Monday, December 31, 2007

CNS Information

Suppose I monitor a major sensory nerve, of type unknown. Would I be able to determine the information in that nerve’s activity without knowing the source or destination of that activity? If line labeling is the correct theory of information content and transport through the specific nervous system then I can not. Perhaps the quantity of excitation or some temporal pattern variations will prove to be a clue, to determine, e.g., whether the signal is auditory or visual. But I can’t know much unless I know the source or the destination of the sigmal.

IMPD again, there is no “you” inside your head, and the above consideration is one of the reasons. We don’t know and can’t control and certainly can’t monitor our own cognitive processes. They just happen, we know the input and the output, nothing in between

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Theory of Propositions (Judgment)

Traditional (medieval) theories of propositions resolve the issue into two components: meaning and truth. We resolve prepositional knowledge into two different components: information content and evaluation.

Declarative behavior,. e.g., propositional performance (saying, writing, thinking…) has an informational content independent of meaning, it tells us about the performer independent of any consideration of meaning. The evaluative element resolves itself into additional issues: Truth/Falsity, Informative/Uninformative, Interesting/Uninteresting, Provable/Unprovable, any and all characteristics or attributes of declarative statements and related behaviors. We include not only the traditional epistemic issues but also those evaluations that consider the behavior in a wider context, e.g., social or historical.

All declarative behavior can be divided into two categories: internally and externally determined according to whether the behavior is determined by the performers current sensory situation or not. Judgments involving past sensory experiences are internally determined even though the behavior is ultimately related to sensory experience. The point of this internal/external distinction is that the totality of internally based driving functions can be delineated scientifically. We can thus say what it is possible to say when the declarative behavior is internally determined. This is what epistemology is really all about, saying what can be said, and then selecting among the possibilities. But according to what criteria?

While it is impossible to generate a theory of possible experience, or then a theory of possible externally determined prepositional behavior, (I might see a Martian tomorrow, or develop a new scientific theory, a theory of possible experience is a theory of history); we can generate theories of possible internally determined performance, this is cognitive psychology, evaluating them is philosophy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What is Recognition?

It seems to be assumed that sensory recognition requires feature extraction- the “bends and wrinkles” theories of identification. Feature extractors have been found in the visual cortex at least. So what? What is recognition actually?

Recognition is essentially knowledge of prior experience, memory at its most basic level. ( Knowing that you have seen or heard something before without any further identification.) Recognition is deja vue at its most basic level. On top of this we may have more elaborate responses which are associated with the stimulus: naming, running away, shooting at it etc., but these are not required for recognition.

Higher level recognition processes still don’t necessarily require feature extraction, they don’t require resolution of sensory aspects or variations. What is required is a unique result in the output space, a response unique down to some semi-arbitrary level of resolution of the stimulus. Recognition requires discrimination, not feature extraction or identification. Universals require resolution, counter intuitively, otherwise everything is a particular. The essence of universals is “close enough”.

How do you generate unique outputs without feature extraction? Time could be an important parameter. Time tags on each element in the output space. But what about similarities? Knowing this is like that requires knowing how they are similar, what features they have in common, or does it? Can stimuli, different at some level of information contact or resolution, wind there way through the sensory cortex and wind up at the output side in similar locations without feature extraction?

(Imagine a future dictionary that not only gives verbal definitions but samples, i.e., sensory stimuli to explain or illustrate the word. For red you get the definition plus a flash of red light. For pineapple you get the whole works including the olfactory and taste sensations. What subset of nouns would benefit here?).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Really Smart Things (RSTs)

Mnemonic RSTs (MRSTs) work on information processing alone, by reduction and comparisons, no calculations allowed, except for statistical data processing and related manipulations. They might do this digitally or by analogue mechanisms, e.g., they might use brains or similar biological systems. They lack concepts like causation, causal process, natural law, functional relationship…Chiefly they remember and compare very large and intricate data sets. They use time lines in effect, but have no concept of time or temporal process.

