Re: [Indo-Eurasia] Middle Paleolithic footwear
- Hmm, Steve. Are you saying there are no localized functional areas in
the brain? What do studies about **brain damage** tell us in regard to
your claim? Aphasia? Neurocognitive deficits and disorders linked to
physical changes in *particular parts* of the brain? My former
colleague, Jerry Packard, did extensive studies on the different effects
regarding linguistic ability that resulted from damage to particular
areas of the brain. He based some of his work on the research of Michel
Are you saying that brain functions are distributed indiscriminately
throughout all parts of the brain? Why would brain scientists even use
a term like Broca's AREA if there weren't some sort of localization
Are you saying that as much cognition takes place in the medulla
oblongata as in the cerebrum, and that as many autonomous functions are
controlled by the cerebrum as by the medulla oblongata? That there is
no distinction between the overall function of the cerebrum and the
overall function of the medulla oblongata? That balance and movement
are controlled just as much outside of the cerebellum as inside of it?
There's a LOT more I could write about this, but I doubt that it would
be of any use.
Steve Farmer wrote:
> Victor writes:
> No one doing any serious work in the neurosciences
> has accepted localization theories like this for a long time.
- Dear Victor,
> Are you saying there are no localized functional areas inThere are no localized brain areas in the simple way that you were
> the brain?
describing them ("cognition" being localized in frontal regions).
That is well known, Victor. It isn't at all controversial.
> What do studies about **brain damage** tell us in regard toIt's not my claim, Victor. It's a fact, well confirmed in non-
> your claim? Aphasia? Neurocognitive deficits and disorders linked to
> physical changes in *particular parts* of the brain?
invasive imaging studies, and accepted by everyone doing serious work
in the field. What neuropsychological studies (studies of brain-
damaged subjects) tell us is that in a heavily distributed network
system that if you take out key hubs you can damage a function
more than if the damage occurs elsewhere. But that doesn't mean that
the function is localized in that region. Language is a good example.
If you have lesions in (say) Broca's area or Wernicke's area (what
older textbooks call "language areas"), you'll get particular kinds
of language deficits, or aphasias. But that doesn't mean, as they
claimed in the heyday of module theories (e.g. Fodor 1983) that
language is "localized" there. Sensitive neuropsychological measures
will in fact show that you will get linguistic dysfunctions if you
damage just about any cortical or subcortical region in the brain,
e.g. the basal ganglia. There are thousands of papers (that
is no exaggeration) and hundreds of books that cover this. I think
the best overview (of hundreds) is presented in Friedemann
Pulvermuller's studies, e.g., _The Neuroscience of Language. On Brain
Circuits of Words and Serial Order_, Cambridge U. Press 2003. But the
choice is almost arbitrary. Here's a link to that book:
It is a very fine study, and every chapter deals in part with this
question. But again, this is not controversial. Even Lieberman's
book, that I mentioned yesterday, will do. He spends a great deal of
his time dealing with this specific issue, and pounds away (a bit
redundantly) on the issue of models of language based on Broca's area
and Wernicke's area being wrong. Here's a link to a 2002 paper of his
in the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology ("On the Nature and
Evolution of the Neural Bases of Human Language"), which is much
better than his recent book, that covers this issue in depth.
The first lines: "The traditional theory equating the brain bases of
language with Broca's and Wernicke's neocortical areas is wrong".
Link to the full paper:
> My former colleague, Jerry Packard, did extensive studies on the differentStudies of brain damage until neuroimaging techniques came around
> effects regarding linguistic ability that resulted from damage to particular
> areas of the brain. He based some of his work on the research of
> Michel Paradis.
were the bread and butter of the field, Victor. Their limitation, as
pointed out long ago by classical neuropsychologists like Luria, was
that lesions are rarely truly focal: the bullet that hits you in the brain
or granny's stroke causes diffuse damage. But, in any event, last year
there were 35,000 papers published in neurobiology, and that number
is expected to go up by 30% this year. Old views (like localized
cognitive functions) are long gone. Mahesh Jayachandra (on our
List), who is both a neurologist (MD) and neurophysiologist (PhD)
exchange published papers on this and similar topics daily, and
discuss them, nearly without fail. You have to read those technical
papers to follow the field. Keeping up is quite difficult, as Mahesh
could tell you.
> Are you saying that brain functions are distributed indiscriminatelyThey are not distributed "Indiscriminately" -- we're not back in Karl
> throughout all parts of the brain?
Lashley's day (d. 1958!), who spoke of the "equipotentiality" of the
neural networks. But they are widely distributed in many areas, and
were certain things are encoded varies quite widely even in single
Let's take language as an example, since you've brought it up and
I've recently written a section of this in my book. To pick just one
example of the complexities of distributed processing:
the processing of individual words has been shown to occur in
different parts of the brain depending on the language being spoken
(Valaki et al. 2004), on whether the speaker is literate or
illiterate (Peterson et al. 2000; Li et al. 2006), on the class of
words being processed (e.g., verbs or nouns) (Damasio et al. 1996;
Martin et al. 1996), and even on whether the meanings of the words
are known from first-hand experience (for example, from milking a
cow) or second-hand (just from reading or hearing about a cow or
seeing its picture) (cf. Pulvermuller 2002, 2003). Locations of
encoding can also change as a language user’s experience with the
meanings of a word change over time (you finally milk that cow!).
Many of these findings, which depend in part on non-invasive imaging
studies, show how far we’ve come from the simply “language module”
theories of the past.
> Why would brain scientists even useSee above, e.g., the discussion in Lieberman's 2002 paper.
> a term like Broca's AREA if there weren't some sort of localization
> going on?
> There's a LOT more I could write about this, but I doubt that it wouldBest,
> be of any use.
- Victor Mair wrote to Steve:
>Hmm, Steve. Are you saying there are no localized functional areas in the brain?Dear Victor and the List,
I concur with Steve about localization and distributed functions in
the brain. His point of view is common knowledge and not
controversial in cognitive neuroscience.
Steve has a good view of progress and new research in the field and
knows as much neurobiology (actually more, sometimes) than most of the
people I have worked with.
For sometime now, we've had a practically daily interaction on
integrating history with the brain. This integration is important and
fortunately, we seem have enough data and software tools to begin.
There are few generalists (foxes as opposed to porcupines) in
neuroscience. Francis Crick was a famous exception - and he was an