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Re: [xmca] Marked joint activity affects neurons and synapses
Hi Monica and Rod
In my example of trying to describe an incident of MARKED intentional
coordination I was creating a boundary marker that was unintended. In
mentioning birth as a starting point I was really trying to emphasize
that coordinating activity happens "all the way down".
Monica I agree that interaction begins earlier than birth. The
concepts MARKED and INTENTIONAL which I was trying to foreground point
to the PURPOSEFUL and VOLITIONAL intersubjective activity from the
adult engaging with the infant. This activity may not be "reflective"
but is purposeful. This coordination of activity directs the infants
attention to THIS not THAT. I agree that all senses, not only sight,
can be coordinated. The reason I gave the example of the eye needing
to MAKE DISTINCTIONS for the brain's neurons to develop was to make
the more general point that if distinctions are MARKED, neurons are
reinforced, while neurons that are not used die off. This pruning or
channeling of neuronal networks [that depend on sensory and motor
coordination] seems to be central to the developmental process.
Intersubjective interaction, [which is a process of MARKED
interaction] may be a central process for "recognizing" distinctions
which reinforce PARTICULAR neuronal pathways while other neurons die
There may be biological interactions which are not intentional or
MARKED that are also relational and central to development. However I
was drawing attention to a subset of "relationaln interaction" which
is MARKED coordinated interactivity.
On 11/2/10, Monica Hansen <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> 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).
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] 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
> Hi Mike
> 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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