What are some major subjects related to neuroscience
Master's thesis in the main subject of educational science Supervisor: Dr. Dieter Schwittmann
1 Neuroscience and school-based learning: Are there any new findings relevant to school-based learning from the point of view of the neurosciences, or are the findings of learning psychology merely confirmed? Master's thesis in the main subject of educational science Supervisor: Dr. Dieter Schwittmann Submitted by: Dr. med. Dipl. Psych. Andrea Gräfin von Hohenthal Major subject: Education Minor subjects: Philosophy and history Matriculation number:
2 Contents 1. Introduction ... S The body-mind problem ... S Preliminary remarks S Problems with the neuroscientific assessment of brain activity S Problems with the assessment of the mental area ... S Philosophical concepts ... S Duality in everyday experience .. S Concepts of body-mind dualism S The concept of non-reductive physicalism ... S The concept of reductive physicalism..S Assumptions of scientific investigations ... S The theses of Wolf Singer ... S The theses of Gerhard Roth ... S The theses of Manfred Spitzer ... S The theses of leading neuroscientists: The Manifesto .. S The counter-theses of leading psychologists ... S The theses of Uwe Laucken S Elsbeth Stern: Neurosciences and learning ... S Conclusion: Unter Which assumptions are neuroscientific studies useful for learning? ... S Contributions of brain research to school-related questions S General variables .. S Development of neuronal structures / brain development ... S Early Experiences ... S Curiosity as an obligation ... S To localize cognitive functions .. S Neuroplasticity S Sensitive phases in the learning process. S Constructivist concepts of learning. S Neurofeedback ... S Learning psychological variables S Brain research and learning .. S Important results and experiments ... S Results of learning psychology .. S Special areas of learning: brain research and language .. S Special areas of learning: brain research and mathematical competence ... S Brain research and memory ... S important results and experiments S results of learning psychology..S brain research and emotions in the learning process .. S important results and experiments ... S results of learning psychology .. S brain research and motivation p. 72
3 Important results and experiments ... S Results of the psychology of learning .. S Brain research and attention ... S Important results and experiments .. S Results of the psychology of learning. S Brain research and social competence .. S Important results and experiments S Results of learning psychology ... S Summary: Which results of brain research on school learning are new and go beyond those of learning psychology? ... S Questions for research ... .S Important concepts of neurodidactics S Definition of terms: neurodidactics ... S The concept of Preiss and Friedrich ... S The concept of Margret Arnold .. S The concept of Caine and Caine. S The concept by Susan Kovalik and Karen Olsen ... S Discussion of the concepts S Consequences for school practice. S Conclusions from the general results of brain research ... S Conclusions from the learning-specific results of brain research. S learning, memory, attention and school practice S emotions, motivation and school practice ... S social skills and school practice. S Consequences for teacher training S Consequences for school organization S Final discussion: Has brain research produced new findings for school practice or are the findings of developmental and learning psychology only confirmed? ... see bibliography on p. 106
4 1. Introduction Like hardly any other natural science, the neurosciences are at the center of scientific and public interest today. This can be seen not only in a flood of scientific publications, but also in the discussion of neurological theses in popular newspapers 1. The diagnostic and therapeutic advances in medicine shown therein arouse hope in other scientific disciplines that new knowledge and possibilities for action can be derived from the neurosciences to be able to. In the field of learning sciences, too, it is hoped that brain research will produce new and effective results. In the opinion of the former Federal Research Minister, brain research promises great innovation potential: decoding how the brain works is one of the central scientific tasks of the future; if we understand thinking, we will benefit from it in many areas of our life. 2 learning recipes from the brain laboratory 3, learning under the dopamine shower 4 - such concepts are intended to change pedagogy and everyday school life. In a manifesto on the present and future of brain research in the 21st century, it was promised that we can now assess which learning concepts - for example for school - are best adapted to the way the brain works. 5 The demand is made that, following the results of the neurosciences, pedagogy and didactic books should be rewritten. 6 Changes in the school organization (e.g. the early learning of foreign languages) are justified with neurological results (e.g. sensitive phases in the development of language skills). Research funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) flow into neuroscience projects. In: Der Spiegel, No. 16 from Eltern, No. 8 from page 44 ff. 2 (). 3 Paulus, J. (2002): Learning recipes from the brain laboratory. In: Die Zeit, Nr.38 vom Scheich, H. (2003): Learning under the dopamine shower. In: Die Zeit Nr.39 vom Eiger, C. / Friederici, A./Koch, C. et al. (2004): Das Manifest. Eleven leading neuroscientists on the present and future of brain research. In: Brain and Mind 6, S Roth, G. (1997): 9th Bremen University Talks. What can we learn from brain research? Bremen: Wolf Ritter Foundation. P.107 1