They work like this : Given a problem: “Determine what happens next….” for a particular system they predict the next element(s) in the data set by referencing only the previous elements, and data sets like the current one but acquired on different occasions. The old data sets could have been generated by the same system (defined, say in terms of system components) or by other “similar” systems. They use old data to produce the new data set, using a variety of mathematical techniques to relate system states only along parametric flow lines, old data produces new data, no theories of “Why” or “How” involved. No “Scientific” laws or theories involved. (This is beginning to sound a lot like a chartist approach to trading stocks- “technical analysis”, but they assume causation even though they don’t know or care what it is.)

The contrast between MRSTs and RSTs is really the difference between high and low information levels. Today’ computational analysis uses low information itinerative analysis (e.g., Multiphysics software) and physical laws, it’s RST type of analysis.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cognitive Paradigms

Science is an epistemic technology (not the only one) that allows us to successfully interact with the world. The real issue is what counts as success? Explanation, prediction, control… these could all be part of a successful paradigm. Is simplicity part of the epistemic paradigm? The real reason today we prefer Copernican to Ptolemaic astronomy is that the former makes physical sense because it accommodates gravitational theory. ( Was either a scientific theory? Or where they mathematical or kinematic descriptions only?)

The paradigm for serious science today is mathematical system analysis. It looks as though in the future, really smart things are going to do computational multiphysics and related activities (computational chemistry and biology), to really figure out the external world. But is this the only way- the paradigm of laws, principles, relations and occasionally (only ) heuristics? Can an intelligent system with enough information gathering power, enough memory, enough experience and sensory sensitivity (resolving power?) work on a different paradigm? Can it be intelligent if it only knows that the current situation is like a previous situation and that thus that the future course of the system is likely to be the same?

Really smart things (RSTs), as the future looks now, will be doing simultaneous ( to save time) multiphysics simulations which interact or are combined under or during conditions of peripheral contact or engagement. In other words, they won’t calculate the whole world or even large pieces of it but rather they will work on different relevant sections at the same time and then integrate these pieces of the puzzle. A key problem here is this little word “relevant”. How do the RSTs know what’s relevant? (Think about climate models. City in an earthquake might be the paradigmatic case here).

We know more or less how computational RSTs work, some thing close is around today. Are there any other kind of RSTs?

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Can human psychology be derived from or modeled on a more general theory, a generic theory of agency ( as a derived or normative version of the current concept)? Such a theory would serve as a template or organizational structure for psychological data or sub-theories. But what does a theory of agency look like?. It would have to be a theory of functions and functional relationships rather than a theory of structures or components that support these functions. It is about a defined class of entities, the chief questions concerning which are the defining elements and identifying members of the defined class.

Among the defining functions that would have to be explained are a capacity for action or effect, such as by generating or at least relaying information, information sensitivity and information processing and a cognitive or “intelligent” element. Normative or control elements combined with a motivational or cybernetic modulator elements area also necessary. Roughly, agents are multi-cellular animals or higher up the food chain. Immediately a problem: While the capacity for action or influencing the external world are necessary for agency, this mechanism for doing so has no theoretical importance, could be musculature, hydraulics, pneumatics, electro-mechanical etc.

Maybe agency should be defined in terms of autonomy, of autonomous action, where again “action” may be defined in terms of information control.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Imagining Imagination

Why can’t I see clearly the eagle putt I made on the 2nd ? It was 12’-15’, I don’t keep my head down that long, I should have seen it. Sometimes I think I can see it, but I’m not sure. I can see the second green, I think I can see the putt, a right breaker to the front and on the front of the green. Do I have too many recollections of a putt like this? Why am I not sure that it was “the” putt and not all the putts like that one? Sometimes I imagine that I have this imagination- the recollection of seeing that particular putt, sometimes I’m not sure. I’m very sure of Tiger’s chip, of Seve’s 4 iron into the pond, of Gary Player’s 9 iron from 142 (?) but not my own shots. I can’t even see my own 8 iron hole in one although I can recall I think that the ball mysteriously disappeared on the green. ( I thought initially that it was over, I recall the puzzlement and confusion.) You would think that the emotional tags associated with important personnel events would make the recollection’s content more certain.

