Why Discussion of the Brain?





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"Why Discussion of the Brain?"


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (August 25, 2001)


Why all these articles on the brain? Tell me, how does one intelligently consider any aspect of human behavior—thinking, planning, learning, behaving nobly or ignobly, warring, concertizing—without understanding the forces that cause or energize those forms of behavior: Those forces come from the brain—more specifically from nerve cells and billions upon billions of interconnections within organs and association areas within the brain.


If people are acting with charity, it is because there are cellular structures, some of them identifiable, for that kind of behavior. If men excel over women in mathematical and spatial perception, it is because the structures in the right side of their brains are somewhat different from those in women's brains. And different sex hormones bathe them daily. When you consider the keen spatial perceptions that a quarterback must have, you can understand that men will always be, right-brain wise, the better football players—and not just because of strength.


Everybody knows that women seem to talk more than men: It is the left side of the brain, where the female nerve hookups differ from those of men, that controls grammatical relationships, fluency of speech, and articulateness. Every schoolboy knows that girls do better in English and bookish things that require language manipulation than they do. In spite of the fact that men have dominated writing —as poets, dramatists, novelists, etc.—it is women who purchase most printed materials—like magazines, tabloids, fiction (especially romantic) and poetry.


Consider the evolution of the brain functions, as you consider the evolution of man (Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Homo sapiens, and Homo sapien sapiens): Consider men as hunters: When you hunt animals you talk as little as possible, but you keep in contact with other men hunting by imitating animal cries: Notice that little boys still try to moo like cows, or grunt like hogs, and bow-wow like dogs. And girls seldom or never do this.


Consider women as gatherers of plants and nuts for what I heard a minister call the "divine diet." Women would have to be out gathering together—as the men had to cooperate to hunt and bring down behemoths or tigers. And they would have to carry their young into the fields, whom they would have to locate from time to time by calling out their names. And women would have to locate each other by talking all the time! This they did years ago—and they have never stopped talking! And all those years brain cells for language were developing and evolving in the human brain.


It is pure ignorance of how specific structures of the brain influence what we do—and often without deliberation or control—that would cause a writer like Kathleen Parker to say that she is "disinclined to empathize with fully-grown adults who act badly on account of a lousy childhood." My dear Kathleen, you may be unempathetic because of a lousy childhood. What does Kathleen's brain know about the brains of others?




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Answers from Neurology





Answers from Neurology


Answers from Neurology

By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (May 4, 2001)



We are what our brains dictate, and therein lie many answers from neuroscience or neurology that could help us be better people and a better society. Einstein once said, as he worked unsuccessfully to find it, that when we find the Final Formula (beyond his e=mc2) it will be "so" simple that we will wonder why we never thought of it.

A paradox is a proposition or idea that seems to contradict itself, seeming absurd, but is in fact true. I believe that God is a paradox, and as such, He and His creation, are ultimately very simple and also just as complex. Human behavior—living, hating, emoting, thinking, reading, writing, murdering, torturing—is what the brain causes us to do, and we rarely realize that we could turn to it to help us with our problems.

The activity of the brain—and there are really three of them in our heads—is paradoxically causing many of our actions that seem to contradict themselves. If it is inconceivable that a mother will slaughter her child, then one needs only consider that if the "old" brain or limbic system is not in sync with one of the upper hemispheres, pitting emotion against reason, we can get just such contradictory behavior—THAT OF A MOTHER KILLING THE CHIILD THE LOVES.

We have such contradictory behavior—much of it anti-social and horrifying to the community—all the time, and we never think to consider the brain as the culprit. And that is because we know so little of what neurologists and psychologists have been arguing and reporting down through the years about the impact of the brain upon behavior—especially learning and neurotic and psychotic behavior.

I hold those who know or should know at fault for taking so long to focus on the structures of the brain as they consider serious problems that confront us and society. Teachers are trying to teach kids without knowing very much about the structures in the brain where memory and language are processed. For years now I have mentioned in articles what every neurologist and psycholinguists has known for years and can now through brain imaging prove—that the brain cells for language skills are produced most abundantly in the first 2 years of life and slow up dramatically when puberty sets in (much, much earlier now: for some girls at 8 years old and for boys a few years later): Dumb-dumb should know then that billions should be spent on early childhood education. Most money spent on remediation later, while charitable and hopeful, is a misuse of public funds.

In future writings, I shall detail what every citizen should know about his brain that could be useful to him and society.




