You don’t see this here every day. In this post, I wrote this:
As the research shows, once you attach such an aversive stimulus pathway to a concept in the amygdala, you cannot destroy that neural pathway, unlike in other areas of the brain… At most, with extensive deconditioning work, you can create a second suppressive-circuit to suppress the amygdala trigger…
Carmen decides to try and criticize that assertion about the amygdala, and me, in the comments:
What specific research? Citations please, NOT your own interpretation of studies that have little to do with your own premises. You have been known to take research and twist and turn their conclusions to “prove” your own point.
Notice the distraction with the argument, and then the slipping in the subtle assertion I lie about research. Carmen is not trained in hypnosis, but as a leftist, naturally has some subconscious grasp of trying to slip snide comments under the radar. I suspect it is a byproduct of never being able to directly confront people due to physical limitations.
I told her to check the book for the cite, and she responded with this:
YOUR research, huh. “As the research shows, once you attach such an aversive stimulus pathway to a concept in the amygdala, you cannot destroy that neural pathway, unlike in other areas of the brain.”
Because that neural pathway can be altered so as the aversive stimulus is reduced in intensity, thus decreasing fear. Besides, your track record of research is, shall we say, dubious.
More subtle, unsubstantiated insults. It was getting tedious, so I went with the amygdala-bang to move Carmen on:
I know as a leftist, you assume you automatically can show up and school everyone in any subject at any moment because you know everything, but you don’t know what you are talking about here. The base neural pathway is not altered. What is altered is that a suppressive pathway is created to suppress the initial aversive stimulus. Normally I wouldn’t waste time tracking down a cite for a leftie with a double digit IQ…
See Whalen, P. J., Phelps, E. A. (Eds.), The Human Amygdala, (p. 205). New York : Guilford.:
Even though extinction training can eliminate the expression of conditioned fear, there is abundant evidence that extinction does not erase or undo the fear learning. After extinction conditioned fear can return in a range of circumstances, including the simple passage of time (spontaneous recovery), exposure to the US (reinstatement), or exposure to the CS in a novel context (renewal)… The recovery of fear indicates that extinction training results in new learning to inhibit the expression of conditioned fear…
… These extinction resistant cells are consistent with behavioral data suggesting that extinction does not erase the fear memory, as evidenced by the recovery of conditioned fear following extinction.
That is pretty much the textbook on the subject of the amygdala, written by the handpicked experts in each facet of the field, so you must be feeling like quite a tool right now.
You initially talked about the neural pathway is destroyed, then backtracked and stated the initial neural pathway is not altered, but rather a suppressive pathway is created. Which to me means you read the source I provided, realized you were wrong, and then corrected yourself here.
So I initially said the amygdala neural pathway was destroyed, and Carmen was the one who corrected me, by telling me a suppressive pathway was created, and it wasn’t destroyed?
Here is the first quote which set this off, which Carmen claims has me saying the amygdala pathway was destroyed, and not mentioning a suppressive pathway:
As the research shows, once you attach such an aversive stimulus pathway to a concept in the amygdala, you cannot destroy that neural pathway, unlike in other areas of the brain… At most, with extensive deconditioning work, you can create a second suppressive-circuit to suppress the amygdala trigger, but that secondary pathway is always weak in its operation. The initial aversive stimulus is easily re-triggered through it…
So Carmen actually switched up who was arguing what, in so doing forgetting that she was wrong. Notice Carmen could not keep straight what she was arguing. She began saying that quote was wrong, and then when shown it was not, she switched things in her brain and claimed I had said what she said, and she had corrected me by saying what I said.
I was going to leave this in the comments, but I realized I saw significance in this for a reason and it is important that adherents of r/K understand why this is important.
Carmen couldn’t keep straight in her mind whether amygdala pathways were permanent, or temporary, or what she said in regards to it because she has no knowledge of cognitive neuroscience. To anyone who understands the subject, this is highly significant, and understanding why will explain in part why we begin life liberal and go Conservative as our amygdala begins small, and grows big, and why we so rarely see people go the other way.
The reason this has stuck in my brain so hard is because it violates something you learn early on in cognitive neuroscience. Most memory circuits operate according to what are called Hebbian precepts. It is a fancy way of saying most memory circuits get strong with use, and disappear with disuse. So if you exercise the circuit, it upregulates production of all the parts that make it strong, and it builds up like a muscle. Likewise, if you don’t use the circuit, a Hebbian synapse will waste away, and whatever it did will be lost.
