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Offline namaan

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Meaning of Pain
« on: 02/12/2009 20:43:58 »
Man, I'm gonna get a bad rep if I keep posting under New Theories :( Especially since my last post on Free-Market Regulation was obviously uninteresting (admins may remove that btw). Anyway, I just had one of those moments and just wrote down a quick two page summary along with a hypothesis on the meaning of pain some time back. If a kind admin feels that it isn't too out there, I'd appreciate it if this post could be moved to a less...eccentric forum. Anyway, here you go:

Whereas nociception defines the manner of neural response to pain, it is not clear what role this neural response has in the learning process. In fact many steps in the learning process that involves pain or pleasure seem to be taken for granted. For example, while the role of pain generally seems clear, this clarity shouldn’t stop one from asking: why? Why does pain make such obvious sense to an animal that it should be taken for granted? Certainly it is obvious that an animal should have the capacity to know when its body is in danger of damage or is being damaged. But this obviousness should have nothing to say on the complexity of the mechanism that actually causes pain to ‘make sense’ to an animal; which in turn ultimately provides a neural mechanism for learning from pain. To us, pain generally means something bad to be avoided. Unfortunately, this straightforward understanding cannot be directly conveyed to the CNS, but requires the traversal across the neural medium built from action potentials.

A proper consideration of this issue requires us to further consider the issue of pain and consciousness. By its very definition, pain is something one ‘feels’; hence implying the role of the feeling conscious mind. While there is more and more research that seems to point to a gradation in the levels of consciousness across various animals, we will assume here, in light of the significantly greater level of consciousness produced by the human brain as compared to the brains/neural systems of other animals, that for all-intents-and-purposes, non-human animals are effectively devoid of a conscious mind on the scale being considered.

Furthermore, a normal animal, when put in a situation where the experience of acute levels of pain in one of its limbs is imminent, for instance, would without any level of ‘thought’ experience an automatic retraction of its limb. This is a gift from the CNS, available essentially from birth, which may likely save the animal from any potential or further damage to the retracted limb. The source of said pain, given the acute levels of pain it generated, would very likely be something deemed worth remembering and will likely be remembered quite well and for a long time. Thus, the animal will ‘learn’ to avoid in-advance, the source of such acute pain in the future.

Now, consider this: an animal that is devoid of this gift from the CNS allowing for the automatic response to pain is subject to the same scenario as the one in the above example and in the same limb of the body. To further qualify this example, this animal was recently born and it will be the first such experience in its entire life. What happens? The source of the acute pain comes in contact with the limb and there is no automatic retraction of the limb. However, nociception is still occurring and all the sensory structures meant to detect pain are still sending their action potentials down their afferent axons towards the CNS. What does the CNS make of it?

Well, again, it may seem quite ‘obvious’ to us that these actions potentials one way or the other inherently cause us to ‘feel pain’, and thus inherently hold information that serves as a proxy for pain. However, would we say the same of ourselves when we were babies; before we were conscious? Is it just as obvious in this instance? In fact, this is similar to asking if our understanding that nociception is an inherent proxy for pain also holds for non-human, and thus effectively non-conscious, animals. If pain is something one feels through a conscious mind, then why should the nociceptory afferent action potentials of a baby mean anything at all? Why shouldn’t they be as incoherent as all the other afferent action potentials going from the various micro and macro sensory structures to the CNS (for a baby)?

To expand on this point, there have been experiments that have shown that even new born babies have a peculiar disposition towards the recognition of human faces and facial representations. This suggests that there are systems in place from birth that have the sole responsibility of parsing some version of the original retinal image in the attempt to extract facially relevant information. We never had to learn to be able to pay special attention to the basic identifying features of a human face; it was again, a gift from the CNS.  Upon deeper consideration of relevant literature, one will likely find many such examples of where the CNS gifts us and all animals with species-specific functionality that is generally of some benefit to the particular species. This gift by the CNS can come in a variety of forms; anything from automatic retraction of limbs to avoid tissue damage, to all the primary, secondary, etc. areas of the different modalities of the brain, which provide us with mechanisms for extracting species-specific and relevant information from the raw sensory input.

