Ben Carson and the Power of the Hippocampus

By Neuroskeptic | March 7, 2017 2:27 pm

“I could take the oldest person here, make a little hole right here on the side of the head, and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate. And they would be able to recite back to you, verbatim, a book they read 60 years ago.”

So said Ben Carson, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, yesterday. Carson is known for his unorthodox claims, such as his attempt to rewrite the Egyptology textbooks, but this time, as he’s a former neurosurgeon himself, he might be thought to be on safer ground.

Sadly not.


It is true that stimulation of various parts of the brain can evoke memories, or at least memory-like experiences. The hippocampus, however, is not known as a hotspot for this. Early studies found that hippocampal stimulation produces amnesia, not memory recall, and here’s a recent paper reporting that patients couldn’t even tell whether their hippocampal stimulator was switched on or off, and reported no subjective memory effects.

It’s especially unlikely that hippocampal stimulation would evoke 60 year old memories, because damage to the hippocampus is known to impair recall of recent events, and memory formation, while old memories (older than about 20 years pre-lesion) are spared, suggesting that they’re stored somewhere else in the brain.

Now, maybe Carson just mis-spoke and he meant to say “the temporal cortex near the hippocampus”. However, while stimulation of this region can indeed produce vivid memory experiences, there’s no evidence that these memories are any more detailed or accurate than normal ones. In other words, unless you normally have the ability to recall texts verbatim, there’s no reason to think that brain stimulation would let you do that.

It’s not even clear that the “memories” evoked by neural stimulation are real. Some researchers argue that cortical stimulation evokes imaginary experiences that just feel like memories – false memories, in other words. Indeed the term “hallucinations” has been used to describe stimulation-evoked experiences. Here’s a video of the strange phenomenon, via Avniel Ghuman of the University of Pittsburgh.

Carson went on to say that the human brain can “process more than 2 million bits of information per second”.

I’m not sure where this number comes from. It mainly seems to be quoted in the world of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), where it’s attributed to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as an estimate of the amount of sensory information reaching the brain every second, not processed by the brain. Others have estimated that 11 million bits or even up to 40 million bits per second reach our brains.

The trouble is, all of these estimates are little more than back-of-the-envelope calculations based on multiplying the number of sensory nerves entering the brain by the information capacity of each nerve. It’s not a totally crazy approach, but it makes a lot of assumptions.

Overall, I’d say that Ben Carson is proof that operating on the brain and understanding the brain are two different things.

  • OWilson

    If you work for Trump, you’d better be prepared to have your whole life reviewed and every statement you have made parsed for accuracy.

    Doesn’t matter if you are joking, exaggerating to make point, or not under oath.

    If you work for Hillary or Obama you can Plead The Fifth, destroy your emails, your hard drive, run the State Department out of your bathroom server, destroy government records. Target political opponents, and you will be idolized!

    (“It’s a strange, strange world, we live in Master Jack:” :)

    • Neuroskeptic

      Mmm. I think you’re right. Something weird is going on when people who say silly things get called silly.

      • OWilson

        Sorry Mod.

        I get a little incensed from time to time over the double standard!

        • manuelroyal

          The double standard works in the opposite direction than you seem to think, O.

          • OWilson

            Feel free to post an example of what you are asserting! :)

        • Kalynada

          There us no double standard, these people just suck..

        • Bobareeno

          The world famous double standard is actually a triple standard:1) one standard for me 2) one standard fr my opponents and 3) one standard for people who recognize their own biases and try to put them aside.

      • John C

        Liberals seem to get a pass on their scientific and other hackassery much more so than conservatives.

    • jhewitt123

      good point O. Carson clearly exaggerated. I don’t the know context, but if is this and his silly pyramid grain silos, and immigrant Shawn King slaves are the best the Samuel fetal alcohol syndrome Jackson and the rest of the leftist finkletwats can find Carson will be fine

      • Neuroskeptic

        It’s true Carson has nothing to worry about. Sure he’s said some silly things but he hasn’t actually done anything wrong… unlike other cabinet members.

        • jhewitt123

          Carson’s fetal stem cell paper or not, care to put some $$ where your keyboard is and wager that claim here (‘unlike other cabinet members’) publically?

          • manuelroyal

            Within seconds, almost any time he speaks publicly, anybody can hear Dr. Carson say something transparently stupid and/or demonstrably false. There is absolutely nothing to indicate he’s qualified for any high government position, let alone in the Cabinet.

            Sorry you don’t think there have been any great men among liberals. True, they founded the country and ended slavery and the Depression and won World War 2; but they don’t have the gravitas of Dr. Carson softly mumbling his crackpot pseudohistorical fancies, or justifying transphobia with the exact same “special rights” bullshit that Jesse Helms used to justify his racism.

          • OWilson

            Your problem is the great liberals are long dead.