Answers from Neurology





Answers from Neurology


Answers from Neurology


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (May 4, 2001)


We are what our brains dictate, and therein lie many answers from neuroscience or neurology that could help us be better people and a better society. Einstein once said, as he worked unsuccessfully to find it, that when we find the Final Formula (beyond his e=mc2) it will be "so" simple that we will wonder why we never thought of it.


A paradox is a proposition or idea that seems to contradict itself, seeming absurd, but is in fact true. I believe that God is a paradox, and as such, He and His creation, are ultimately very simple and also just as complex. Human behavior—living, hating, emoting, thinking, reading, writing, murdering, torturing—is what the brain causes us to do, and we rarely realize that we could turn to it to help us with our problems.


The activity of the brain—and there are really three of them in our heads—is paradoxically causing many of our actions that seem to contradict themselves. If it is inconceivable that a mother will slaughter her child, then one needs only consider that if the "old" brain or limbic system is not in sync with one of the upper hemispheres, pitting emotion against reason, we can get just such contradictory behavior—THAT OF A MOTHER KILLING THE CHIILD THE LOVES.


We have such contradictory behavior—much of it anti-social and horrifying to the community—all the time, and we never think to consider the brain as the culprit. And that is because we know so little of what neurologists and psychologists have been arguing and reporting down through the years about the impact of the brain upon behavior—especially learning and neurotic and psychotic behavior.


I hold those who know or should know at fault for taking so long to focus on the structures of the brain as they consider serious problems that confront us and society. Teachers are trying to teach kids without knowing very much about the structures in the brain where memory and language are processed. For years now I have mentioned in articles what every neurologist and psycholinguists has known for years and can now through brain imaging prove—that the brain cells for language skills are produced most abundantly in the first 2 years of life and slow up dramatically when puberty sets in (much, much earlier now: for some girls at 8 years old and for boys a few years later): Dumb-dumb should know then that billions should be spent on early childhood education. Most money spent on remediation later, while charitable and hopeful, is a misuse of public funds.


In future writings, I shall detail what every citizen should know about his brain that could be useful to him and society.




Part 2


Answers from Neurology, Part 2





NeurologyAnswers2


Answers from Neurology, Part 2


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (May 11, 2001)


As I have pointed out in a previous writing, neurology largely concerns itself with the driving force in our existence—the brain—and we take this organ, clearly the seat of consciousness, for granted. Few of us are aware of the fact that when doctors prescribe medicines for depression, nervousness, and anxiety (like Prozac and Elavil) they are using chemicals that affect specific nerve cells in the brain.


There has been a kind of rhyme and reason to the existence of living things: they are cells upon cells. The brain is cells upon cells, and it has been estimated that in the cortex, that gray matter in the surface of the two upper brains (the left and right hemispheres) and the cerebellum, just above the stem, and controlling action, there are more neurons or cell bodies than there are stars in the heavens.


These neurons (that ultimately determine how we function, what we are and do) are somewhat like a branch with a knot in it: The knot is the cell body, which at one end has spreading branches called dendrites, and which at the other end has a long arm called an axon. When stimulated (say, by seeing a rose or by a needle stuck into the finger or by the taste of sugar or by an idea from within) the dendrites will receive an impulse that gets passed on through the cell body and to the axon, which uses some kind of neuro-transmitter to pass the impulse on to dendrites of another cell body.


In some common ailments, like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's Disease, the insufficiency of neuro-transmitters is suspected as the cause of the disorder. What we feel or think or imagine or do is the effect of all those transmissions—impulse in through dendrites, through the cell body and then down the axon which makes a point of contact (called the synapse) with the dendrites of another cell. These interconnections (imagine 10 billion cells hooked up into all kinds of interconnections) cause us to be who we are, what we know, how our consciousness operates, and what we do.



impulse traveling through brain cells


Impulse Traveling Through Brain Cells

Gentle reader, we are primarily what our brains are. It is easy for the people, as a matter of convenience or lack of ability to deal with perplexing situations, to say someone "knew" what he was doing, "knew right from wrong," like our courts (equally ignorant), when in truth that person is capable of knowing only what his three brains can produce for him through its cells and interconnections of cells. How responsible is one for bad connections or defects?


Only someone with absolute understanding of all this brain activity is in a position to know how culpable someone is: No wonder God is so forgiving, as we do the best we know how to do justice. Our fault is not in our stars. It is in our brains. Again, where does responsibility lie?



Part 1


Brain Involvement in Reading





Brain Involvement in Reading


Brain Involvement in Reading


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (June 2, 2001)


I would not be doing all these articles on neurology (the brain), if I, as a former teacher of language, whose graduate training was in English linguistics, was not suggesting to others in the language arts, where reading resides, that specific brain developments must be taken into consideration as they help children learn to read. Decoding writing requires mental transposing.


