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Neurobiological revisionism

Mark Mattson mpm at seqanal.mi.uky.edu
Mon Mar 28 12:22:00 EST 1994

Michael Kisley (kisley at rintintin.Colorado.EDU) wrote:

: I found these posts interesting and enjoyable reading, regardless of their
: adherence or non-adherence to the strict definition of "abstract".  Your
: post, Claire, is inflammatory and unnecessarily harsh.

: Michael Kisley

In general, I have to side with Claire (although I wouldn't limit useful
literature contributions to post 1980).  Kelly himself was rather inflammatory
in his initial "abstracts," wherein he called neurologists "impotent" and 
biology a "flaccid" science. (This guy seems so have some kind of phallic
complex.)  I think there are several areas in which neurologists can and do
contribute significantly to the health of their patients, and I can think
of at least a handful of procedures I use to answer biological questions 
which are strictly physical, chemical, or mathematic (Kelly's "hard"
sciences -- Whoops! There goes the phallocentrism again).  The difference
between biology and physics or chemistry is (often) that biology studies
systems which are more complex (i.e., not all variables can be controlled).
BUT, there are several biolgical research topics (enzyme kinetics, DNA 
sequencing, etc.) which are very reductionist and very dependent on the 
most stringent definition of the scientific theory.

I, like Claire, would also like to see Kelly shore up his point that 
his topic has much relevance to neurodegenerative diseases, where the 
loss of function is often the loss of STRUCTURAL organization or integrity.
It's difficult to imagine how bioelectricity could regrow a substantia nigra
or enhance the memory storing ability of a hippocampus riddled with 
dystrophic neurons "fixed" by crosslinking of their cytoskeletons.

Steven W. Barger, Ph.D.
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging

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