The Kauffman Model can be applied to atoms, molecules, organ systems, and neural nets through star systems. Our mental processing falls into the mix. The Kauffman model even accounts for the effect described in my opening sentences, one thought and all else is transformed.
I've pretended through the past essay that it's a simple matter in neural systems to distinguish between the interconnections between logic units (Psychological Adaptations?) and connections within a single system. The former modulate, delay, or prevent completion of a triggered response. The latter make it possible. A social comparison is that of our getting opinions from people who don't agree with us versus our getting opinions from people who automatically sanction our prior conviction.
The distinction can be rough to maintain; however, I think it's worth doing because of the description and predictive power that could result. Erasing interneurons should have the same effect as cutting axons. Fewer neurons, even though logic units, means less response modulation. Likewise, we can ignore people who disagree with us or we can shoot them; either way, our personal conduct is more variable per unit of time. On the other hand, there may be some events that increase or decrease crosstalk without changing the number of decision units.
Learning has been described as a means for tracking environmental changes faster than possible through natural selection. A greater gain is that learning (and procedures thought to produce learning) should be reflected in greater crosstalk between competing neural systems. Meeting a larger circle of friends could be the social equivalent to learning. Maturation of behavior sequences, of cognitive abilities, and of language would appear consistent with increased lateral inhibition between Psychological Adaptations just as is having a larger circle of friends.
There are many sources bearing on these phenomena. For example,
a.) Reexamine established data about impulsive behavior or syndromes associated with head injury, autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, or bipolar disorder. Neurological damage can often leave a robotic, digital quality to behavior. Oliver Sacks' books should be a wealthy source of promising information about jagged or cross wired PA.
b) Split disorders into those with high and low digital qualities. Predict treatment outcomes of existing studies from the perspective of Kauffman's model. Alzheimer's vs. depression. ADHD vs. mania. In both comparisons, the first entity should be more binary in quality where the second is more sustained.
c) Psychotropic medicines appear to have a digital quality, as if there is a narrowed range of effectiveness. It could be our clumsiness with measurement or it could be that antidepressants have a thin phase transition; the person either feels better or he doesn't. Certainly, there is evidence that some antidepressants have a dose response "curve"; however, the steps on it seem relatively few. Nearly every antidepressant comes in roughly 3 sizes. The neuroleptics likewise seem to have about the same efficacy as each other, they work or they don't. Swapping them or using them in combination does not increase their effectiveness.
d) Single subject research designs could be promising. Irreversible changes can be handled with multiple subjects, started at different dates and in conditions that vary in every way but the independent variable. Or, in randomly in every way except for a systematic variation in the independent variable. Reversals can be handled by the presentation of stressors, contexts, and compensations (relaxation, learning, alliances, psychoactive medicines) in mixed order. In either case, we might expect a digital quality to performance shifts. (A classical debate in psychology once centered around whether "learning" was digital or analog. The analog people drew averaged curves for groups of rats; the digital believers drew acquisition curves for individual critters and got binary data that was labeled "insight.")
e) Therapeutic interactions should be assessed on the basis of impulsiveness in the client. Impulsive people are notorious for repeating the same errors as they pass through life. Prolonged treatment contact becomes cost-efficient depending on the availability of other social supports (inhibitory systems). The ritual of "just checking in" appears to remind children and impulsive adults to persist with various self-management tactics. We could expect that treatments such as desensitization would reflect digital outcomes in relation to client impulsiveness. It would either work extraordinarily well and quickly or not at all, perhaps as a function of whether "reminders" to use the newly acquired skill were incorporated into the test environment. We should also notice that impulsive people are likely more variable in their reactions to placebo treatment .... the sugar should help a lot or none.
Therapy will also be more complicated for smaller problems than for larger. Large problems, again within Kauffman's model, are apt to be the expression of an extreme variation in a single trait. Such problems are statistically more rare (because they are larger and because most of our conduct seems heavily influenced by genetic foundations, themselves the product of small contributions from many genes rather than depending on a single gene) but only require our attention to a single factor. Treating a difficult child who has 3 or more smaller problems (anxiety, ADHD, LD), acting in synchrony, becomes disproportionately hard. First, any modification of one issue will not necessarily effect a dramatic shift in complaints. The lack of dramatic global changes may discourage clinicians and parents from working systematically on the remaining problems. The presence of impulsiveness in combination with a learning disability appears to multiply academic problems beyond what would be seen with a summing of the disorders.
f) Family life will contain Kauffman events. For example, we all know intuitively that it's more fun for parents to take vacations without the kids. Vacations with the kids often translate into extra stress points in the parents' lives. More kids implies more chaos in every phase of family existence. There's even folklore that things get no worse after the third child, that raising six is no more stressful than rearing four. This effect, if it exists, is attributed to the older children taking responsibility for the younger. Studies might also show that the chaos is so great after the third child, that more of them produce no perceptible increase in household confusion. The third child should represent the transition between predictability and chaos.
g) Business phenomena should reflect phase transitions. That is, the greater the number of consultants, the less likely it becomes that changes will occcur and the less prompt they will be. A manipulative executive could neutralize opposition by appointing representatives from competing groups onto an advisory board. He could scuttle his replacement by changing the advisory group to an executive one. We might expect to find this practice more common when the business is going to an offspring with a history of impulsive conduct.
h) Cultural observation could be a rich source of information. We can expect that the larger the legislative body, the less likely any decisions will occur. Similarly, 2 political parties should be associated with redundancy and lack of variation; more than 3 should be associated with chaos. The Italian government reflected just this condition for decades because of there being as many as a dozen parties. The defection of any single faction destroyed the ability of a dominant coalition to remain in power. Likewise, in the United States, politics often appears devoted to the avoidance of causing offense rather than pursuing a goal. Voters choose candidates on one or two issues; most of us likely cannot track more than two and certainly will not perform a statistical weighting of the dozen that may be involved in a contest.