The Human Brain
Human behavior comes from the human brain. This text seeks further definition of man, that portion of man which resides in his brain. It uses prior information found in separate texts on genetics, evolution and developmental history, to further understand the current physical structure of the human neural system. The overall goal of this text, along with others in the series, is to provide a basis in fact of the nature of man for use in developing those social studies (education, psychology, sociology, etc.) so necessary for the formation and maintenance of culture. The basis now used for these study areas is erroneous and the development of these social studies is now pure conjecture and imagination. This following study of the brain is confined to those features of the brain which determine or contribute to human behavior.
Summary of Findings
During the development of the human neural system, there were six eras of improvement in function:
All of these neural processes are interwoven in the human mind in various portions. They are used simultaneously, and the divisions between them are invisible to us. We never really know which element prevailed in our decision. If we are in our day-to-day mode, we operate entirely intuitively (instinctively). If we want to lean back and look at things, we are in our 'awareness' (subjective) mode. It is only when we set our conscious minds to it, and rigidly adhere to the process, that we are 'intelligent'. Being 'intelligent' is not an 'easy' process, nor is it fun. It requires effort to learn and rigid self-control to use. But, it is productive.
Man is not, by nature (without special training), a logical (reasoning, intelligent) creature. He is, instead, totally reactive (instinctive, intuitive). His behavior is determined entirely by the interaction (conflict resolution, competition, cooperation, coordination) between his various instincts (genetically determined neural mechanisms provided by evolution for behavioral guidance). There is no mechanism for intelligence or memory which is separate from sensory, motor and instinct mechanisms. Man may be trained (his behavior may be controlled by edict). He may be educated (he may be taught knowledge for use as raw material in his decision making). The untrained and uneducated human is totally instinctive and not capable of objective reasoning or proper cultural behavior under modern social environments. The self-disciplined and educated (if educated in real knowledge) human is fully capable of both. The human has been provided by evolution with instincts (genetically specified neural mechanisms) which causes him to seek both training and education (he is a competitive social animal). He is quite capable of logic, reason, and intelligence when he chooses to be so, provided that he learns and follows the necessary discipline and rigid methodology. Even then, however, he is instinctive in his goals (the need for and the application of the reasoning). His instincts provide the direction, drive and power behind his every action.
Man is, therefore, capable of being superior to any intelligent mechanism or creature, since he is not limited to functioning only with logic, reason and intelligence, thus allowing unlimited mental creativity and exploration. He has no mental limitation in scope, other than in his self-control over his instincts. Conversely, he is also capable of being an absolute idiot, the more usual case since he is not normally either trained or educated in intelligent thought (solid provable premises, careful logic steps, frequent verification by measurement, the refusal to consider intuition, imagination and conjecture in other than theoretical and inventive pursuits).
Unfortunately, man believes that he is naturally intelligent and that he acts intelligently at all times. He does not recognize that all of his social interaction is instinct (intuition) driven. Nor does he recognize that many of his instincts are archaic and only partially applicable. Nor does he recognize that whereas logic and reason would always result in uniform behavioral action, the normal (due to mutations) divergence in instincts across the gene pool of the human, will always produce divergent answers for the same behavioral questions. Where his genetically provided behavioral tendencies (instincts) fit the particular social problem, he functions well, but since he is unable to sense the dividing line between his instinctive (intuition, reactive decision summation) and logical reasoning, he usually substitutes intuition, imagination and conjecture for logic, reason, and intelligence. Then he swears to its authenticity by virtue of his 'intelligence'. Mankind thus constructs entire fields of study in social interaction (psychology, philosophy, sociology, educational philosophy, political and social 'science', etc.) on false and self-serving premises and follows with faulty logical development which is rarely if ever verified, and thereby rarely true.
Also, and just as unfortunate, human instincts date from times of great stress and so are primarily aimed at surviving under that ancient environment. Having overcome most of this environmental stress through the invention of shelter, clothing, food production and medicine, many of these instincts have become detrimental. Others are time-consuming and without social value.