            What ya got is Pelosi, “We have to pass it before we’ll know what’s in it”

            Obama, “If you like your Plan you can keep your Plan, PERIOD!” In all 57 States, too!

            And of course, Harry (Nuclear) Reid, and Hillary (Say no more!) herself!

            Oh, and that trailer park guy who got all mixed up bout his Republican Party in the so called Speech to Congress “rebuttal”. :)

          • alqpr

            By what reasoning do YOU conclude that those referred to by manuelroyal who “founded the country and ended slavery and the Depression and won World War 2” were “all white”?!

          • OWilson

            “I know racism, when I see it!” :)

          • calling all toasters

            Dude, what is wrong with you?

          • OWilson

            Have to print the “unprintable” from time to time so you poor snowflakes don’t get constantly blindsided by reality!

          • calling all toasters

            So: mental retardation.

          • Neuroskeptic

            It wasn’t really unprintable because you did print it, or rather you wrote it and I printed it.

          • OWilson

            You are right!

            I should have used “under reported”


          • Common Sense

            Great liberals like JFK who said, “ask not what your country can do for you”… They are dust now. The new anarchists and sharia constituents who have taken over the party are demons willing to kill America and all it stands for. They actual want less freedom. Sincerely, ex-Dem

          • Erik Bosma

            You seem like a pretty intelligent guy and I often enjoy your posts. But you will find that you severely limit yourself by adopting an ‘ism’. Stay open minded my friend.

          • Kyle Esterley

            Wait, liberals ended slavery? I always thought honest Abe was a Republican. And I was sure the KKK was ran by democrats. They, the left, are Masters at taking history and attributing the good stuff to themselves and the bad stuff they give to the the right. And everyone just believes it because their research only goes as far as wiki.

          • calling all toasters

            A few minutes perusal of an American History textbook would probably clear that up for you — in the 19th Century, the Republican Party was the party of Northern liberals while the Democratic Party was that of Southern bigots. In a mere 150 years the parties have switched constituencies. Huh.

            But of course you know this, and are playing dumb so that you don’t have to admit supporting racism.

          • Erik Bosma

            Same thing happened in Canada in the late 1800’s. What were Conservative principles then are Liberal principles today and vice versa. And the funny thing is that it is almost an 180 degree change. Perhaps we have uncovered some kind of political trend. Quick, call your old Poly/Sci prof!

          • Dennis Spirgen

            Oh, Kyle, read some history. When the Republican Party was founded, it WAS the liberal party.

      • jvkohl

        Thanks, John. See my earlier comment. Donald Pfaff, Larry Young, and others will not be fine. Comparisons between their claims and the claims of experts like Ben Carson and you, yes you: John Hewitt, show that theorists failed to consider the fact that energy-dependent changes in the mitochondria must be linked to all cell type differentiation in all living genera via the physiology of reproduction, not by mutations and evolution.

    • Bobareeno

      Funny how ideology triggers the self-righteous finger-pointing response.

    • Geek0id

      I think the thing you are forgetting is evidence.

      The only thinking in your post if the server was run in the basement. News shocker”: was not illegal at the time, and many pubs were doing it until it became illegal as well.

      On the other hand we have more and more evidence about the Russian influence, more and more evidence about Trump business deals with the Russians, people in his cabnyet are constantly being found to have connections with Russia. The still spout conspiracy BS.

      • OWilson

        I would suggest you turn over that evidence to the current Congressional Investigations.

        You could be the Star Witness! :)

        And no, it is not “illegal” to run the State Department out of a pub or home bathroom.

        It’s just that no corrupt crook ever thought of it before! :)

  • Travis Rothlisberger

    Interesting to see how the comment section went instantly tribal. That aside, if you read Carson’s quote and the source article you’ll see that this wasn’t just some exaggeration. He’s very explicit about the claim and has made it several times before, including in his book. The issue is that he really should be something of an expert on the brain and yet is persistently wrong about this. That does not bode well for our relying on his judgment in any sort of authoritative capacity, regardless of your political affiliation.

    By the way, if you follow the link to the part of his book where he made the same claim before, he frames his claim as “unequivocal” because he is a “neuroscientist”.

    • smut clyde

      IIRC, Carson earned his reputation as a neurosurgeon through his cavalier attitude to cerebral integrity. He was a firm proponent of treating intractable epilepsy through hemispherectomy — removing half a kid’s brain, rather than the more cautious approach of finding which part of the hemisphere is at fault and removing just that. Boldness with other people’s brains seems to be the path to fame in neurosurgery. Who needs both hemispheres?

      Anyway, if he has now recovered a perhaps-exaggerated respect for the marvellous capabilities of the neural architecture, better late than never!

      • Neuroskeptic

        Interesting, I didn’t know that.

