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RE: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
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- Subject: RE: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
- From: "monica.hansen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2012 19:05:03 +0000
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- Thread-topic: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
I agree, David. Most people I deal with in my regualr, everyday life, who are not academics, do not know the meaning of the word ontology, nor do they use it or care to use it, especially my children (They plug their ears or change the subject). However, I have noticed that parents, teachers, friends, neighbors have strong feelings and values, and I hear often that they distrust their own feelings with what is right for children, and trust doctors and scientists, because they have some special connection to Truth through research. I have also heard sentiments from neuroscientists, that educators can't possibly understand technical research. Which I am inclined to believe in most cases. So there is a respect for the establishment of these ideas.
The other place "objective" is used often by my teacher education students is in discussions of assessment. A majority of my students are sure that there is an unbiased way to assess student performance and that they will be completely objective in the process of assessment as professionals. Unfortunately they often equate assessment with "tests" even for kindergartners and even more unfortunately they equate this to evluation and grading. It is a very difficult sale sometimes to get them attend to the possibility that a child make make what is considered an error in reading because they are actually reading in a way that is meaningful to them (the child), even though it is "wrong" by the answer key.
I am trying to remember how this is relevant to the subject of plasticity and physiotherapy... these are all just observations of how concepts are culural, not chemical. The subjective experience of understanding a concept arises from neural activation, so the concepts held by those in particular discourses of "normal" sciences are clearly going to be developed (involving more neural activation and plasticity) but developed because of the interraction within the discourse. Thus, sometimes traitional ways of doing and thinking are perpetuated even though we can show evidence why they shouldn't be.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] on behalf of David H Kirshner [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:42 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
If we interpret science through its own realist interpretation of "objective" knowledge, then we can find much to object to. But through a sociocultural lens, the term "objective" might simply mean fixed within the constraints of an interpretive consensus that has been achieved by a social group, as in Kuhn's "normal science," the period between revolutions. Seems valuable to have such discourse groups, though it can get irksome when they assert their objectivist ontology for the rest of us.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of monica.hansen
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:59 AM
To: email@example.com; eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
One common pattern of thinking that I observe among people in my experience is the idea that scientific research is only valid through objective observation. This idea that the investigator must remain purely neutral and uninvolved in the interpretation of the data. When "reasoning" through problems in their own experience where they may be subjectively involved or biased, they often defer to the judgment of someone more "clinical" more professional, more knowledgeable, or in many cases with students, rather than use their own opinion they will against their better judgment use "what's in the book" because it is considered established knowledge. Is this cultural attitude the hold over required logic training in school that leads back to Aristotle? Is this the reverence for the scientific method and rationality carried over from the Enlightenment and modernity?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:00 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
The article by Tobias Rees which Elizabeth forwarded is very interesting. It looks at the proposition that adhering to a theory of neuroscience implies adherence to an ethic. Presumably any science.
Einstein spent more time advocating for World Government than he did advocating for a Unified Theory of Physics. But I am still not satisfied that I understand where this blindness to alternative theories came from and I think Activity Theory is an approach which can help us here. Rees tell us:
"the various imaging techniques at the core of cognitive
neuroscience—essentially a fusion of cognitive psychology and
neurobiology—are all grounded in the assumption that the brain is
divided into discrete, function-specific regions that are made up of
function-specific synaptic circuits. For this focus to be
meaningful, one has to presuppose what all of neuroscience
presupposed throughout the 20th century: (1) that the brain is a
fully developed and, hence, fixed and immutable structure; (2) that
this structure is organized in (of course, equally immutable)
function-specific circuits; (3) that synapses—given that the rest of
the structure does not change its form—are its main functional
elements; and (4) that the language of the brain—be it chemical,
electrical, or genetic—is machinelike." (p. 155)
So the implication is that the idea of an unchanging brain was necessary to make sense of a whole set of practices by means of which the brain was investigated. Mmebership of that project entailed accepting the division of labour entailed by the idea of brain-as-machine. With the contrary hypothesis, an investigator would not know where to file their results, so to speak. I am still not sure that this explains the hypothesis.
The second question though is: why and how could those studying the brain be so blind to well-known facts that made it obvious that the brain was a changing, growing, self-healing, learning developing organism just like the thinking human being whose functioning it underlay?
I credit Yrjo Engestrom for reminding us that what he calls a "system of activity" or what I call a project entails not only a common object, but also norms and rules, norms of belief, semantic norms and practical norms. Being part of a project evidently makes one utterly immune to any proposition calling the raison d'etre and modus operandi ('csure the
Latin) of your project, just as it rules out behaving "inappropriately"
or using words in ways that do not fit into the semantic norms of the project.
It is just that it can be quite startling how strong these taboos are:
witness the holocaust, mass death through asbestos, all the wars of history, ...
Elizabeth Fein wrote:
> Tobias Rees has a wonderful article in American Ethnologist ("Being
> Neurologically Human Today: Life and Science and Adult Cerebral
> Plasticity - An Ethical Analysis" Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 150–166)
> that talks about the "regime of fixity" in neuroscience, and the way
> this story of the brain has been maintained over the years and is now
> being challenged.
> Elizabeth Fein, Ph.D.
> University of Chicago
> Department of Comparative Human Development Postdoctoral Fellow,
> ---- Original message ----
>> Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2012 12:44:10 +1000
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (on behalf of Andy Blunden
>> Subject: [xmca] Plasticity and Physiotherapy
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
>> On the theme of empirical evidence and the latest discoveries
>> neuroscience, this is one which has intrigued me, especially
> since it
>> became personal. So far as I know, physiotherpists have known
> for at
>> least two generations that brain damage can be repaired by
>> exercise. But this scientific, empirical knowledge,
> coexisted, at least
>> in some countries, with a dogma taught in school biology
> classes, that
>> "no new brain cells are created after age X," making a total
>> (SFAICS) of all manner of learning processes which everyone
> knows about
> >from daily experience. Then we hear from the tribunes of
>> neuroscience, armed with all sorts of advanced brain imaging
>> about "brain plasiticity" and what lowly physiotherpists know
> about with
>> their own hands and patients knew about with their own
> experience of
>> rehabilitation, became a new scientific discovery solely
>> (SAFAICS) it was expressed in the language of "the latest
> discoveries of
>> neuroscience." On the plus side Norman Doigue's campaign has
> had a
>> psychological impact on people undergoing rehabilitation, by
> giving the
>> stamp of neuroscientific approval to the physiotherapists'
> work and
>> giving renewed hope.
>> Is there anyone who knows about the history of science in
> this area that
>> can explain how this fiction was maintained?
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
>> xmca mailing list
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
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