What happens to the brain during the first 10 years of life, predicts for us what individual and societal life are going to be like later. Why are we so bull-headed as a people, so willing to spend billions later trying to avenge or correct behavior that could have been prevented for pennies in the early years of life? Of course everybody knows that this is true of health also. The message of the Old Testament about "training a child up in the way you would have him go" is the wisdom of every religion and people on earth. The "eye on the prize" is on early childhood development.


I must say over and over that reading is one language skill among others, like talking, singing, and mimicking. Paleontologists tell us, by examining ancient human fossils, that man was not able to talk until his voice box, after centuries of human development, became lowered in the throat. As quiet as it is kept, this is why babies, in spite of being exposed to human speech for months, cannot produce speech either until the voice box, usually 12 to 19 months after birth, lowers in their throat. Language is basically sound, which is produced on the exhaled air coming out of the lungs. Muscles in the diaphragm, like a bellows, force the air up through the voice box into the mouth where the tongue and lips do so many things with it as to produce hundreds of sounds possible for language. Some speech, like crying, is on inhaled air: Shakespeare's "tut-tut."


American English operates with some 14 vowels; 5 diphthongs; 25 consonants; 2 to 4 stresses; 3 to 4 pauses; and 3 to 4 pitches. We call the 19 vowels and 25 consonants SEGMENTAL PHONEMES and the pauses, (actually junctures), stresses, and pitches SUPRA-SEGMENTAL PHONEMES. The phonemes (which in a language can exist in many forms) are to language what an atom is to matter. They determine MEANING.

Broca's Area

Notice the different meanings in these two sentences that contain a word with the same segmental phonemes but with different supra-segmental phonemes: "Mistress Mary, quite conTRARY, who on the CONtrary is very kind." Stress changes meaning.


These sounds are produced in the mouth by cells in BROCA's AREA in the brain (indicated in red in the figure), but they are HEARD or PERCEIVED by brain cells in the left hemisphere of the TEMPORAL LOBE.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Brain, Hand and Mouth

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<H1 ALIGN="CENTER">"Brain, Hand and Mouth"</H1>
<B><FONT SIZE=4><P ALIGN="CENTER">By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (October 13, 2001)</P>
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<P>This article would provide nothing new if it simply asserted that to read and to learn, children have to use their brains: Every schoolboy knows this. But what most teachers, who try to teach every schoolboy, do not know is that there is a special relation between the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain and the motor activities of hand and mouth involved in the reading process.</P>

<P>Before we discuss these relationships that go into the reading process, let us look again at the Microsoft representation of the brain which we saw in the <a href="01_10_01_ObstructionsToReading2.html">last article</a>:</P>

<center>
<table border=3><tr><td colspan=2>
<img src="images/CerebralCortex.gif"></td></tr>
<tr><td><img src="images/LeftHemi.gif"></td><td>
<b><font face="arial" size=2 color="red">
<ol>
<li> Broca's Area
<li> Visual Cortex
<li> Wernicke's Area
<li> Motor Cortex
<li> Cerebral Cortex
<li> Auditory Cortex
<li> Angular Gyrus
</ol>
</td></tr></table></center>

<P>Observe that at the back of the frontal lobe and in front of the CENTRAL FISSURE is a strip called the MOTOR CORTEX, for all basic and skilled movements (such as the hand and the mouth). Stimuli will go from the MOTOR BAND to the cerebellum, at the base of the brain. It is BROCA'S AREA at the base of the area, which controls the hand and the mouth, that makes the spoken language, so basic to reading, possible. That spoken language, as we know consists of the sound structures that becomes words, phrases, clauses, idioms, etc. which children must perceive to read. Without BROCA'S AREA the mouth could form no speech sounds.</P>

<P>When Shakespeare went to school, children learned by using their hands to copy great and well-written Greek and Roman literature. And even in my school days, we copied and copied. It has never dawned upon educators who believe that they should use modern technology to make schooling "easy" for kids—to relieve them of the drudgery of writing and writing and writing—that the handwriting ingrains reading skills. Neurologists and linguists now believe that those grammatical and syntactical structures that must be perceived for us to read are related to handiness and to the left parietal lobe.</P>