        I wonder if his aggressive approach to resection is related to his beliefs about the near-infinite capacity of the brain?

        i.e. perhaps the thinking is “the brain is so powerful, we can remove as much as we need, and what’s left will still be enough”?

        • jvkohl

          Did you know that Roger Penrose asked: “How often do we still hear that quantum effects can have little relevance in the study of biology, or even that we eat food in order to gain energy?” –Roger Penrose (8 August 1991)

          • jvkohl

            Do you realize that Ben Carson and others like him have linked energy to the experience-dependent near-infinite capacity of the brain, and linked virus-driven energy theft to all pathology via Schrodinger’s claims in “What is Life?” (1944)

          • Andrew Neff

            … are you Uncle Al?

          • jvkohl

            Is he still alive?

  • smut clyde

    This is utimately Penfield’s fault for reporting his patients’ vivid experiences from temporal-lobe stimulation as “replayed memory tapes” rather than, well, vivid experiences. OK, he was doing all this in the context of neurosurgery, checking what would be lost if he damaged the wrong parts of the lobe, he wasn’t opening up their skulls out of curiosity; it wasn’t his job to research his patients’ biographies to see whether those experienced events could actually have occurred. It was before the realisation that memories can be false, because they are reconstructions rather than playbacks.

    But still, he knew that all sorts of weird stuff happens when your brain is stimulated by a temporal-lobe-epilepsy seizure. People have mystical experiences and feel the presence of the Numinous. They smell things that aren’t there. Penfield should have reported it more cautiously.

    Then it went into textbooks and stayed there for decades. IIRC, Daniel Schacher started questioning the veracity of Penfield’s patients’ reports in 1996 or thereabouts.

    make a little hole right here on the side of the head, and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate.

    Yes, well, those electrodes are going to plough through the outside parts of the temporal lobe to get to the hippocampus, so I am not volunteering as a subject.

    • jvkohl

      Re: “…Daniel Schacher started questioning the veracity of Penfield’s patients’ reports in 1996 or thereabouts.”

      My group published “From fertilization to adult sexual behavior” in1996. In our section on molecular epigenetics, we linked sexual orientation in yeasts to sex differences in all cell types of all mammals.

    • alqpr

      Thanks for that update on veracity of those stimulated “memories”. As a non-expert I had been imagining that the Penfold results indicated the presence of a lot more detailed information as potential memory than may actually be the case.

      My main quarrel with what Carson said (aside from the misstatement about the exact location of the stimulus) was just that the supposed memories were quite random, so his description of the patient as “able” to recite was an exaggeration of even what Penfold thought he was getting.

  • Common Sense

    So, basically Dr Carson is right, and the specifics are within range… That makes this writer of this attempt at a hit piece a little snot.

    • smut clyde

      Radio Yerevan answered: Dr Carson is basically right, apart from the location of the hippocampus, and its role in memory recall, and the non-existence of total recall, and the way that memories are stored.

      • Pope Zebbidie XIII

        To be fair, he did manage to pick the correct end of the body.

        • jvkohl

          Carson presciently linked energy-dependent RNA methylation to all biodiversity via learning and memory and the physiology of reproduction in species from microbes to humans. Like other young earth creationists, he does not start with a functional structure and try to link it to anything without first linking the energy of creation to the de novo creation of supercoiled DNA via RNA-mediated top-down causation.

    • calling all toasters

      You should go apply for a grant based on this fantastic new result that didn’t happen and doesn’t make any sense. Then (when you’re turned down because it’s insane) you can complain even more loudly about liberals and their science.

    • ferkan

      Sure. If by right you mean embarrassingly wrong about basic of the mind that any neuroscience graduate should know… FFS.. I’d like any neurosurgeon working on my brain to be as accurate as possible.. no ‘specifics within range’ whatever that jargon is supposed to mean.

      You want to hear the voice of a great neurosurgeon, read do no harm by Henry Marsh. He says he’s not a great neurosurgeon, but of course he’s too modest.

      • jvkohl

        Marsh is married to the social anthropologist Kate Fox and spends his spare time making furniture and keeping bees.

        Did he link energy-dependent changes in hydrogen-atom transfer in DNA base pairs in solution to all biodiversity via the nutrient-dependent physiology of pheromone-controlled reproduction via the honeybee model organism?

        If not, how have the claims of other experts linked energy-dependent differences in photons to all biophysically constrained healthy longevity. See: “OLYMPUS experiment sheds light on structure of protons.”

        • ferkan

          Can you explain the relevance of your comment to mine.

          • jvkohl

            How could it not be clear? As a beekeeper, he knows that the biophotonic anti-entropic energy of sunlight is the only way to stop virus-driven energy theft from decimating the populations of honeybees as it already has done to the bacteria that became archaea and L-forms.

            Even if he does not know the difference between the hecatombic evolution of all pathology and the polycombic ecological adaptations that are linked to all healthy longevity, he cannot be as ignorant as any theorist.

