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News: Truth and Consequences

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  • Robert Karl Stonjek
    Truth and Consequences Studying the consequences of behavior has shed light on a wide range of life-science phenomena, pathological as well as everyday. By
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 1, 2012
      Truth and Consequences
      Studying the consequences of behavior has shed light on a wide range of life-science phenomena, pathological as well as everyday.

      By Susan M. Schneider | November 1, 2012

      PROMETHEUS BOOKS, NOVEMBER 2012

      Nature versus nurture died a long time ago, for those who were paying attention. In its place has risen an enormous hodgepodge of nature-and-nurture variables at all levels, from subcellular to societal, interacting in nonlinear, go-figure-this-one-out fashion. Especially exciting is the discovery of the degree of plasticity that this nature-nurture interplay involves and enables. The role played by consequences is a big part of that story.

      Consequences result from behaviors-and in turn drive those behaviors. Long ago, primitive invertebrates developed the capacity to learn from their successes and failures. It's been suggested that this game-changing ability may have helped bring about the rapid expansion in the biodiversity of multicellular organisms known as the Cambrian explosion. If that indeed happened, what a dramatic illustration of the power of learning from consequences to reshape biology. As it is, the evolved ability to learn from consequences routinely initiates evolutionary change. Picture Darwin's finches foraging in different niches (with rewarding consequences), beaks gradually changing accordingly. In addition, learning from consequences activates and deactivates genes and modifies brains. I elucidate these phenomena and more in my new book, The Science of Consequences.

      Consequences abound in our own industrialized lives as well as in the lives of wild birds and bears. Whenever we weigh a decision, we're vetting different consequences. Small-scale or large, immediate or delayed, positive or negative, it's hard to overestimate their influence.

      Some of the science that makes sense of the workings of consequences has been hidden in plain sight for generations. Different "schedules of consequences" turn out to produce orderly behavioral patterns across many different species and behaviors, for example. The analysis of how signals for consequences work (stopping at a red light, say) has produced its own set of elegant principles, culminating in signal-detection theory. Indeed, even what we choose to observe is a function of past and anticipated consequences: the "ostrich effect" (hiding our heads in the sand) results when we refuse to face an experience that could evoke serious pain. Our experiences with consequences also shape conscious awareness and emotions, and just using language offers consequences galore: ask for a cappuccino and be rewarded by getting one. The "pleasure centers" in our brains are busy places.

      Learning from consequences-technically known as operant learning-helps us and many other species take advantage of the immense flexibility in interacting nature-nurture systems. We know enough about neuroscience now to realize how extensively this form of environmental influence rewires the brain. In a classic series of studies, University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist Michael Merzenich and colleagues found that owl monkeys rewarded for learning to discriminate different sounds showed an increase in the size of the corresponding area in their auditory cortices-unlike monkeys hearing the same sounds merely as background noise. Consequence-based methods are now standard in stroke therapy, restoring mobility as they alter the brain.

      Other methods based on this science have helped people with autism move out of mental institutions and into markedly improved lives, with treatments endorsed by many organizations, including the US Surgeon General's office. Combined with Pavlovian principles, these methods also offer successful evidence-based treatments for depression and many other conditions.

      Closer to home, the science of consequences can help us improve our self-control, maximize our intellectual potential, and bring more of the positive to our daily lives: at work, at school, at home, and in our interactions with animals.

      B. F. Skinner, my friend and colleague, laid the foundations of this science in the 1930s. It has now expanded to feature sophisticated mathematical models and impressive knowledge of its neurophysiological correlates, and it has become an integral part of many of the life sciences. Its full scope and potential are only just coming to be realized.

      Biopsychologist Susan M. Schneider is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of the Pacific. Read an excerpt of The Science of Consequences.

      Source: The Scientist
      http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32991/title/Truth-and-Consequences/

      Comment:
      Throwing away behaviourism was always going to be a mistake. Good to see its reintegration into mainstream thinking...but we must also acknowledge that human behaviour also needs more than one paradigm to explain it...