It could be said that these gifts of the CNS generally act as guides for animals engaging in the learning process; especially so in the early stages. Again going back to the example of facial recognition, the above mentioned neural mechanism guides human babies towards details in the retinal image that are likely to be of greater importance towards their survival than most other details that will pass by their vision. Following this line of reasoning it could be further stated, with the automatic retraction of limbs being one of these gifts by the CNS, that the automatic retraction mechanism is also one of these guides. The question is, towards where is this mechanism meant to guide us?

My primary hypothesis, hence, is that the mechanism responsible for the automatic retraction of limbs in a variety of animals is not merely there as a ‘quick-fix’ for extreme levels of nociception, but rather, this mechanism is critical in the early stages of an animal’s learning process of what pain means. In our case, it is likely that when we (or rather our brains) as babies ‘notice’ that this mechanism saved our hands from experiencing tissue damage when it touched a hot cup, for instance, we eventually learn the connection between nociceptory neural patterns and something bad meant to avoid. This is so because extreme nociceptory neural patterns are likely to coincide with the activation of the limb-retraction mechanism or similar.

Following from this, a related hypothesis is that if an animal was removed of its capacity to rely on this limb-retraction mechanism soon following birth, it would then become unable to properly learn from pain-inducing events. This is so since they would lose a guide that normally directs them towards learning the significance of nociceptory neural patterns. In other words, they would not properly make the direct connection between nociception and, for example, tissue damage. This is not to say that such an animal would be unable to learn this connection eventually. For example, even though they will not automatically retract their limbs upon extreme nociception, they would still be able to eventually make the connection between damaged tissue and nociception.

Of course, the drawback to learning pain via the actual observance of damaged tissue as opposed to via a limb-retraction mechanism is that the damage has already been done before one is able to learn from it. Not only this, but even after learning the connection between nociception and tissue damage, the fact of the matter remains that whereas the limb-retraction mechanism is automatic by nature, the nociception/tissue-damage connection requires the use of more deeply-rooted neural connections in the CNS thus increasing the reaction time. Also, since such a mechanism would not be automatic (unlike the limb-retraction mechanism), the requirement of properly-planned movements of the limb is introduced as well; this may also increase the reaction time. The greater reaction time ultimately amounts to greater tissue damage before an animal can ‘think-up’ a proper extraction route for the limb being damaged.


 

Offline namaan

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Meaning of Pain
« Reply #1 on: 03/12/2009 17:09:29 »
If it is too long, then here's a summary:

Nociception (the neural dynamics following a painful/noxious stimulation) is typically thought of as an inherent proxy for pain. I argue that it isn't; rather it is a learned proxy for pain. In fact, to a baby nociception should be perceived as jumbled as vision or hearing.

And just as certain CNS elements, say in the occipital lobe, aid us in learning to identify faces and shapes, so do CNS elements in the spinal chord (i.e. the automatic limb retraction mechanism) aid us, I argue, in learning about pain.

I would really appreciate some feedback. Thanks!
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #2 on: 03/12/2009 20:51:54 »
If I heard you right, you mean to say that the abstract is fundamentally flawed, perhaps beyond repair. A fair assessment?  ;)

Now it's clear that you responded to the abstract/summary only, other wise your response may have seemed serious. I didn't mean for the summary to act the part of a proper abstract; it was not meant to be an accurate representation of the entire paper. It was just there so perhaps visitors could gauge whether or not this was worth reading in full.
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #3 on: 04/12/2009 03:17:35 »
Fair enough. Thanks for chiming in! :)
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #4 on: 12/12/2009 21:01:37 »
First of all. I don't agree in differing animals from other animals (Humans). Secondly pain is a physiological process releasing certain neurotransmitters warning the organism of harm done. Some of those lines of communication is already shortened to be outside our conscious knowledge, like burning yourself where your body reacts before you know it.

That a lot of countries wants to differ between humans and other animals is in my opinion due to that we use them as food and materials for our comfort. So if we can say that animals don't feel pain the same as us we are somehow allowed to treat them as inmates in concentration camps. Sheer stupidity, but who said we were smart?