          • ferkan

            Right. I get what you’re saying. I think I’d recommend that you read “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” by the physics professor Alan Sokal. It’s a classic in the field.

          • jvkohl

            Why don’t you read one of my published works? Two award-winning reviews of energy-dependent RNA-mediated cell type differentiation are included among those that are available for free.

          • ferkan

            Would you like to provide a link?

          • jvkohl

            Do you think that links are allowed here? Do you know how to use a google search for microRNA to find nearly 59,000 citations that support this claim from my 2013 review:

            “…the epigenetic ‘tweaking’ of the immense gene networks that occurs via exposure to nutrient chemicals and pheromones can now be modeled in the context of the microRNA/messenger RNA balance, receptor-mediated intracellular signaling, and the stochastic gene expression required for nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution. The role of the microRNA/messenger RNA balance (Breen, Kemena, Vlasov, Notredame, & Kondrashov, 2012; Duvarci, Nader, & LeDoux, 2008; Griggs et al., 2013; Monahan & Lomvardas, 2012) in adaptive evolution will certainly be discussed in published works that will follow.”

          • ferkan

            Thanks. What would have been useful would have been to actually cite your paper.


            Your paper itself has two citations recorded in pubmed, one of which is a rebuttal.


            I was interested in which ones were award winning, and what the awards were.

            I’m very confused as to how a google search for microRNA would achieve what you say it would. I continue this conversation, because I’m still not sure whether you are a very clever bot or a real person.

            Also, can you give me a definition of “hecatombic” evolution. Is it a term you made up?

          • jvkohl

            I’m not here to educate my antagonists. Either discuss the content of my posts or find me elsewhere. Preferably somewhere that does not accept comments from anonymous antagonists. A google search for “hecatombic evolution” might help. But, if you did not know that, you know less than I thought you knew about anything.

          • ferkan

            I’ve already searched, but was left perplexed. A google search for “hecatombic evolution” brings up two pages of results (google filtering out some), the majority of which are your comments on other articles. I think you are the only person on the internet to use this phrase. So I thought you might like to define it for the benefit of people trying to make sense of your comments.

            You also somewhere link to a scientific article which has the word hecatomb in the title, but which is never mentioned in the article (although it presumably references a mass die off). Let alone “hecatombic evolution”.


            Still at least now I’m convinced you are not a bot.


          • jvkohl

            I use terms like the hecatombic evolution of all pathology and polycombic ecological adaptations in the context of what is known to serious scientists about biophysically constrained biologically-based top down-causation and all biodiversity. What else would you like me to do to eliminate the pseudoscientific nonsense associated with de Vries definition of mutation and the assumptions of biologically uninformed theorists?

          • jvkohl

            How do others eliminate the pseudoscientific nonsense associated with the definition of mutation and the assumptions of biologically uninformed

          • ferkan

            “Do you think that links are allowed here?”

            note the two links in my comment.

          • ferkan

            You seem to be an interesting kind of bot.

          • ferkan

            What kind of bot are you?

          • Lee Rudolph

            What kind of bot are you?

            He’s certainly no Serdar Argic.


  • jvkohl

    “Study tests the ‘three-hit’ theory of autism” is a report on “Sex-specific gene–environment interactions underlying ASD-like behaviors”

    Donald Pfaff’s group just linked virus-driven energy theft to transgenerational epigenetic effects of stress via lower Crhr1 mRNA expression in the hippocampi of mice.

    The analyses showed a significant three-way interaction of a possible synergetic effect of the MIA, the Cntnap2 mutation, and being male. The virus-driven energy theft, which was linked to mRNA degradation via changes in mRNA expression, can be compared in the context of social-recognition tests that led Larry Young to claim that viruses caused the evolution of love.

    Larry Young, and others like him, still may not know anything about how HPA-axis disturbances cause deficits in social behavior later in life or that the substitution of achiral glycine in position 6 of the GnRH decapeptide links food odors and pheromones from the hippocampus to the regulation of social behavior.

    Thank God for Ben Carson.

    • Neuroskeptic

      Interesting, but what does this have to do with Carson?

      • jvkohl

        Thanks for asking. Carson’s claims about the hippocampus link everything known to serious scientists about Darwin’s “conditions of life” to the nutrient energy-dependent pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction in species from microbes to humans. As editor of the Physiology of Reproduction, Donald Pfaff missed the connection from RNA methylation to learning and memory that I helped to detail during the past 25 years after he referred me to the works of the late Robert L. Moss.

        • Ryliex

          Again, as an olfaction person, this is all bullshit.

          “pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction”…Yeah, but no.