The Neural System Before Man
Early life, some 3.5 billion years ago, consisted of single living cells. A single cell is a very complex assembly of biological material engaged in complex chemical processes. Single cell life developed, through the process of evolution, over a period of billions of years. See The Evolution of the Cell for more detail on cell development. The evolution of man from the single cell is far less a magnificent process than was the development of the cell itself. The development of man required, once the cell was established and began forming cooperatives, about 680 million years. The development of the cell itself required about 3 billion prior years.
The first multicellular animals began appearing about 680 million years ago. These were living creatures composed of cooperating cells. All of the higher animals, including man, developed from these. Note the process from the simple to the complex. Note the development, first of collecting individual biological processes into a single cell, then the construction of creatures from multiple uses of the cell. One by one the biological processes were assembled in the cell, then one by one the characteristics of all modern life were built from multiple cells.
The human brain was developed through a similar process, from the simple to the complex, along with the evolution of the human. The human body is composed of many billions of cells, working in harmony. The modern human nervous system is composed of about 100 billion neural functioning cells, supported by perhaps 10 times that many more.
As man evolved, mutations occurred in the nervous system, causing it to evolve along with the body. Those mutations were tested against the environment in the same manner as mutations involving outward physical changes. As ancient ancestors of man gained new and improved sensors, in order to survive, the neural control of those sensory enhancements developed alongside. As survival required more complex actions and reactions of the overall organism, those also developed in the form of neural circuitry along with and often a part of the sensory enhancement circuitry. See The Evolution of Man for more detail on man's development.
The first thing to realize about the brain is that, unlike an organ such as the heart or liver, it is not a single organ with a single function. It is instead an organ of many thousands of interlocking functions. These micro-functions developed along the same game plan as the body itself. If features were not successful, they were discarded. As features were found to enhance survival, they became permanent residents. The human body is a giant cooperative consisting of billions of cooperating cells. The human nervous system, likewise, is constructed of many thousands of cooperating functions. This is to be expected, since both were developed by the same process, and that development would of necessity be of the same kind and within the same time frame.
The idea that suddenly something entirely new, a wonderful new intelligent mechanism, appeared only in the lineage of man, has no basis. Other than in proportions of the various parts, the brains of all of the higher animals are the same in construction.
The function of the brain was not understood as recently as two hundred years ago. Many thought at that time it was some sort of pump which helped the heart circulate the blood. Our current understanding of the brain is based on the following study methods:
An Introduction to the Brain
The size of the modern human adult brain is about 1350 cc. It is a spongy mass (and not very pleasing in appearance). The brain of Ramidus, the walking ape/man of 4.5 million years ago, was about 400 cc. in size, that of Homo habilis, the first human at about 2 million years ago , was about 575 cc. The largest human brain was in the Neandertal at about 8% larger than the Homo sapien sapien.
The left side of a human brain is shown. The brain stem is a communications trunk between the brain and the rest of the body. Two of the five senses which provide current environment information from the outside world (eyes and ears) are connected directly to the periphery of the brain. Taste, smell and touch come from outside the brain cage (the upper skull). Each element of each sense has a direct connection to the brain. Each small area on the body has its own touch sensor. Taste provides about 40,000 individual sensors, the eyes well over two hundred million. The senses are connected into the brain in parallel. All sensing elements enter the brain at the same time. There is no time sharing or switching. The eyes are connected in one area, the ears to another, etc.
The brain consists of many parts, the most conspicuous division being the two hemispheres, which forms the cortex (outer surface). The cortex is folded to get more surface area. It functions as if it was a flattened surface. It is at the surface that the cortex brain cell bodies are especially situated, while the internal parts of the cortex carry the connections between the cells. The division of brain cell bodies and their connections causes the cortex to be either white matter (connections) or gray matter (active neural cells on the outer surface). See the latter part of Man, the Digital Machine for more detail on the neural cell mechanism and its functions.
The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left one is shown. The hemispheres can be divided into lobes, corresponding roughly with deep fissures: temporal (side), occipital (back), parietal (top), and frontal.
A Case of Cooperation
Usually it is best to approach a complex problem by way of simple detail first, then the combinations leading to the complex. The end result of that approach in the study of the brain is so bizarre with respect to the way we appear to ourselves, that it becomes confusing. If one should be unsuspecting, much is lost in the explanation of the detail.
