IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Metaphors

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, November 19, 2006 - 11:56 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Karl Pribram, years ago, mapped neural cell respones in the brains of experimental animals while presenting various visual stimuli. Some of the "embodied concepts" discovered in the process were such things as line segments tilted at various angles and moving at various speeds across the visual field. Karl Pribram was a Korzybski Lecturer many years ago. In those days these "neural structures" being mapped were not being called "embodied concepts". Several decades of time-binding research have passed, and the perspective first discussed by Donald Hebb in 1949 in The organization of behavior : a neuropsychological theory has evolved since then.

The phrase 'embodied concepts' refers to the theory that structures in the brain instantiate a person's understanding of something. And research since Hebb locates those "strucures" as activity in neural circuits or nets. When a person experiences something and learns, the degree of connectivity in synapses that were active at the time changes, some stronger, some weaker, resulting in altering the participation of neurons in the response. In short, learning, whether it be physical or linguistic, involves making changes in the brain. Any learned experience is instantiated in its own neural net, the parts of which may participate in other neural nets. The nerual net "embodies" any "concept" we learn.

Of course, due to the complexity and interconnectedness of the brain, it is not possible to isolate the portion of a net that embodies a specific concept. But resarch with brain injured persons and with PET scans have shown broad areas of activity in specific regions of the brain associated with various types of thinking.