Super Free Will: Metaprogramming and Quantum Indeterminism

  1. I think most people agree that the UP falsifies classic determinism, but what about free will?
    I ran into this site a few weeks ago and wonder what your thoughts might be on it?
    http://www.futurehi.net/archives/000120.html

    Super Free Will: Metaprogramming and Quantum Indeterminism

    Art by Sara Deutsch

    Contrary to popular belief among most brain scientists today, I will argue that free-will not only exists, but ultimately is all that remains in an ever changing uncertain universe. In order to understand the body of my argument, we’ll need to delve into quantum physics, Skinnerian behaviorism, neurological imprinting, brainwashing and metaprogramming.

    Here is Robert Anton Wilson’s definition of Von Neumann's Catastrophe of the infinite regress.

    A demonstration by Dr.Von Neumann that quantum mechanics entails an infinite regress of measurements before the quantum uncertainty can be removed. That is, any measuring device is itself a quantum system containing uncertainty; a second measuring device, used to monitor the first, contains its own quantum uncertainty; and so on, to infinity. Wigner and others have pointed out that this uncertainty is only terminated by the decision of the observer.

    What this means, and has been proven time and again in experiment after experiment, is that without a conscious observer, quantum states remain uncertain and in a state of indeterminacy. It is the conscious observer that makes the uncertainty wave function collapse out of an either/or “maybe” into something "real". No experiment has yet been able to remove this observer from the results. Therefore without consciousness, there is no wave function collapse, and no "reality". Scientists, including Einstein have been fighting this conclusion for more than 70 years, when he said, “God does not play dice”, but experiment after experiment has proven this to be the case. The Aspect Experiment in 1982 and its dozen follow up experiments have reproduced this non-local consciousness dependent result. This is most troubling to determinist materialist as it goes against their training and every other working scientific theory. Yet the power of quantum mechanics has made itself known in almost every field of technology and industry.

    So why hasn’t this shattering revelation made greater waves through the scientific community? I honestly don’t have the answer to that, other than history is full of old paradigms dying slow hard deaths. So rigid in their thinking are people and therefore scientists, that as Thomas Kuhn, the author of the book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), said, "The triumph of a new paradigm may therefore depend as much on this generation’s dying off as it does on decisive confirmation or refutation, as more traditional philosophies of science understand such things." This is an important point, which I’ll get back to in a bit.

    Meanwhile, as our understanding of the brain has increased, we have been able to isolate and tie numerous psychological functions to deterministic brain chemistry. Tweak a molecule here; get a psychological effect there. Apply an electrode there; get a psychological effect here. This has led most neuroscientists and cognitive researchers, including the likes of Francis Crick, to conclude that any conception of having free-will is an illusion. Francis Crick says,

    All your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free-will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.

    He is only partially correct, as we shall soon see.

    Eastern yogi philosophers and psychedelic aficionados have said similar things as Crick. Either through advanced meditative techniques or psychedelic ingesting, these people have temporarily transcended their neural conditioning and brain programming, and from this higher, more self-aware perspective, have correctly concluded that most of what makes up "them" is arbitrary programming, robotic behavioral patterns inserted either through conditioning or imprinting at certain stages of their life.

    So what are imprints? Imprinting was first demonstrated by Konrad Lorenz in the 1930’s when he was able to imprint himself as the mother to hatched ducklings. He discovered that there are moments of imprint vulnerability where an electrochemical bond is formed in neural circuitry that precedes any further conditioning. Another way of looking at this is imprints are hardwired neurological patterns, whereas conditioning is composed of looser, more easily reprogrammed softwired patterns. Conditioning can be changed by positive or negative re-enforcement, but imprints require something altogether more traumatic. We could say that imprints form the basis of our personality and remain unchanged throughout our life, except under the most traumatic of experiences. It is here that the science of brainwashing comes in.

    The most notable case of brainwashing is the story of Patti Hearst, who having been kidnapped a "rich daddy’s girl", came back six weeks later as a different person, robbing banks, and proclaiming the birth of a new "peoples liberation". This brainwashing was accomplished through a combination of drugs and extreme trauma. Kept in a locked closet for weeks, taunted by her captors, and fed only the smallest amount of food, Patti went into extreme shock, and in turn become imprint vulnerable. Unbeknownst to her, and after weeks of torment, these same captors befriended her as if they were the ones rescuing her. As they opened the closet door, they immediately started calling her a new name. Loving, comforting, feeding and taking care of her, they gave her a whole new identity and narrative. Claiming that her abductors were working for her father, she immediately came to love and accept these people, her saviors, completely forgetting her old life, and accepting this new reality imprint without question. In short, she was brainwashed.