The cause of this unusual situation is the manner in which the brain developed. It was not built at one time, nor as a single object. It is not an entity that one can explain as an entity. Neural decision mechanisms in mobile complex organisms have been around more than 680 million years. The human developed from one of those early creatures. Early neural mechanisms were quite simple. Evolution, over time and with much trial and error experimentation, increased the number of neural components while constantly increasing the complexity of each. The end result, the human brain, is a cooperative of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of 'mini-brains'. The cooperative is so much in tune that it appears and functions as one.
The human brain, then, is a cooperative composed of perhaps thousands of individual reactive decision mechanisms, each with its own memory, interconnection with all others, and judgement. The voting of these mechanisms is so fast and so in harmony that we perceive the entire system as being the thought of one mechanism, which, in effect, the overall system becomes.
As we use our minds, it is obvious to us that we are one. There is no hint that we are actually many, in fact a great many, and that our consciousness (awareness) is the summation (vote) of these entities in the closest possible cooperation. To gain this concept of more than one contributing to our single consciousness, consider the partitioning of the brain into hemispheres.
Three views of the brain are shown in figure 2. As can be seen, most of the brain is split into two hemispheres, the left and right, by a deep fissure. In general, the left half of the brain is associated with things on the right side of the body and the right half is associated with things on the left side of the body. This inversion idea also extends to sight, where the image processing area on the surface of the occipital lobes is both inverted and reversed.
Between these two halves and hidden from view, there is a massive communication link, the corpus callosum, which connects the two, allowing information to pass between. Under normal conditions, anything known by one side is also known by the other, and as quickly. Our self, then, is composed of two thinking mechanisms, so totally interconnected that it appears to us to be one. Indeed, it functions as one.
Certain forms of epilepsy do not respond to drug therapy and surgery becomes necessary. One of the surgical procedures consists of severing a large portion of the corpus callosum, thereby almost completely isolating one half of the brain from the other. There is an optimum ratio severed. Too much will unduly harm the function of the patient, whereas, too little will not sufficiently diminish the rate and severity of seizures.
Whereas formerly each side of the brain was kept informed of the happenings to the other by way of the corpus callosum, they are now partially isolated. Bizarre effects result. Things seen only with the left eye (right hemisphere) become difficult, if not impossible, to verbalize (the left hemisphere contains the speaking vocabulary). Things seen with only the right eye are not recognized when viewed again with only the left. It is now possible for one half of the brain to have experiences and learn things that will never be known by the other.
Adjustments are made quickly. The patient begins to talk a lot. It is a way of overcoming the communication difficulty introduced by the surgery. When the right eye sees anything, the left side of the brain will verbalize it (speech center is on left side of the brain). The left ear picks up the verbal symbols (phonemes), then the right side of the brain knows how to verbalize it also. A new vocal and external communication link is established between the two sides that partially offsets the internal one that has been partially disabled.
The point is that these two sides of the brain are now separate entities with respect to conscious thought. They still have common control of the bodily functions and they still think they are one being, but external communication between the two is now necessary for cooperation.
Before the corpus callosum was severed, the two sides of the brain functioned as an entity. Behavioral decisions were in perfect and immediate harmony, so harmonious in fact that the division between the two is intellectually and consciously invisible.
Keep this in mind, as we turn toward studying the entire nervous system. The idea of separate entities cooperating so closely that they function as one is a common theme, repeated many times, throughout the brain.
The evolution of the human body was incredible in its complexity. As we study the process we are continually amazed at the intricacy of its action and the beauty of its final product. As astounding as that process was and its product is, both are as nothing compared to the evolution of the human neural system and its product. The awesome complexity and exquisite beauty of the human neural system is staggering.
The Development of the Nervous System
Figure 3 shows a primitive nervous system. This system has been around more than a half-billion years and is still used by many primitive creatures. This is a reactive system, as are all nervous systems. The sensor sees a condition, such as heat, light or touch, and passes that information directly to a fixed process which converts this real time information directly into a motor control command. There are single-cell animals, for example, which live by eating others. They move aimlessly around until they feel that they have bumped into something and then start chomping away on whatever is next to them. There are others that rely on light to power their photo-synthesis energy system. These will sense which direction has the most light and then swim toward it.
