Thoughts on Seeing and Knowing
Prompt: Identify and briefly discuss one or two of the main points in Ramachandran's "Seeing and Knowing" chapter, and then speculate on how it might be relevant in relation to the theory and/or practice of civic intelligence. If you're still feeling energetic after that, you can comment on other verbiage on this page. In fact, please do it even if you're feeling lethargic!
Theme: "The link between action and perception, and how the brain associates the two."
- (With the discovery of canonical neurons, which fire both at the time of a specific physical action as well as at the mere sight of the subject of that action, this leads us to wonder whether the brain makes a distinction between the two).
Response/Relevance: In relevance to civic intelligence, one pertinent response could be to CIRAL's research and action component: If our canonical neurons fire while we research image and text documents perhaps we are considering the "graspability" or potential to take whatever actions we associate with the content we are examining. An example situation might be where one is online watching a video that captures an emotional moment at a protest rally: perhaps this person's canonical neurons are firing at the sight of the participants collectively performing motions of protest, and thus this person inevitably pictures oneself in attendance of this event. On another level, perhaps this person's canonical neurons are also firing in response to the dialogue provided with the video, where the declarative statements of the protesting participants are also stimulating neural activity. Yet as later noted in the article, this is where "we have crossed over into the realm of symbolic description..."
Additional Inquiry: I wonder whether these neurons would also fire if one were to read a captivating description of an apple or twig within a character's clutches. Would then the "abstract property of graspability also be encoded as an intrinsic aspect of the objects" literary description? Maybe with we are constantly creating inner scenarios revolving around these "symbolic visual tokens" whenever such imagery is stimulated by the firing of these neurons in response to sensory perception. In other words, do humans' canonical neurons fire in response to symbolic descriptions of a written language? Cogdev07 14:14, 25 October 2011 (PDT)
Deconstructing The Humunculus
I see the whole section on how the brain resolves the problem of interpreting vision as a viable model for civicly intelligent problem solving. The work the brain does of processing the "symbolic descriptions" received from the optical nerve, is the work a civic body would engage in when developing understanding of a problem it faces. Just as there are many parts to the visual signal, a complex social problem has many indicators that different sub-groups of the civic body are more specifically suited to address.
Also in the way the brain perceives a spectrum of colors from the combination of three types of receptors, a civic body can organize its self to discern a wide range of issues without the need for excessive specialization. The key to this is in uncovering the right method for parsing information and looking at the right kind of information.
Because the problems in the public sphere are so complex a system similar to the visual systems feedback as different parts of the brain complete individual processes seems like a suitable suggestion. By breaking a big problem into lots of small questions while maintaining the social network to talk about the solutions to these small problems, seems like it would lead to a faster and more complete understanding of the whole.
Onemic18 01:40, 26 October 2011 (PDT)
Using the Amygdala
Having studied the functions of the brain a little bit, one of the parts that struck me the most about this reading was the section on Capgras syndrome and the emotional pathways of the brain relating to vision. I think emotionally charged visuals can have a profound effect on people. For instance, many anti-abortion protesters use graphic photos of supposedly aborted fetuses to make their point. While I think this tool can be used for manipulation (as in the example of the anti-abortion protesters), I think it can also be used to play on people's empathy. Showing images of real, relatable people may inspire others to work for a cause they may have otherwise dismissed.
-Nichs (I totally forgot how to add my signature with the date and time)