    Ok, so where does free-will come in? So far it seems like I’ve decimated every last shred of free-will and human dignity. Yes, and for good reason! Unless we understand the full extent of just how brainwashed and programmed we are, we will never have anything close to a free-will. To be free it first helps to intimately understand just how imprisoned we are by our own nervous system. Freedom comes from knowledge, not ignorance. To know thyself is the pathway to liberation and freedom, as I will now explain.

    Lets start with simple conditioning. An addiction to something would be a good example of strong mental conditioning. Most people who are seriously addicted think they can’t stop their addiction, feeling they are slaves to their nervous system programming, compelling them to get more of whatever it is they are addicted to. We know that addictions can happen at both the psychological level like gambling, or in the physical (central nervous system level), like crack-cocaine. If the person has a strong enough desire to seek adequate help, they can with assistance overcome their addiction. Some people are strong enough to be able to do this without help, but the majority look for others support to get them through the thick of it. Is this desire to overcome their mental conditioning the same as free-will, or just another higher level of programming? Some would argue that there were other programs, super-programs that eventually re-wrote these lower subroutines of addiction. Or what some AI researchers like to call super-goals. Ok, this has some computational basis, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to describe in adequate neurological terms precisely how overcoming ones programming is not the beginnings of something more uncertain and indeterministic. Remember the indeterminate conscious observer in quantum mechanical systems? We’ll get back to that.

    So what are these supergoals then? I think there are many. The next layer beyond conditioning as I mentioned earlier is neurological imprinting; hard-wired electro-chemical bonds that program behavior and our subsequent perception of reality and self. Almost everyone you’ll ever meet has never re-imprinted their nervous systems. However for those lucky or not so lucky individuals who have taken a large quantity of a psychedelics, what John Lilly calls metaprogramming agents in his groundbreaking book, Programming and Metaprogramming in The Human Biocomputer, these electro-chemical imprints can be re-programmed, or re-imprinted too. John Lilly described this ability to re-program our programs, meta-programs. He then goes into considerable scientific and rigorous detail describing all the ways we can metaprogram our own brain, changing our brains programming as we see fit.

    The question now needs to be asked, if we are nothing more than our programs, imprints and conditioned reflexes, then who is the "we" who is doing the programming? Who is the metaprogrammer? Some might remain steadfast and say that this new higher you is also just a collection of programs, or metaprograms. In either case, for those of us lucky enough to have metaprogammed ourselves and not been metaprogrammed against our will (brainwashing), it sure feels like we are a lot more free than we are ordinarily. Any so-called free-will we have in an ordinary state of consciousness feels contrived and robotic compared to being in a metaprogramming state. So if nothing else, this thing called free-will is relative. There are states where we are more "free" than others.

    John Lilly has gone further in exploring the depths of the mind and the limits of metaprogramming, and said that after a while of metaprogramming, you eventually realize there are limits to certain metaprograms, or what he also likes to call beliefs about beliefs. Robert Anton Wilson is fond of calling them catmas... with dogmas being absolute beliefs, and catmas being relativistic metabeliefs. And as you play around with metaprograms, then there is a new "self", the self that is meta-meta-programming! Programming ones own metabeliefs. Or what John Lilly also liked to call supra-meta-beliefs. John Lilly quickly realized there is no limit to this self-recursion when he uttered his most famous quote,

    In the province of the mind, what the mind believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind there are no limits.

    In other words, as you become more aware of your supra-metabeliefs, you can continue upwards to meta-meta-meta-beliefs, ad infinitum… the neurological equivalent of the Von Neumann Catastrophe. If this relative scale of increasing neurological metaprogramming freedom is not some kind of free will, then I think the meaning itself has been destroyed, and for no damn good reason, other than dogmatic stubbornness on the part of people unwilling to let go of an old dying deterministic paradigm, against the new empirically verifiable new paradigm of quantum mechanics. All physical systems are subject to quantum mechanical principles, which are in turn subject to a conscious observer. So no matter how you slice it, the conscious observer is both separate and a part of the physical world. Consciousness it would seem is a fundamental in the universe, possibly the one and only fundamental, preceding all other observed physical properties, which are determined by consciousness.