5 Computional Neuroscience used around six million euros for neuroscientific research. 7 In the government declaration by the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Education at the time, Dr. Annette Schavan vom said: The education congress in Ulm last year made it clear to us how important the results of brain research are for the further development of our educational system, here cooperation between the medical faculties and the educators is necessary. As a result, the Transfer Center for Neurosciences and Learning (ZNL) was founded in Ulm in spring 2004, with the help of funds from the Baden Württemberg State Foundation, the Bavarian Ministry of Culture and the City of Ulm. 8 It sometimes seems that new insights for psychology and pedagogy can only be expected in the neurosciences, and that the secrets of the brain will soon be completely deciphered: The popular misunderstanding that the neurosciences can have a particularly detrimental effect on the relationship between brain research and psychology Offer better-founded access to an understanding of psychological processes - or could even fulfill the old dream of making invisible psychological constructs (such as emotional or cognitive processes or acts of will) visible. 9 In the current educational debate, pedagogy is also under massive pressure to perform, particularly due to the so-called Pisaschock. The German education system, especially schools, is accused of a lack of efficiency. In this situation, brain research appears to be the bearer of hope in the crisis. This development is not insignificant for pedagogy and learning psychology. In the worst case, they would be deemed dispensable and their subject would be transferred to neuroscientific teaching and learning research if it were to become apparent that learning could be better explained and shaped from this side. It would be less consequential to incorporate results from the scientific disciplines into one's own theoretical structure and to integrate them into practical applications. In order to counter exaggerated expectations of the neurosciences, 11 leading neuroscientists have addressed the public in a manifesto to show the possibilities, but also the limits of this science () 8 Spitzer, M. (2005): Frontalhirn an Mandelkern. Stuttgart / New York: Schattauer. S Fiedler, K. et al. (2005): Psychology in the 21st Century - A Location Assessment. In: Brain and Mind 7-8, S Eigner, C. / Friederici, A. / Koch, C. et al. (2004): The Manifesto. Eleven leading neuroscientists on the present and future of brain research. In: Brain and Mind 6, pp. 30 ff. 2
6 The great hopes for the neurosciences are also noticeable at the universities: for the subject of psychology, the biopsychologists Thomas Elbert (University of Konstanz) and Onur Güntürkün (University of Bochum) predict that general psychology will have dissolved into biopsychology by approx. 11 One of the main reasons for the great attractiveness of brain research is the rapid methodological advances that are being disseminated in the media with great success. Medical research becomes representable, explainable, bloodless and understandable in healthy people. 12 The results of scientific research often make a stronger claim to truth than those of the social sciences. Particular attention is also paid to results that link certain brain functions with learning and memory variables: memory is located in the hippocampus, mirror neurons explain our social empathy - such results are interesting and popular, but also very vulnerable. In contrast, the results of educational research, which require large-scale and longer-term investigations, are slower and less sensational. More recent results from brain research also make it easier to enforce educational policy demands. The impression could therefore arise that the results of the neurosciences will make the work of psychology and pedagogy (if they do not work interdisciplinary) superfluous. In the following work, the question is to be investigated whether and which newer findings for learning in the school context emerge from the neurosciences. Furthermore, it should be asked whether these findings go beyond the results of learning psychology and pedagogy, make them superfluous or merely confirm their results and whether concrete conclusions for pedagogical practice can be derived from them. First, the methods of brain research are presented critically. In brain research, the questioning, problem analysis and interpretation of the collected data set a certain image of man and a certain attitude to body-soul - 11 Laucken, U. (2002): About the semantic blindness of a neuroscientific psychology. In: p.2 12 It is often not clear that a lot of knowledge is gained from animal experiments and that transferability to humans is problematic. 3rd
7 problem ahead. Depending on the setting, different data is collected and the results are interpreted differently. 13 Therefore, at the beginning, the philosophical prerequisites that flow into the research questions should be shown and presented on the basis of current theories on the body-mind problem. Another important question is to what extent a certain image of man has an influence on the theory of school-based learning. If you take e.g. a purely neurological condition of humans, educational action would be pointless and only the administration of medication would be indicated. After discussing the different models of the mind-body problem and the problems that arise from them, the philosophical assumptions of some leading neuroscientists will be discussed. The psychologists contrast the conceptions of neuroscientists with a different view of man and science. This is to be shown on the basis of the statements of some leading learning psychologists. Subsequently, some of the more recent results of brain research on development and variables that are important for learning psychology will be presented and compared with the results of learning psychology. First, general brain physiological development variables are presented and their relevance to school learning is discussed. Then some results of brain research on essential determinants in the learning process will be discussed. Some essential experiments are discussed as examples. This approach focuses on the question of whether the neurosciences provide new knowledge for the learning process or whether the results of psychological learning research are merely confirmed. Then some existing neurodidactic concepts will be presented and discussed. Finally, the conclusions from the neurosciences for school practice are explained and evaluated. In order to narrow down the literature, which can hardly be surveyed, the focus was placed on two research directions: On the one hand, the scientifically compulsory teaching and learning research by Manfred Spitzer, Gerhard Roth and Wolf Singer was taken into account.13 For example, it makes a big difference whether one only considers animal experiments or whether one considers feelings measures only through behavioral variables, etc./uvm 4th