<P>Most people are right handed, because of the motor band in the left hemisphere, which controls muscles in the neck-down-right-side of the body as the right hemisphere controls muscle activity in the left side of the body. As we use the right hand to write (and perhaps to create neural connections for the structures required for reading) we often gesture in doing so. These gestures communicate meanings also. And the hand picks up the time sequence, order and rhythms of written and spoken speech.</P>
<P> </P>
<P>To read well (and this must take place in the early years) children must use the mouth to produce he structures that are crudely reproduced on the printed page (the brain's BROCA'S AREA and PARIETAL LOBE at work). Teachers need to return to having children use their hands to write and copy and compose the structures that the eye sees. Using the mouth to say aloud poems and other great literature will do much to ingrain the structures that children will find in books. No wonder so many writers still write longhand rather than use a typewriter of computers.</P>
<P><HR></P>
<P ALIGN="CENTER"><A HREF="JCameronArticles.html"><B>The Jeremiah Cameron Articles</B></A></P>
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Dialects and the Left Brain





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Dialects and the Left Brain


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (July 1, 2001)

Whenever schools or parents try to teach children language (and the critical years or windows of opportunity are years 1–10), they want to create nerve cells and interconnections in the left side of the brain. Any form of language the child is taught is some form of dialect, for languages and systems of speech are all technically dialects. The Left Hemisphere processes all aspects of each dialect.


It is the dialect problem that is the main reason why so many children are performing poorly in our schools. Schooling involves understanding what is on the printed page and/or understanding the spoken instructions of the teacher. The language of books is in the dialect of STANDARD AMERICAN ENGLISH. And if the child's left-brain has the neural connections for its sounds; arrangements of words and phrases, meanings of words used; pitch; pauses; stresses and idioms that appear on the printed page, the child will be able to read the writing.


Most such children are middle class children, coming from homes where "good" English is spoken. But if the child is poor black, white, Mexican or Asian he likely comes from a home where the language—in words, grammar, syntax, idioms, pitch and stresses—is NOT LIKE THAT OF THE BOOKS, that child will not be able to read. He will also have difficulty understanding the spoken dialect of the more-educated teacher.


Take note that schools all over this country with teachers and administrators, who ought to know this and have no specific conception of the difference-in-dialect language problem, spend and spend and spend—and the children still cannot read. I do not wish to be pessimistic, but there is not too much that can be done to achieve in-depth reading, after puberty has set in. Nature, not me, is dictating this. Look at the data.


What linguist and neurologists assumed years ago can be proved through the brain scans that can be taken as children assert mental abilities. With adequate language stimuli—like letting small children see your facial expressions as you read aloud, emphasizing and stressing words and word units; providing children with books, and LETTING CHILDREN TALK—children's brain areas for language, especially in the LEFT HEMISPHERE, develop like mad in years 1–3 and continue to develop until puberty, at which time the growth does not stop but slows up CONSIDERABLY. To hone language children must be allowed to "talk back."


What must school do to aid the LEFT HEMISPHERE, which is responsible for coding a dialect's words, phrases, pitches, pauses, stresses, word hoard, idioms and word and phrase arrangements? Create materials and structures that help the kids who speak a non-standard dialect transpose the printed page into the way they speak. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY PRESENTLY. Few teachers have been trained to do this. BUT THEY CAN BE TRAINED TO DO IT. There is no other way to get children to read—and cease being humiliated, embarrassed, frustrated dropouts or troublemakers. The handwriting has been on the wall!




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Reading Problems and the Brain





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Reading Problems and the Brain


By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (July 8, 2001)


The teaching of reading is a national disaster because a lack of instructional understanding of what a language is (that is, its sounds; its grammar; its sequencing of words and grammatical units; and its idioms and vocabulary) and how the brain remains MASTER of all language skills, processed in various areas and most especially in the Left Temporal Lobe. One should not have to think a second time to understand the validity of this charge. Parents—especially the mother, who represents language to the baby—are the first teachers of the language skills that lead to reading, and there are things that they can do earlier than the school. These early actions create brain cells for reading.


The failure of so many kids to read—especially poor and minority kids—has nothing to do with intelligence. Most people have language skills adequate to their daily life: God has seen to that in the way he has seen to sunlight and air. We make our own language, just as we make clothing accepted in our social life. Any one language is as good as another—in its place (which could be formal, informal, colloquial, low-life, etc.) and performing its function. Written materials in this country are most often put in the dialect (and all languages are really dialects) of the power structure—called Standard or STANDARD AMERICAN ENGLISH.


If a child grows up in a middle class or upper class family and lives in a similar community, he will grow up with the grammar, syntax, idioms, and vocabulary found in schoolbooks. Nerve cells and interconnections in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE have been created to COMPREHEND the wordings and arrangement of words on the printed page: HE CAN READ. Interestingly, that same lobe controls hand movements; hence, the gestures of the right hand that often accompany speech.