      Posted by
      Robert Karl Stonjek


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Glen Sizemore
      Throwing away behaviourism was always going to be a mistake. Good to see its reintegration into mainstream thinking...but we must also acknowledge that human
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 1, 2012
        "Throwing away behaviourism was always going to be a mistake. Good to see its reintegration into mainstream thinking...but we must also acknowledge that human behaviour also needs more than one paradigm to explain it..."



        GS: Something outside of a natural science of behavior? If so, then we don't need it. If not, then it would be part of a natural science and the natural science of behavior IS behavior analysis. Now, I think much of ethology is - or at least was - a natural science of behavior, but I consider it to be subsumed by the philosophy of behaviorism - its just that people who call themselves ethologists are interested in different questions than most behavior analysts (and they also fail to separate levels of analysis). However, I do think that ethology got a bunch of stuff wrong in part because they ignored behavior analysis (then called "the experimental analysis of behavior") but also because they were so dogmatic about "instinct" and were spanked quite soundly by Dan Lehrman. But I suspect that Stonjek is talking about cognitive psychology as a necessary paradigm and I couldn't be more in disagreement. 


        ________________________________
        From: Robert Karl Stonjek <stonjek@...>
        To: Cognitive NeuroScience <cognitiveneuroscienceforum@yahoogroups.com>; Mind and Brain <MindBrain@yahoogroups.com>; Psychiatry-Research <psychiatry-research@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2012 7:31 AM
        Subject: [Cognitive Neuroscience Forum] News: Truth and Consequences


         
        Truth and Consequences
        Studying the consequences of behavior has shed light on a wide range of life-science phenomena, pathological as well as everyday.

        By Susan M. Schneider | November 1, 2012

        PROMETHEUS BOOKS, NOVEMBER 2012

        Nature versus nurture died a long time ago, for those who were paying attention. In its place has risen an enormous hodgepodge of nature-and-nurture variables at all levels, from subcellular to societal, interacting in nonlinear, go-figure-this-one-out fashion. Especially exciting is the discovery of the degree of plasticity that this nature-nurture interplay involves and enables. The role played by consequences is a big part of that story.

        Consequences result from behaviors-and in turn drive those behaviors. Long ago, primitive invertebrates developed the capacity to learn from their successes and failures. It's been suggested that this game-changing ability may have helped bring about the rapid expansion in the biodiversity of multicellular organisms known as the Cambrian explosion. If that indeed happened, what a dramatic illustration of the power of learning from consequences to reshape biology. As it is, the evolved ability to learn from consequences routinely initiates evolutionary change. Picture Darwin's finches foraging in different niches (with rewarding consequences), beaks gradually changing accordingly. In addition, learning from consequences activates and deactivates genes and modifies brains. I elucidate these phenomena and more in my new book, The Science of Consequences.

        Consequences abound in our own industrialized lives as well as in the lives of wild birds and bears. Whenever we weigh a decision, we're vetting different consequences. Small-scale or large, immediate or delayed, positive or negative, it's hard to overestimate their influence.

        Some of the science that makes sense of the workings of consequences has been hidden in plain sight for generations. Different "schedules of consequences" turn out to produce orderly behavioral patterns across many different species and behaviors, for example. The analysis of how signals for consequences work (stopping at a red light, say) has produced its own set of elegant principles, culminating in signal-detection theory. Indeed, even what we choose to observe is a function of past and anticipated consequences: the "ostrich effect" (hiding our heads in the sand) results when we refuse to face an experience that could evoke serious pain. Our experiences with consequences also shape conscious awareness and emotions, and just using language offers consequences galore: ask for a cappuccino and be rewarded by getting one. The "pleasure centers" in our brains are busy places.

        Learning from consequences-technically known as operant learning-helps us and many other species take advantage of the immense flexibility in interacting nature-nurture systems. We know enough about neuroscience now to realize how extensively this form of environmental influence rewires the brain. In a classic series of studies, University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist Michael Merzenich and colleagues found that owl monkeys rewarded for learning to discriminate different sounds showed an increase in the size of the corresponding area in their auditory cortices-unlike monkeys hearing the same sounds merely as background noise. Consequence-based methods are now standard in stroke therapy, restoring mobility as they alter the brain.

