Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Advancing the Theory of Driving Functions

How is it possible to answer a question like “Do you hear anything?’ We can imagine a test in which a screen flashes this question to a subject wearing headphones who is suppose to press a button, yes or no. This audiologist test does not require that the sound be identified, only that the subject knows that there is a detectible sound. His responses then are not being determined by a recognition network but by some network capable of determining the level of activity in the auditory cortex, let us assume. We can imagine other minimal level of stimulus tests for the other sensory modalities as well. How is a driving function generated in situations like this?

Consider also responses determined by quantitative variations in the stimulus. How do we know, which is to say : How can we say…that the amplitude of a stimulus has changed even if the stimulus has no name, does not trigger a particular recognition network? Perhaps this reflects some pattern of activity in the sensory organs, something is switched on or off as the quantity of stimulus changes. But we can probably judge variations. Values along a continuum as well, so on/off theories are problematic. We imagine we can do this for stimuli which are not dangerous or painful so that protection mechanisms are not triggered.

There is no reason to think a priori that only specific stimuli or memories can serve as driving functions. We note here that driving functions are convenient abstractions or simplifications, macroscopic summations on microscopic events, somewhat analogous to Newtonian forces. Consider a pressure or impact force in Newtonian mechanics, they are summations of the large numbers of electro-magnetic influences.at the point(s) of contact. Newtonian forces are somewhat of a fiction. Driving functions are more real.

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