If memories were like computer files, each separate even if similar or identical, I should be able to distinguish them and recall them separately, especially if they are time stamped. But it .seems as though if there are potentially too many of a single or similar type we have trouble distinguishing between them. It’s the different content that separates and distinguishes them, which separates the recognition networks. Supports the notion that sensory memory is in the sensory cortex –neural reminiscence.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Visual Imagination

(The theory ((a theory?)) of IMPD is important because this will be the last refuge of serious mentalism (dualism). But the theory –I am the sensation; not I have the sensation- must accommodate other aspects of our mental life.)

I can imagine, “See in my head”, the 12th hole at Augusta National. I see the angled green, but I can’t quite make out its shape. I see the pot bunker on the short right side of the green, the longer bunker on the long left side of the green. As I think about it, I’m sure of the bunker long left, because the shot out of it is dangerous and might get wet (pond in front of the green). The right front bunker is less clear, this shot is easier but is the bunker really there? Tall trees and magnolias to the left, I can imagine nothing past the green on the right. I see the bridge on the left and the steep bank short of the green. I’ve never seen the green in person, but I’ve seen many images of it on TV in April, and I used to have a picture of the 12th in my computer.

How is this possible? Where is the neurological activity that supports this report, what are the driving functions? One would assume that the truly visual reporting aspects of the above recollection were driven by visual memory, by activity in 17, 18, 19 that mimicked the original visual experience. Probably the same networks that were activated during the original visual experiences. But is this enough? The visual recollection seems to have phenomenal aspects! It is something like seeing again but in a weaker, colorless manner. If the phenomenal, qualitative aspects of sensory experience are manifestation of sense organ operation and only exist there, how is imagination possible?

It may be that the description of the 12th was driven by something I’ve heard; certainly I’ve heard about everything I think I recall seeing above. Certainly the identification of the flowers as magnolias is a recollection driven by auditory memory, I can’t tell magnolias from other kinds of flowers on TV, probably not in vivo either. But I am aware of this, I know that I don’t recall seeing magnolias, only seeing flowers and knowing that they are magnolias.

I can see that dangerous shot out of the left rear bunker, I see it from the right rear of the green ( camera position), looking parallel to the line of play to a pin in the right front of the green- the Sunday pin position. I’ve never heard it described like this before, I see it.

I see Tiger’s fist pump after he holed the chip shot on the 16th , I can see Steve Williams holding the pin in his left hand (?), behind Tiger on the left side of the green. Tiger seems to be in black, is this a color recollection or something else? Tiger was probably wearing red. A mistaken visual recollection, but not a hallucination. I’m not sure if this is the fist pump at that time or another one, maybe even a composite. I can even see the arc of the ball, I think I can see the ball hang up on the lip momentarily. Do I really see movies, or just a succession of stills?

Could this be only the activity of complex or hyper-complex cells higher up in the higher levels of the visual system? This is information processing, processing of the phenomenal aspects. Can it contain them in some sense or another? How far back does the retrograde activity go? Can the cortex excite retinal cells? I have visual and auditory sensory recollection, none for the other senses. Why?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The “Game” of Poker

Solitaire is a card game, poker is a card game. But while I play solitaire to kill time, poker is frequently played to make money. Serious poker is hard work, even if it is played for fun. And serious poker is basically boring, a serious player may not voluntarily play a single hand in an hour. Can games be generally boring? If I play a boring game, I must be doing it for something other than entertainment. Is it still a game?

In the $1000 -$2000 hold’em game the other night there were 4 players playing at 2 different tables at the same time with about $900,000 on the tables. The average pot was $10,000. This is (only) a “game”? How would we decide?