This decision module is fixed. It does not learn, it only reacts to the current environment as reported by the sensor. It is not intelligent. It is, instead, merely reactive. In electronic engineering terms it is a state machine. With a given set of input information, it produces a certain fixed response. The decision mechanism is not an intellectual device which manipulates data while judging its end effect, it is a fixed circuit which sums the input data (some of which may be a summation done separately elsewhere) and delivers a particular action command for each set of input data. Evolution always builds on existing material. This miniature nervous system set the pattern for all mobile life, billions of years ago. As life became more complex, more terms (things to be considered in decision making) were added to this decision matrix. An advanced modern form of mobile life may have a decision matrix composed of thousands of lessor decision mechanisms, each with hundreds or perhaps thousands of other terms needed for the decision. As new devices were added (arms, legs, etc.) and new sensors were added (eyes, ears, nose, etc.) new terms were added into the decision mechanism. The decision matrix is not a device which is located in one place. It is diffused throughout the brain with major portions located close to major complex functions.
Note! This form for the behavior controlling device is surmised from observation and study of the evolution process. We do not know how the brain works as yet. We do know however:
Obtaining Information About the Environment
As the sensors became more complex (capable) the signals they generated also became much more complex, becoming increasingly more difficult to feed into a decision matrix directly. Evolution is a reactive process, it does not plan ahead nor does it build in excess of requirements. Rather than build a huge decision mechanism in order to handle unnecessary detail and allow for future needs, it, in its trial and error method of development, was forced to adjust the amount of the detail (data compression) before entering the decision mechanism. It became necessary to preprocess this sensor data into a more compact symbolic form. Consider the human eye for example. Although it, along with its preprocessor, is an integrating device (summation, data compression), it produces similarly to a sampling device (such as a TV camera) operating at about twenty frames per second. With about 110 million sensor elements per eye and a color definition equivalent to at least 8 bits per primary color, a data flow into the decision matrix equivalent to 2,000 megabytes per second would be an overwhelming load to provide for using slow biological circuitry (would require a 200 mhz. Pentium for eye processing alone). Add millions of other inputs from taste, hearing and touch and the decision matrix would become monstrously large and also monstrously slow. Only a small percentage of that information from the eye is needed for proper decision making, and the smaller the decision matrix the faster its throughput. Data compression is a part of the data preprocessing from each of the sensor sets. The resultant compressed symbol representing current sensor status is particularly customized, through fixed processing, for the needs of the host. For example, the scene processed through a cat's eye, though the eye is similar to the human in capability and construction, would be preprocessed into an entirely different judgment symbol with different accents tailored to the needs of the cat. Of necessity, this compression (scene analysis) must also make allowances for urgency at the time, more detail being needed in times of danger, for example.
Sensor preprocessing is performed in certain specified areas of the gray matter of the brain. These areas are trainable memory, genetically set aside for the specific purpose. They are genetically organized and assigned circuitry, not useful for anything else and not replaceable through retraining elsewhere if damaged. The preprocessing (data compression, symbol generation, data integration, data analysis, sensor judgment) for the human eye takes place in the occipital lobe of each hemisphere (see figure 1). The occipital lobes are well developed in all mammals. Although primary areas for various preprocessors are relatively fixed in location in the brain between individuals, there is variation both in location and size. Also, the total area used for preprocessing for certain senses are not localized. In scanning the human brain for metabolic activity while performing various functions, it appears that some preprocessing is scattered, indicating that the evolutionary development process for the function was not uniform but occurred in sporadic time episodes. The mutation which produced the improvement in a given preprocessing function did not happen at an aesthetically pleasing location, but once established was the likely loci for future beneficial mutations.
The sensor and its preprocessor are integrated, providing a given function. The capability of the integrated function effects behavior. The limitations of that capability are input terms for consideration in the decision matrix. The sensors may in turn be controlled as a part of the output of the decision matrix. Turning the eyes toward a danger and concentrating mental attention there would be an example.