        Other methods based on this science have helped people with autism move out of mental institutions and into markedly improved lives, with treatments endorsed by many organizations, including the US Surgeon General's office. Combined with Pavlovian principles, these methods also offer successful evidence-based treatments for depression and many other conditions.

        Closer to home, the science of consequences can help us improve our self-control, maximize our intellectual potential, and bring more of the positive to our daily lives: at work, at school, at home, and in our interactions with animals.

        B. F. Skinner, my friend and colleague, laid the foundations of this science in the 1930s. It has now expanded to feature sophisticated mathematical models and impressive knowledge of its neurophysiological correlates, and it has become an integral part of many of the life sciences. Its full scope and potential are only just coming to be realized.

        Biopsychologist Susan M. Schneider is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of the Pacific. Read an excerpt of The Science of Consequences.

        Source: The Scientist
        http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32991/title/Truth-and-Consequences/

        Comment:
        Throwing away behaviourism was always going to be a mistake. Good to see its reintegration into mainstream thinking...but we must also acknowledge that human behaviour also needs more than one paradigm to explain it...

        Posted by
        Robert Karl Stonjek

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • james kohl
        Read an excerpt of The Science of Consequences. Book Excerpt from The Science of Consequences In Chapter 2, Consequences and Evolution: The Cause That Works
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 1, 2012
          Read an excerpt of The Science of Consequences.

          Book Excerpt from The Science of Consequences
          In Chapter 2, "Consequences and Evolution: The Cause That Works Backwards,"
          author Susan M. Schneider places evolutionary theory in terms of the science of
          consequences.

          It couldn't be more clear that the behaviorists have it backwards. She warns of
          this, below when she says "Combined with Pavlovian principles..." but does not
          heed her own warning. Classical conditioning is clearly causal to adaptive
          evolution. Operant conditioning follows on its heels. If infant mammals had to
          be trained to respond to the odor of their mother and her nipples/breasts, fewer
          would survive. That's as maladaptive as trying to train a microbe to respond to
          its sensory environment.

          I commented extensively on The Scientist site. Ethologists ignored the sense of
          smell in avian species, for example.

          James V. Kohl
          Medical laboratory scientist (ASCP)
          Independent researcher






          ________________________________
          From: Glen Sizemore <gmsizemore2@...>
          To: "cognitiveneuroscienceforum@yahoogroups.com"
          <cognitiveneuroscienceforum@yahoogroups.com>; Psychiatry-Research
          <psychiatry-research@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Sat, December 1, 2012 5:08:05 PM
          Subject: Re: [Cognitive Neuroscience Forum] News: Truth and Consequences


          "Throwing away behaviourism was always going to be a mistake. Good to see its
          reintegration into mainstream thinking...but we must also acknowledge that human
          behaviour also needs more than one paradigm to explain it..."

          GS: Something outside of a natural science of behavior? If so, then we don't
          need it. If not, then it would be part of a natural science and the natural
          science of behavior IS behavior analysis. Now, I think much of ethology is - or
          at least was - a natural science of behavior, but I consider it to be subsumed
          by the philosophy of behaviorism - its just that people who call themselves
          ethologists are interested in different questions than most behavior analysts
          (and they also fail to separate levels of analysis). However, I do think that
          ethology got a bunch of stuff wrong in part because they ignored behavior
          analysis (then called "the experimental analysis of behavior") but also because
          they were so dogmatic about "instinct" and were spanked quite soundly by Dan
          Lehrman. But I suspect that Stonjek is talking about cognitive psychology as a
          necessary paradigm and I couldn't be more in disagreement.

          ________________________________
          From: Robert Karl Stonjek <stonjek@...>
          To: Cognitive NeuroScience <cognitiveneuroscienceforum@yahoogroups.com>; Mind
          and Brain <MindBrain@yahoogroups.com>; Psychiatry-Research
          <psychiatry-research@yahoogroups.com>

          Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2012 7:31 AM
          Subject: [Cognitive Neuroscience Forum] News: Truth and Consequences



          Truth and Consequences
          Studying the consequences of behavior has shed light on a wide range of
          life-science phenomena, pathological as well as everyday.

