November 23, 2016
Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer
This is my seventeenth response to “The basic emotional circuits of mammalian brains: Do animals have affective lives?” Although Panksepp gives a possible neuroscientific explanation for why punishment and reward works, he is too much focused on what occurs within the skin to focus on the environmental stimuli which cause the organism to behave the way it does. It is understandable that as a neuroscientist he does.
“One credible hypothesis is that shifting tides of neuro-affective
processes are critical for instantiating the concept of “reinforcement” within the brain. Perhaps most neuroscientists might envision this to merely reflect the strengthening of synapses via glutamate-based “long-term potentiation” type mechanisms, but one only need to point out that every emotional system of the brain has glutamatergic transmission at its core. Hence the “conceptual glue” of reinforcement” —which has remained the key concept of behavioral analysis—is actually a reflection of brain affective systems in action.”
If Panksepp would follow his own neuroscientific line of reasoning, he must come to the same conclusion as behaviorists: there is no behavior-initiating self or a behavior-causing mind. Furthermore, if Panksepp is correct, and I believe he is, his research is more in tune with behaviorists than with mentalists whose acknowledgment he seeks.
Interestingly, Panksepp’s emphasis on experience is congruent with Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB). “It could be claimed that the conceptual and methodological problems we face on that road to returning experience back into brain, as key types of neural processes, especially in other animals, remains truly huge. Indeed, we have no semi-direct access to the minds of other humans, unless we believe what they say.” Once we listen to how we as humans sound and how our sound expresses how we feel, we will gain a better understanding of how animals feel.