The buy in was $40,000, but you probably need $100, 000 the way they were playing – quickly and fast. ( Quick = speed of play. Fast = Amount bet in each hand.) Even if these are trivial amount of money for some people, was this a game? Nobody is too amused when loosing $ 50,000, in the space of a few minutes, regardless of how rich they are. Rich action players do it for excitement, pros do it for money. Are they doing the same thing? Are they both playing a game?

The rules are the same regardless of whether your playing for play chips or real money. Does this make it a game? Hypothesis: Games are rule governed activities engaged in for amusement. (The dictionary thinks competition is involved, but clearly not. ) Children’s play games may have no rules, but must have goals. (?) Revision : Amusing activities with defined goals or end states.

Play chip poker can be semi –serious, we try to acquire play chips, build our stacks. Is acquisition the essential feature of the “game “ of poker? Yes, but this essential feature doesn’t make it a game- other activities are similar, e.g., investing to make money. None of the essential defining features of the poker playing activity make a game, gaming is a matter of attitude, of reasons for engaging in the activity, for “playing” instead of some other type of doing.

If this is correct, how does his become manifest or defining in the English word “game”? Did some members of the English speaking community look at every “game” or putative or potential game and apply these presumed criteria? Did these fathers of the word “game” assess or deduce the mental states of all past players to determine that their motives were as prescribed by the concept in question?

Learning a language is not a conscious, rational activity. Neither is talking generally very reflective or analytical. “Game “ has many driving functions as do most words, the connections between them are tenuous and historical, not principally cognitive.

Language Acquisition as Indoctrination

Much of our conceptual schema is inherited when we learn a language and thus historical in origin. If asked to give a list of games, I might include baseball. But I never decided nor even seriously considered the question of the “gameiness” of baseball. I heard the term ”baseball game” or the phrase “game of baseball” and just went along with it. How much of our categorical or classification language is like this? How many factual or value judgments are inherited in language acquisition?

The mistake here is to think that the “referents of universal terms” are arrived at individually, each speaker decides on his or her own, by their own cognitive acts.. I didn’t decide on my list of games, I didn’t deliberate on the question of whether or not baseball, football, tennis , golf etc., were games or not, the view was inherited, socially inculcated. I might think about the classifications, and change my mind, but generally I do not. I do not judge, I acquiesce to historical precedent..

Is darts a sport or a game? The question of “sport” is more difficult than the question of “game”. Sport seems to inherently involves physical activity in the outcome, the quality or nature of the physical activity is the deciding factor or at least important. Darts is then a sport, although this sounds a little funny.

So you think "game" is an easy word?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Epistemic Terms

“ The mind taking notice of its own operations…” (Hume?) The brain creates driving functions related to transient operational states and other aspects of its own operations –what are they?

The other problematic terms of epistemology: Truth, knowledge, explanation….are themselves nothing but concepts, i.e., words, i.e., noises or marks on paper with their own driving functions. An information based epistemology tells us what driving function they can have, limits due to inherent nature of our neurological machinery.. The philosophical question then becomes not what truth or knowledge is, but what it should be given the possibilities of our cognitive machinery. Not definition but selection among well defined and determined possibilities with a well developed cognitive psychology

Monday, October 29, 2007

Meaning vs. Information

Critical differences:

I can determine the information in a response by extra- linguistic methods. To grasp (understand ) the meaning I need to understand the utterance or have it translated into a language I do understand. The information can be determined by purely scientific, ie., technical, non-linguistic methods. This is how the fly gets out of the bottle, non linguistic understanding of language. Information extraction from neurological systems is high tech in practice, but we only have to do it in principal, that’s why our efforts are philosophical.

Meaning can involve some non-cognitive, emotive elements, information concerns only the cognitive elements if there are any. (Ow!). Meanings relate to other meanings by way of synonyms. Information relates to information by virtue of type or quantity, or driving functions.

