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[Neuroscience] Re: Thought and firing neurons

Glen M. Sizemore gmsizemore2 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 8 10:22:41 EST 2006

"r norman" <NotMyRealEmail at _comcast.net> wrote in message 
news:e94g82tb11t6u2c68lpcu9q6gtu262m6u0 at 4ax.com...
> On 7 Jun 2006 23:18:46 -0700, "chadmaester" <chad.d.johnson at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>When our brain receive external inputs, it triggers neurons to fire in
>>a cascading manner, which I guess is what thought is.
>>My question is, does thought involve anything more than (in general)
>>the firing of neurons? If not, then what is our short-term memory for?
>>Does processed information somehow get transferred to and stored
>>temporarily there? If so, then is short-term memory centralized
>>somewhere in the brain, and then if so, how does it get transferred
>>Thanks in advance!
> If you can explain "thought" by the firing of neurons, then please
> keep December 10 open for a trip to Sweden because the Nobel
> Foundation is sure to come calling.
> More seriously, the working out of brain function involves far more
> than neurons 'firing' action potentials.  There is an enormous amount
> of analog (continuously variable) signal processing going on in the
> microcircuitry of the dendrites and anaxonal or short axonal neurons,
> not to mention all the biochemical and molecular biological of the
> second messenger metabotropic synapses to account for.  All these
> factors probably play a larger role in establishing the phenomenon we
> call 'thought' than simple action potentials.

And, quite often, "thought" is, essentially, a reference to nothing at all. 
If someone observes a rat, for example, that continues to respond after the 
feeder is disconnected, they are likely to say something like "He still 
thinks he might get food!" It does not, of course, follow that there is 
anything going on that should be called "thought."

> Short term memory has many guises and is important for all aspects of
> neural function including sensory and motor processing.  There is no
> one single short-term memory store.

Don't you think that it would be more correct to say that it is important 
for all sorts of behavior? Surely, neural activity will ultimately explain 
STM (and behavior), not the other way around. And, just for the record, my 
view is that STM is not a fundamental process - it can be explained via 
operant conditioning, and "it" is something that has to be learned.

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