I read directly the neuroscientific studies published by their authors. However, many patients read Brain – Psycho and I subscribed to find out how the studies are explained to the general public.
It's a delicate task. Readers are looking for an impact on their behaviour. Neuroscientists investigate neural mechanisms. Would both be superimposed? Far from it. There is currently no general theory linking the brain and mind. Only correlations.
These correlations are acceptable when they are very strict between a level of neurological information and a mental function. This is the case, for example, with visual recognition. A visual image is closely correlated with the hierarchical and synchronous activity of specialized neural groups. The qualia (the experience associated with this image) has a well-defined physical support. It can be triggered by artificially stimulating these neural groups.
Correlations are not acceptable for psychology, at least not in the current state of knowledge. Conscious content is based on a much larger hierarchical extension of neural networks. This organization is not simply the result of sensory analysis processes. It has its degrees of independence, more and more evident as one approaches consciousness. Degrees that we group under the term personality.
The psyche exercises choices and voluntarily emancipates itself from its sensory inputs. Two almost similar contexts can trigger contrasting reactions. It is the foundation of our human diversity.
This principle of restricting interpretations of neurological studies to close correlations is not always respected by neuroscientists themselves. The step is hastily taken between the cognitive effect and the precept of personal achievement. The psyche is thus invaded and modified by these studies, ending its relative independence and diversification. Neural paradigms colonize behavioral paradigms.
Is this advice always wise? Certainly not. The rules of neural organization are very similar from person to person, while personality differs tremendously, and for an excellent reason: the environment is specific to the individual, as well as his personal history, physical characteristics, culture, etc. The diversity of personal realities reflects the plasticity of the psyche in the face of the environment. But at the same time the identity stability of the personality generates attempts to transform the world, to make it more in line with personal expectations.
If we seek to standardize the psyches by imposing paradigms as stereotypical as those of neurology, let us hope that the contemporary world is free of any defects, or few will seek to reshape it. It is indeed towards an Orwellian world that leads us to the non-respect of the independence of the psyche.
Undoubtedly this independence is threatened by the conquering interpretations of neuroscience and the relay they find in journals such as Brain – Psycho.
It is no doubt postulated by the authors that readers will be able to read their conclusions with the required reservation. I do not lend researchers and journalists any desire to harm. But does the lay reader have the necessary caution and skepticism?
In our ever more enthusiastic desire to exist, we spread in our social networks all the curiosities that seem to us first hand. The show takes precedence over nuance. The deduction is not a recipe. This independence of information levels, so important to the mind, has disappeared from the social. The expertise has gone from community to commune, soon to be communist?
Researchers and even more journalists are constantly tempted by the show. And it's necessary! No show, no research funds, no readers. The stage is the only place to popularize the fruit of his work. The difficulty is to tell how far the text's imagination can go without losing its connection with the original information.
How many independent levels of information can be crossed with the original paradigm? And if the author continues his enthusiastic leaps, has he been careful to warn that his own personality has withdrawn the controls to science?
I will keep on this blog a section reporting the most harmful blunders I encounter on Brain – Psycho. It is impossible to have them corrected by the magazine, which is devoid of mail from readers. First articles referred to in a future post:
-The amazing brain of birds