The preliminary training for these preprocessor areas takes place during the early development of the individual. For example, the focusing and movement of the eyes along with sight correlation usually takes at least a year. The coordination of the eye with body movement takes much longer. Although this is training, it is mechanical training and has little to do with intellect. Further physical training and adjustment occurs throughout life.
Figure 5 shows the addition of a motor controller between the decision matrix and the motor to be controlled. As the organism became more complex, the output of the decision matrix was required to drive ever more complex devices and to coordinate those devices. If the complexity of the drive signals was required of the decision matrix, it would need be enormously wide, complex and slow. The human voice alone, for example, requires many thousands of simultaneous signals in the formation of phonemes. A simple command to say, "ah" is enormously complex with tongue and mouth position, breath control, etc. Similarly, the movement and focusing of the eyes would require many thousands of instructions. These are provided by an eye controller mechanism rather than directly from the decision matrix.
Here again, trial and error adopted the controller option, a post-processor device, by building a device which performs the detail translation from decision to performance. The phoneme processor is an excellent example. It is located primarily in man on the lower portion of the left frontal lobe, whereas in woman it is located in roughly equal parts on each side of the brain in the same location on both frontal lobes. Other small patches of the brain show that they are also a part of this same mechanism. When the decision mechanism makes the decision to say, "ah", the phoneme processor translates that phoneme demand into the multitude of muscular controls needed to accomplish that task. This controller is trained as the child learns to talk. The basic speech elements may be obtained in less than two years. Vocabulary additions and pronunciation corrections may be made throughout the life of the individual.
Each motor device (leg, arm, finger, eye, tongue, etc.) has a trainable controller for the expansion and translation of the command to that device , an area of gray matter set aside and specifically designed for that function.
It has been shown that the act of seeing provides a scaled version of the scene along the gray matter surface of the occipital lobe. If a subject is given a map to study then asked to trace the route from a given location on the map to another both with the eyes and from memory, it takes the same amount of time either way. If a portion of the visual area in the occipital lobe is damaged, it can be shown that that the seeing is damaged in an exact reflected way, even though the eyes were not damaged.
An important finding with respect to the eyes is that if a perception area is damaged (in the surface layer of the occipital lobes), not only is the visual perception damaged, but any scene memory will show defects in that same area. This indicates that sensory memory is a part of the sensory perception mechanism. All of our memory scenes are stored in that same layer. It is an easy step, then, to the generalization that all sensory memory is stored in the sensory perception area for that sensor. A memory recalled which is complete with sight, touch, sound and smell is an assembly from the various sensory memories.
A final important finding: if a visual perception area in the occipital lobe is damaged, the subject not only loses the ability to see in the damaged portion, and is not able to recall any historical scene detail in that same area but from before the damage, the subject is also unable to 'imagine' (construct a mental scene) in that damaged area. This gives insight into the human creative process. The human 'builds' a scene in the sensory areas as he invents.
Direction and Drive: the Conflict of Life
A very large percentage of the brain, perhaps more than 90%, is required for body maintenance (heart, respiration, etc.), information gathering (sensors and data preprocessing), memory, and motor control (legs, arms, etc. post-processing and command translation). These together describe the physical abilities and limitations of the individual. The senses determine the amount and quality of current environmental information. The physical construction and mobility of the body determines the behavioral capability and capacity of the individual.
But man's behavior goes much deeper. It is the balance of the brain which provides much of what becomes behavior.
The simple organism shown in figure 3 did not need an impetus to do what it should do and its guiding mechanism did not provide decision conflict, the basic element of 'intelligence' in animals. In this simple animal, the sensor gave not only information but also supplied it in such a way that it provided the command signal required to satisfy the error in that information. Implicit in the sensor's data was the command to do a specific thing about it. These are referred to as reflex actions, actions taken in direct and immediate response to a given sensor input. The blink of the eye to prevent injury to it when something moves toward it is an example. The jerk of the hand away from something hot is another.
As organisms, and their perceived environment, became more complex, animals developed a repertoire of actions. The decision on which to do became necessary before the command could be issued on what to do. There were conflicts in the environment and often there were choices which needed to be made. As multiple requirements grew, the central decision matrix gained terms to be considered.
