Hodgson's brain generated the following thought: neural events form an autonomous causal chain that is independent of any accompanying conscious mental states. Consciousness is epiphenomenal, incapable of having any effect on the nervoussystem. James (1890, 130) summarizes the situation. (shrink)
This commentary proposes that “cognitive control” is neither componential nor emergent, but a fundamental feature of behavior. The term “control” requires an operational definition. This is best provided by the negative feedback loop that utilizes behavior to control perception; it does not control behavior per se. In order to model complex cognitive control, Perceptual Control Theory proposes that loops are organized into a dissociable hierarchical network (PCT; Powers, Clark, & McFarland, 1960; Powers, 1973a, 2008). In this way, behavior is dynamically (...) adaptive to environmental disturbances, rather than being formed by, or superimposed upon, learned associations between stimulus and response. (shrink)
This commentary on blumberg et al. addresses complications associated with diagnostic testing for sympathetic dependence of pain that can lead to inappropriate positive and negative conclusions. In addition, it is suggested that their test be conceived as a test of the effect of local vascular pressure and that the two types of sensory disorders presented may differ primarily in the degree of sensitization of central pain pathways. Detailed reports with functionally-oriented testing like that done by BLUMBERG are essential for an (...) understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms. (shrink)
Grush has proposed a fairly comprehensive version of the idea of internal models within the framework of the emulation theory of representation. However, the formulation suffers from assumptions that render such models biologically infeasible. Here I present some problems from physiological principles of human movement production to illustrate why. Some alternative views to emulation are presented.
Artificial neural networks have weaknesses as models of cognition. A conventional neural network has limitations of computational power. The localist representation is at least equal to its competition. We contend that locally connected neural networks are perfectly capable of storing and retrieving the individual features, but the process of reconstruction must be otherwise explained. We support the localist position but propose a “hybrid” model that can begin to explain cognition in anatomically plausible terms.
Hyperalgesia can arise from peripheral sensitization, on-going peripheral activation, and central plasticity. In the target article, coderre & katz argue that all three mechanisms contribute to hyperalgesia. In contrast, we believe that existing experimental evidence suggests that central plasticity plays only an insignificant role in most experimental models and clinical presentations of hyperalgesia induced by tissue injury or chemical activation of sensory receptors.
Growing evidence on autonomic nervoussystem (ANS) function in individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) has begun to highlight aberrancies that may have important implications for the social profile characterized by enhanced social motivation and approach. In parallel, neurobiological investigations have identified alterations in the structure, function, and connectivity of the amygdala, as well as prosocial neuropeptide dysregulation, as some of the key neurogenetic features of WS. A recent social approach/withdrawal hypothesis (Kemp and Guastella, 2011) suggests that autonomic cardiac (...) control may play a key role in regulating the relationship between oxytocin and social behavior. This article discusses evidence from these critical, new strands of research into social behavior in WS, to consider the extent to which data on WS may provide novel insight into the determinants of social behavior. Future research directions are suggested. (shrink)