“Aboutness” or reference: If I know what an utterance means, I know what it’s about, if it’s a proposition say. Similarly if I know the information producing an utterance I know what its about, this is where the two concepts come together. The difference between the two is that if I know the information content of an utterance, I don’t have to understand it to know what it is about.! ( Here to know the information content is to identify the driving function(s)).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Being, the Absolute…..

“Being is, being is what is, being is the other of nothingness.” (Sartre? I seem to remember this from somewhere.) “The absolute takes part in evolution but does not itself evolve.” (Hegel?) Instead of asking what these statements or others like them mean, or how we would determine if they are true or not, let us ask another question: What information is being conveyed in propositions like these?

Suppose we were to wire up these mighty brains while they were penning this sort of stuff and trace the neurological activity back through their nervous systems. What would we find? The Absolute or Being itself banging on their nervous systems? Or would we find patterns of activity in their auditory cortex related to their previous auditory (reading is auditory finally) experiences,
modified and re- rendered following only syntactic constraints to emerge as a new metaphysical proposition. (I assume statements like these are not the result of visual or other sensory mode hallucinations.) The information contained in or represented by propositions like these concerns only the states of the brains that produce them

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Suppose we monitor the motor cortex, tracing back from the Betz cells ( the output layer to the lower nervous system, everything later is “mechanical”) to try to determine the information in a linguistic response. We trace the excitation back to the pre-motor areas and then perhaps to the sensory regions of the brain. We could determine then, for example, that the information was sensory in origin and that the motor response was produced in part by a driving function in the associative visual cortex for example, say a “grandmother cell” in Broadmann’s 19 for example.

We need not be concerned about the general supporting activity that makes any motor response possible, or about the exact nature of the recognition or recall process that produces the driving function and specific information in the response, these are psychological problems, our epistemological concerns or only with the type of information in the response. Neither are we concerned with the specifics of the response, what phonemes are produced or what marks are made on the paper, the language and all particulars of the method of rendition are epistemologically irrelevant.

This is an important advance over current “input side” empirical epistemology. Now we can say what the content or information in an element of verbal behavior really is, where it comes from, what sort of information it contains. It is all sensory or noise related to sensory information in the broadest sense.

What about thoughts? Do we have any metaphysical thoughts that we cannot express in language, that is in motor behavior? If not, the above analysis works. But even if I have my non- expressible transcendental notions, they are patterns of activity in the auditory cortex (neural reminiscence), and the information that produces them is likely either auditory or obscurely rendered noise in the system.

Friday, October 19, 2007


It is necessary to say that we can have experiences, at least their phenomenal aspects without knowing it. Awareness is not necessary for experience.

Sensory experience has two aspects: Phenomenal and informational. Once you get past the transducer level the experience is reduced to pure information. IMPD can only exist at the transducer level, after that it’s all streams of line labeled (for the specific information) action potentials. Its all the same inside our heads, and even in the post- transduction neurological events outside our heads. The basic problem is this: It’s hard to explain why seeing is seeing and hearing is hearing by just looking at the optic and auditory nerve activity and subsequent upstream activity inside our heads.

Phenomenal aspects of experience exist only at the transducer level: retina, organ of Corti, skin sensors etc. Yet we are aware of it, this is what we actually experience, not the information content. But all responses to the sensation require information and a functioning nervous system in back of the peripheral sensors. Knowing that I have a sensation is a brain operation, having the sensation is a transducer function.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Information is causation by variation, when the variation is causative in the effected system. Information is causative not because of the fundamental aspects of the medium of transmission, i.e., energy, momentum, mass etc., but because of some other aspect of the transmission. Information involves a signal, not simply mechanical, fluidic, or even basic electro-magnetic influences.

Information is causal, in part but not totally, in the causal nexus of the processes the information generates. Information is about process, about activity in information sensitive systems. ( “The stone is thinking about Vienna. “ We want to show that this is false on information theoretic grounds and not simply on psychological- physiological grounds. Stones can’t think because they aren’t information sensitive systems.)” Information storage” is a problem in particular technologies, e.g. hard drives, but is not a fundamental problem in information epistemology. Information is transient process, its origins and causes.