As for the conscious experience of what pain is? That differs from person to person. That's why a good hospital ask you to define your pain on a scale from one to ten. There are no real 'objective' standards. So in that motto I suspect it to be the same for all animals.


 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #5 on: 07/07/2011 14:58:21 »
I'm well, well, late in responding to this (completely missed that it was replied to)...so sorry for bringing this back from the dead.

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First of all. I don't agree in differing animals from other animals (Humans)

Context is important here: humans are different in at least one way from the other animals on Earth.

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Secondly pain is a physiological process releasing certain neurotransmitters warning the organism of harm done.

Exactly, and the organism, whatever it might be, should continue on to have a perfectly normal reaction to the source of this pain; this does not however speak on the organism's conscious awareness of said pain. Do you imagine a sponge that lacks a nervous system feels pain the same way as we do?

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Some of those lines of communication is already shortened to be outside our conscious knowledge, like burning yourself where your body reacts before you know it.

It's these very shortened lines of communications that I'm speaking about as being guides to species in learning pain. In fact, I'm not saying that animals in general aren't able to learn about pain, what I'm saying is that the feeling of pain seems to require a higher conscious; I'll grant (as I did in the paper) that there may be a "gradient of consciousness", as it were, across the animal kingdom leading up to us humans. But if that higher consciousness isn't there, then the animal will still behave and learn about pain in such a way that we perceive that they feel pain; rather in most cases, it may well be a projection of our empathy towards an animal with lower levels of consciousness.

I understand your concern that this type of thinking can set precedents for animal cruelty, but if it's science, then it's not stupid. Fact is, all the empathy in the world for animals hasn't changed the fact that most of us let slide that paying a few bucks short for a burger usually means that the meat for it came from animals that were kept in such decrepit and vile conditions that not the worst concentration camps you can imagine can compare to the cruelty. So I assure you, humanity doesn't need papers like this to be cruel to animals.

As for me, I follow the understanding that being kind to animals is to my psychological benefit, whereas being cruel to animals is the first sign that one doesn't have a respect for life.
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #6 on: 07/07/2011 16:33:07 »
Nope, everyone feel pain, it's a survival response to a hurtful environment. What a dog define it as I don't know, or a amoeba, but they will react to it. The only thing a 'higher consciousness' brings with it is the ability to rationalize around it and find excuses for treating others differently 'as they can't feel pain'.

(It's called 'objectification' in Swedish, where you by defining something/one as less than you, a 'object', now will be 'allowed' to do what you want. It's used in a lot of situations, seldom honorable, wars and concentration camps comes to mind here, serial killers another, your boss acting like a jerk/dictator a third.)

So, not true.

If you instead argued what importance your 'time experience' have on future choices we would come closer to what differ different animals. We have a highly developed abstract definition of 'time', in where we constantly draw conclusions from our history. That's a main reason why we invented books too, so that we could describe the past (from the aspect of one reading that book) in detail, not diluting it by trying to remember from generation to generation.

But when it comes down to it all animals have the same basics, and we're just one of them.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2011 16:49:05 by yor_on »
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #7 on: 07/07/2011 16:58:28 »
Nope, everyone feel pain, it's a survival response to a hurtful environment. What a dog define it as I don't know, or a amoeba, but they will react to it. The only thing a 'higher consciousness' brings with it is the ability to rationalize around it and find excuses for treating others differently 'as they can't feel pain'.

(It's called 'objectification' in Swedish, where you by defining something/one as less than you, a 'object', now will be 'allowed' to do what you want. It's used in a lot of situations, seldom honorable, wars and concentration camps comes to mind here, serial killers another, your boss acting like a jerk/dictator a third.)

So, not true.

If you instead argued what importance your 'time experience' have on future choices we would come closer to what differ different animals. We have a highly developed abstract definition of 'time', in where we constantly draw conclusions from our history. That's a main reason why we invented books too, so that we could describe the past in detail, not diluting it by trying to remember from generation to generation.

