Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Neuromatrix 6: The Term "Neuromatrix"

More from Melzack, p 14. TIP3: Notes and Quotes re: Neuromatrix

Meanings of “matrix”:

1. "Something within which something else originates, takes form, or develops."

This is exactly what I wish to imply: the neuromatrix, (not the stimulous, peripheral nerves, or ‘brain center’) is the origin of the neurosignature; the neurosignature originates and takes form in the neuromatrix.

Though the neurosignature may be triggered or modulated by input, the input is only a ‘trigger’ and does not produce the neurosignature itself.

2. "'Mold’ or ‘die’ that leaves an imprint on something else."

In this sense the neuromatrix ‘casts’ its distinctive signature on all inputs (nerve impulse patterns) that flow through it.

3. "An array of circuit elements...for performing a specific function as interconnected"
The array of neurons in a neuromatrix I propose, is genetically programmed to perform the specific function of producing the signature pattern. The final integrated neurosignature pattern for the body self ultimately produces awareness and action.

For these reasons, the term neuromatrix seems to be appropriate.

The neuromatrix, distributed throughout many areas of the brain, comprises a widespread network of neurons that generates patterns, processes information that flows through it, and ultimately produces the pattern that is felt as a whole body. The stream of neurosignature output with constantly varying patterns riding on the main signature pattern produces the feelings of the whole body with constantly changing qualities.

The neuromatrix, as I conceive of it, produces a continuous message that represents the whole body in which details are differentiated within the whole as inputs come into it. We start from the top, with the experience of a unity of the body, and look for differentiation of detail within the whole.

The neuromatrix is then, the template of the whole, which provides the characteristic neural pattern for the whole body (the body’s neurosignature), as well as subsets of signature patterns (from neuromodules) that relate to events at (or in) different parts of the body.

These views are in sharp contrast to the classical specificity theory, in which the qualities of experience are presumed to be inherent in peripheral nerve fibers. Pain is not an injury; the quality of pain experiences must not be confused with the physical event of breaking skin or bone. Warmth and cold are not ‘out there’; temperature changes occur ‘out there’ but the qualities of experience must be generated by structures in the brain. There are no external equivalents to stinging, smarting, tickling, itch; the qualities are produced by built-in neuromodules whose neurosignatures innately produce the qualities.

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