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European Tribune - The Other Shoe
Skinner's barbaric personal behavior
As someone who was drummed out of College for refusing to accept Skinner as Gospel and complete a course designed to prove the inviolability of his principles by applying them to the learning exercises on his course - I proved they didn't always apply - at the cost of my college place. I could abide the implicit fascism. But what do you know if Skinner himself?
notes from no w here
This story: Just what does make me 'me'?, illustrates the centre of the 2 polar views. (And I should point out Biological Behaviourists did not have access to imaging of 'under the skin' events).
Firstly the mathematician looking for himself comes to the same conclusion I have expounded here several times. That the conscious self is the result of complexity - multiple synchronous terminations of the various systems of the brain. I also add that the conscious self is 'after the fact'. i.e. it is the result of neural activity, not the cause of it. And that this neural activity is in response to external and internal stimulii that are "compared" to previous experience patterns.
Some of the results of this neural activity result in internal actions that are not visible, but may be detected by the owner of the body. Some result in visible activity, to observers, that can be called behaviours.
Behaviours emerge when the just active parts of a neural networks are reinforced. i.e. new dendritic connections are made with neighbouring neurons that were simultaneously firing (in a certain pattern of firing). This makes it more likely that the behaviour will be repeated in the presence of the same pattern of stimulii. It is this 'strengthening' that can feedback on itself, and turn into a learned behaviour disorder.
The mechanism by which external or internal 'modifiers' (biochemicals) 'switch on' this 'strengthening', and how they themselves are 'switched on' for release, is complex of course ;-)
In the case of endorphins, they are part of the opioidergic system and when released by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, will enter receptors on neurons that are active, and 'switch on' the strengthening growth. The molecular shape of the endorphin fits exactly in the 'lock' of the receptor. Diamorphine 'happens' to share the same shape, but unlocks many more receptors, because their shape functions as a master key. The other hormones and hormone/transmitters do different things, but they all have a reinforcement role in different systems.
It is the 'reward' bit of the Behaviourist/Conditioning equation that was not understood by these practitioners. There is no 'reward' - there's simply a set of stimulii that activate a hormone or a transmitter release. Which leads to strengthening, which leads to a more predictable response, which equals behaviour.
But how the 'program' manages to metaprogram itself - now there's the question ;-)
You can't be me, I'm taken
She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
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