But when it comes down to it all animals have the same basics, and we're just one of them.


Your post is largely an emotional reaction, especially the first two paragraphs. I posited a theory, but you saying "everybody feels pain" is groundless and indefensible. I will have to ask that posters please stop attaching these unwarranted labels of human superiority on me while basing their responses on their emotional reaction to these labels, and actually focus on the arguments of the paper above. [EDIT: actually, I just realized I've only been speaking to yor_on, so sorry about that ;)]

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Nope, everyone feel pain, it's a survival response to a hurtful environment. What a dog define it as I don't know, or a amoeba, but they will react to it.

If you replace the above "feel" (well, feels) with "learns", then that is exactly what I said in the paper above. Please take note of the distinction I am making between the feeling and learning of pain since that is central to the point being made in the paper.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2011 17:16:22 by namaan »
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #8 on: 07/07/2011 19:17:29 »
Defining your way of generalizing to a postulate stating a 'superior way' of defining pain doesn't make it a truth Nam. it's not logic, only a play with words. There are some things, emotions that we seem to have developed to a higher degree, like a sense of humor. I'm not sure animals have humor, but I am sure they will feel pain, and recognize it for what it is. And the 'you' wasn't directed at you specifically, it was the 'common you' if you see what I mean. Normally I write 'one' instead of 'you', just to make sure, but this time I forgot.

You don't need to 'learn' pain. A baby will recognize it too, but maybe not know how to get away from it. A baby will cry when it feels pain, and express discomfort in various ways. The baby do not have our advanced rationalizing over the subject, and don't know how to ignore it, or project it onto something else. As for why you retract a 'limb' when burned? You will find that all organisms retract from a hurtful environment, from amoebas to humans. Whether they later rationalize it and build some conceptual image from it depends very much on their perception of history. You should check out some experiments with our closest neighbors, the monkeys. They get to see when two boxes are delivered that they learned give food if they draw them to the bars via a rope. One is heavy and several guys really have to work to push it close enough, the other a child carry in. Both will give the same reward, but the monkeys involved do not seem to notice the effort brought by those delivering it. Monkeys are smart :) and can learn a lot of stuff, so why do they miss this? My own interpretation is that they don't conceptualize the same way as we do, they don't use history to set a course. And I think that this is a big difference, but it has nothing to do with the experience of basic emotions, as pain is.
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #9 on: 07/07/2011 20:34:18 »
Quote
Defining your way of generalizing to a postulate stating a 'superior way' of defining pain doesn't make it a truth Nam.

This is the new theories section, I never said it's truth, nor a superior way of doing anything. I don't mean to be blunt, but I can't help but have you notice that you keep arguing with me on points that are essentially a rewording of my own arguments in the paper, making this a fairly tiresome discussion (in other words, I essentially agree with you on many of the points you're making -_-).

I take full responsibility for it if it's due to a lack of clarity on my part. So let me try to make it a bit clearer and focus only on humans for a second; here's a quote from my second post:

Quote
If it is too long, then here's a summary:

Nociception (the neural dynamics following a painful/noxious stimulation) is typically thought of as an inherent proxy for pain. I argue that it isn't; rather it is a learned proxy for pain. In fact, to a baby nociception should be perceived as jumbled as vision or hearing.

And just as certain CNS elements, say in the occipital lobe, aid us in learning to identify faces and shapes, so do CNS elements in the spinal chord (i.e. the automatic limb retraction mechanism) aid us, I argue, in learning about pain.

Actually, scratch that, the above could definitely have been clearer. I see now that the original paper really should have done a much better job a fleshing out the difference between the feeling of pain, and its learning. So let me rephrase the above quoted summary:

Nociception (the neural dynamics following a painful/noxious stimulation) is typically thought of as an inherent proxy for the conscious feeling of pain. I argue that it isn't; rather it is a learned proxy for the conscious feeling of pain. In fact, to a baby's (albeit limited) conscious perception, nociception should be perceived as jumbled as vision or hearing.

And just as certain CNS elements, say in the occipital lobe, aid us in learning to identify faces and shapes, so do CNS elements in the spinal chord (i.e. the automatic limb retraction mechanism) aid us, I argue, in learning about the conscious feeling of pain.