8 Elsbeth Stern takes a more practical (and more critical approach to neuroscience) approach, also in her current report for the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF; as current literature with a similar approach, the books by Eberhard Reich (2005) 15 and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (2005) 16 have received special attention. The psychological explanations often refer to the textbook by Oerter and Montada 17 and to the current introductory volume by Myers. 18 The journals Brain und Geist, brain, science and the Zeitschrift für Pädagogik were often used as journals (among others). 2. The mind-body problem 2.1. Preliminary remarks The expression mind-body problem is preferable to other expressions such as mind-brain problem or mind-body problem for several reasons. On the one hand, the term body is rather misleading due to many connotations, on the other hand the term body is broader than the term brain. Other organs also play a role in the area of emotions, e.g. the adrenal cortex plays an important role as a producer of stress hormones. In the current debate in the neurosciences, what is of particular interest is whether there are new insights into how and whether mental events are caused by neuronal processes, whether there is an interaction, or whether the spiritual is just a variety of the physical. In the following, it should be shown how the area of the physical (body) and the mental (mind) are defined differently, how the data for statements in these respective areas are collected and which concepts there are problems for the interaction of mind and body the neuroscientific recording of brain activity The empirical data, which should cover the area of the physical correlates of feeling, thinking and acting, belong to the physical area. The background assumption of the natural sciences is that the physical realm is causally closed. This thesis is also called the thesis of methodological physicalism. 14 Stern, E. / Grabner, R. et al. (2005): Educational Reform Volume 13. Teaching and Learning Research and Neuroscience Expectations, Findings, Research Perspectives. Berlin: Internet editorial office. 15 Reich, E. (2005): Thinking and Learning. Brain research and educational practice. Darmstadt: Scientific book club. 16 Blakemore, S.-J. / Frith, U. (2005): The learning brain. Lessons for education. Oxford: Blackwell. 17 Oerter, R. / Montada, L. (Eds.) (2002): Developmental Psychology. Weinheim / Basel / Berlin: Beltz Verlag. 18 Myers, D. G. (2005): Psychology. Heidelberg: Springer. 5
9 This means that any explanation of a physical event that does not revert to physical causes is considered a failure. 19 However, this would imply that mental factors do not play a causal role in the physical world. The question of the possible interaction of mental events on physical variables represents a core problem in the body-mind relationship. The neuroscientists' variables are based on data from several areas: On the one hand, from studies on the consequences of injuries to the human brain. 20 As early as the middle of the 19th century, the French neurologist Broca was the first to observe that a lesion in the area of the left frontal lobe leads to a typical impairment of speech, which was later called Broca's aphasia. This type of teaching of functional centers was one of the most successful theories in neuroscience, along with the theory of neurons (i.e. the teaching of how nerve cells are constructed). It was already known in ancient times that certain injuries correspond to outlined failures. In recent years, new results have been added which have shown that injuries outside of the cerebral cortex can also lead to cognitive and psychological disorders: injuries in the area of the hippocampus lead to severe disorders in the declarative memory, injuries in the area of the amygdala lead to emotional impoverishment and a lack of ability to recognize threatening events and react to them. 21 It should be noted that there are certain structures (neural networks) in the brain (e.g. in the Broca area) that are necessary prerequisites for mastering certain mental abilities (e.g. mastering the syntax and grammar of language).It should be noted that these brain centers are networked with others, including certain sensory inputs and motor outputs; their function is partly determined as part of a complex network. 22 Similar results come from experiments in which brain stimulation was carried out on the open brain as part of brain operations. However, these data are inconclusive, as they were obtained from injured or diseased brains and a complex neural system is affected in the process. An interesting possibility to indirectly influence the 19 Brüntrup, G. (2001): The body-soul problem. Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne: Kohlhammer. 20 Roth, G. (2004): What are brain researchers allowed to talk about - and in what way? P. 68 f .: In: Geyer, C. (Hrsg) (2004): Hirnforschung und Willensfreiheit. Frankfurt / M.: Suhrkamp. 21 Kolb, B. / Wishaw, I.Q. (1993): Neuropsychologie, Heidelberg: Spektrum. Roth, G. (2003a): Feeling, Thinking, Acting. How the brain controls our behavior. Frankfurt / M .: Suhrkamp. 22 Roth, G. (2004): 69. 6th