The first drives (instincts) developed in genetically specified form were the ones that concerned body functions. Safety, food, sex, and care of young are some of the focal points, all under the general heading survival. Decision conflict was the method which developed as the result of evolution.
The decision conflict between safety and food was probably the first developed. Before this decision conflict developed, the animal always sought food. As predators developed around them, those whose only function was finding food continually blundered into disaster. The idea of survival or safety had not been developed. The first animal which moved around as it sought food but changed directions rapidly when a moving shadow appeared, tended to survive better than those that doggedly stayed on path regardless of movement around them.
Whereas before, the signals from the senses were translated directly into commands for motion and eating, now this translation depends to a certain degree on a new factor. We call that factor fear. The emphasis is hunger, the conflict is fear. As long as the hunger is greater than the fear, the animal forages. When the fear emotion exceeds his hunger, the animal will flee. The animal is no longer ever completely comfortable, since it lives in a constant decision conflict between hunger and fear. Under a comfortable environment, the fear is small and the appetites may be attended to. Under a stressful environment, the two are balanced, and the animal is extremely uncomfortable, barely able to decide whether he wishes to eat, or to be eaten. This, historically, has been the position of man, constant fear and constant hunger, each ebbing and flowing with the experiences of the day. (Investors on the stock market play the same game today.) The modern attitude of mental conflict avoidance, espoused by modern psychologists and philosophers, is a perversion. TGIF is a death mantra. Man needs that inner conflict, it is the essence of his life. His value, then, lies in his unique solution. Without conflict, what difference does a solution make? Who cares?
The forage/danger conflict along with the fear function which regulates the balance between those factors is one we see often. Feed a wild animal or bird in your back yard and you will enslave him. Your backyard becomes a foraging location of relative safety and some constancy, neither of which exists elsewhere in his habitat. The forage/danger ratio becomes quite desirable in his decision matrix and the animal will strive to enjoy it. Feed the animal a constant amount regularly, and the crowd will increase as others gather for a handout. As the crowd grows, the food for each shrinks. The crowd will continue to grow even when the amount of food available for each approaches a starvation diet. Soon, it's a battle royal between competing animals. A similar process exists in human welfare systems. All welfare systems, regardless of the species involved, will tend to grow without limit. It is natural that they do and the growth should be expected.
Evolution then favored three kinds of changes to the animal:
Once these three trends (natural occurrences of behavior modifying instincts under the selection process) became established, all of the modern higher animals, including the human, became probable. These three instincts become more adept with time, and many new instincts grew from these. Where are these various instincts located? Most sensory and motor signal processors contain that portion of the instinct which effects them in the analysis of their requirements. It is believed that the central portions of the instinct set reside in the frontal lobes.
Chance mutations when life was young developed the sexual animal. The prior cell division method of reproduction had resulted in great stability in the various forms of life. The sexual animal provided more variations, to try out against the environment, than the asexual reproduction could provide. Most variations were worse and quickly died out but some were improvements and these tended to survive by crowding out the asexual animal. In the beginning, sex was for the purpose of reproduction. Early animals had no notion of reproduction. Sexual drive was provided genetically (another instinct). Those who engaged in a lot of sex had a lot of offspring and therefore tended to thrive as a species. The others tended to disappear as a species. The selection process favored a strong sexual lust, in most species. It became so strong in many species that it transcended food and even danger. Increased sexual drive tends to be intensified by the process of evolution, to a point. If it becomes too strong, it creates problems which in turn may be so serious that the continuation of the lineage is harmed. In that case, the evolutionary process will tend to eliminate those species with lusts which are too strong. Lust becomes another factor in the decision matrix.
If a species has so many offspring that sheer numbers provide the species continuation, then the parent is quite casual toward them. Plants follow this path, with some plants providing millions of seeds each year with the hopes that in their lifetime at least one of those will live to bear seeds also. Rabbits are known for this approach. Male mammal sperm also follow the route that success depends on large numbers. Other animals, such as the human, dolphin and elephant, bear only a few young which require lengthy care to become adult and have their own offspring. These offspring require lengthy personal care, in turn requiring a great attachment between parent and young. Those parents who do not have this attachment, do poorly in raising their offspring and their genetic lineage tends to die out. Those who have great attachment are more successful in raising their young and their lineage tends to prosper. Thus parental love became an instinctive driving force in the decision matrix and now competes (conflicts) with all selfish instincts. Since this instinct was developed during tribal conditions where the intermingling of cooperating families was necessary, parental love in the human extends to all children, and in fact, somewhat extends to the young of other species. Almost everyone loves a puppy.
