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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000934.txt from 2000/09

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Smiling and feelings (vs. music)
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 23:03:58 -0400

On Thu, 28 Sep 2000 18:15:09 -0700 (PDT), said:

> It's reasonable to assume that "emotive" activities (as in 'emote',
> not as in 'feel') use different neural pathways because they are
> talking to different areas of the brain.

'Using different neural pathways' is a phrase that you make do a lot of
work, though.

In my reply to your previous post, which I should perhaps not have
confused by starting a new thread, I pointed out that the fact that I
may both 'genuinely' smile at, and 'genuinely' kiss someone as the
expression of something about myself that (avoiding this input/output
terminology) is not 'constructed', shows that 'not being constructed'
can't be tied down to areas of brain excitation -- even if the mechanism
of a 'genuine' smile is so tied down.

And surely that's not surprising.

The fact that we can do high level things like 'express affection' in
many different ways, from subtly emphasising a word to squeezing a hand,
makes that blindingly obvious, I'd have thought.

You seem to be saying that a picture of some not particularly well
understood brain activity shows that we're doing something essentially
different if we 'express affection' by smiling 'genuinely' rather than

I don't feel I can buy the methodology or the conclusion. The fact that
we have a hardwired smile module somewhere in the brain doesn't mean
that that area of the brain has something to do with 'genuineness'.

> Kissing and playing music both use the lips (and often the tongue),
> but music uses the lips and tongue mostly for output. True, there is
> feedback from the lips and tongue about embouchure and articulation;
> but as far as the lips and tongue are concerned (not considering the
> response of our ears for a moment), playing music is mostly a process
> of emoting, not of receiving sensations.

You can't leave out the response of our ears. That's absolutely
fundamental to playing music -- even solo music.

> Without trying to be graphic, kissing uses the lips and tongue on the
> order of equally for input and output. In this respect, playing music
> is much closer to smiling than it is to kissing.

But I might very easily give someone a kiss that's got very little input
component, if my face happens to be very cold, say. And your 'much
closer' does no work at all, then.

Unless you're trying to say that playing music is much closer to
*hardwired* smiling; but that would just be wrong.

> What does this prove? I don't know, except to illustrate my earlier
> observation that the lack of feedback connections between diaphragm
> and brain, which you described in your "magic diminuendo" post, has
> (perhaps limited) similarity to the lack of connections between our
> embouchure muscles and whatever part of the brain that drives a smile.

The point about the diaphragm is that we can't know how strongly it's
flexed by direct sensory feedback from the muscle. We *can* know how
strongly it's flexed by using our ears.

You can have a direct experience of the truth of that by trying the
'magic diminuendo'.

If I've understood the bit about the smile correctly, what we know about
the part of the brain involved is that it 'lights up', or not, when we
smile, and that damage in that area affects our ability to produce
a hardwired smile. But that says nothing about consciousness of the
smile -- and in fact, I can be conscious of both sorts of smile

> So I'm not really arguing against anything. I'm just making an
> observation. Obviously the more that a person understands how his or
> her nervous system works, the more likely the person is to reach
> appropriate decisions.

Well, with no offence intended, it does seem to me that I don't agree
with the observation:-)

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE GMN family artist:
tel/fax 01865 553339

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