I hope the above is a bit clearer.
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #10 on: 08/07/2011 17:56:40 »
Much better.

You are discussing why and where pain gets interpreted right? And arguing that the 'central nervous system' that follows the spine have to be learned? Well I would say that this depends on your interpretation of 'pain' :)

Assume that pain even without a brain involved are a reflex for avoiding a hurtful environment. We have some examples of people that don't feel pain. Their life is a misery as they constantly hurt themselves getting no warnings. If you assume that all bodies feel best when in good order you have a reason for pain. Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIPA), is a rare disorder of the genes that pretty much can destroy all chances to live a normal life.

And I agree with your conclusion that pain is a learned response, although some reflexes do seem to be instinctive as the reflex prompting you to draw your hand away as you burn yourself, even before processing the 'signal' to your brain. As if we process pain responses differently than, let's say a dog? Some parts of our brain are very old.

"The brain stem is the oldest and smallest region in the evolving human brain. It evolved hundreds of millions of years ago and is more like the entire brain of present-day reptiles. For this reason, it is often called the 'reptilian brain'. Various clumps of cells in the brain stem determine the brain's general level of alertness and regulate the vegetative processes of the body such as breathing and heartbeat.

It's similar to the brain possessed by the hardy reptiles that preceded mammals, roughly 200 million years ago. It's 'preverbal', but controls life functions such as autonomic brain, breathing, heart rate and the fight or flight mechanism. Lacking language, its impulses are instinctual and ritualistic. It's concerned with fundamental needs such as survival, physical maintenance, hoarding, dominance, preening and mating. It is also found in lower life forms such as lizards, crocodiles and birds. It is at the base of your skull emerging from your spinal column." The Reptilian brain.

So, where do we process 'pain'?

"'Pain centres'

Second, there is growing evidence that the parieto-insular cortex is crucial for pain processing in the brain. For example, one part of the parieto-insular cortex receives input from lamina I neurons via a specific thalamic relay, called VMpo (the existence of which has, however, been disputed by some authors). In conscious humans, microstimulation in the region of VMpo, or in the part of the parieto-insular cortex that receives input from VMpo, causes pain or temperature sensations on discrete parts of the body.

In addition, functional imaging studies in humans, and maps of electrical responses to laser-induced pain, indicate strong activation of the parieto-insular cortex during pain. Further, a lesion of this region can strongly reduce pain. This region is uniquely activated during cooling stimulation, muscle sensations, sensual touch and other feelings from the body as well, whereas the somatosensory cortex is not. Nevertheless, some studies report activation of the somatosensory cortex during painful stimulation, which seems to support the consensus view.

There is also strong activation during pain at a second site in the medial frontal cortex, the caudal part of the anterior cingulate, an area implicated in controlling our so-called motivational behaviours (how we act to meet our 'needs'). This activation is directly related to perceptions of the unpleasantness of pain, and is accompanied by activation in several sub-cortical sites, such as the amygdala, cerebellum and striatum. Most authors interpret these multiple sites as an interconnected network with distributed functions. Notably, in this view, relatively simple animals display pain-like behaviours that represent the integrated output of homeostatic control regions in the brainstem – that is, behaviors based on survival needs – but they do not have a cortical image of sensations from the body. "

And yes, parts of those are really old as I understands it. Most of our cognitive ability's are presumed to be new developments though, and there where our 'time sense' comes in, as in ability of conceptually learning from history.

With more conceptual ability you will find more rationalizing, and cognitive 'rewiring' of sensory input, complicating the picture. Take a look at yogis for a good example of those ability's. On the other hand, it may also be part of older states of 'consciousness' relating to other parts, as I've seen reports on how for example cat's by, going into something most resembling of a catatonic state, cope with a poisoning that otherwise would have killed them. So it seems extremely difficult to state how any brain really 'works'. We use brain scans and logic to guess nowadays. To assume that brain is the sum of its parts is a dangerous picture in that it invites you to draw conclusions of what you see as those parts. The brain is a incredible 'wetware' even in a fly, doing thing we can't imitate.
==

Forgot to link. Mapping pain in the brain
==

Don't mistake our newfound ability of manipulating genes as 'understanding' them. We're more like children trying to guess by manipulation there. On the other hand, that's the way we learn :) It's a rude simple process in where we by imitating map up connections biological states etc. And as the possible genetic combinations of for example DNA is roughly 70,368,744,177,664?