10 healthy brain is transcranial magnetic stimulation. A person can thereby be induced to take an action which he then describes as previously wanted by him. 23 Further important information for the neurosciences comes from newer technical processes that make it possible to record the neural activities of networks of several million nerve cells as well as the level of individual cells or even synapses. Specifically, these techniques are single and multicell recording with the help of microelectrons, the older methods of electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) and, above all, positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fmrt). With the EEG, the activity of a large number of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex is measured with the help of surface electrodes through the skull. 24 MRI measures changes in the magnetic fields that run parallel to the surface of the cortex. PET and fmrt do not measure the electrical activity of the brain directly like EEG and MRI, but are based on the fact that neuronal excitations are accompanied by a local increase in brain metabolism (mainly sugar and oxygen consumption) and cerebral blood flow. 25 The fmrt has a high spatial resolution, i.e. an exact anatomical representation of the brain can be achieved, but the temporal resolution is still worse than that of the EEG. The problem with this data 26: On the one hand, the images are artifacts. 27 On the other hand, there are localization techniques and a temporal fixation. 28 It can be seen where and when something happens without the underlying measurements clearly showing what is actually being measured Roth, G. (2004): p.75. See also Cruse, H. (2004): I am my brain. Nothing speaks against materialistic monism. In: Geyer, C. (Ed) (2004) S Roth, G. (2001): The neurobiological foundations of mind and consciousness. In: Pauen, M. / Roth, G. (2001): Neurosciences and Philosophy. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag. 25 Posner, M.I. (1994): Seeing the Mind. In: Science 262, S Bähr, M. / Frotscher, M. (2003): Duus, Neurological-topical diagnostics. Stuttgart: Thieme. Braus, D. F. (2004): A look into the brain. Modern imaging in psychiatry. Stuttgart: Thieme. 26 According to Gehring, P. (2004): It flashes, it thinks. The imaging and world-forming processes of neuroscience. A journal for philosophical criticism. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. S e.g. to measuring methods that calculate the metabolic activity using radiation values (PET). Digital values are processed into images before brain research can reveal anything there. 28 Gehring, P. (2004): S This is also emphasized by Wolf Singer: The new methods prove that even the highest mental functions are based on the activity of nerve cells, but they can only tell when which brain area becomes active. Because of their limited spatial resolution, they do not provide any information about what is happening in these areas. Singer, W. (2002): The observer in the brain. Frankfurt / M .: Suhrkamp. S.
11 In order to research this, the spatiotemporal activity patterns of individual nerve cells would have to be analyzed and for this purpose microelectrodes would have to be inserted into the brain. 30 For ethical reasons, this is prohibited in healthy test subjects, as surgical interventions are associated with it. 31 Measurements on animals therefore remain unavoidable. The problem here is that the inner perspective of animals cannot be grasped directly and it remains open whether the results will meet expectations. The PET method cannot be used in healthy children due to the radiation exposure. The use of MRI and fmrt in children and adolescents is also problematic because of the high noise level and restricted freedom of movement. Examinations with these devices can only be carried out in laboratories and not in a learning environment close to school. Problems with the recording of the mental area In order to describe the subjective experience of feeling, thinking and acting of a person, one has to collect data from the mental area. It is usually common to distinguish between two large groups 32: intentional states (propositional attitudes) and sensations. Intentional states (e.g. wish, hope, believe, fear) are characterized by the fact that they are directed towards something. Since Brentano, this relation to an object is called intentionality. 33 Data in this area can also be collected through behavioral variables. Simple decisions are recorded through behavioral observations such as: Which button is pressed? which cards are chosen? Data in the area of thinking and intelligence performance and memory can also be collected objectively, i.e. from the perspective of the third person, through leads for certain tasks or tests and questionnaires. The problem with this approach is that certain behavior can also be simulated and more complex action tendencies cannot be captured in a simple alternative. Sensations such as pain, enthusiasm, happiness, nausea, but also perceptual impressions (such as the sound of a piece of music, the sensation of the color red or the taste of a tomato) are characterized at first glance by their phenomenal content. These sensations are probably not only due to 30 Singer, W. (2002): S Ibid. 32 According to Beckermann, A. (1996): Can mental phenomena be explained neurobiologically? : Roth, G./Prinz, W. (Eds) (1996): Kopfarbeit. Heidelberg / Berlin / Oxford: Spectrum Akad. Verlag. 33 Something is presented in the imagination, something is recognized or rejected in the judgment, loved in love, hated in hate, etc. Brentano, F. (1924): Psychology from the empirical standpoint. Leipzig: Mine. 8th
