June 27, 2009

From Barry Dennis:

Re: A seat of wisdom in the brain? (April 24): First, I’m not a neuroscientist.
It occurs to me that the method of knowledge acquisition and the “conditioning” associated with that knowledge-the reflexive action that occurs when that knowledge is retrieved-has much to do with it’s repository.

It is one thing to sit in a classroom, read that the action in response to an attack is reflex certain; it is another, and I suspect more limbic, to experience that same attack in person, and deal with a later re-occurrence, retrieving that knowledge. It may be one reason why flight-combat simulators are a shade slower in response than what pilots experienced in actual combat have reported.

In any case, I suspect that survival knowledge, when experienced in the course of survival, is differently stored and accessed than say page-turning knowledge.

I also think that survival knowledge “goes deeper” and offers greater “reach” in it’s retrieval because of more synaptic reinforcement. It just makes sense.

I would bet that the pathways and retrieval of survival knowledge is more accessible and more rapidly retrieved, having something, in part, to do with their actual location in the brain.

I also suspect that the training techniques of visualization and repetition, perhaps enacted in different scenarios, can raise the “value” thence the accessibility if certain knowledge. Maybe boxers could be tested?
Then there is always the “age” thing.
If the brain and it’s various functions are indeed like a muscle, how do we continue to exercise survival functioning as we age, and what value does that contribute to overall health?

Barry Dennis
Woodstock, Maryland


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