    Quoting Robert Anton Wilson again,

    Since all human knowledge is neurological in this sense, every science may be considered a neuro-science; e.g., we have no physics but neurophysics, no psychology but neuropsychology and ultimately, no neurology but neuroneurology. But neuroneurology would itself be known by the nervous system, leading to neuroneuroneurology etc., in an infinite regress.

    But as John Lilly humbly admitted, even though in the mind there are no limits, the body on the planetside trip has definite limits locked in by biology. So as long as we return to and operate within it, we are subject to its limits. However each day we are becoming more aware of how these genetic limits work, and soon will figure out how to overcome those limits, first with genetic engineering, then nanoengineering.

    So here we are altering our own molecular DNA, and soon the entire physical world down to the atomic level. Another way of looking at this, is DNA having evolved out of the slime, is now becoming recursive enough to begin altering itself with intenationality and purpose towards something stronger, smarter and more versatile. Going further, the atomic world is now becoming aware of itself, and as it becomes aware of these limits, just like we becoming aware of our own programming, will begin to re-program this matter to become more expressive to this internationality, to the logos, the memeplex that is our noosphere. Will this self-recursion ever end? Probably not. Do we have free will? As I have shown, free-will is a matter of degree. It is easily demonstrated that we can increase the levels and degrees of freedom as we become aware of our own limits. I would say, not only is there free-will, but eventually everything in the universe, including the very essence of ourselves will become re-defined by it. In the end, everything will change, but one thing will remain and increase, the level of our free will, our consciousness, the fundamental that is and comprises everything.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Superb article.

    Btw, what is UP ("I think most people agree that the UP falsifies classic determinism")?
     
  4. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 8,147
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Uncertainty Principle, a basic principle of quantum mechanics. For certain pairs of properties (such as momentum and potion or energy and duration), the more closely defined the one of them is, the more loosely defined the other will be. Thus for example if a particle is confined in a small volume, so its position is closely determined, then its momentum will be correspondingly uncertain. Notice that this does not in any way imply that the quantities are random. So the author's claim about falsification is weaker than it might appear.
     
  5. Awesome read! Can anyone elaborate on the metaprogramming aspect?

    P.S. I thought this sentence was great:

     
  6. Agreed 100%
    Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and results of QM show that the world is epistemically indeterminable, and NOT that it is necessarily ontically indeterministic. A fact overlooked by many people, including many quantum physicists who ought to know better.

    Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were both convinced that the quantum world was indeterministic. They were therefore pleased when in 1932 John von Neumann "proved" a theorem claiming to show rigorously that it is impossible to add hidden variables to the structure of quantum theory.

    Von Neumann's infamous and mistaken ‘proof’ had apparently shown that the world is indeed fundamentally indeterministic and not simply just indeterminable. His mistake was spotted as early as 1935, but von Neumann’s ‘proof’ was an accepted part of quantum theory until 1964, when John Bell made his own great contributions to quantum theory. First he constructed his own hidden variable account of a measurement of any component of spin, he then went further by demonstrating quite clearly exactly what was wrong with von Neumann's argument. Once this mistake was realised, it was clear that hidden variables theories of quantum theory were possible.

    MF
    :smile:
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2005
  7. ps - RAW (a prolific SF writer and a bit of a "cult" figure) was born the same year that von Neumann published his "proof" - coincidence? :biggrin:

    MF
     
  8. It would seem to me the author is not using the UP necessarily. I probably shouldn't of mentioned it because you are correct in saying that the universe is "NOTnecessarily ontically indeterministic". However, the article seems to be suggesting since we don't know for sure if the conscious process involving collapse of quantum, dynamical brain states through conscious observation. It is a merely a selected hypothesis. Further proposing that brain process can undertake an active role in the section of certain uncertain stimuli. There have been selective studies where event-related potentials would differ under unobserved versus pre-observed conditions. "Maximization of entropy by congruence of stimulus and brain potential through a quantum entropy operator is the proposed physical mechanism for this finding. The prefrontal lobe inhibition of perseverative brain states under the active condition is proposed to be the neurological mechanism of the findings." The shortened version is that quantum stimulus is thus related to degrees of free-will. Anyways, I brought it over here. It's an interesting read.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2005
  9. A more complete reply :

    Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does not falsify determinism, classic or otherwise. See my first post in this thread.

