In light of the evidence that an input is not a necessary precursor to an output, the idea that outputs are constantly generating inputs is not farfetched at all. Without movement, after all, our interaction with our environment would be limited greatly. At the same time, the influence of inputs cannot be discounted--as shown by the difficulty involved in removing all input sources to create stable experimental conditions. The coordination of our motor symphonies and our awareness of our actions would also suggest a constant interplay between input and output.

However, many of us thought differently before this course began. We had several internalized misconceptions about the nervous system--for example, we thought we could phrase behaviors in terms of stimuli and responses. Well, according to the new dimensions of our study, outputs can be stimuli and inputs can be responses! What a confusing jolt of logic!

This is just an example of the many interesting ways we humans are socialized and have never thought about. Even at this level of education our thought processes are "programmed" to analyze issues in terms of concepts we have never really contemplated. In this culture the stimulus-response paradigm is as natural as the application of some kind of excuse to every human error--admitting that a fault comes from within occurs seldomly.

If you say stimulus, my brain instantly says response. What is that? It isn't an instinct, but it isn't really a thought either. I certainly didn't pull the letters of the word out of thin air and then randomly assemble them. The behavior is automatic and internalized. Is it a product of Central Process Generation, like typing or playing the piano? To what extent is CPG a learned mechanism of behavior in humans? Learning probably plays a much greater role for humans than for animals, by virtue of the scope of our behaviors, bulk and organization of our nervous systems, ability to learn and analyze rapidly, and prolonged period of growth and development--which makes us dependent on interaction and socialization for gaining the survival skills we need as adults.

If our thoughts are often socialized responses, our tastes and dreams cannot be exempt. Many of the behaviors we might explain as instincts, such as saying "ouch!" when we are hurt are also the product of the reciprocal loop system that we can now visualize. We learn to say ouch by watching others--and the more we say ouch the more the brain equates it with pain, until finally it is an automatic expression of pain. (Here the input would come from the environment but also be reinforced by our own output). In other cultures and languages, there must be different "instinctive" words and behaviors associated with pain, and this would indicate that there is no gene for a specific verbal output regarding pain, although there may be an instinctive physical output. Another example would be the standard use of the smile by humans to express happiness. In primates and many of our other mammalian relatives, the arrangement of face muscles we associate with delight are a natural result of fear. I think it is quite possible that we start internalizing smiling on the day we first see happy faces gazing down into our crib, and by socialization this and other behaviors become predictable and automatic--to a much larger extent than we can realize. Understanding the more complex CPG of humans seems closely linked at this point to socialization--that is, how the nervous system takes in and incorporates the repetitive patterns it senses into its repertoire of automatic outputs.

Very interesting/thoughtful, appropriate extension of ideas discussed in class. But let me add one additional complexity to your thinking. One might well see commonalities in tastes/dreams/thinking because of commonalities in brain organization which transcend cultural differences. Or, to put it differently, it may well be that the inclination to think in terms of "stimulus/response" has some genetic component to it which can be reinforced (or opposed) both by culture and by individual experience. I certainly have the feeling that significant parts of education involve "unlearning" things which are deeper and stronger than simply cultural norms. PG