Wednesday 16 January 2008
Cro-Magnons, Mirror Neurones and Altruism
For a while I have been working on a theory that links the Cro-Magnons, Western Culture and altruism. It is my theory that the basis of human altruism and our capacity for creating complex and advanced social structures and cultures is due to the increase in the numbers of mirror neurones in the human brain and the increased connections between the mirror neurones and the neo-cortex.
This theory is based on the Mirror Neurone. Mirror Neurones are those neurones in the brain that fire when we view the actions of others. The firing of the neurones triggers an empathic response in the brain of the viewer. This is the basis of advanced cultural development, as the more complex technology in any human society then more complex behaviours are required to produce that technology. A flint napped into a knife is a supreme peice of complex technology. In order to produce a flint knife, and to teach someone else to make a similar flint knife, requires an astonishing level of intelligence, memory, culture and ability to learn and mimic behaviours.
Mirror Neurones are the tools that allow the human ability for high intelligence, organised memory and the ability to mimic complex behaviours.
Following on from the Triune Brain Theory of Howard Bloom and Paul MacLean, I propose that in fact there are in fact five major brain structures relating to the different speciations in the evolutionary path of humanity. The ongoing process of human speciation in action is the Cro-Magnon structural change in the brain of those descendants of Cro-Magnons that increased both the density of mirror neurones and also increased the connections between them. This evolutionary change is primarily present within the indigenous European peoples descended from the Cro-Magnon tribal group present within Europe approximately 50,000 years ago, and whose descendants are primarily indigenous Europeans.
Five Brain structure
Brain 1 = The R Complex = relating to the snake and lizard level of our evolutionary path = controls hunger, thirst, temperature, fight or flight - fear - related to territoriality - The Reptilian Brain. The R-complex, also known as the "Reptilian Brain", includes the brain stem and cerebellum. The term "Reptilian brain" comes from the fact that a reptile's brain is dominated by the brain stem and cerebellum which controls instinctive survival behavior and thinking. This is similar in humans. This brain controls the muscles, balance and autonomic functions (e.g. breathing and heartbeat); thus it is primarily reactive to direct stimuli.
Brain 2 = Limbic system wrapped around brain 1 = The mammalian brain structure. MacLean first introduced the term "limbic system" in a paper in 1952. This portion of the brain derives from "the old mammalian brain". The limbic system is the source of emotions and instincts (e.g.. feeding, fighting, fleeing, and sexual behaviour). When this part of the brain is stimulated, such as by mild electric current, emotions are produced.
MacLean observed that everything in the limbic system is either "agreeable or disagreeable." Survival is based upon the avoidance of pain (disagreeable) and the recurrence of pleasure (agreeable).
The limbic system comprises the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. The limbic system must interact with the neocortex in some way. The limbic system cannot function entirely on its own. It needs to interact with the neocortex to process the emotions.
Brain 3 = Neo-Cortex wrapped around brain 2 = The Primate brain structure = higher levels of social organisation. The neocortex, also known as the cerebral cortex, is similar to the brain of higher mammals and controls higher-order thinking skills, reason and speech
Brain 4 = Broca area develops in Homo Sapiens. Change from primates to humans which led to a massive growth in Homo Sapiens of the Neo-Cortex and the development of the Broca area of the brain in Homo Sapiens. Only 1.6 % difference between apes and man in terms of genetics, and most of that difference is in the brain. In humans the neo-cortex is massive compared to apes. This also allowed a massive growth in the density of Mirror Neurones in the increased size of the Neo-Cortex. This allowed increased social development and greater group co-operation. This is the period of the Chomsky brain change theory that led to creation of human potential for language. This was also the primitive language structures for primitive community structures eg nuclear family groups. The neocortex, also known as the cerebral cortex, is similar to the brain of higher mammals and controls higher-order thinking skills, reason and speech
Brain 5 = Mirror Neurone Theory that relates to the Cro-Magnons of Europe.
The Cro-Magnon Revolution.
The movement of Homo Sapiens into Europe required greater social organisation and future planning than that required in the environments adjacent to Northern Europe. The individuals that comprised the original Cro-Magnon population probably descended from an East Africa origin via South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and even North Africa from a genetic perspective no less than a 150,000 - 100,000 years ago according to mitochondrial DNA evidence.
In order to survive in the different environments, then natural selection and culture development evolved as one. The fittest and most clever survived on average longer than the unfit and the stupid.
The fittest and most intelligent of those that entered the European wilderness and who adapted fastest and most succesfully to their environment survived the longest.
The long winters in the North required the plotting of the seasons etc due to harsher environmental conditions. As natural selection worked on saving the fittest and most intelligent of the proto-Indo-Europeans the connections linked to the Brocas Area of the brain were changed. The slow changes in the wiring and size of the mirror neurone system within the brains of those within the proto-Cro-Magnon tribal groups were passed on genetically down the line of the generations and eventually facilitated a moment of punctuated equilibrium. An inheritable genetic trait occured that allowed a change in the brain structures of the Cro-Magnons to be passed on.
This genetic change allowed a rapid explosion of complex cultural developments in Cro-Magnon societies that then spread to all other Homo Sapiens groups who were capable of mimicking those advanced human behaviours and cultures. The capacity for imitation and meme storage were increased in the Cro-Magnon leap forward and the original human neo-cortex underwent structural changes at the same time as the amalygdala also underwent structural change. The human neo-Cortex is able to recognise racial differences, as well as the amalygdala, at the level of the unconscious as detected in brain scans.