Record 12 behavioral observations. 34 They can only be grasped from the perspective of the first person: Through individual questioning such as: How severe is the pain? What feelings do you have now (e.g. when a certain area of the brain is stimulated)? Do you like this color? etc. The fact that sensations are not limited to behavior seems to be one of the main reasons for the difficulty in explaining these mental phenomena scientifically. 2.2 Philosophical concepts Duality in everyday experience In the everyday world there is indeed a characteristic duality of experience: on the one hand we experience ourselves as a body in a physical world, on the other hand we experience ourselves as the center of a stream of feelings, experiences, Wishes, action plans, thoughts and ideas. An example: Even the most exact physical description of a concert in the form of a representation of pitches, sound frequencies and sound waves cannot describe how this piece of music sounds or is heard and felt. An interaction between the two phenomena is also experienced in everyday life. A physical impairment, e.g. an illness, alcohol or medication affect the psychological well-being and the ability to think. Everyone is also familiar with the fact that mental states have direct effects on physical functions; e.g. Blushing when embarrassed or palpitations when fearful. Concepts of mind-body dualism According to the dualistic view, consciousness and brain are two completely different entities that can appear independently of one another and cover two different subject areas. There are different views on the problem of whether, how and where there are interrelationships between neural and mental processes. The problem was formulated by Descartes (), which is decisive for modern philosophy, and who understands the immaterial spirit and inanimate matter as two different substances. According to Descartes, substances always have a central 34. On the problem of the behavioristic point of view, see: Bieri, P. (1993): Analytical Philosophy of Spirit. Bodenheim: Athenaeum Hain Hanstein. P. 33 f. Damasio (2005) also seems to be of the opinion that one can comprehensively capture feelings through behavioral observations: there is an abundance of evidence for emotional reactions of simple organisms. Damasio, A., R. (2005): The Spinoza Effect. How feelings determine our life. Berlin: Ullstein-Verlag. 9
13 Characteristic in which its essence is expressed: in the case of the soul (the spirit), the res cogitans, it is thought 35; in the case of the body, the res extensa, the essential quality is to be extended. 36 Descartes further shows that one can doubt the existence of anything material (including one's own body), but not thinking (doubting) itself. Since it is not possible for a person to exist without thinking, thinking is his (only ) essential property. Since a person can clearly see that he can exist without being able to have a body, it must also be possible in real terms for the res cogitans, the spirit, to appear independently of the res externa, the body, as well as the body that can exist independently of the mind. That means that there must be two different substances. 37 Some things seem problematic about Descartes' assumptions: Does the possibility of being able to imagine something follow the fact that something exists? Can one infer a real possibility from the logical possibility or is this not an impermissible transition from the epistemic to the metaphysical level? Aren't the laws of conservation of physics violated by a causal effect of the mind on the body? Where should this influence take place? Since Descartes could not answer the questions resulting from his assumptions, alternatives to interactionist dualism were repeatedly sought in the period that followed.The concept of non-reductive physicalism Some main problems of dualistic theories can be avoided if mental phenomena are not regarded as independent substances, but rather regards them as properties of neural activity; as properties that could in turn affect neural processes. The basic ontology would be physical, since all concrete spatiotemporal individual things in the world are physical. The ideology, however, is dualistic, 35 plants and animals are, according to Descartes, only machines and their functioning can be explained mechanistically. 36 But although every attribute is sufficient to know a substance, there is in every case one which defines its nature, which constitutes its nature and essence, and on which all others depend. For it is the expanse in length, breadth and depth that constitutes the nature of corporeal substance; and thinking constitutes the nature of the substance that thinks. Descartes, R. (1644 / ND 1953): Les principes de la philosophie. In the S; Oevres et lettres. From this I recognized that I am a substance whose whole being or whose nature consists only in thinking and which does not need a place to be, nor depends on any material thing, so that this I, i.e. the soul through which I that is what I am, is completely different from the body, in fact that it is even easier to recognize than it is, and that even if it were not it it would not cease to be everything it is. Descartes, R. (1637/1960): From the method of the correct use of reason and scientific research. Translated from V. Lüder Gäbe. Hamburg 38 E.g. Popper, K.R./ Eccles, J.C. (1977): The I and its brain. Munich / Zurich: Piper. 10
14 since these particular things have spiritual and physical properties. The question arises: Are and how are spiritual things different from physical things? In its general form says e.g. the supervenience theory follows: The physical area is causally closed. Mental events are dependent on physical events. There is no change in the mental realm without a change in the physical realm. Nevertheless, mental events cannot be reduced to physical events, nor are they identical to them. They are causally effective because their physical basis is causally effective. 