The most fundamental idea in epistemic information theory is “conversion with conservation.” The informative media can be coded, converted, changed, altered, translated, yet something is conserved: the information. This is a new idea, an invariance despite gross physical change, a continuity across process, a causal influence that changes form


Why is empiricism true? Why should we believe that all knowledge of the external world is developed through sensory experience, or has it’s origins in sensory experience? (This second formulation is more interesting.) What precisely is wrong with metaphysics?

Modern versions of “traditional” empiricism are concerned with only the input side of cognition. The inputs to the black box. The workings of the box were irrelevant: science-psychology. But stopping at the input is an arbitrary position, and the opposition’s position is based on theories of what’s going on inside the box. Rationalism is about more than input. Metaphysics depends on a theory of what’s happening in the box, on mentalism, in fact on interactive dualism, although proponents may not always admit it or even realize it.

Empiricism needs a reformulation in terms of information theory.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ancient Smarts

Archaeologists apparently think that ancient stone builders produced close fit in their building stones for aesthetic reasons, Actually the reasons were probably structural. Rough, irregular contact surfaces lead to high localized stresses, local crumbling failures, dust (lubricant), structural instability. Did they figure this out, a rather sophisticated technical notion? Maybe they were going on a theory of geometric stability –easier to stack bricks than boulders.

All the ancients did it, Mayans, Egyptians etc. almost certainly an engineering consideration. You can’t use the same set of tools for determining flatness or smoothness over thousands of years on different continents. You need concepts, and they can’t be operationally defined. Flatness and smoothness can be tactilely or visually determined, but you have to relate the knowledge of what is to be done, not just how to do it.

(( Write Transport Canada, mention Ca Zev experience -$400kk, new occ. kinematics, new performance criteria. Can they cooperate with other commonwealth members, Aussies, Anzies?. Determine total global market share we could influence, NA share?))

Sense Data

A casual inspection of sense data theory suggests that the IMPD problem is not central, nor perhaps even considered. Does any one ask why sense datum have the secondary properties they do?

Dualism will not survive on quantum-mechanical tricks (Popper –Eccles), little miracles going on inside our heads against an informative theory of network function. Network operation is the key problem, especially the problem of syntactic (timed, structured, sequenced, controlled) behavior. The problem with the single photon response example is that in order to get this sensitivity, a whole lot of other things have to be going on, everything else has to be shut down or inhibited. Banging on a single receptor on a single neuron won’t do it, this selectivity, concentration, focus, whatever has to be generated by a whole lot of other activity. Focus or sensitivity has to be dialed in, that’s the problem, the system is too sensitive and has to be globally inhibited, that’s why we have GABA all over the place.

If a sufficient amount of GABA is lacking, however, the system goes out of whack, and tens of thousands of neurons send messages rapidly, intensely and simultaneously, resulting in a seizure.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Moving the experiential level out to the sensors does no good. Its still the same sort of neuro- biochemistry out there. Moving it to the interphase level would seem to be required.

This is the best argument yet for the ghost in the machine, but the ghost has to have a really great home entertainment system for presenting the external world show. Introducing the ghost here really only ends the explanation, metaphysics as the terminator of enquiry rather than as an initiator- a god of the gaps introduced at some electro-physiological level.

The problem is that it is not clear what sort of account of the variations in neural network activity could be seen as sufficient explanation for IMPD. IMPDs are as different as different gets, comparisons are impossible, yet the underlying physiology does not seem to admit to this order of qualitative difference

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Perhaps the closest conventional notion to a driving function is denoted by the term “concept”. Most (all?) concepts are universals, so we are dealing with the notion of universals or universal terms. But there is a problem. “Red”, phonetically, may denote a color, a communist, or the past tense of “read (ing)”. Alphabetically, the choices are fewer, but the problem still remains. Concepts are not motor engrams, neither are driving functions.

