Free will

  1. Q.  Could you elaborate more on your thoughts regarding operant conditioning and evolved free will?

A.  Pavlovian / classical conditioning always takes place before operant conditioning can occur. The initial UCS: CS pairing involved the epigenetic effects of food odors or pheromones. The food odors or pheromones directly effect secretion of GnRH via a diet-responsive and pheromone-responsive neurogenic niche that also determines whether or not other hormone secretion driven by the neurogenic niche will be linked via operant conditioning to rewards associated with visual, auditory, tactile stimuli et al. None of these secondary associations, for example with the dopaminergic system, or even with oxytocin, can occur in the absence of olfactory/pheromonal conditioning of the GnRH directed response.

Meanwhile, we have people linking dopamine and oxytocin causally to behavior — all the while burying / disguising the cause and effect known to be common to all species via the common molecular biology. As I detailed using the honeybee model organism, nutrient chemicals are the first to classically condition cellular responses and gene expression that allows survival of individuals. Then, the metabolism of nutrient chemicals to pheromones controls reproduction and species survival. Only when the ecological niche contains enough nutrient chemicals, and pheromones control reproduction, does adaptive evolution allow for construction of the neurogenic niche that enables brain development in vertebrates and the hypothalamic neurogenic niche, which also enables construction of our socio-cognitive niche.

With construction of our socio-cognitive niche comes free will. We can choose to not respond to classically conditioned appetites for food and sex, but we either die of starvation, or leave no offspring. Those are serious consequences. But when we choose whether or not we respond to preferences that are operantly conditioned, we merely limit food intake or sexual experiences. Simply put, we can choose to avoid experiences that are not acceptable to society, like sex with a minor, but we cannot choose not to eat. Free will is obviously involved in many choices and so is operant conditioning, but classical conditioning of hormone responses to food odors and pheromones is initially involved in all other choices.

About James V. Kohl 1307 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society