Societies of Brains: A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate

By Walter J. Freeman | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Intention and Movement

Don Juan: May I add,..., it is inconceivable that Life, having once produced [birds], should, if love and beauty were her object, start off on another line and labor at the clumsy elephant and the hideous ape, whose grandchildren we are?

The Devil: You conclude, then, that Life was driving at clumsiness and ugliness?

Don Juan: No, perverse devil that you are, a thousand times no. Life was driving at brains - at its darling object: an organ by which it can attain not only self-consciousness but self-understanding. ...

The Statue: Why should Life bother itself about getting a brain. Why should it want to understand itself? Why not be content to enjoy itself?

Don Juan: Without a brain, Commander, you would enjoy yourself without knowing it, and so lose all the fun.

The Statue: True, most true. But I am quite content with brain enough to know that I'm enjoying myself. I don't want to understand why. In fact, I'd rather not. ...

Don Juan: That is why intellect is so unpopular. But to Life, the force behind the Man, intellect is a necessity, because without it he blunders into death.

George Bernard Shaw ( 1903) Man and Superman: Act III Don Juan in Hell

The sensory input and the perceptual output of sensory cortex are carried by microscopic pulses in arrays of neurons, while integration is done by the cortex at the macroscopic level (Chapter 3). We derive equations to describe the operations by which the cortex uses input to construct its macroscopic activity, and how that construct is transmitted as a message to the targets of cortex. This is the essence of cortical dynamics, through which the cortex influences and is influenced by the world, using its microscopic messengers on sensory and motor axons, while the central mass of neurons broods like an empire over its roads and boundaries. Chapter 4 addresses further questions: Where does the sensory message go? What makes it a message? How did it arise in the first place? How is it shaped by advance preparation from other parts of the

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Societies of Brains: A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Societies of Brains - A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate *
  • Acknowledgements *
  • Prologue 1
  • Chapter 1 - Brains and Minds 9
  • Chapter 2 - Nerve Energy and Neuroactivity 27
  • Chapter 3 - Sensation and Perception 44
  • Chapter 4 - Intention and Movement 68
  • Chapter 5 - Intentional Structure and Thought 93
  • Chapter 6 - Learning and Unlearning 111
  • Chapter 7 - Self and Society 135
  • Epilogue 155
  • Notes 159
  • References 177
  • Index 197
  • Glossary of Terms Used with Special Meanings [page] 203
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