Driving functions select but do not generate motor behavior (alone), in this they are like concepts. They are cognitive (i.e., including or using specific, situational information ) determinants of behavior. Concepts are conglomerations of driving functions Note that my concept of the color red may include my capability to visually perceive and recognize it, as well as my understanding that it is associated with light of a certain wavelength and the fact that ripe apples are frequently red. The first aspect of my mastery of this concept is determined by the operation of my visual system and a driving function that involves color detection/ recognition processes. The later two aspects are part of a knowledge base probably stored in auditory memory. Different brain areas, different driving functions, but all part of the same concept.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


The nervous system seems to work by disinhibition (Deutche). To keep very sensitive electro-chemical elements from going off at random due to noise or even thermal effects and still maintain sensitivity the whole system must be under constant inhibition. Function then requires disinhibition, How does this work?. Does the nervous system inhibit the inhibitors? But for a response the causal information must be in some sense specific, the recognition network at least must effect its own disinhibition. Or is the disinhibition more global? Perhaps a visual stimulus disinhibits the entire visual cortex, the specific recognition network activated depending on the precise nature of the stimulus. But what about motor output? Several possibilities: 1. the entire motor system is disinhibited, 2.the specific response network is disinhibited by its own activity, 3. the recognition network disinhibits the specific response network due to a previous learning process.

" The cortical motor system of primates is formed by a mosaic of anatomically and functionally distinct areas. These areas are not only involved in motor functions, but also play a role in functions formerly attributed to higher order associative cortical areas. In the present review, we discuss three types of higher functions carried out by the motor cortical areas: sensory-motor transformations, action understanding, and decision processing regarding action execution. We submit that generating internal representations of actions is central to cortical motor function. External contingencies and motivational factors determine then whether these action representations are transformed into actual actions.. "Rizzolatti G, Luppino G., The cortical motor system. Neuron. 2001 Sep 27;31(6):889-901.

What is an “ internal representation” of an action? Consider a simple verbal response to a question: “What color is it?” – “Red” We can say the response, sign the response, write the response with either hand, scratch it in the dirt with a stick, trace it in the sand with our feet. The motor responses are highly variable potentially. What do they all have in common?

Many of these responses are similar from a motor behavior point of view –writing or scratching or tracing- yet not identical from a mechanical point of view. There are at least two different response modalities- vocal, mechanical. Is there, can there be a common neurological element after the visual recognition process, that is common to all of them? Something which is producing the response, or driving the response network, a driving operation or “driving function”?


The most fundamental fact about sensory experiences, aside from the fact that we have them, is that they are all qualitatively different. Hearing the violin is nothing at all like seeing it which is nothing at all like touching it or smelling the varnish on it. Sensory modalities are fundamentally different experientially, yet this is hard to explain on the neurological level. Let us call these differences: Inter- Modal Phenomenal Differences, or IMPD.

Neurological activity is all basically sodium cations flowing through semi- permeable membranes. The patterns may change, but so what? Is this suppose to account for IMPD? Why is a pattern of activity in the auditory cortex so different at the experiential level from a pattern of activity in the visual cortex? The sensory organs are different off course, but we are not aware of the states of our sensory organs without higher level neurological activity. Further, from brain stimulation experiments, it looks like we can have sensory experience without sensory organ simulation. (Is there retrograde activity out this far with direct electrical simulation of the brain?)

Am I directly aware of the state of my sensory organs? This would seem hard to maintain. It would seem that I am the sensation in that having the sensation is a state that I’m in, I am the sensing thing and the sensation. The total state of the organism is that of having or being aware of the sensation. If –sense organ stimulation and central neurological activity apart, each separately, are not enough for experience , which seems likely.

Can brain stimulated people know that their current experience is different from that which occurs due to external stimulation? They can figure it out by consideration of their total situation –“I’m in an operating room now, not out in the woods listening to a bubbling brook”, but they cannot sense the difference.