"There are 46 chromosomes in each somatic cell, and 23 in each gamete. This means there are 2^23 different possible gametes that can be produced from each person (this is 8,388,608). Combining this with the same number of possible gametes from the other partner, this is around 7x10^13 (70,368,744,177,664) different possible chromosome combinations.

Of course, this is only at the level of chromosomes. There are an estimated 20,000-25,000 different genes in the human genome, and it is not known how many different alleles of each gene exist. Lets be *extremely* conservative, and say that there are only 20,000 genes, and just 2 alleles of each gene (this isn't true, but we're just doing an illustration here). Since each somatic cell will contain 2 copies of each gene, there are a total number of 40,000 genes in each cell. That means that there are 2^40,000 different possible gene combinations - which is roughly 1.6x10^12041 different possible gene combinations.

To give you an idea of the scale of that number - the universe itself is estimated to contain "only" around 3x10^52 kg of matter."

Btw: Now that I see what you mean, yeah, I think we agree on some things, although I'm much more doubtful of there being any simple 'linear mapping' of the brains functions connected to animal responses, than you might be :) But, I'm older than you too? So, you might blame that on either experience, or galloping senility :)
« Last Edit: 08/07/2011 18:33:48 by yor_on »
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #11 on: 10/07/2011 01:49:36 »
Firstly,

Quote
Btw: Now that I see what you mean, yeah, I think we agree on some things, although I'm much more doubtful of there being any simple 'linear mapping' of the brains functions connected to animal responses, than you might be :) But, I'm older than you too? So, you might blame that on either experience, or galloping senility :)

On the contrary, I have no such need to blame you for anything sir/madam ;) In fact, it might help to mention where this question arose from. I have an interest in neural networks and understanding the process of learning involving said networks. From all the work I've done, I consistently got stuck on one point when it came to actually simulating such a network in a simulated world: how to represent pleasure and pain. After all, without these, how does one "explain" to an "organism" to avoid something that should be painful, and to seek out that which should give pleasure. Having said that, when you say:

Quote
Assume that pain even without a brain involved are a reflex for avoiding a hurtful environment. We have some examples of people that don't feel pain. Their life is a misery as they constantly hurt themselves getting no warnings. If you assume that all bodies feel best when in good order you have a reason for pain. Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIPA), is a rare disorder of the genes that pretty much can destroy all chances to live a normal life.

I indirectly tried to account for this in my last two paragraphs (I'm aware of the condition you described - CIPA):

Quote
Following from this, a related hypothesis is that if an animal was removed of its capacity to rely on this limb-retraction mechanism soon following birth, it would then become unable to properly learn about the conscious experience of pain from pain-inducing events. This is so since they would lose a guide that normally directs them towards learning the significance of nociceptory neural patterns. In other words, they would not properly make the direct connection between nociception and, for example, tissue damage. This is not to say that such an animal would be unable to learn this connection eventually. For example, even though they will not automatically retract their limbs upon extreme nociception, they would still be able to eventually make the connection between damaged tissue and nociception.

Of course, the drawback to learning pain via the actual observance of damaged tissue as opposed to via a limb-retraction mechanism is that the damage has already been done before one is able to learn from it. Not only this, but even after learning the connection between nociception and tissue damage, the fact of the matter remains that whereas the limb-retraction mechanism is automatic by nature, the nociception/tissue-damage connection requires the use of more deeply-rooted neural connections in the CNS thus increasing the reaction time. Also, since such a mechanism would not be automatic (unlike the limb-retraction mechanism), the requirement of properly-planned movements of the limb is introduced as well; this may also increase the reaction time. The greater reaction time ultimately amounts to greater tissue damage before an animal can ‘think-up’ a proper extraction route for the limb being damaged.