What is the extent of the development of neural behavior mechanisms (how many instincts are there?) in the brain? It is not that simple. Take the one we call parental love for example. It, like all instincts, invokes an emotion when triggered. Usually it is triggered by a sensory input: we see a child, we smell the characteristic odor of a baby, we feel the softness of their skin, we hear it gurgle in baby laughter. These sensory experiences are decoded in the various sensory control areas. There is no central location for the instinct, it is distributed but inter-linked. And the instinct itself is not discrete. We categorize instincts, as we do almost everything whether the process fits or not, as a means of segmenting knowledge for ease in communication and understanding. Segmenting instincts in the human mind is an intellectual aid but does not reflect physical condition. The instinct of compassion, for example, is an instinct developed under tribal conditions for the purpose of sharing tribal goods (which enhanced the ability of the tribe to survive). Its roots are in parental love (care for the helpless child). So where does one leave off and the other begin? Instinctive man is a skull full of lumpy instinctive stew.
EDUCATING AND TRAINING THE HUMAN
There is a physical change in gray matter with use. Cells in the outer thin area of the cortex which are extensively used during a given action show visible change under the microscope.
A classic experiment involved a large group of mice. They were first divided into two groups of equal size. Both groups were placed in identical containers and given identical food and water. One container was bare. The other contained many toys and innovative runs. After a period of time, half of each group was sacrificed and their brains examined. There was a decided difference in the appearance of the brains. Cells in the 'busy' group appeared much more robust. The containers were then swapped and the remainder of the mice returned. After the same period of time as the first part of the experiment, the balance of the mice in each group was sacrificed and their brains examined. It was found in each case that the appearance of the brains had shifted back. The brains from the formerly sedentary mice had become more robust with the new stimulation and the formerly robust brains had shifted to the appearance of those from the sedentary container in the first half of the experiment. (This should tell you something about how we should handle criminal prisoners.)
The Broca's area is a neural mechanism which provides the function of motor processor for the human voice mechanism. It receives a word in the form of a string of phonemes as input, then provides the multitude of exquisitely timed and controlled commands to chest, tongue and throat muscles to properly form the word. Applying the knowledge gained from the mouse experiment, one would expect that there would be physical difference between the Broca's area of the average person and that of an opera singer. Such is the case. There is a marked difference.
Evolution is inventive in the sense that it is chaos squeezed through a filter. Mutations are accidents and are, therefore, bereft of reason. The environment is what it is, and no more. It has no planning, and, also, no reason. But, when the mutations apply to the environment for survival, most are found wanting, and they perish. The end result of the entire process appears to be inventive. (The fact is this is the way man invents things, too. He idiotically runs through a bunch of impossibles before finding the invention he was looking for.) Once evolution finds a solution, a mechanism which is successful in surviving, it does not strike off looking for a new way to do things. It always works from (happens to) that which already exists. If by chance it should find a better method, the creature incorporating the new and superior idea crowds out the old. It's a competitive world. So rest assured, if one way solves a problem in the body, you will not find another way to do the same thing anywhere in the body. The same process will be used wherever needed.
If the Broca's area responds to activity, in the same manner as the brains of the mice, then all other neural mechanisms which perform the same kind of function (a set of signals in, processed to a new set of signals out) will respond in a like manner. Observation of other motor areas bear this theory out.
If the Broca's area gets damaged, you are through talking. No other brain area can be trained to take its place. In the same manner, no matter the activity (education, practice or training), the Broca's area can't be trained to do a different function.
An instinct is a neural mechanism. It is not a reasoning mechanism. It receives a set of signals and produces another set of signals. It can be exercised. It can be strengthened. If made inactive through inattention, it will atrophy to a low level influence. It can't be trained into a new function. If the instinct is one that fits the culture, it can be strengthened through attention and use. An instinct which is deleterious can be over-ridden by conscious control (unless defective, the human is quite trainable). Education on the facts of man and his fit in the universe will in most cases supply the information for proper control of the instincts (and consequent acceptable behavior).