If a child is poor (as too many minority children are) he may speak one of a number of different other dialects (and they are not sub-dialects; they are bonafide ways of speaking, although they may not be STANDARD). For the sentence "The new students in our class came from Africa," he may say, "New students of our class done come out of Africa." Such students will at first—and maybe finally—have trouble reading the bookish language. In a book published in the 1980's—Twice As Less—the writer details a number of such non-standard phrasal and dependent clause constructions of black high school students. You would think that by now teachers of language who listen to black children talk, or read what they write, would have recognized first, that the writing is erroneous and secondly, that such speech might inhibit reading the Standard English of the printed page. Such is the case, and teachers must find means of helping non-standard speakers decode—in their brains the printed page. And this must be done very early—before the onset of puberty.




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles


Reading and the Left Temporal Lobe





"Reading and the Left Temporal Lobe"


"Reading and the Left Temporal Lobe"


By Jeremiah Cameron (June 23, 2001)


Nobody ought to be teaching in grades K– 6, where reading skills must be emphasized— because the growth and activity in the brain areas that process language slow up after age 10—who does not know how the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE makes reading possible. See: http://www.umich.edu/~cogneuro/jpg/Brodmann.html

Frontal Lobe


Reading requires what teachers in the good old days taught—when kids who came from two-room school houses read better in grade five than many college graduates today. Consider old-fashioned an useless by many teacher training schools today, formal grammar (not just USAGE) and diagramming were the order of the day. Far from useless and mental keys to understanding how words and word-groups are employed in comprehension, grammatical structuring and the sequencing of words and word-groups (called SYNTAX) are vital tools in the reading process—if only teachers, many of whom know little grammar themselves, understood this.


Since reading is basic to all the other academics of schools, if many, many American children cannot read, then expect a low status of American learning at every level.


It is in the TEMPORAL LOBE, situated at what one might call the bottom of the CEREBRUM, that we find the nerve cells and interconnections that create the TEMPORAL-SEQUENTIAL relationship between the units of a sentence. Let us take a sentence written on the printed page: THE NEW STUDENTS IN OUR CLASS CAME FROM AFRICA. Notice that the words and word groups come in a sequential order that is peculiar to English, and is not necessarily found in all the languages in the world. We read by hooking the "doer' word (or SUBJECT) "students" with an ACTION or HAVING or Being (or PREDICATE) "came." We expand the meaning by modifying subjects and verbs with single works or word groups Called PHRASES or Dependent CLAUSES. The -s on "students" gives it the meaning of more than one, and the lack of an -s on "came" makes it agree with the subject "students."


Modifiers of "students": THE (meaning definitely about "students") and the prepositional phrase IN OUT CLASS (spoken in one breath with all three words connected) tells IN WHICH CLASS? And WHERE THE STUDENTS ARE. The plural verb came has its meaning modified by a prepositional phrase that tells WHERE THE STUDENTS CAME FROM (once again, said with all three works connected).


The MAIN POINT: There is a TEMPORAL-SEQUENCE between word groups and a SYNTACTICAL STRUCTURE. "THE" must come before "students" and the prepositional phrase "in our class" with "in" before "our," which is before "from Africa" (as a one-breath unit) comes after the verb "came." To comprehend the sentence the reader must MENTALLY understand, this word order and the grammatical endings or lack of them. This mental action takes place in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE.


The BRAIN POINT: It is in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE that the mental process of comprehension takes place. This lobe MUST be developed in early youth. Words and their meanings; sounds and their meanings; syllables and their meanings; pauses or lack of pauses after words or word groups; numbers rhymes—and most importantly ANALYTICAL REASONING—are processed in the left temporal lobe. For children to read well the nerve cells for these skills must be developed before puberty sets in.


Parents and school MUST—in those first 10 years of life do with the child those things that develop in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE the structures for reading. In a following article, I am going to explain that if the early development does not take place for the DIALECT of the language on the printed page—STANDARD AMERICAN ENGLISH DIALECT in this country—children in school, and adults too, will have difficulty reading. Which is the basis of our education system.


When will school systems learn what has been known for over 50 years? Reading aloud to small children—with facial expressions, emphases, pauses and stresses—creates and develops in language areas of the brain nerve cells for reading: Ages 1 to 10 are critical. When will churches and other community groups work with mothers to read aloud to children?




The Jeremiah Cameron Articles