Research Center for Neuroscience

Mahidol University
Wisdom of the Land

by Akara Metasuk

Memory science before 21 century.
Research Center for Neuroscience, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, Thailand E-mail: 7 March 2013


efore the brain is known, the concept of the mind has been discussed by various groups of philosophers. The mind is sometimes tied to the concept of thinking such that we say “I have nothing on my mind.” meaning we don’t have any idea or any thinking. Dualism and Monism were developed early in history to explain how the mind works. Later, these concepts come to a great debate called the mind-body problem among philosophers and scientists. Perspectives of mind in religious views are also diverse, and they grew their roots on people in different continents. Mind, once was an untouchable concept, may have become a concrete object such that can be explained by today’s neuroscientists. Moreover, there may remain some interesting problems to be solved since Quantum Mechanics play an overlapping concept about the mind in some other ways.
is that the atom in Atomistic Buddhism is also energy, nonphysical. In early periods of the philosophy of mind, Dualism is between the nonphysical mind and the physical body, so-called the mind-body Dualism. The argument about mind-body plays a significant role in the understanding of how the brain works. The mind-body problem is set between two major believes, Dualism and Monism. Dualism’s question is about how the physical cells or electrochemical process can trigger consciousness. René Descartes may be the first who stated mind-body Dualism in an organized way in 1641.(1) He distinguished the mind from the brain, and considered the brain as only the seat of intelligence. Dualism states that the mind which represents the self is the soul, not the brain. Unlike Dualism, Monism does not divide the concept into two. Physicalistic Monism is the most talked-about one. It says that the only substance is physical which can be experimented in science. As a scientist, what cannot be proven of existence cannot be said that it exists, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there either. Like the non-physical soul, its existence is not proven in science, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This problem is still kept for further discoveries, but before that, scientists have associated many aspects of the brain that is devoted for the mind. If we change the brain, we change the mind. If we destroy the brain, we destroy the mind. It is no doubt that the brain is important for the functions of the mind, consciousness, and learning. learning. Disabilities of learning may be a normal issue in some children, but these children may develop their disabilities because they are deflecting in different processes of memory. In addition, learning is usually studied together with memory in the field that these two words are often used together as “learning and memory”. Scientists have studied behaviors and learning processes of animals for decades, and they have categorized learning by the complexity of the process; basically nonassociative learning, which can be found from lower invertebrates to vertebrates, and associative learning, which is the core value of higher animals and human beings. Basically, habituation and sensitization are the two opposite learning patterns in non-associative learning. Habituation is the learning that the behavioral response is decreasing with the time of stimulus repetition. The stimuli can be rewarding or harmful to the animal. An example for this can be a bird and a passerby. At first, the bird may fly away from the passer-by because it perceives human as a harmful stimulus. If the passer-by does not harm the bird, then later the bird will decrease its response and finally stop flying away. This also applies when the bird is presented with some food in a closed box. If the bird cannot eat the food, finally it will not pay attention to the food in that box. Habituation is basic in animals and some protozoan. Another type of non-associative learning is sensitization. In this concept, the organisms respond more dramatically through the time of exposure to external stimulation. This can be explained by a passer-by that walks to a group of birds. At first, the birds may not feel scared of the man and just enjoy their food. If the man continues walking into the flock of birds or act offensively, the birds may fly away, and finally, if repeated, they will never get along with the passer-by. Another example can be the sensitization that occurs in the peripheral nerves of human when we rub our arms. At first it can
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Monism and Dualism
Monism explains that everything in the universe is held by unity. This is the main concept of Brahman in Hinduism and the “emptiness” of the nature of the world in Buddhism. In epistemological idealism, it is believed that all is in and of the mind, meaning that man is God since God is also in the mind. Monism concept can be divided to Idealism, Neutralism, and Physicalism. Idealism Monism concept is focused to the mind. Only the mind is real. Unlike Physicalism which believes that only the physical is real. The mind can be reduced to the physical. On the other hand, Neutral Monism made up a new substance which holds the mind and the physical together. This substance can be energy or another unknown object. According to the branches of Monism, Physicalism may be the idea that is closest in meaning to the discoveries in sciences today which will be discussed later in this chapter. All kinds of Monism are contradictory to the belief about spirituality, which is the root of Dualism. Dualism, which holds belief about the existence of two different objects, not one, is a basis in religions and sciences too. It explains religious views about good and evil, moral and immoral. It also extends in Chinese philosophy and expresses basically as the principles of Yin and Yang, female and male, dark and light, or passive and active in Taoism and Confucianism. The existence of Dualism usually discuss about the existence of two different objects as the key of equilibrium homeostasis. As science developed, Dualism also takes its steps in explaining how the mind works. Atomistic Buddhism believes about the Dualism between the nonphysical consciousness and the nonphysical atom. Please note that the Dualism in Buddhism is very close to the belief in western philosophy that separate the mind, or the consciousness, from the brain, or the atom. The big difference

Learning and Memory
Learning is a change in an organism’s behavior which occurs because of the external stimuli, usually by acquiring information, but not by chemicals or drugs. Learning cannot occur if the organism cannot encode or recall the information. That’s why memory is one basic abilities the organism need to have for their

This is a personal, non-commercial article. The author declare no conflicts of interst.

