Mind Neuroscience

Non-materialist neuroscience: “You can’t fire your brain but you can retrain it.”

Spread the love
Discovery_2008_141_retouched
"You are NOT your brain. If it's not working for you, get it in gear."/LaszloBencze

Non-materialist neuroscience: “You can’t fire your brain but you can retrain it.”

Here’s an interview with a non-materialist neuroscientist, Jeffrey Schwartz, who is friendly to ID covers what’s wrong with materialism in neuroscience, and introduces a non-materialist approach to the treatment of phobias, compulsions, and addictions, as used in his new book, You arenot your brain.:

For the past six years, Schwartz has worked with psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding to refine a program that successfully explains how the brain works and why we often feel besieged by bad brain wiring. Just like with the compulsions of OCD patients, they discovered that bad habits, social anxieties, self-deprecating thoughts, and compulsive overindulgence are all rooted in overactive brain circuits. The key to making life changes that you want-to make your brain work for you-is to consciously choose to “starve” these circuits of focused attention, thereby decreasing their influence and strength.

Note: To get some idea of the difference between a materialist approach to neuroscience, contrast materialist neuroscientists David Eagleman on neurolaw (“pre-crime punishment”) and Sam Harris on neuromorality (“science” decides values). How much does each side give you credit for?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

See also The Spiritual Brain.

7 Replies to “Non-materialist neuroscience: “You can’t fire your brain but you can retrain it.”

  1. 1
  2. 2
    Ilion says:

    … Just like with the compulsions of OCD patients, they discovered that bad habits, social anxieties, self-deprecating thoughts, and compulsive overindulgence are all rooted in overactive brain circuits. The key to making life changes that you want-to make your brain work for you-is to consciously choose to “starve” these circuits of focused attention, thereby decreasing their influence and strength.

    So, a certain “Bronze-Age religious text” in on the money about human beings. Again.

  3. 3
    Ilion says:

    If materialism (aka atheism) were the truth about the nature of reality, then “rewiring” your brain would be as logically possible as picking yourself up by your boor-straps.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    I know the OCD ‘ers.
    I like the idea of starving the circuits BUT its really just saying fight the compulsion and don’t do it and it will go away.
    Thats all they can give you.

    I think all these things are really just memory malfunctions.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    If you starve your compulsion to eat it will go away.

  6. 6
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Oh boy.

    Well, there’s a lot wrong there, whether materialist or not!

    It’s over-simplification to the point of falsification to say that “bad habits, social anxieties, self-deprecating thoughts, and compulsive overindulgence are all rooted in overactive brain circuits”.

    For a start, cause and effect are moot in all these cases – in some cases the over-activation may be causal, in others it may be compensatory, and we have evidence for both. We also have evidence for both over- and underactivation associated with mental disorder, and we also have evidence that which you get depends on context, e.g. task difficult.

    And it depends on the circuit, and what the “overactivity” is in response to – in some cases it is failure to “deactivate” circuits you need to switch off for the current task, and in others it’s over-activation of circuits you need to switch on.

    Or, indeed, under-activation.

    If this is what non-materialist neuroscience comes up with, I’ll stick with the materialist stuff, thanks!

    And being a materialist neuroscientist doesn’t stop me understanding that “you can change your brain”. You can, obviously. If you couldn’t you wouldn’t be able to think. Indeed it is part of my current research to figure out just how best to do this – to establish or re-establish “healthy” brain activation patterns by appropriate psychological (and/or pharmacological) means.

  7. 7
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    If materialism (aka atheism) were the truth about the nature of reality, then “rewiring” your brain would be as logically possible as picking yourself up by your boor-straps.

    Why?

    Hebb’s rule: “what fires together, wires together”.

    We know it happens. It happens materially. Why should it be logically impossible?

    Brains are in constant flux. It is not like a computer – there is no “hardware” on which “software” runs. It’s all wetware, and the only sense in which you can separate “software” from “hardware” is that short-term memory is largely maintained by active oscillatory activity, which, if maintained for long enough, initiates “long-term-potentiation” in the form of protein production that “wires” that connection in such a manner that that pattern of activation is more likely to be reactivated in the future by similar inputs, and becomes long-term memory.

    That’s essentially how memory works.

    However, as I keep saying, it doesn’t “reduce” mental activity to electrons and proteins, because they are merely the medium in which the pattern is instantiated. It’s the pattern that is the important thing. The “information” if you will 🙂

Leave a Reply