39 Kim coined the term epiphenomenal realization for this. This means that a mental property can be realized multiple times and thus enjoys a certain autonomy. For example, showing a feeling of joy in various physical reactions is not an exhaustive explanation. In this version, these assumptions are arguably the most acceptable concept in neuroscientific research at the moment. Ultimately, however, the supervenience theory claims that only the physical really exists, even if we can never reduce mental properties to physical properties (perhaps only due to a lack of insight) The concept of reductive physicalism In the background of the reduction theses described here is the assumption of a Identity of properties, here of mental and physical properties. Feelings and thoughts are traced back to other, scientifically more respectable (physical) entities. If mental properties can be reduced to physical properties, their causal effectiveness can be made understandable without endangering the causal closeness of the physical area. The basic theses of eliminative materialism are particularly radical: states of consciousness are merely artifacts of a prescientific theory. The concepts introduced by this everyday psychology (wishes, ideas, sensations, thoughts) do not actually exist. The perspective of everyday psychology, of conscious experience, should be replaced by a better (neurophysiological) way of explanation, since only the physical really exists. In recent times, the eliminative-physical position has been mainly represented by Paul and Patricia Churchland Kim J. (1994): Supervenience : Guttenplan, S. (Ed): A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 40 Churchland, P. (1986): Neurophilosophy: Towards a Unified Science of Mind and Brain. Cambridge: MIT Press. Curchland, P. (1994): Folk- Psychology: Guttenplan, S. (Ed) (1994): A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. S.
15 Paul Churchland assumes that most people's conceptual grid to which they ascribe feelings, memories, intentions, thoughts, and impressions is a kind of theory: everyday psychology. The assumption of an inner psychic life turned out to be useful in order to be able to explain and predict the behavior of other people. However, these assumptions are wrong. There are several objections to these arguments: Everyday psychology cannot and does not want to fully explain all occurrences. It is also questionable whether you even need a theory to relate to your own feelings or thoughts. The thesis that the spiritual processes can be scientifically explained, that they do not determine our actions causally and that they are completely useless, would mean that we would have been radically mistaken in our self-image (in addition, natural science has not yet been able to prove anything similar) can one also claim that there are no convictions if one is convinced of one's own eliminative position? The essential thing about perceptions, feelings and thoughts is their qualitative character; this can only be experienced subjectively. Physical phenomena, on the other hand, are objective, they can be grasped from different perspectives. Everything that is only accessible from a certain experience perspective (the first person) cannot, by definition, be recorded objectively (inter-individually). In addition to the hardly to be provided proof that there is no such thing as inner experience, intentionality and consciousness, successor terms for the predicates would have to be found that were previously connected with the area of intentionality, such as: explains, refers to, follows from is true, is provable, etc. The mind-body problem cannot be solved by recourse to the natural sciences alone. 2.3 Preliminary assumptions of scientific investigations In the question, in the experimental set-up and the interpretation of the experimental results of modern brain research, assumptions regarding the mind-brain problem are included.Together with Gerhard Roth, the theses of Wolf Singer, one of the most decisive determinists (and in the field of learning, those of Manfred Spitzer) dominate the public debate. The Theses of Wolf Singer As a determinist, Singer assumes that the cognitive functions with the physicochemical interactions are not to be equated in the nerve cells, but still 12
16 can be causally explained from these. 41 According to Singer, the improved measurement methods in neuroscience also make it possible to record the neural mechanisms on which the higher, cognitive performance of complex brains is based. Phenomena that are often described as first-person experiences, such as perception, imagining, remembering, planning and decision-making, as well as emotions, can be operationalized 42, objectified and traced back to neural processes in the sense of causal causation. 43 However, he does not assume that the observable cognitive and emotional processes are identical to the underlying processes. Therefore, according to Singer, different description systems are used to represent neural processes and behavioral variables. It is assumed that behavioral performances are emergent properties of neural processes: This is intended to express that the cognitive functions are not to be equated with the physico-chemical interactions in the nerve cells, but nevertheless arise from them in a causally explainable way. 44 Singer thinks: The experience of freedom is an early childhood, internalized illusion, as it were the first socialization error in every biography. In reality, people are determined by their bodies and their brains. Gerhard Roth's theses According to Roth, a wealth of neuroscientific results indicate that people's feelings and thoughts are conditioned by certain brain functions. 45 However, he does not assume that the human being can be reduced completely to the neuronal, but emphasizes the fact that we would not have the many findings of the neurosciences if we did not first have the knowledge of spiritual and emotional experiences. 46 Even if brain research were able to uncover the neural correlates of even the smallest emotions, there would still be a leap from describing neural processes to directly experiencing psychological states. 47 Roth here proves to be a supporter of non-reductive physicalism, 48 of 41 Ibid., S It becomes clear that Singer always has to define cognitions, emotions and subjective experiences behavioristically before he can analyze them as the material of the neurosciences. 43 Singer, W. (2003): A New Image of Man? Conversations about brain research. Frankfurt / M .: Suhrkamp.S Geyer, C. (2004): S Roth, G. (2002): Brain research as a bridge between the natural sciences and the humanities. S ibid. S Roth, G. (2004) in: Geyer, C. (2004) S Roth, G. (1999): The brain and its reality. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. S.