          • jvkohl

            See: Plenary Lecturer: Something to talk about
            Bonnie L. Bassler’s career is based on figuring out
            how bacteria converse with each other

            Excerpt: “This type of “follow that molecule” research has led the Bassler group into the RNA arena, because they discovered that small RNAs, rather like eukaryotic microRNAs, work as switches to control the bacteria’s entry and exit into quorum-sensing mode.”

            My comment: The fact that the anti-entropic virucidal energy of sunlight was linked to the switches in 1944 by Schrodinger makes neo-Darwinian theorists look more foolish each time someone else links energy-dependent changes in SNPs to microRNA/messenger RNA interactions.

            Schrodinger started from soil bacteria and the stability of organized genomes. His works led other serious scientists to link virus-driven energy theft to the degradation of messenger RNA and all pathology.

          • smut clyde

            I know Schroedinger’s “What is Life” well. He mentions bacteria once (in the context of Brownian motion), sunlight once (as the main source of “negative entropy”) and viruses nowhere.

          • jvkohl

            The source of negative entropy is virucidal UV light. It has been linked to DNA repair in all living genera via what is known to all serious scientists about energy-dependent biophysically constrained pheromone-controlled genomic entropy.

            Do you know how Dobzhansky (1964) and Dobzhansky (1973) linked that fact to the amino acid substitutions that differentiate all cell types in all individuals of all living genera.

            If not, what is your excuse for making such a useless antagonistic comment under an assumed name? I assume you are nothing more than another ignorant liberal. Thanks for reading at least one book.

          • smut clyde

            energy-dependent biophysically constrained pheromone-controlled genomic entropy.

            This sounds better if you sing it to the tune of “These are a few of my favourite things”.

          • jvkohl

            How do you rhyme “genomic entropy” with something or link it to prose that attests to the ignorance of biologically uninformed liberals? I would like to capture the entirety of the message from “What is Life?” (1944) that was placed into this context:

            Excerpt: “Indeed, in the case of higher animals we know the kind of orderliness they feed upon well enough, viz. the extremely well-ordered state of matter in more or less complicated organic compounds, which serve them as foodstuffs. After utilizing it they return it in a very much degraded form -not entirely degraded, however, for plants can still make use of it. (These, of course, have their most power supply of ‘negative entropy’ the sunlight.)”

            Roger Penrose (1991) did his best without a song and dance routine. He wrote: “How often do we still hear that quantum effects can have little relevance in the study of biology, or even that we eat food in order to gain energy?” — in the forward to the reprint edition. Are you claiming that anyone else could do better than that?

          • jvkohl

            See also from the Zechiedrich lab “Structural diversity of supercoiled DNA” The soil bacteria that support plant growth link the physiology of their energy-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction from the bull sperm microRNAome to the fertility of all mammals via the conserved molecular mechanisms serious scientists have detailed. For example, I placed them into the context of this refutation of neo-Darwinian pseudoscientific nonsense in 2013.

            “Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model”

  • Roboam

    Dr. Carson is not operating within logic and reason, rather on information he read (text book applied neuroscience). The term “memory” is restricted to the brain, when in reality the entire body relies on genetic memory information – added, or inherited. If you remove the intestines from its cavity, they automatically re positions itself when you put it back in its place. Scars for example, are damaged DNA no longer in existence, there is no more memory; therefore, genes cannot replicate the skin’s original form. New memories are, therefore, new DNA strands, which explains why they react to stimuli. And, each section of the brain has a particular function, which involves DNA memory. Perhaps, neuroscientists should study genetics to better understand what memory is and how it is stored. And it wouldn’t hurt to master biochemistry and Psychics either.

    • jvkohl

      You’re late to the party! All of Carson’s claims about the hippocampus link what is known to all serious scientists about energy-dependent RNA methylation and experience-dependent cell type differentiation, which is biophysically constrained by the physiology of reproduction in all living genera.

      See: “Experience-Dependent Accumulation of N6-Methyladenosine in the Prefrontal Cortex Is Associated with Memory Processes in Mice” June 22, 2016

      • Ryliex

        Dude, typing random scientific words does not make your claims (what are they even??) scientific. Neither does citing random papers containing said words.

        “Serious scientists” is the tell here. You’re setting up an argument wherein you can make random and utterly baffling assertions and dismiss anyone who disagrees with your sci-word salad as ‘unserious.’

        • jvkohl

          I reserve use of the term biologically uniformed for people like you and typically I am forced to refer to them as biologically uninformed science idiots when they claim I am not making sense. Obviously, nothing makes sense to a biologically uninformed science idiot. Thanks for making that fact perfectly clear.

          • OWilson

            The term “all serious scientists” is a very subjective one. Where is the repository of “non serious” scientists?

            As is “science idiots” freely sprinkled throughout a short post.

            Red flags to all “serious intellectuals”. :)

          • jvkohl

            Thanks. The repository of non serious scientists is found among neo-Darwinian theorists. Also, Dobzhansky (1964) made claims about the difference between serious scientists and “serious intellectuals,” who he would probably also refer to as biologically uninformed.