Racial bigotry is an instinct formed during the two million years that man developed from habilis to sapien as a tribal warrior and hunter. Tribal militancy was the necessary norm. Modern educators waste time trying to educate it into something else, an impossibility. The most they can do is make the child lie and feel inferior because he 'thinks wrong'. It is possible that the instinct is strengthened every time the attempt is made to educate it. Forget educating the instinct and train the child's behavior. Tell him it may be understandable but any form of racially bigoted behavior is forbidden. With proper behavior the instinct will wither.
It is clear from this description, that man learns best (whether in knowledge, motor skill or instinct control) through repetition. In fact, practice (repetition) is the only way that it can 'learn'. Ask any basketball player, pianist or mathematician. The neural mechanisms in each instance, though specialized, operate on the same principle. Only the modern educator scoffs.
Conclusion: Our current public education system is precisely backwards in intent, content and method.
Nature is inexorable. The process of evolution produces life forms which can survive within the fixed constraints of nature. Some life forms, such as plants, adapt themselves to fit the requirements of nature. Others adapt nature to fit themselves to a certain extent. The most successful of the latter has been man. Man has been developed to be the greatest problem solver yet produced by evolution.
The construction of man's neural system shows his nature specifically. It is composed of thousands of individual neural functions, each of which has one goal in mind: the solution of a particular set of survival problems or portion thereof. Man is a problem solver, pure and simple. As long as the problems were outside of man, he conquered them all, one by one. These problems lend themselves to objective attack. A constant and reliable food supply became available through agriculture and animal husbandry. Fire for warmth and cooking was developed. Shelter was constructed from available materials. Medicine was developed. Tools that make tasks easier were invented.
Man is a successful problem solver. He has overpopulated the world and dominates all other life. He is successful to the point of negating the cleansing portion of his own evolution. See The Degeneration of Man He is faced with species extinction if he does not solve this problem.
All of man's remaining problems are those he has generated himself. These are problems which he is not equipped naturally to solve. Man does well in objective pursuits. He can build a better rabbit snare, and a rocket to fly to the moon. But, in spite of the fact that he believes he is brilliantly intelligent in all things, he is dumb as a rock when it comes to subjective problems. He is not equipped. Those problems did not exist when man evolved and evolution now supplies problems, not solutions. His conflict summation matrix (intuition), all thousands of elements, were designed for an entirely different set of problems. Man's philosophy and psychology, as they are defined today, are no more and can be no more than pure drivel.
Since man's nature is that of solving problems, and he has solved the ones provided by nature, those for which he was designed to solve, it is natural that he tend to take the easy way. Relax. Indulge in food and drink. Let somebody else do it. And then there are the three ultimate cop-outs - suicide, drug dependency and socialism. All three give away man's freedom and vitality in return for producing nothing. Man is born to be challenged. Take conflict (competition) away from man and those attributes which make him human will atrophy.
As a superb problem solver of outside things which effect him, man removed the problems. That removal may have been his death call. In turning his 'intelligence' from the solving of objective problems, he has generated fatal subjective problems. He has two solutions from which to choose, if he wishes to survive:
Man's social thought must be restructured. His cultural structure must be rebuilt. He needs to scrap his non-science education system and enlarge his scientific studies, with all of its rigor, to cover subjective man himself. Educational psychology, for instance, should be an engineering field, with all of the skepticism, rigor and methodology that shift implies. Allow traditional teaching techniques to remain until enough is known. Force the proving of new teaching methods before applying them. Above all, do not allow academics to reshape the culture.
Evolution (Biosciences) This WWW Virtual Library page offers links to genetics and the theory of evolution.
Basic Neural Processes Tutorials and
Processes Tutorials II
A variety of methods, such as Xray, CAT, MRI, and PET, for
imaging the body and the brain are now available. Many of these can be explored
through the WWW. A fabulous listing of relevant sites is available at the
Centre of Medical Imaging Research, University of