17 assumes that the experience process is completely conditioned by brain processes, while the feelings and thoughts cannot be fully translated into a neural description. Manfred Spitzer's theses Manfred Spitzer is more cautious about the problem of free will: The brain is materially subject to the causal laws of nature nevertheless a tool for free decision-making and action due to its respective history of experience. 49 He assumes a strict simultaneity of neural and mental processes: every reflection, every perception, every feeling corresponds to a material change in the brain. 50 How exactly the relationship between mind and brain is to be thought remains open. 51 As a neuroscientist, Spitzer takes the subjective experiences (of the first person) as real: Toothache, really, really severe toothache only exist subjectively. Still, hardly anyone will want to deny that toothaches are extremely real. 52 With regard to the conclusions that can be drawn from the results of brain research for school practice, Spitzer is optimistic: I think that even with the current state of brain research (which has not been completed, but is only really beginning), a whole range of practical things can be found Draw conclusions for schools, universities and society The theses of leading neuroscientists: The manifesto In a manifesto, eleven leading neuroscientists have expressed themselves about the present and future of brain research in the 21st century. 54 A parallelism of neural processes and subjective experience is assumed: The data obtained with modern imaging methods indicate that all intra-psychological processes are associated with neural processes in certain areas of the brain - for example, imagination, empathy, the experience of sensations and the meeting of 49 Spitzer, M. (2004): Self-determination and the question: What should we do? Heidelberg / Berlin: Spectrum. Note: In his concept of freedom of action, Spitzer refers to Kant (ibid. P. 29 ff.); What remains open, however, is what the expression: a tool means and how precisely the mind-brain relationship is conceived. 50 Ibid. S Formulations such as: the brain determines itself (ibid. P. 283.) or the brain learns, evaluates, decides and acts (ibid. P.21) could indicate a monistic worldview; (Note: here you could also enter the question of whether it is permissible to speak of the brain as a quasi-autonomous subject; see also note 63; Manfred Spitzer is self-critical on this: Ibid. P.306). In my opinion, Spitzer is more based on a dualistic worldview when he formulates: Freedom does not only exist as a feeling, we are actually free, as long as we look at ourselves. This does not contradict the assumption of a causally or lawfully structured nature, which we have to make if we are engaged in natural science. Ibid. S ibid. S Spitzer, M. (2002): Learning. Brain research and the school of life. Heidelberg / Berlin: Spectrum Academic Publishing House. S. XVI. 54 Eiger, C., E et. al. (2004): The Manifesto. In: Geist and Brain, (2004) No. 6, pp. 30 ff. 14
18 decisions, or the deliberate planning of actions. Even if we do not yet know the exact details, we can assume that all of these processes can basically be described by physicochemical processes. 55 How exactly this relationship can be represented is still open to neuroscientists: The where in the brain, about which functional magnetic resonance imaging today gives us information, does not yet tell us how cognitive performance can be described by neural mechanisms. 56 With regard to the expected achievements of the neurosciences, the scientists are very optimistic: In the foreseeable future, i.e. in the next 20 to 30 years, brain research will examine the connection between neuroelectric and neurochemical processes on the one hand and perceptual, cognitive, psychological and motor performance on the other, can explain to the extent that predictions about these relationships in both directions are possible with a high degree of probability. 57 The difficult questions of epistemology could be tackled by researching the connection between large groups of neurons: (the questions) about consciousness, the experience of the ego and the relationship between the object that can be known and that which can be known. Because in this future moment our brain is seriously preparing to recognize itself. 58 According to neuroscientists, this seems to increasingly blur dualistic explanatory models. 59 Some assumptions are later somewhat restricted: ... a complete description of the individual brain and thus a prediction of the behavior of a certain person will only be possible to a very limited extent. 60 Nor should all progress end in a triumph of neural reductionism. Even if at some point we should have cleared up all the neuronal processes that underlie human compassion, being in love or moral responsibility, the independence of this interpretation will still be preserved. S ibid. S ibid. P. 36. This seems to be a dualistic view of man: from one area, the other area is inferred. 58 Note: It remains to be seen why research on the middle level (larger groups of neurons) is so important; especially since this research works with derivatives on the open brain and can therefore only be carried out in healthy animals; on humans only with e.g. Epilepsy or tumor patients. For further critical remarks see also the note Das Manifest (2004): S Ibd. S ibid. P.36. Note: What significance this interpretation has, whether it is an epiphenomenon or a social construct or in any way effective, remains open (perhaps only the reader should be reassured). In this context, a Bach fugue is remarkably often cited as evidence as a phenomenon that cannot be explained neuroscientifically! 15th