            For example, Neuroskeptic concludes that “It’s not a totally crazy approach, but it makes a lot of assumptions.”

            Ben Carson did not make any assumptions about the claims that link ATP from the energy-dependent de novo creation of RNA to all biodiversity via links from RNA methylation to learning and memory in all living genera. See: Dobzhansky’s claims (1973) about RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions and cell type differentiation in all living genera. The energy clearly must be linked from what organisms eat to the physiology of reproduction. See for comparison:

            Biology, molecular and organismic (1964) Excerpt: “The notion has gained some currency that the only worthwhile biology is molecular biology. All else is “bird watching” or “butterfly collecting.” Bird watching and butterfly collecting are occupations manifestly unworthy of serious scientists! I have heard a man whose official title happens to be Professor of Zoology declare to an assembly of his colleagues that “a good man cannot teach zoology. A good man can teach, of course, only molecular biology. ”


          • OWilson

            The respect for Professors (of anything) has long since been equated in the real world, with that old once required “High School Graduation” certificate.

            We have more Professors than the world needs, and certainly more than can be gainfully employed in their field.

            We all know there are PhDs who have never been outside a classroom, and MBAs that have never been employed in a real job or in any place of business.

            They finish up teaching the text book classroom theory that they have themselves been taught, by other teachers.

            Surgery is also a practical mechanical skill, like Dental work, and cross town bus driving. Success in the field is also somewhat of an art.

            I care less about the “expert’s” religious, political views or theoretical abilities.

            If my dental work lasts forever, my eye remains uncrossed, or my kids get driven across town safely, these are the things that matter in real life.

            I can close the taxi passenger window, not listen to my dentist or bus driver if they go on endlessly about the merits of Sharia Law. :)

            Academia is NOT real life, and peer approval there is artificially valued.

            If you have ever had your life saved by a third world fisherman, you would understand what I am talking about!

          • jvkohl

            Thanks, if you have not yet died due to virus-driven energy theft, but know someone who has, you can appreciate why I lost respect for most academics during my 40 year career as a medical laboratory scientist. Also, this invited review of nutritional epigenetics was returned without review before the anti-entropic energy of sunlight was linked to the microRNA/messenger RNA balance in several thousand more published works that link energy-dependent differences in photons to all biodiversity.

            Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations: from atoms to ecosystems

            Abstract excerpt: “This atoms to ecosystems model of ecological adaptations links nutrient-dependent epigenetic effects on base pairs and amino acid substitutions to pheromone-controlled changes in the microRNA / messenger RNA balance and chromosomal rearrangements. The nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled changes are required for the thermodynamic regulation of intracellular signaling, which enables biophysically constrained nutrient-dependent protein folding; experience-dependent receptor-mediated behaviors, and organism-level thermoregulation in ever-changing ecological niches and social niches. Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological, social, neurogenic and socio-cognitive niche construction are manifested in increasing organismal complexity in species from microbes to man.”

            The bottom line will stay the same. If you cannot link hydrogen-atom transfer in DNA base pairs in solution to all biodiversity via pH, you cannot teach people like me to believe in your ridiculous theories. Others, like me, have performed blood gas analyses and linked virus-driven changes in pH to microbial sepsis and more patient deaths that any academic can imagine, since all the deaths were caused by their ridiculous theories.

          • OWilson


            I didn’t mean to intrude into your professional world, by introducing banal, humdrum, real life experiences! :)

          • jvkohl

            No problem. I realize that most people do not want experimental evidence of biologically-based cause and effect to alter their ridiculous thoughts about what is most relevant to discussion about energy-dependent learning and memory.

          • Geek0id

            You do know you are wrong, right?

          • jvkohl

            I know that I am right.

          • OWilson

            To bring it down to street level, peer revue is akin to asking your fellow Steeler fans, if your forecast of a Super Bowl Victory is valid.

            Depending on who the “peers” are, O.J. goes free, or gets the chair!

          • smut clyde

            Where is the repository of “non serious” scientists?
            I can be pretty frivolous sometimes.

          • Ryliex

            Thanks for linking your website, guy. It really speaks for itself.

          • jvkohl

            What does it say? I just posted this to show that everything you believed about the fossil record is wrong.


            Excerpt: “By addition of just one other ubiquitous chemical—calcium or barium salt—this water produces tiny structures, such as tubes, helices, and worm-like objects that are reminiscent of the shapes of primitive organisms. The water also generates complex mineral structures that are similar to nacre—the shiny substance of sea shells.

            The similarities between actual fossils and these inorganic structures
            go beyond appearance and extend to their chemical nature. This will make it even more complicated for scientists examining early evidence of life on Earth.”