    Please define what you mean by "free will". IMHO, any discussion about the existence or non-existence of any concept is meaningless unless that concept is first unambiguously and rigorously defined.

    Von Neumann’s “proof” that the world is indeterministic was published in 1932, it was suggested that this “proof” was flawed in 1935, but it was not until 1964 that John Bell demonstrated unequivocally that von Neumann’s “proof” was based on an invalid premise. In other words, von Neumann was wrong. This has been known by many scientists for the last 40 years.

    Incorrect. All that has been proven by experiment is that quantum states are not necessarily epitemically determinable. This is not the same as saying they do not behave with ontic determinism.

    This is pure speculation, supported by a minority of scientists including Wigner. Schroedinger’s wave function (in configuration space) evolves purely deterministically, there is no indeterminism in this wave function. The only indeterminsim is in our knowledge of the wave function.

    By definition, our scientific experiments are “3rd person objective” experiments, they involve an “observer” and an “observed”. This imposes a distorting dualistic perspective on the world, one of the consequences of which is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. It would be wrong to conclude, however, that our biased scientific perspective necessarily implies that an observer is “required” to “collapse the wavefunction”.

    Again, pure speculation, supported by a very small minority of scientists.

    Which conclusion? Einstein’s objections (to QM collapse) pre-dated Wigner’s ideas on consciousness-induced-collapse. Einstein objected to the notion that Bohr’s interpretation of QM implied there is no underlying reality.

    No experiment I know of, ever, has proven there is no underlying reality – if I am wrong, would you care to correct me?

    With respect, this is rubbish. The Aspect experiment, and other similar experiments, have shown that the world cannot be both “real” and “local”, that if there is any underlying reality to the quantum world then it must be operating non-locally. The interpretations of these experiments conclude absolutely nothing about consciousness.

    No it does not. The results of QM, including Aspect’s experiments and others, are all consistent with a non-local and real (ie determinsitic) world.

    Finally something correct.

    The answer is : Because the “shattering revelation” is false!

    On the contrary, the “accepted interpretation” of QM for the last 80 years has been Bohr’s so-called Copenhagen interprpetation, which assumes indeterminism. It is the deterministic interpretations which have been battling against Bohr’s unjustified assumption of indeterminism.

    Here’s that concept “free will” again. Still not defined. Until and unless you define it, I suggest any debate on the concept is meaningless..

    Ooops. There it is again. What does it mean?

    Much of the rest of your post at this point I will not comment on – though it is interesting reading it does not really have much to say except that one can create multiple self-referential loops within the conscious mind, for example :

    Ooops, there is that concept again. What does it mean?

    free will? What’s that again?

    MF
    :smile:
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2005
  10. Thanks MF, he seems to be advocating degrees of free will; as mankind evolves (technologically) those degrees become greater. I believe he accepts that everything is "ontically determined". So he is not arguing for absolute free will. However, I don't think I'm qualified to argue this, I'll try and contact the author. What is your opinion on compatibilism?
     
  11. In post 8 MF calls one of Airkapp's statements "incorrect" - I did not find this statement, but in airkapp's first post the following appears:

    "It is the conscious observer that makes the uncertainty wave function collapse out of an either/or “maybe” into something "real". No experiment has yet been able to remove this observer from the results. Therefore without consciousness, there is no wave function collapse, and no "reality"...."

    Which is essentially the same (I also think incorrect) idea that a conscious observer is what makes the wave function collapse. I have not been directly a participant in high energy particle collision experiments, but understand the many results are first recorded photographically.) Such as the early ballon experiments on cosmic rays, cloud chamber results (and more modern version of the same) etc. Processing thousand of these exposures takes time - back in my graduate days, low paid employees sorted photographs for interesting ones for the graduate students to then look at. Now I think machines digitize the the photos and spit out the strange ones and millions are processed daily. I think these machines can even print out the track coordinates. -all this without any consciousness active.

    Years later, a new question may arise that some old experimental data may help resolve. The accelerator that ran the experiment may not even exist when the first conscious examination of the old automatically produced record is first examined. Are you seriously suggesting that only then, years later when consciousness first is active, some "fuzzy mix of numbers" printed on sheets of paper that describe the still mixed quantum state "collapse" into unique clear numbers that correspond to one of the pure eigen state in the mix of eigen states that was produced long ago in the experiment? !!!

