Voluntary vs. Involuntary Emotions

[From Erling Jorgensen (961020.0115 CDT)

Bill Powers (961017.0150 MDT)

I keep pretty late hours, too -- especially with some of the fascinating
posts of late!

I appreciate the discussions that have been going on regarding emotion,
and found this post a really helpful synthesization. I, too, have had
the sense that the various positions of Bruce and Martin and you don't
have to be at odds. Even Hans' notion of the ionic requirements of
cellular control systems is not that far away from the "intrinsic
variables" of a reorganizing system.

I want to respond to a few assorted things:

it's asking a lot of an inherited system that it know WHY something is
going wrong

Agreed. In fact, we don't ask that of any single control system,
inherited or learned. Control systems work by knowing THAT something
is going wrong; that is all they are wired to detect. (Detect may be
the wrong word there -- it seems, errors are "constructed," not
discovered, via the "wiring" itself.)

This is akin to the "meaning" question: what does any signal mean? It
is what it is, a scalar quantity. The meaning is primarily the functional
question of _where_ in the control loop is the signal occuring. Only
secondarily is meaning tied to the "amount" of the signal, or the "net
report" of its input functions.

So what can keep the reorganizing system asleep? The learned hierarchy
of control systems. The whole point of building the learned hierarchy

This was the way I understood Hans Blom's remarks about the brain being
the "servant" of the cellular control systems, though he used a lot of
polemical poetics to get the point across.

(Continuing your previous quote:)

And with my identification, that means that its
point, its principal effect, is to PREVENT BAD EMOTIONS.

Gee, maybe counseling has a pretty high calling, if it's an adjunct to
the whole learned hierarchy... :slight_smile:

(Re: crying:)

It's just that the failure of the hierarchy has allowed intrinsic
errors to get big enough to turn on a very old crude control system.

I really like your interpretation of "repression" here, and have ever
since I first ran into it several years back. It also suggests that we
may try to reduce error with anything in our control system repertoire,
though I am not clear if this happens after or in addition to attempts
at random reorganization.

Now here's the thing that's going to make Bruce slap his head. We
don't control for threats; we control for the EFFECTS of threats.

I'm slapping my head! Never too late to go back to the basics, is it?
What was that book you wrote -- Control of _perception_, or something?

Martin Taylor and I have more or less converged to an agreement ...
What is needed is _local_ reorganization that is specific to the
control system that is having trouble

Thanks for reiterating this. I wasn't sure what the current thinking
was about locus of action.

If comparators are physically located in motor nuclei, which are output
functions, then a local reorganizing system would work primarily on the
output function. ...
I don't see any easy corresponding process for perceptual reorganization

This was the remark that first prompted me to write. Hopefully, this
isn't being too speculative...

Perceptual reorganization could be the back-up system, triggered when
output reorganization wasn't doing the job, and thus when error signals
were sizable and prolonged. (The "trigger" here is not a literal or
purposive one, but a shorthand way of referring to a temporal delay
before effects would be felt.) The mechanism I envision is that of _new
reference connections_.

Either you or Bill Leach brought up at one point that the lack of a
reference signal was functionally equivalent to a reference signal of
zero. The first consequence of such an arrangement would be that new
perceptions would be driven back toward a zero reference, and thus would
tend not to be seen. This seems to be the difficulty we have in
perceiving things in novel or unfamiliar ways. (Hans would say they
are not yet part of our "world model," but that seems to utilize a
different mechanism.)

So the first requirement for perceptually reorganizing and "seeing things
in a new light" (which just might result in intrinsic error levels
decreasing) would seem to be a _non-zero_ reference, to allow new
perceptions to be sustainably seen in the first place. I don't know
enough about neuroanatomy and plasticity to know how quickly neurons
generate (or atrophy) their connections with neighboring cells, but
from what I recall it's common among developing organisms. Are there
other potential sources of new reference signals?

This would not answer the question of how the perceptual reorganization
would be localized to the proper control systems, unless there's some
sort of local chemical change associated with sustained error signals;
(my speculations are getting pretty wild here...)

Aside from the localization question, this mechanism would be operating
randomly, just as for other types of reorganization, with selective
retention of whatever works to reduce the intrinsic errors. It could
also be working concommitantly with output reorganization, but "shut
down first" if an output pathway was found that did the job. (Presumably,
trying out alternate existing neural pathways would happen much faster
than generating new synaptic connections.)

Is this consistent (or not inconsistent) with what you've been thinking?

All the best,