The Brain and the Book - Session 7


  • February 20. Who Are You? How Did You Become You (1)? We will be considering a psychoanalytic concept of personal identity and its relation to how you read and write.

  • Theme-and-variations identity; identity from outside.
    1. The I, pp. 1-79. Online
  • The Growing and Ungrowing Brain; brain identity.
    1. Begley, "Your Child's Brain." Handout
    2. Holland, Brain of Robert Frost, pp. 6-8. Handout
  • Autopoeisis; identity and the death instinct
    1. Schore, "Comment on `Emotions: Neuro-Psychoanalytic Views'" Handout
    2. Nahum, Review of Schore book. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 1.2 (1999): 258-263. Handout
    3. Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind, pp. 142-3. Handout
    4. Holland, "Again-ness." Online


  • February 20. Who Are You? How Did You Become You (1)? We will be considering a psychoanalytic concept of personal identity and its relation to how you read and write. online

    Question: Where did the idea of a fragmented or divided self come from? Lacan? Derrida? Are we really saying nothing about the self as such, only that we can't talk about the self as though it were unified? What basis does it have in the neurological literature?
    1. The Growing and Ungrowing Brain.
      Begley, "Your Child's Brain"
      Holland, Brain of Robert Frost, pp. 6-8.
          Basic idea: early experience shapes adult brain structures. Note that Begley and Bownds talk mostly about cognitive functions (music, language), some about "social" or "emotions." LeDoux: A special emotional path for traumatic experience direct from amygdala to motor cortex. If so, is this where an identity theme is created?
          A basic pattern in the brain: the inverted U. A totally unprogrammed brain would be too helpless. A totally programmed brain would not be adaptable. So you have a mix, also early opening to programming, later closing to programming. Learn language early--you can't really learn it later. A biological basis for Chomsky's principles and parameters (as Pinker points out).     Our throwaway society. Failure to deal with ignorance and poverty. Americans as deniers.
    2. Theme-and-variations identity; identity from outside.
      1. The I, pp. 1-79. Online
      2. NNH stuff: 5 Readers Reading; Poems in Persons; Shakespeare; Reagan; Fish.
      3. Holism is important for us. See my online essay on psychoanalysis as science: online. Check it out.
      4. Lichtenstein. Use the summary here to understand him. See "Again-ness" part of assgt.
      5. Autopoeisis; the identity principle vs. the death instinct. Lichtenstein: identity principle. All this is very fully developed in the "Again-ness" essay.

    3. Autopoeisis; identity and the death instinct
      1. Schore, "Comment on `Emotions: Neuro-Psychoanalytic Views'" Handout. Schore using review as occasion to hype his own work. Very tight writing--read line by line.
      2. The work of Allan N. Schore. Not a neuroscientist, not in club. Schore is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Doesn't do brain research, but he reads and puts together all kinds of writings on the brain. 2300 references. Monster book. Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self, 1994. Three points:
        1. From the outset, maternal interactions regulate emotions. Baby-watchers--Colwyn Trevarthen, Lynne Murray, Daniel Stern. Specifically, the mother serves as an external regulator of the neurochemicals in the infant's developing brain. This is all post-Freud who says a lot a;bout fathering and very little about mothering. The two critical developments.
        2. First critical period: at the end of the first year of life, maternal stimulation, particularly through gaze, experiences of joy, reunion as child walks away and comes back. These experiences activate sympathetic nervous system. They produce neuroendocrine changes, i.e., innervation of orbitofrontal areas, particularly in the early maturing visuospatial right hemisphere. Specifically, these positive experiences create dopamine releasing axons in the orbitofrontal cortex and the maturation of the ventral tegmental forebrain-midbrain circuit. Ascending subcortical axons of a neurochemical circuit of the limbic system, particularly the sympathetic ventral tegmental limbic circuit. Capacity to form an interactive representational model that underlies an early functional system of affect regulation. Recognition of the maternal face and positive emotions in that face. Corresponds roughly to psychoanalytic oral phase.
        3. Second critical period: second year, say 14-16 months, onset of socialization procedures. Light socket. Experiences of shame, you've done something wrong. Different pattern of psychoneuroendocrine alterations, expansion of the other limbic circuit, the parasympathetic lateral tegmental limbic circuit. Which then gets wired into the orbitofrontal cortex, creating an inhibitory system. Corresponds roughly to psychoanalytic anal phase.
        4. What Schore says these developments have created is a pattern of affect regulation. Now, affect regulation, it seems to me, is what regulates virtually all other brain processes. When we talk about feedback next week you'll see. Prefrontal cortex. Case of Phineas Gage. That is, the feeling you get after you look at something or hear something or eat something determines what you will do next. It seems to me that in this "pattern of affect regulation" he has proposed a neurological basis for what I have been calling a style or identity.
      3. Nahum, Review of Schore book. Neuro-Psychoanalysis, 1.2 (1999): 258-263. Handout I'm handing out part of negative review: summary of Schore is useful. Review critical on both psac and neuro grounds. The neuro points are more telling.
            A tendency in Nahum to reject any traditional Freud. Schore and Solms tend to shore up Freud. Schore is working by analogy, not truly scientific.

    4. Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind, pp. 142-3.
      1. Sez three levels of csness:
        1. Simple awareness.
        2. Representation of a scene or episode
        3. Self-awareness, which leads to idea of interpreters, e.g., Gazzaniga. Identity or sense of identity?
      2. Hughlings Jackson. Higher levels inhibit lower levels. Freud and primary- secondary-process.

    5. Holland, "Again-ness." Online
      From wish to autopoeisis. Story of essay: a grab-bag of theory for a 3-hr session in psychoanalysis plus the new stuff on identity and the brain. That's why you get Waelder and Eros/Thanatos.
           1. wish
           2. repetition compulsion
           3. death instinct
           4. identity principle
           5. autopoesis
      From autopoesis to brain. Important to follow out brain regions involved.
           1. Gazzaniga: interpreter
           2. Brothers: editor
           3. Damasio: core self
           4. NNH: procedural memory?
           5. PDP: schemas
           6. Panksepp: "SELF"
           7. Watt: repetition compulsion, locations
           8. Schore: two RH ventromedial systems.
           9. Edelman: primary csness
          
          None of these is properly scientific--simply analogies.

  • February 27. Where is Knowing? We will be finding out about feedback, schemas, PDP, and modules. BOOK SUMMARIES DUE ON FEB. 25.
    1. Feedback:
      1. Holland, Brain of Robert Frost, pp. 71-89. Handout
    2. Schemas:
      1. Abelson, "Psychological Status of the Script Concept." Handout
      2. Rumelhart, "Schemata." Handout
    3. Modularity:
      1. "Modules of the Brain," Scientific American (no further reference). Handout
      2. Bear et al., Neuroscience, pp. 265-66. Handout
      3. Fodor, "The Modularity of Mind." Handout
      4. Fodor, "Jerry Fodor's Response" Note: read only to p. 135, unless you're interested in going further. Handout
      5. Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind; The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Chapters 3, 10: The Architecture of the Modern Mind, So How Did It Happen? (33-60, 185-94). Handout
    4. PDP: NNH's explanation