Also as per the above, I did not discount the automatic nature of certain reflexes, particularly those facilitated by the spinal cord. Coming back to your last paragraph again, the intention of this paper were to argue two points: 1) the CNS of a particular species contains mechanisms ("gifts" as I called them) that aid in learning in general for an organism of said species:

Quote
This gift by the CNS can come in a variety of forms; anything from automatic retraction of limbs to avoid tissue damage, to all the primary, secondary, etc. areas of the different modalities of the brain, which provide us with mechanisms for extracting species-specific and relevant information from the raw sensory input.

and 2) if CNS mechanisms ultimately play a role in helping an organism learn over time that nociception stands for pain, then it stands to reason that the conscious feeling of pain is something that is learned over time; implying that a new born doesn't feel pain to the same degree as adults, but certainly can react to it without regards to the degree of development of a higher conscious.

The second point, incidentally, was one of the reasons for writing the paper since if it's correct, then it implies that organisms possessing a lower degree of consciousness can react to and behave perfectly fine when confronted by nociception without ever "feeling" pain as you and I do. I had a specific reason for reaching this implication, but am sure that it holds little value in the context of the modern scientific institution. What I can say is that believe it or not, this implication is important to me out of compassion towards animals, not in spite of compassion.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2011 15:21:32 by namaan »
 

Offline yor_on

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« Reply #12 on: 15/07/2011 00:05:49 »
Well, the problem is that you're not discussing 'pain', as in the neurological reactions to it, as much as you're questioning if 'lower organisms' translate it the same way as we. As a guess I would say that pain is pain, it's a basic instinct, and a 'impression of the senses' that no one want, no matter what kind of animal.

And that's also what made me react, because we can't really translate the pain better than observing the stress reactions, as adrenaline etc, and obvious discomfort all animals seem to get when experiencing it. So in that motto pain is universal as I see it. Myself I expect it to be the other way around. The better your cognitive ability, and the more 'wired' ones brain is, the more chance one will be able to translate the impressions into other patterns. Like we see at times with humans actively seeking pain. I don't know any other animal doing so?
 

Offline namaan

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Meaning of Pain
« Reply #13 on: 16/07/2011 06:20:10 »
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Well, the problem is that you're not discussing 'pain', as in the neurological reactions to it, as much as you're questioning if 'lower organisms' translate it the same way as we.

I'm sure it seems that way, but that's the least important point for me. I had several reasons for writing this, some personal, some hobbyist, and some academic; I focused on this point only because you were particularly critical of it.

As for the academic aspect to writing it, I was studying psychology at the time and so tuned the style of the text away from its primary purpose and closer to an academic tone. Unsurprisingly, my professor likely thought it was nonsense seeing as how he never responded to it and through considering your responses as well -_-

Now I can't tell where the fault lies in the difficulty of understanding this paper, in my lack of clarity, in the abstract nature of the arguments, or more likely, a bit of both. For example, you make a good point here:

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Myself I expect it to be the other way around. The better your cognitive ability, and the more 'wired' ones brain is, the more chance one will be able to translate the impressions into other patterns. Like we see at times with humans actively seeking pain. I don't know any other animal doing so?

but maybe it really is just a lack of clarity, particularly in semantics, because I was aware of and use (albeit not in the paper) the same argument in support of the points I made.

Consider this, one has to be able to consciously understand something if they wish to reject it on conscious command. So until and unless one consciously understands pain, one can't override the fundamental urge to react to it, let alone seek it out. It may go a long way to explaining why babies cry so much ;) After all, (at least as per the arguments made here) babies don't understand much of the nociception that arrives at the deeper areas of their CNS, so it's better that nature wires them up to react in an all encompassing and all recognizable response that adults (who hopefully better understand the cause of pain) are certain to react to. I mean who can't empathize with innocent, super-cute beings acting out the ultimate pain response?

I feel like I'm missing something in this post, oh well.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Meaning of Pain
« Reply #13 on: 16/07/2011 06:20:10 »

 

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