In experiments between individuals from different racial groups, when whites are shown photographs of blacks the amalygdala fires in a way that is different when shown a picture of another white person. The same thing happens when blacks are shown photographs of whites, the brain of the black person is different when shown photographs of other other blacks. THEY BOTH SHOW LESS FEAR OF THOSE FROM THEIR OWN RACIAL GROUP, THAN THEY SHOW FOR THOSE OUTSIDE THEIR RACIAL GROUP.
The fact that both whites and blacks showed less activity in the Amaygdala when looking at others of their racial groups is because the Mirror Neurones are aware that the 'other' is related to the 'Self', in other words that they recognise racial kinship and genetic kinship. This unconscious recognition then activates the altruism response based on genetic kinship AS THEY NO LONGER FEAR THE OTHER. The basis of Group Selection and altruism depends upon the ability of the mirror neurones to recognise both fellow members of the group and non-members of the group.
The structures of the Mirror Neurones in the Neo-Cortex reflect the oneness with the other white person and hence ‘dampen‘ the firing of the fear response in the Amygdala.
The amalygdala unconsciously recognises the racial differences between individuals and then the neo-cortex consciously reflects that these racial differences exist directly into the consciousness. This means the Cro-Magnon brain must have experienced changes both in the structures of the amalygdala and the neo-cortex that expressed this active ability to differentiate between Cro-Magnons and other racial groups.
The fact that both whites and blacks recognise the differences unconsciously between racial groups, proves that this difference is based on changes in brain structure predicated on identifying racial differences. A priori therefore racial differences exist not just at the level of the physical human form eg skin colour but also within the brain itself and at the level of inherited genetics. We inherit our ability to recognise racial differences.
This change in the structure of the brain to explictly recognise racial difference is also linked to IQ difference and other structural brain changes between the racial groups. The changes in the Cro-Magnon brain in relation mirror neurone density and connections to the neo-cortex allowed their brains to store more complex memes, process them and transmit them via those changes in the Mirror Neurone structures. The more complex the links between the mirror neurones and the density of mirror neurones in the neo-cortex the more complex behaviours and complex cultures and technologies are available.
There is a fundamental difference between memory, intelligence and memes.
Memory is information based on past experiences related to the instinct and instinctive reactions processed in the Amalygdala (this I define as Wisdom, and is the stored memories of the unconscious at all levels of speciation. We have five different 'intelligences' that operate within the brain at the same time ;
1) The Serpent consciousness of the R Complex.
2) The Dolphin consciousness of the Limbic system
3) The Ape consciousness of the primate Neo-Cortex
4) The Human consciousness related to the Brocas area of the brain and increase in mirror neurone density in neo-cortex
5) The Cro-Magnon consciousness related to changes in links between mirror neurone density, the amalygdala, the Hippocampus and the neo-cortex.
Intelligence relates to the immediate ability of the consciousness to process and utilise new information and new experiences (Knowledge) within the Hippocampus.
The capacity of the brain to create, store and transmit complex Memes relates to the ability of the brain to fuse past learned experiences (wisdom) and new information (knowledge) into creating and passing on new technologies and cultures. This ability is located and based on the changes in the broca area and Mirror Neurone structures of the Neo-Cortex that occured in the early humans.
It was the change in the Mirror Neurone structures relating to the ability to create, store and transmit complex Memes that linked the amalygdala, the neo-cortex and the hippocampus that formed the basis of the Brain 5 evolution of the Cro-Magnons.
This change in the capacity of Cro-Magnon brains to create, store and transmit Memes allowed rapid transmission of complex Memes amongst Cro-Magnons creating the new human cultures called the Great Leap Forward.
Though this change occured in the Cro-Magnon peoples, it has since spread via genetic drift to many other racial groups in the world as a result of Cro-Magnon and indigenous European migration over the last 50,000 years since the adaption occurred so the drift of the adaption is quite prevalent I suspect.
This link between genes and culture is why many technologically complex African nations and socieities once under the European empires have since 'crashed' in the ebb of imperialism. As the whites left Africa then the complex white cultures thay created and sustained also collapsed. The unique complex technological cultures of Europe derived from the Cro-Magnons are not able to be sustained once the Europeans are removed from Africa eg as is happening in Zimbabwe etc.
All racial groups express their own'natural' culture and level of social and technological complexity.
The fact that blacks and whites regard whites each as different racial groups at the unconscious level of the Amalygdala, and whites and black both see fellow whites and blacks as similar at the level of the Amalygdala, is proof that the brain structures of both whites and blacks are different - if not then why does the Amalygdala register racial differences ?
I suspect that the creation of the capacity for the Proto-Cro-Magnon Language that came into being around 50,000 BC and that evolved into Proto-Indo European about 15,000 years ago and then into the Indo-European language around 8000 years ago, is also linked to further changes in the mirror neurone structures related to the Brocas area of the brain.
European civilisation is a product of Cro-Magnons and only the presence of the indigenous European Cro-Magnon peoples sustains European technological society.
Once the creators and guardians of a Meme or are a culture are gone, then the Meme is lost. The culture disappears when the creators of that culture dissapear.
A change in the wiring of the Cro-Magnon brain allowed the creation of new advanced cultural memes and allowed them to be spread, disseminated and sustained. Once the Cro-Magnons go, then the Cultures they protect as memes in their minds via the mirror neurones vanish rapidly.
A 2003 study on Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA, published by an Italo-Spanish research team led by David Caramelli, concluded that Neanderthal man was far outside the modern human range, while Cro-Magnon people were not just inside but well in the average of modern Europeans. This is proof that most modern Europeans are descendants of the Cro-Magnons.
mtDNA retrieved from 2 Cro-Magnon specimens was identified as Haplogroup N. Haplogroup N is found amongst modern day populations of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia and its descendant haplogroups can be seen amongst modern Europeans, Eurasians, East Asians and Native American populations.