#79: Randy Gallistel on Upsetting Neuroscientists (The Theory)
Cognitive Revolution | Randy has made a career out of making the neuroscientific community mad. We dive into his ideas.
This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Randy Gallistel has made a career (at least partly) out of making the neuroscientific community angry. He’s made broad, sweeping claims that cut to the core of the neuroscience of learning and memory. The problem with his claims is not that they’re broad and sweeping. The problem is that they might be right. In particular, he’s taking aim at neuroscience for not grappling with the symbolic nature of cognition. The neuroscience of memory, he argues, doesn’t even acknowledge the basis existence of “facts.” That is, there’s no neural theory of what a fact is, or how the brain might store it. In this episode, we talk about Randy’s claims in this space of topics. This was the second half of a much longer conversation. In a follow-up episode, I’ll publish the first half—which goes into the backstory of how Randy developed these ideas and the major figures who influenced him.
Randy’s Three Books:
The Eighth Day of Creation, Horace Freeland Judson
The Logic of Life, Francois Jacob
Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code, Rieka et al
Honorary mention: Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Sean B Carroll
Books we talked about:
The Structural Basis of Behavior, J. Anthony Deutsch
Papers we talked about:
Randy’s recent paper on the Physical Basis of Memory
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