    No consciousness is required for an "observation" to force the mixed state into a single eigen state! Exactly what is required to make a smoothly and deterministically evolving wavefunction collapse (Schrodeniger's equation is deterministic) in an unpredictable way I can not tell you. This is the main objection I have to QM - it seems by its very nature to be an incomplete theory - It requires something out side of its self to function even only as a means of probabilistic prediction of observable results.

    I will let MF try to tell you - he is my definition guru :smile: All I can do is the same sort of thing I can do when trying to tell him what Genuine Free Will is -I.e. tell what it is not. So I tell you: An "observation" is not (and does not require) conscious observer.
     
  12. The answer to this depends on one's definitions of both compatibilism and free will.
    If one accepts determinism, but adopts (explicitly or implicitly) a less restrictive definition of free will than a Libertarian would wish for, then the compatibilist view can work.
    Not too many people (I find) are very happy to agree a rigorous definition of free will (I have my own theories as to why this might be).
    My preferred definition is :
    This definition would not be acceptable to a Libertarian, but is IMHO an accurate description of what humans experience when they say they have free will, it is also completely compatible with determinism.

    MF
    :smile:
     
  13. this article seems to imply that human beings have free will, drawing conclusions from facts about quantum mechanics.

    humans are not governed by quantum mechanics, they are governed by relativity.
    relativity does not support indeterminism.

    if you want to use the possibility of quantum indeterminism to draw conclusions about a relativistic nature, you've got to do more than give a loose description of metaprogramming.
     
  14. Its possible. Another way of looking at it, is that a conscious observation from the future had influenced the experiment in the first place (at the moment it was conducted).
     
  15. With all due respect rygar, would you care to elaborate on this? I'm not sure I understand your argument exactly.

    I am skeptical of what you say because this goes back to the tiresome argument that everything a human is is defined by the firing of neurons, the movement of electrons, and so forth. I believe that random indeterminable events (random events) can happen to humans, for example, a whole bunch of matter in my hand could simply (I'm aware of the immense mathematical improbability of it happening) "decide" independently to have the all electrons move a negligible distance to the right simultaneously. Sure, humans are governed by relativity. But why not quantum mechanics?
     
  16. Free will is the ability of an agent to anticipate alternate possible outcomes dependent on alternate possible courses of action and to choose which course of action to follow and in so doing to behave in a manner such that the agent’s choice appears, both to itself and to an outside observer, to be reasoned but not consistently predictable.


    I can accept and fully agree with that; although that definition in my more simplistic terms is "the ability to forsee the consequences of one's actions". Would you agree with that? Also, if completely rewinded and played back, given what we know of QM those same actions may or may not be repeated. As I understand it, the UP allows us to make probabilities in regards to quantum events but not completely determined, yet the universe still acts in a deterministic nature. I am a compatabilist, albeit a loose fitting compatabilist. Also, given chaos theory, and what we know of qm it seems the consequence argument non free will'st use is kinda shot. You agree with that?

    thanks,
    air
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2005
  17. [side note]
    your brain mechanism and the firing of neurons does not produce consciousness ELECTRICALLY. it's a complex CHEMICAL process, through the exchange of calcium, sodium, proteins, amino acids, any lots of other things that make up your brain. this is a common misconception. the transfer of chemicals in your brain produce an almost insignificant electrical discharge, your brain does NOT function by transferring electrons through action potentials.
    [/side note]

    i agree with you that it is possible, though like you say, mathematically improbable, for matter such an anomoly to occur.

    what i meant by my original post is that we can use the laws of relativity to determine the state of matter on a massive scale--from throwing a baseball to the movements of galaxies. all are predicted with remarkable accuracy.
    no one has ever witnessed a random event, allowed by the laws of quantum mechanics, at a scale any larger than the atomic level.

    so in discussing free will, why would you use the laws of quantum mechanics, which thus far have ONLY been able to account for the very small, and not the laws of relativity, which are perfectly reasonable? if you apply the laws of quantum mechanics to other aspects of everyday life, you'll get all sorts of things that we know not to be true.

    the author seems to be saying, as most believe, that the laws of both somehow apply, because we only live in one universe. but it's not that simple--you can't use the laws of one to describe the other, without bridging the gap between them (a unified field theory).

    besides, as selfadjoint has pointed out to me, randomization in quantum mechanics does not imply, nor even suggest, the possiblity that we are in control of the possible outcomes. it's a matter of the universe being deterministic with one possible outcome, or with infinite. but no where are we able to influence the outcome because of firing neurons.

    sorry for the sloppy reply, i'm on my way out, maybe someone else can do a better job explaining this.
     