          • Ryliex

            It says that you think linking your Timecube level insane batshit young earth creationist nonsense means you just proved that everything I’ve ever learned about biology, geology, and physics is wrong.

            Yeah, guy. Either you just shook my scientific world, or it just looks like it’s shaking because I can’t stop laughing.

          • jvkohl

            Did I mention the link from virus-driven energy theft to calicification and ossification that makes biologically uninformed science idiots think that fossilized bone is hundreds of millions of years old? But, it still contains naturally fluorescent DNA. Ask your girlfriend how long the natural fluorescence is expected to be present after the death of an organism. But wait, she knows nothing about that — and she is your champion. Too bad! Tell her you are making her look more foolish than you look.

          • Tobey Senderovich

            Uh.. pretty sure my girlfriend who is majoring in biology would not understand this either. Anyone can be knowlegable about science but if you present it in a convoluted way and people dont understand then you can’t really call them out on being “uninformed”. You just don’t make sense, dude.

          • jvkohl

            Ask her if she has learned that all organisms must eat or they do not survive to reproduce. If not, tell her to read: Feedback loops link odor and pheromone signaling with reproduction

          • Tobey Senderovich

            Explain how anything you said is relevant at all to anything I said.

    • smut clyde

      If you remove the intestines from its cavity, they automatically re positions itself when you put it back in its place.


  • jvkohl

    Based on the claims from “Context- and Output Layer-Dependent Long-Term Ensemble Plasticity in a Sensory Circuit,” I’d say that “Neuroskeptic” has some explaining to do. But first, why hasn’t someone asked Ben Carson what he understands about energy-dependent feedback loops so it can be compared to claims about mutations and evolution in the same context of what is known to serious scientists about the structure and function of all cell types.

    For example:
    Mitral and tufted cells in the olfactory bulb show similar odor-evoked responses
    Passive odor experience reorganizes ensemble odor representations in both cell types
    Associative odor learning specifically improves pattern separation in mitral cells
    Cortical feedback can trigger both forms of plasticity in a network model

    All four highlights have been placed into the context of what is known to serious scientists about the feedback loops reported as: “Feedback loops link odor and pheromone signaling with reproduction” (2005)

    • Ryliex

      I studied olfaction for six years at Cal in the lab of someone who did his postdoc in a Nobel laureate’s olfactory lab. You…do you know what monoallelic gene choice is and how the olfactory bulb is organized? Do you realize how immensely atypical the olfactory system in mammalian vertebrates is compared to the rest of the nervous system?

      Are you just throwing random things out there with no understanding?

      • jvkohl

        I am a medical laboratory scientist with a publication history that links energy-dependent RNA-mediated cell type differentiation from microbes to humans via the biophysically constrained chemistry of protein folding. I also own the domain RNA-mediated dot com which I use to disseminate accurate information about top-down causation and biologically-based cause and effect. My most recent presentation was at a Labroots virtual conference on Precision Medicine, and it is available on YouTube.


        Energy as information and constrained endogenous RNA interference

  • alqpr

    Coming from a neurosurgeon, the carelessness about both brain architecture and interpretation of random detailed hallucinations (as evidence for accurate and *complete* memories) are surprising, but I’d give him a bit of leeway as the claim was first made in an effort to encourage people to stretch their capacity for learning – where perhaps the details were less important than the general idea that we can probably absorb a lot more than we think we can. And apparently the ‘total recall’ interpretation of Penfield’s results was heavily pushed by certain pop psych authors in the ’70s.

    But it’s ironic that the quote in question originates as part of an exhortation not to be deterred from learning “too much” in a chapter on ‘Becoming Informed’ which opens with the proverb “Only simpletons believe everything they are told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.”

    And it’s also curious to see the parallel with someone else who claims the right to be trusted because he “has access to intelligence” but bases his public claims on “news” reports from sensationalist popular media.

  • SayWhat?

    Humans are de-evolving into nothing but @ssh0les. That is our greatest threat. When the AI we create realizes just how small we all really are, it’s lights out for us. Enjoy your arguments while you can.

    • OWilson

      You’re stuck with it!

      No way out!

      You can check out any time you like, but you can neve’r leave!

      Cue Joe Walsh!

  • Pingback: Ben Carson and the Power of the Hippocampus | StratCom()

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  • jvkohl

    See also: Social phobia: Indication of a genetic cause — reported on “medicalxpress”

    Excerpt: The cause of genetic illnesses often lies in the SNPs.

    My comment: The energy-dependent differences in the SNPs is RNA-mediated. In this case the differences link RNA methylation from endogenous RNA interference to learning and memory via experience-dependent cell type differentiation during life history transitions.

    For example, one amino acid substitution (COMT Val158Met) was already linked to differences in the behavior of adolescents and adults. When will Neuroskeptic and others admit that they need to learn more about biologically-based cause and effect before they attack people like Ben Carson.

