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RE: [xmca] Marked joint activity affects neurons and synapses
I am going to have to suggest the possibility that the of emergence of
intentional , joint mediated activity cannot be the fixed point of birth
because the fetus is viable at no arbitrary, universal cut-off (or would
that be on) date. Individual development can and does occur more quickly for
some perceptual and functional systems rather than others--it is not the
same for all babies, but there is a range of normal development. The visual
system is not the only perceptual system that can act as a channel for
mediation. Studies on prenatal learning have shown effects of decreased
heart in response to hearing familiar stories (DeCasper, 1994). Newborns
have been shown to discriminate between legal and illegal syllables (Mehler,
1994) which implicates a consideration of the role of prosody in prenatal
and neonatal language acquisition. Although these references are dated and
more current research has surely been done, if learning is possible before
birth, it follows that intentional joint mediation is also possible. The
actual time of birth is not the impetus for these systems to begin function.
Does consciousness begin to emerge before the newborns eyes have been opened
to the world? Just a little metonymy to show how these things are sometimes
still meaningful, but can't be taken so literally).
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On
Behalf Of Larry Purss
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 12:05 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Marked joint activity affects neurons and synapses
You asked how early MARKED [intentional] joint mediated activity begins in
the development of the infant.
My answer is must start at birth. My limited understanding of neurobiology
is that the infants has over a billion neurons at birth. From the moment of
birth the mother is taking the lead marking some sights [smiles & eye gaze]
and sounds [baby talk] that the infants is distinguishing. My understanding
is the infant's nuronal activity is making DISTINCTIONS ABOUT THIS NOT
THAT. The synoptic connections that are NOT being activated are dying out
in the millions, while the synapses which are firing are retained.
Therefore in MARKED joint activity Bateson's the "difference that makes a
difference" could just at accurately be stated as the "the difference that
makes NO difference" is also affecting the structure of the neuronal
This is why a baby at three weeks old that has had a cataract in one eye
since birth [with no neurons in the brain firing and synapses dying off
without use] if the cataract is removed, must have the good eye patched for
A YEAR in order to force the eye that was repaired to focus and begin
to fire the neurons and rewire the brain. The good eye must be suppressed
for a year or it would continue to fire and the other eye that is now able
to see would NOT fire neurons thought the optic nerve had been
restored. After the year, the eye that was patched [which was working for
the first three weeks] is still able to cordinate with the other eye and
double vision is restored. If the eye with the cataract had waited for 6
weeks before removal, [instead of three weeks] the eye would have
been permanently blind.
Now what was happening to the development of sight in these first few
weeks was that the neurons that were firing and responding to sight were
being activated and strengthened while the neurons that were not activating
were dying off permanently.
This seems to be an example of the centrality of the human capacity to make
distinctions as a central capacity at birth. However humans are "seconded"
natured [cultural and historical] and therefore the "distinctions that make
a difference" are expressed as MARKED jointly mediated activity. The
neurons for speech for example at 3 weeks can distinguish the sounds in
English, Finnish, Chinese, etc as the neuronal paths exist to distinguish
ALL the various sounds. However, this window of opportunity stays open for
a very limited time and after a few months of hearing English sounds, but
not Finnish or Chinese, the capacity to make these distinctions is
Now the central question is Does the infant IMITATE the sounds it hears or
is it more accurate to suggest the parents MARK their verbal speech with the
infant and in the process coordinate what sounds are accentuated and made
relevant for neuronal activity?
The marking of THIS not THAT as a second-natured process in the first weeks
of life have profound implications for what creates a diifference that makes
a difference and the complementary process of the difference that does not
make a differnce. What is marked becomes recognized and attended to and
materially transform the neurobiological networks of neurons and synapses.
Now the fact is that the brain DOUBLES in size in the first year of life
BEFORE SPEECH and BEFORE WALKING.
I hope I have these temporal sequences accurate but the general point is
accurate. From birth MARKED [intentional] coordinated activity is
CONSTITUTING the emergence of agentive capacity as the infant focuses on
THIS not THAT.
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