From: Chris Lofting (
Date: Wed 17 May 2006 - 08:03:17 GMT

  • Next message: Derek Gatherer: "RE: RS"

    Hi Jerry,

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On Behalf
    > Of Jerry Bryson
    > Sent: Wednesday, 17 May 2006 5:31 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: RS
    > On May 16, 2006, at 12:21 PM, Chris Lofting wrote:
    > >
    > > The development of a sense of 'self' allows for the emergence of finer
    > > forms
    > > of emotion DEPENDENT UPON that developed sense of self. New borns etc
    > > don't
    > > have it.
    > It's the sense of self I can't see as exclusive to homo saps. I know I
    > am aware of myself. I *think* you are, but I couldn't prove it to a
    > skeptical Martian, for either one of us. I suspect it's ingrained in
    > us to think others are self-aware. I may be different from many others
    > in that I think I sense it in animals, as well as humans. But my
    > grandson, @ 3 years, was thoroughly bummed when he found out animals
    > don't talk.

    There is a sense of 'awareness' of self in apes but that appears to lack awareness of other 'selves' (the theory of mind concept). The 'mirror' test used in research of apes shows that chimps and oragutans pass the test and recognise themselves in the mirror, and other monkeys fail the test. Gorillas seem to fall in the middle, some tests show they do, some tests show they don't.

    In humans, infants below the age of 14-18 months fail the test. In other words recognition of self does not occur until about 18 months.

    What is of interest is that children below 18 months can recognise others
    (as in body, not mind) and even recognise the reflective abilities of a mirror. They just don't 'link the dots' yet.

    In the research using these mirror tests, covering ages from 9 to 24 months, only children who passed the test could experience self-conscious emotions such as 'embarrassment' - and testing included children of 18 to 21 months who failed the test - they could not experience 'embarrassment' and so indicating a universal sense of self developing at about age 2.

    From a language perspective, the fail/pass of the mirror test reflected the increased ability to properly use the "I","me","we" pronouns.

    This moves us into the differences in thinking with a refined language vs
    'non-conceptual' thought. Apes have a sense of ordinality that is
    'immediate' in expression and so indicative of a 'holistic' methodology but limited in precision. Thus there is a degree of abstraction skills present as 'instincts' but that is limited most likely due to a lack of development of a high precision language where the feedback from differentiating increases differentiation in general of self from others. (from a meme perspective this gets into 'holistic' forms that apply to 'non-conceptual' thought dynamics)

    Humans can convert the parallel, the holistic, into the serial and mechanistic and so achieve more precision and so have more choices to use in control/regulation of context - and this is reflected in general brain dynamics where the increase in differentiation allows for increase in control/regulation and is ultimately manifest in us with our sophisticated languages and off-line storage of such.

    As the senses get differentiated so the 'synaesthesia' of infants ("This food tastes RED") diminishes, we become more precise in our sensory differentiations/communications. The increased use of language etc brings out a left bias to dealing with universals (e.g. words) and that shifts into general universal expression such as handedness when compared to the more
    'context sensitive' handedness of other mammals etc.

    The differences of a developed sense of self are in the ape sense being equivalent to a human 2 year old and at that age there is still ongoing development in us regarding emotions dependent on a sense of self. (and the
    'terrible twos' seem to indicate the recognition that there ARE 'other minds' and the universe is not for us alone)

    There is research showing that the sense of self being associated with self-image and that activity is mapped to a bias to right hemisphere dynamics - that hemisphere covers integration and general 'holistic' perspectives. Indicated here is the originating right hemisphere as managing the 'vague' that is then made 'crisp' by differentiating.

    This dynamic is indicated in general left/right properties analysis where the right is more reality "AS IS" and the left more reality "AS INTERPRETED"
    (see anything by the neuroscientist researcher Michael Gazzaniga regarding this particular dichotomy)

    In the new born infant the right is more developed than the left but the left takes over dominance with experience of differentiating of senses and development of serial language (as does the front with increased planning skills etc mapped to frontal cortex). The feedback involved allows for the left to feedback differentiations to the right where it all gets integrated into finer and finer degrees of granularity.

    The suggestion from hemisphere studies is that in lower life forms the emergence of reason and awareness is context-sensitive rather than being universal where a situation eliciting complex brain dynamics to resolve things increases oscillation across what/where and so allows for
    'emergence'. The cost here is in energy expenditure.

    As soon as a situation is resolved things fall back to autopilot. The same thing happens for us but the development of complex neural dynamics seems to have elicited a 'background hum' of consciousness that is more than just self-aware, there is development to a level of immediate recognition of others being aware as well. This associates with sophisticated memory abilities that allow for 24/7 storage and recall.

    Stephen Rose's work on the memory capabilities of chicks seems to indicate this 'context-sensitive' emergence of awareness but for them it is over no more than a few hours where, if the situation is not repeated in that time span, the memory disappears and when presented with the same situation the chick goes through the same dynamics as if it was all 'new' - and to them it is.

    The behavioural focus is on the ability to DELAY response to stimulus and that is linked to frontal lobe and in particular the prefrontal cortex with its focus on planning etc. Although present in other neuron-dependent life forms, the frontal lobes are poorly developed and only emerge in a highly refined form in us. For the neuron we can trace this delay to (a) synchronisation using inhibit/excite connections to the cell body and (b) concentrations of neuromodulators/neurotransmitters in the synaptic gap. Thus the dendrite/axon dynamic is 'immediate' and so representative of stimulus/response whereas with delay comes considered_response.

    The 'executive' function of the frontal lobes has been demonstrated in the equivalent areas of bird brains but it is limited when compared to what we can do and this suggests the 'context sensitive' dynamic where such a dynamic is energy conserving. The price of that conservation is not being able to 'link the dots' 24/7.

    Libet's work (see his book "Mind Time" OUP that summarises his research) shows that when experiencing something 'new' there is a delay of about .5 of a second in responses etc when compared to when we have habituated the 'new' and so can work off the habit. In other words the use of awareness reduces reaction times as we refine an instinct/habit. Once done so awareness is no longer involved. This associates the activities of consciousness with delay processing and especially with the concept of mediation.

    With the development of human consciousness we have the difference mentioned between the monkey's ability to mimic vs our ability to transcend that to include mime and this indicates the emergence of imagination.

    With imagination comes the ability to IMAGINE other minds and through informal experimentation to confirm that thought. Thus with imagination comes our use of hypothesis making. Work in Psychology on the development of the child's mind suggests a lot of development in the areas of reason using imagination etc is not well established until about age seven or so. Whereas for an ape this age is considered to be well into adulthood and brain development 'complete'.


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