19 The counter-theses of leading psychologists In a joint manifesto 62, 6 leading psychologists defend themselves against the publicly expressed opinion that other research disciplines, especially brain research, are better able to provide answers to the questions of psychology. This misunderstanding says roughly that the actual level of explanation for psychological phenomena lies on the neurophysiological level and that psychological theories are at best temporary auxiliary constructions. Such a view, however, fails to recognize the fact that the entire structure of the sciences insists on the recognition of independent levels of analysis. 63 In order to record what the brain does, one is currently dependent on the constructs of psychology and the possibilities of psychological data acquisition. In psychology, a differentiated modeling of phenomena such as perception, learning, memory or motivation has been created, to which neuroscientists have to refer. Psychology looks for determinants of behavior and experience; diverse interrelationships, including with biological variables, are assumed. Wolfgang Prinz thinks in this context: We want to know: Why did someone do this or that? Simply to say it was his free will is to give up science. In this respect, the subject of free will does not appear in our laboratory either. 64 The task and, for example, the recording of performance (memory performance, intelligence performance) also include psychological theory. The popular misunderstanding that the neurosciences have a better-founded understanding of psychological processes or could even fulfill the old dream of making invisible psychological constructs (such as emotional or cognitive processes or acts of will) visible appears time and again in public discussion. 65 However, as long as one does not know which physical principles underlie psychic performance and experiences, be it in perception, in emotional experiences, in the formation of judgments, in the use of language and numbers, etc., neurophysiological data no longer represent correlations that have to be explained again. In memory research, a psychologist can e.g. examine how memory performance is related to task difficulty. A 62 Fiedler, K. et al. In: Brain and Mind (2005) 7-8. P.56ff. 63 Ibid. S Who thinks thinking? In: die Zeit (2005) 29. S Fiedler, K. et al. In: Brain and Mind (2005) 7-8. S.
In the same context, neuroscientists can record the energy consumption in certain brain regions. However, it is certainly not justified to infer a causal connection with psychological memory functions from a different energy consumption in the hippocampus: As soon as one uses the results of such a measurement to explain psychological performance, one outputs a correlative relationship as a causal relationship - which despite the suggestive power of colorful fmri 66 images is a fatal and consequential mistake in thinking. 67 Psychology remains important as the science whose central task is to contribute to a deeper understanding of all manifestations of the psychic and to provide the methods to grasp them. The theses of Uwe Laucken The psychologist Uwe Laucken defends himself against the supremacy of the neurosciences in two ways: on the one hand against the claim to be able to explain psychological phenomena alone, on the other hand against the tendency to want to replace the psychological sciences with the neurosciences. 68 He emphasizes the problems arising from the collection of different data in psychology and neuroscience. The neuroscientific data are physical data, they are objective, i.e. subjective experiences are excluded by definition. Meanings, feelings and thought contents cannot be grasped scientifically: The material world could only be constituted at the price that the self, the spirit, was removed from it. The spirit (English: mind, Latin: mens) is not part of it. The world of natural sciences (lacks) everything that has meaning. But it not only lacks, but from a purely scientific point of view, meaning cannot be incorporated organically at all. 70 The objective cosmos of the natural sciences is semantically empty and the theories of the natural sciences are correspondingly semantically blind 71 In relation to the individual, this means that, even if one could provide complete information about the neuronal processes in a person's brain, about his or her subjective experience and thinking could not say anything (to grasp this one would need a knowledge of psychology). 66 Functional magnetic resonance tomography 67 Fiedler, K. et al. In: Brain and Mind (2005) 7-8. S Laucken, U. (2002): About the semantic blindness of a neuroscientific psychology. Or: What would such a sophisticated psychology have to say about the dialogue between cultures? Source: http // 69 Schrödinger, E. (1989): Geist und Materie. Zurich: Diogenes. S ibid. S. 96. quoted from Laucken, U. (2002): S Laucken, U. (2002): S.
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