    • Sys Best

      maybe he can treat you too! you are so smart I bet you don’t need at least half of your brain. you can even go for all, it doesn’t seem to help you having any.

      • jvkohl

        If I could donate a few brain cells to people like you who need them very badly, I would not have placed everything known about learning and memory into the context of this model.

        Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model

    • OWilson


      Any joke about Trump, his Cabinet or his family is sure to get a cheap laughs from like minded peers

      Same In my local pub, But a joke about Obama’s “All 57 States”, or Maxine’s, “Putin Invades Korea” is met with blank stares! :)

      Oh well, the Guinness is good though, Happy St. Pat’s Day!

  • Pingback: Lectuur op zaterdag: CIA, JFK, PDE en Ben Carson (en meer) | X, Y of Einstein?()

  • jvkohl

    See also: “Reproduction: A New Venue for Studying Function of Adult Neurogenesis?” (2011) Cell Transplant

    Excerpt: the number of dividing neurons in the hippocampus of female sheep increased robustly (43), which is accompanied with a sharp increase in circulating luteinizing hormone. Additionally, luteinizing hormone level and hippocampal neurogenesis were also upregulated by the soiled bedding. With the use of prolactin and leutinizing hormone receptor knock-out mice, it was confirmed that the hippocampal neurogenesis is due to the increase of the luteinizing hormone but not prolactin; in contrast, prolactin is the regulatory factor of SVZ neurogenesis (69).

    Neuroskeptic has displayed the ignorance of all theorists and left them with no excuse to say anything more about Ben Carson, or anyone else who intends to help the President of the United States “Make America Great Again.” Only biologically uniformed liberals will continue their attempts to stop President Trump. The anti-entropic effect of pheromones on GnRH and luteinizing hormone links food odors and pheromones from feedback loops to the physiology of reproduction in all vertebrates via the substitution of the achiral amino acid glycine in position 6 of the GnRH decapeptide.

  • jvkohl

    “Endothelial cell tropism is a determinant of H5N1 pathogenesis in mammalian species” makes no assumptions.

    Instead, everything known to serious scientists about energy-dependent biophysically constrained viral latency and pheromone-controlled entropy leads to the conclusion that every aspect of neo-Darwinian theory that did not include what is currently known about virus-driven energy theft will forever be ridiculed.

  • Pingback: Energy-dependent pheromone-controlled entropy (2) | RNA-Mediated()

  • Tobey Senderovich

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is not a neurolinguistic programmer. Do not associate him with that pseudoscience. He is a psychologist who has studied Flow through case studies and data collection. And he is reporting things that are empiricqlly verified.

    • jvkohl

      Thanks. How does that fit into the context of what serious scientists did to script the recent attack in the SNL skit, which was devoted to exposing the liberal mentality of Carson’s antagonists?

      • Tobey Senderovich

        I don’t know. Not sure why you brought it up to be honest.

    • Neuroskeptic

      You’re right that he is not an NLP guy, but the NLP guys are the main ones who seem to believe in the ‘2 million bits per second’ and they cite him as the source.

  • jvkohl

    This is somewhat crass, albeit scientific, attack on the unstated beliefs of all liberals and their level of intelligence, including whatever intelligence they hoped to gather from the wiretaps.

    A scientific attack during last week’s “Saturday Night Live” was framed in the context of a dog’s learning and memory. See:
    ARE PIGS FLYING?! SNL Takes A Swipe At Liberals For Once, And It’s HYSTERICALThe dog’s intelligence can be compared to the intelligence of those who attacked Ben Carson’s claims about energy-dependent endogenous RNA interference and changes in the hippocampus during life history transitions. As always, they took his claims out of context. They made themselves appear to be like dogs with brains that had never been stimulated.

    For constast, the life history transitions in humans link biophysically constrained COMT Val158Met (a single amino acid) to differences in the behavior of adolescents compared to adults. Other amino acid substitutions have been linked to all cell type differentiation in dogs and all other specie, including the cell types that vary between chimpanzees and modern humans compared to gorillas.

    Enjoy the time it takes to destroy every aspect of atheistic pseudoscientific nonsense that the biologically uninformed liberals still may hope to support with their “March for Science.”

    • Sys Best

      link this and that how? some loosely interpreted correlation taken to mean causation?

      • jvkohl

        Don’t pretend I have not linked top-down causation to energy-dependent biophysically constrained biologically-based cause and effect via amino acid substitutions because you were taught to believe in pseudoscientific nonsense.

  • jvkohl

    Scientists develop light-controllable tool to study CaMKII kinetics in learning and memory

    Light-activated learning and memory extends conserved molecular mechanisms from the weekend evolution of the bacterial flagellum in P.fluorescens to Zika virus-damaged brains in human infants.

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No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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