You see this effect in life. You learn calculus and get great at it by doing it every day. As you do, your calculus neurons grow strong and the synapses connecting the ideas fire off very powerfully. You become a machine at interweaving different equations. You see the graphs overlay and affect each other in your mind, you spot relationships between variables and the equations that relate them, and you can go effortlessly from position to velocity to acceleration all along the way. Integrals, derivatives, limits, it all flows out of your brain immediately as you do it repeatedly and exercise the neurons. Leave the field, and after ten years, you can barely do anything. All of the circuits have wasted away and their connections no longer fire strongly enough to pull out the memories of what to do.
Likewise, you meet someone at a party, learn their name, and don’t see them for a few years, and good luck if you run into them on the street. It even manifests in the physical dexterity of musical instruments, and the reaction times of fighters. So the entire rest of the non-amygdala brain, and everything outside the spinal cord, operates based on a rule of use it or lose it.
But the amygdala is different, and when you first learn of it, it surprises you. The amygdala only needs a circuit to be created once, and it will maintain it for life, regardless of how much it is used. With time, and exposure to the stimulus in a harmless environment you can diminish the effect of the circuit, but that memory circuit is still there firing when exposed to the conditioning stimulus. The difference is that after such deconditioning, a new path, most likely in the prefrontal cortex, develops and “learns” to suppress the amygdala-memory’s effect. But reduce exposure again, and that PFC circuit can waste away, while the amygdala-circuit remains, and later re-exposure will trigger the fear again, something called spontaneous renewal.
You can see why this would be in nature. Life or death circumstances don’t arise daily. You probably don’t get to practice experiencing them. A man may only be attacked by, and escape, a Saber-toothed Tiger but once. But just because it doesn’t happen all the time, doesn’t mean holding onto that memory, and all the warning signs which preceded it is not important. Clearly the vital importance of amygdala-tagged memories, means how often they are used should not matter. Evolution heard that criticism and included the feature in our build. Learn an amygdala memory once, and for better or worse, you will probably carry it to your grave.
It is interesting to me, because if the whole brain worked like the amygdala, every memory you formed would remain for your entire life. That would be cool. Of course that was impractical, due to processing/storage limits of the brain (though I have wondered if there might be aliens somewhere whose brains and skulls evolved the ability to grow continuously, and whose neural circuitry worked that way, with the oldest among them walking around with giant heads, and an internet-sized encyclopedic level of knowledge. I imagine they would have big-headed conservatives with lots of experience who know how the world works, and pea-headed simpleton leftists, who still think if you import violent foreigners they will stop being violent and celebrate your kindness.)
But this is why you do not often see a conservative become a leftist. Those circuits don’t waste away on their own. In the cases you do see, it would not surprise me to find that there is a T. gondii like parasite causing physical damage within the amygdala, and physically ablating the circuitry there.
That Carmen didn’t know this, or recognize the significance enough to keep straight in her head what was being argued shows she is new to the field. But she raised one other interesting point. In her desperation to convince everybody else that r/K Theory has been widely debunked, and the work here has long been the subject of ridicule throughout the world, she pointed to a single blog written by a guy who I strongly suspect never even read Evopsych. He kept saying I never mentioned density dependence (I did), he kept trying to tie it to white vs black instead of politics (I recommend against that because it mixes r’s and K’s and muddies the water, unlike politics), and he refused to look at mortality as mortality that fed competition, or mortality that killed randomly and eliminated competition in the recovery. To him, intermittent drought in a desert that kills all equally and then abates and allows unfettered population explosion is the same as long-term drought that leaves just a few watering holes that everyone fights over constantly. I’m not about to rehash it all.
But the point is, in terms of criticism, he is just about it. You will not find criticism of r/K Theory online, even among the left, and the only trolls we get here are of Carmen’s ilk – amateurs in the subject who just pop in to take a few poorly aimed shots, before disappearing into the mist when their criticisms fall flat.
The left cannot touch this. By its very design, it triggers amygdalae too much. To criticize it they would have to hold it in their hand and look at it, and they can no more do that than they could hold a critical mass of plutonium in their hand and examine it to prove it is not radioactive.
r/K is dangerous also, because it makes such good sense on so many levels. Whether you look at it from the perspective of what you see in politics, or rabbits and wolves, or evolutionary ecology, or genetic drive, or history, or homosexuality, or sexual dimorphism, or genetics, or cognitive neuroscience and the amygdala, or pathogens, or social sciences and criminal psychology, or pedophilia, or child-protective urges, or economics, or just news and current events, r/K fits. If you dig down to the cites and the science, it holds perfectly. But I think the real reason everyone hopes it will stop spreading and disappear is that on the surface, where so many people will look, it makes perfect sense out of things which otherwise make absolutely no sense.
And so we continue here to promote it to those who will spread it, until everyone in the world knows of it.
Which they undoubtedly will.