  18. @rygar,
    I agree that the mathematics behind quantum mechanics sort of form a gaurd from incredibly random events from occuring (at least, on more than an atomic level, as you said).
    About your side note about the chemical processes in the brain, I'd like to put Feynman's words into my own, and regardless of whether or not it is electrical or chemical, the point still stands that your thought processes are determined by them.
    Like Robert Feynman said: Everything that is attributed to Chemistry can be explained, at its very base, at its very base using Physics. So really, one could argue that there's no such thing as Chemistry, really.

    -Art
     
  19. No I wouldn't, and here is why : According to this simplistic version, an existing computer program, able to model the outcome of decisions, would be deemed to have free will.
    Free will is more than just being able to foresee the consequences of one's actions. In addition one must be able to choose from alternatives, and one must act such that one's choice appears rational and yet not consistently predictable. Some might also argue that an agent must have a consciousness in order to have free will - I am not so sure about this (though one would need to be conscious in order to know that one has free will :smile:).

    Agreed, there may or may not be an indeterministic (random) element. However nobody has ever demonstrated (to my knowledge) how indeterminism endows free will - thus the possible existence of indeterminism is IMHO irrelevant in a discussion on free will.

    Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says that the world is fundamentally indeterminable (ie there is a limit to the knowledge we can have about the world), but nowhere does it say the world is necessarily fundamentally indeterministic.

    Chaos theory is based on determinism, it does not need and does not assume any kind of indeterminism (though again chaos introduces another limit to our epistemic abilities - even though a chaotic system may be operating totally deterministically, it is impossible to predict it's behaviour because it is epistemically indeterminable, but for reasons different to the UP).
    QM I have already commented on - there is nothing in QM or anywhere else which says the world is necessarily indeterministic.

    I'm not sure what your expression "seems the consequence argument non free will'st use is kinda shot." means - can you re-phrase that please?

    MF

    :smile:
     
  20. I would go further and say that no one has ever witnessed a random event at any level. The closest any agent could ever get to "observing randomness" would be to witness an event which was epistemically indeterminable (apparently random) - the agent could never know (IMHO) whether the event was ontically indeterministic (truly random) or not.

    "QM" and "relativity" apply accurately within their respective domains, but are fundamentally incompatible with each other as they stand. Ultimately, therefore, one or other or both must be shown to be approximations.

    I don't think so. Can you give an example where you think QM makes an invalid prediction at the "everyday" level?

    Agreed.

    Not strictly true - our firing neurons do indeed "influence the outcome", because our neurons are a necessary part of the deterministic chain of events. What our firing neurons do not allow, however, is the Libertarian kind of free will which would "allow us to have chosen differently to the way we did actually choose".

    MF
    :smile:
     
  21. Its off thread, so i'll be brief (at least for me) :smile:

    I agree with Artermis (post 17)- it does not make much diff if brain function is by chemistry or electrical, but the influx of Na+ ions into the axion that is a progressive wave traveling away (usually) from the cell body is best view as a discharge of the 70mv negative "resting potential" of the axion interior that the "Na pump" must restore before the next action potential discharge can occur (the "refractory period"). This part of brain activity is best considered "electrical" and is well modeled by electrical concepts, such as capacitors, voltages, currents, etc. (E.g. the reason that mylinated nerves have different conduction speeds and the reason that large vs small cross section axions have different effects upon conduction speed all fall out correctly from these electrical models.)

    Once these "electrical impulses" arrive at the "pre-synaptic" junction, the chemical view is much more appropriate. E.g. GABA (a universal inhibitory neurotransmitter) release into the "synaptic gap" is only possible if the pre-synaptic GABA molecules are there. Once the neurotransmitters are in the gap, then Brownian motion physics is the preferred (at least by me) model. I'll stop here as now it really gets complex and this is off thread "correction" to prior posts.
     
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