the forward conditioning and the backward conditioning. Stuart Hameroff RP. Konrad Lorenz . Kandel ER. Available from: http://renedescartes. the animal will have a CR for the CS. in 1949. It was demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov in 1927. 5. The author declare no conflicts of nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1973/lorenz.nobelprize.(2) He found that the new-born geese could imprint the first moving stimulus they saw in 13-16 hours after hatching. This can result as being sexual attracted to each other. 2002:46-86. and the synaptic signaling.html. This is a personal.UR) can be collected when an organism receives an unconditional stimulus (US). wire together”. He called this period the critical period for imprinting. 12. Foundation TN.nobelprize. html.(7) Gene expression and chemical signaling are the basic building blocks for the understanding of how neurons communicate. Barco A. Psychology TGC. 10. Forward conditioning is the process of associational learning that the US is paired with the CS. It uses reinforcement of punishment to associate the animal’s action and a stimulus. This is the conditional response (CR) and the neutral stimulus now becomes a conditional stimulus (CS). but the CS is presented after the US.(6) supported this idea by introducing Hebbian theory which stated that cells may grow new connections to enhance the ability to communicate which is summarized by Carla Shatz as “Cells that fire together. but later it turns to pain.97(6):1520-33. a box with water-splashing rooms may generate punishment Operant conditioning in the way that the organism learns not to enter the water-splashing rooms. 2003 [updated 2003 14 April 2003. Harvard Magazine. and the CS is presented before the US. When an US is presented repeatedly along with the neutral stimulus.210(3):174-91. Ivan Pavlov Biography1904 [cited 2012 18 July]: Available from: http://www. References 1. It happens to two people who live in Biol Bull. The reinforcement can be positive or negative.(3-4) Natural response (Unconditional response . Quantum Brain Dynamics2012 [cited 2012 18 July]: Available from: http://www. 1987. Montminy MR. that assumes the consciousness is from the brain. It differs from classical conditioning in the way that classical conditioning associates two stimuli. His discoveries also support the Hebbian theory. Backward conditioning is in reverse. The response of the organism to backward conditioning is different from forward conditioning. the US is paired with the CS. Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch-OR). The study of memory and the mind is not limited to only biological fields but also extends to quantum mechanics. Available from: Dr. Imprinting is also the basic explanation for sexual fetishism in the way that organisms learn the characteristics of their mates or become sexually attracted to particular objects or situations. The example for the reinforcement Operant conditioning is the Skinner box with a feeding bar.Biography1906 [cited 2012 18 July]: Available from: http://www. It was proposed by Santiago Ramón y Cajal that the mechanism of learning do not require the formation of new neurons. The presence of the CS will inhibit the response instead of triggering it. The quantum mind is a hypothesis that uses quantum mechanical phenomena to explain the states of brain functions. Nature. 9.ivanpavlov. Imprinting is when the characteristics of one stimulus are associated with the other stimuli. It was studied extensively by Konrad Lorenz who worked with geese.(11) Mathematics is the tool they used for considering the computation of synaptic communication of neurons. The cortical field interacts with neurons.Autobiography1973 [cited 2012 18 July]: Available from: http://www. In contrast to reinforcement Operant conditioning.quantumconsciousness. If the learning This kind of learning requires the association between two stimuli or behaviors. Cellular/submolecular level of memory Knowing how the brain works in behavioral aspects. 8. the activities of ion channels. the pathways of chemical messaging in neurons were drawn to almost completion by Eric Richard Kandel in 2000(9-10). Hiroomi Umezawa and Herbert Fröhlich introduced Quantum Brain Dynamics theory (QBD) to relate water molecules to the function of the brain.html/. Positive reinforcement occurs when a reward is presented after the animal’s action. 11. Hawkins RD. Bailey CH. In 1960. 2002 [updated 2002 9 December 2002. 2. Page 2 . Molecular mechanisms of memory storage in Aplysia. Bailey CH. 6. Ivan Patrovich Pavlov. Thomas P. not a stimulus with the animal’s action.(5) Donald Classical conditioning may be done in two ways.328(6126):175-8.Mahidol University Wisdom of the Land be warm. Orchestrated Objective Reduction of Quantum Coherence in Brain Microtubules: The “Orch OR” Model for Consciousness1996 [cited 2012 18 July]: Available from: http://www. non-commercial article. 2006. Brainy Women. Foundation TN. J Neurochem.(12) Since the brain is 70% water. RENÉ DESCARTES. Operant conditioning is another associative learning very similar to classical conditioning. scientists have tried to uncover how the memory is processed in cellular level. html. Binding of a nuclear protein to the cyclicAMP response element of the somatostatin gene. Westermarck effect can also be explained by imprinting. and no UR should be seen with a neutral stimulus. 3. Common molecular mechanisms in explicit and implicit memory. the organism may associate the US and the neutral stimulus and later can have a response to neutral stimulus just like how it responds to the US. Bilezikjian LM. The association usually occur rapidly particularly after birth or at a particular age. Donald it is possible that water molecules generate quantum field or the cortical field for the brain. The molecular waves are proposed to be the driving force for ATP. Negative reinforcement is when a removal of aversive stimulus is done after the animal’s action. An organism may learn by associating the action of knocking the bar and the food stimulus. cited 2012 18 July]. html. 4. 7. Foundation TN. Kandel ER. Research Center for Neuroscience While habituation and sensitization is seen basic in animals. 2005-2008. The first studied associative learning is imprinting. associative learning can be found only in higher animals. Classical conditioning or Pavlovian conditioning is another associative learning that associates two unrelated stimuli. Mind Q. Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff in 1931 stated a theory.quantum-mind. cited 2012 18 July]. After the discovery of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) in 1987(8). and that needs more complex neuronal connection. Santiago Ramón y Cajal .org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1906/cajal-bio.

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