          By Susan M. Schneider | November 1, 2012

          PROMETHEUS BOOKS, NOVEMBER 2012

          Nature versus nurture died a long time ago, for those who were paying attention.
          In its place has risen an enormous hodgepodge of nature-and-nurture variables at
          all levels, from subcellular to societal, interacting in nonlinear,
          go-figure-this-one-out fashion. Especially exciting is the discovery of the
          degree of plasticity that this nature-nurture interplay involves and enables.
          The role played by consequences is a big part of that story.

          Consequences result from behaviors-and in turn drive those behaviors. Long ago,
          primitive invertebrates developed the capacity to learn from their successes and
          failures. It's been suggested that this game-changing ability may have helped
          bring about the rapid expansion in the biodiversity of multicellular organisms
          known as the Cambrian explosion. If that indeed happened, what a dramatic
          illustration of the power of learning from consequences to reshape biology. As
          it is, the evolved ability to learn from consequences routinely initiates
          evolutionary change. Picture Darwin's finches foraging in different niches (with
          rewarding consequences), beaks gradually changing accordingly. In addition,
          learning from consequences activates and deactivates genes and modifies brains.
          I elucidate these phenomena and more in my new book, The Science of
          Consequences.

          Consequences abound in our own industrialized lives as well as in the lives of
          wild birds and bears. Whenever we weigh a decision, we're vetting different
          consequences. Small-scale or large, immediate or delayed, positive or negative,
          it's hard to overestimate their influence.

          Some of the science that makes sense of the workings of consequences has been
          hidden in plain sight for generations. Different "schedules of consequences"
          turn out to produce orderly behavioral patterns across many different species
          and behaviors, for example. The analysis of how signals for consequences work
          (stopping at a red light, say) has produced its own set of elegant principles,
          culminating in signal-detection theory. Indeed, even what we choose to observe
          is a function of past and anticipated consequences: the "ostrich effect" (hiding
          our heads in the sand) results when we refuse to face an experience that could
          evoke serious pain. Our experiences with consequences also shape conscious
          awareness and emotions, and just using language offers consequences galore: ask
          for a cappuccino and be rewarded by getting one. The "pleasure centers" in our
          brains are busy places.

          Learning from consequences-technically known as operant learning-helps us and
          many other species take advantage of the immense flexibility in interacting
          nature-nurture systems. We know enough about neuroscience now to realize how
          extensively this form of environmental influence rewires the brain. In a classic
          series of studies, University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist
          Michael Merzenich and colleagues found that owl monkeys rewarded for learning to
          discriminate different sounds showed an increase in the size of the
          corresponding area in their auditory cortices-unlike monkeys hearing the same
          sounds merely as background noise. Consequence-based methods are now standard in
          stroke therapy, restoring mobility as they alter the brain.

          Other methods based on this science have helped people with autism move out of
          mental institutions and into markedly improved lives, with treatments endorsed
          by many organizations, including the US Surgeon General's office. Combined with
          Pavlovian principles, these methods also offer successful evidence-based
          treatments for depression and many other conditions.

          Closer to home, the science of consequences can help us improve our
          self-control, maximize our intellectual potential, and bring more of the
          positive to our daily lives: at work, at school, at home, and in our
          interactions with animals.

          B. F. Skinner, my friend and colleague, laid the foundations of this science in
          the 1930s. It has now expanded to feature sophisticated mathematical models and
          impressive knowledge of its neurophysiological correlates, and it has become an
          integral part of many of the life sciences. Its full scope and potential are
          only just coming to be realized.

          Biopsychologist Susan M. Schneider is currently a Visiting Scholar at the
          University of the Pacific. Read an excerpt of The Science of Consequences.

          Source: The Scientist
          http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32991/title/Truth-and-Consequences/


          Comment:
          Throwing away behaviourism was always going to be a mistake. Good to see its
          reintegration into mainstream thinking...but we must also acknowledge that human
          behaviour also needs more than one paradigm to explain it...

          Posted by
          Robert Karl Stonjek

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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