Re: Missing the point?

From: Holmes, Sharon (
Date: Thu Feb 20 1997 - 15:48:43 GMT

> From: Minnett-Westwood, Della <>
> Surely the aim of any discipline concerning itself with
> the human being must be not only to enhance our knowledge
> and understanding of ourselves, but to enrich some physical
> or psychological aspect of ourselves in a positive way.

Can you explain exactly what you mean by the above sentence?
Research in any form does not have to have a direct practical output
in the manner you describe. For example, I am researching the way
individuals respond physically when suffering from motion sickness.
The findings may indicate a pattern of response in people who become
very sick which may be different to the response of those who not
suffer sickness. This may not have any practical use in 'enriching'
a physiological aspect of ourselves. It will not lead to a cure!
But what the research may do is answer one small question in this
area - provide a small stepping stone to bigger things, or contribute
to the overall knowledge and picture of why people become motion

The same can be said for your dyslexia example:-

> For instance, I understand from the text that certain
> machines can display the same errors in language when
> damaged as dyslexics display. This means that we now have a
> model of dyslexia and can deduce which faulty circuits
> produce it. So what happens next? Unfortunately, I am told
> that rewiring the brain is slightly more complicated than
> rewiring a simulated model of a minute part of it in
> isolation.

 No, this model will not lead to a cure or 're-wiring' of the brain,
but may provide researchers with a useful tool - a model, a representation of
dyslexia . By altering the parameters of this model, researchers may
be able to investigate possible causes one by one, which they would
not be able to do otherwise.

I hope this goes some way to answering your question.

Sharon Holmes
Human Factors Research Unit
Institute of Sound and Vibration Research
University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ

phone: (01703) 592853/594961
fax: (01703) 592927

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