Paradigm Is Shifting

KB: The graphic and quote below are from a highly informed Facebook group moderated by Stuart Sims that explores the work of neuro-researcher Jaak Panksepp.





“I think we must consider that powerful interoceptive affects such as HUNGER <<emphasis added>> and thirst DO indeed shape thought and behavior. In fact, when a person is starving or dying of thirst, the brain has a difficult time thinking of anything else besides food and water. So perhaps the nested hierarchy should be taken down a notch to the brain stem level where interoceptive affects reside. That makes more sense, anatomically speaking. The interoceptive affects (hunger, thirst, disgust, pleasure, pain, anaerobic, etc) —> emotional affects —-> memory and learning (limbic) —> tertiary cognition (cortex). I think that revision increases the validity of Panksepp’s model of global brain function.”

Stuart Sims

There are many correlations between Panksepp’s work and my theory of emotion. He sees emotion as universal in all animals. His emotional modules; Play, Seek, Care, Lust, Rage in my view are predicated on attraction. Even Panic is inversely a function of attraction as emotion requires a concrete object, and then in the absence of something tangible for emotion to focus on, energy becomes fear. But the big distinction is that I don’t think his model goes deep enough and is ultimately reductionist relying on neuro-chemicals and hormones as substrata, machinery without the mind. Of course this then requires human-like thoughts to add meaning to the churning of the gears. So we end up with the incongruity of the universality of emotion from the top to the bottom of the evolutionary ladder, with all having to think human like thoughts so that what they do makes sense. Most absent from the discussion is the imposition of a principle of conductivity that is implemented by the interplay of neurology, physiology and anatomy, with anatomy being the most important player. Recall that the centralization of the nervous system and the development of a bi-laterally symmetric body plan evolved either simultaneously, or, the former AFTER the latter.

What struck me about this post was the authors’ argument that we must go deeper than Panksepp’s modules and look to more basic parameters of existence such as hunger. For Sims this means the brain stem and I would argue that’s not yet deep enough as until a theory of consciousness and a model for emotion gets down to the physics of movement (which means we must add Balance to Hunger), the psychology of the animal mind will remain inscrutable.   

The master threshold of the mind is the Balance/Hunger continuum. If an animal doesn’t move, it doesn’t eat. If an animal moves too much, it is eaten. The Balance systems serves as a brakes on the motion for which the Hunger system craves. This master threshold is predicated on anatomy, physiology and neurology, in that order of priority since that’s the order of emergence on the evolutionary time scale.

But the good news here is that the paradigm is shifting towards a more primordial view of emotion.



Above is an article from NY Times which shows that science is starting to ask the right questions; why is hunger implicit in a state of attraction toward a baby? Unfortunately too much of the article is concerned with the author’s personal decision about having a baby herself and this distracts her from concentrating fully on the scientific question she should have absorbed herself in and which is the purported point of the article. Thus she misses the point entirely.


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Published April 18, 2019 by Kevin Behan
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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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