Making Stone Tools / A Non-verbal Process

A super group of videos…

Not a single word is needed to do this or to teach someone else to do this. The “tips” at the end would be demonstrated during the process. Children would see tools and other objects made day in and day out and would naturally copy their elders.

Archaeologists go on and on about how it takes “advanced cognitive skills” (like those needed to push around a shopping cart and swipe a credit card) to create stone tools. I have yet to hear a single researcher mention visual thinking. You can babble at a pile of stones, or another human, all day long, but all that yack-yacking will not produce one stone tool. The earliest stone tools are millions of years old; sophisticated flaked tools (Acheulean) were invented by Homo erectus, not Homo sapiens. Some research indicates that ‘language’ structure had its beginnings in sign language and not in vocalization. Pre and early humans were visual observers,  inventors and communicators – and not at all like modern social humans, who are a very recent “neotenic” variation of Homo sapiens.

All it takes is A FEW adept individuals to preserve techniques and to pass on skills. If a group were lucky, one “genius” might come up with improvements and refinements so that technical advancement could occur – which would probably be forgotten and reinvented many times. And critically, resources in one’s environment dictated solutions: nomadism provided exposure to new raw materials and new people, so “itchy feet” were likely more advantageous than staying in one place too long.

 

 

Lesson about Nature and Evolution / My Pitiful Garden

These photos sum up “flora” in the big scrubland that is southwestern Wyoming and the other desert basins, which compose the “basin and range” geography the American West.

A “lush” scene of sage brush, snakeweed, bunch grasses and weeds in late summer, at just the right moment in evening, when the sun produces “color” in the landscape. I used to differentiate “weeds” from native plants, but just what is native to this place? The idea is a bit preposterous: any “blown in” in or tracked in seed that manages to establish a colony is legitimate: survival, not “social labels” become the measure of successful plant life (and people).

When I moved to town 22 years ago, the yard of the house was packed mud, as were many other “lawns”. I wanted to do something with this blank canvas, but didn’t have any money to spare or a place to by “real” plants, shrubs, trees and perennials. Any existing landscaping in the neighborhood was typical – lawns and lilacs; fir trees and spring fruit trees that bloomed like crazy but were not orchard varieties; no edible fruit produced. Chinese elms (now that’s a weed!) proliferate in town, along with renegade forms of domestic plants gone wild – planted many decades ago, the most rugged specimens have been selected by the merciless environment and are all but indestructible.

Up close, the countryside reveals some lovely plants; not at all like domestic garden types, but interesting. And of course, rocks; a never-ending supply of metamorphic cobbles washed down from the mountains during glaciations and rounded and polished to perfection, and slabs of sandstone broken out of deep outcrops by freeze and thaw leverage, and strewn about by gravity. These I dragged home, a few each day, as I wandered around getting to know my new homeland.

Metamorphic “texture” visible in a river cobble

Fossil rain drops prints – small puddles in sandstone

I learned that sage brush can be transplanted; necessity revealed how to do it. A single large sage brush is impossible to dig up. The roots extend for many feet – a tap root straight down into the earth and many more that travel under the surface horizontally. But, the small extensions that pop up around the main plant can be easily pulled from sandy areas with roots intact. I literally planted dozens of these, to ensure that one or two survived. I didn’t amend or improve the soil (there wasn’t any). The differences between “wild and domestic plants” was soon obvious; how much water would the sage and Artemisia, globe mallow and flax, and unidentified “others” tolerate? And which plants would simply not transplant at all, and require starting from seeds?

Shadscale leaf – flower – seed

A weed that I used to bad-mouth until I discovered that it’s seeds feed a host of small birds all winter.

I collected desirable seeds whenever they appeared; the desert plants have their own timing due to the sporadic delivery of rain, so I stripped handfuls – some plants produce seeds that look like small flowers or parts of branches. In imitation of “nature” I tossed them randomly about the lot and forgot about them. It was then a surprise to discover something growing at all.

Eventually a proper nursery opened in town, where I supplemented the donations of iris from neighbors, and I fell into the “domestic trap” of wanting cut flowers. At first, perennials thrived, especially ground covers rooted between cobbles that made up the “rock garden” and other traditional flower producers. But – plants that are perennials in less tortured climates proved to be biennials in most cases; even hardy iris, having their tubers or roots “freeze-dried” by our cold dry winters.

My questions about the ubiquitous limited landscaping in town were quickly answered: “It’s the climate stupid” so I replaced whichever plants died with those that didn’t, and with ever more rock and gravel, and with evergreen shrubs, which adapted well. Flowers became annuals in pots; waterproof pots. Traditional clay pots simply turn into tombs for the mummies of their once-living contents. I literally abandoned the front yard to vegetation that never needs additional water. It’s literally a “what grows, grows” plot just like the countryside. And, deer eat their choice of favorite vegetation.

I must mention that all of this trial and error gardening is only possible due to the city being a “hands off” regime; they do occasionally cut weeds along the parkway and alleys, but budget cuts have all but eliminated even this activity. Years ago an overeager teenage employee with a weed-whacker interpreted my parkway landscaping as weeds and reduced the area to a crew cut – pitiful! But one irate phone call to the city and a letter to the editor of the local paper produced a “vow” that no one would come near my house again. That’s responsive government.

This year, the “garden” is down to a few pots in the back yard, and even these typical annuals are struggling with two “fill ups” of water every day. The sun at 6100′ feet actually burns leaves to a crisp, and along with temps in the high 80s – 90s and 10-15% humidity, the wind sucks the moisture from every living and non-living substance. It’s discouraging. But it’s a lesson in reality that should be obvious to all human beings, now that the earth is changing dramatically; global warming and cooling are typical, and periodically extreme in climate history. Much of the earth’s surface is uninhabitable by humans: that’s a fact that has only temporarily been overcome by massive water management, diversion and reckless depletion. That inhospitable area is increasing and shifting latitude northward and southward and in ways that are unpredictable, given the complexity of the physics and chemistry involved.

When “visiting” my poor beleaguered pots of plants this morning, I realized that “adaption” to this harsh place has not been a matter of trying to bend it to my will, but to let it change me. That’s a good thing. The changes coming to earth are normal and inevitable; so is human stupidity, so I have no illusion that nature will move on, with or without us, just has it always does.

 

 

Debunking Left Brain, Right Brain Myth / Plos Paper – Corbalis

Left Brain, Right Brain: Facts and Fantasies

Michael C. Corballis, Affiliation School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Published: January 21, 2014

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001767 )open access. See original for more.

Summary

Handedness and brain asymmetry are widely regarded as unique to humans, and associated with complementary functions such as a left-brain specialization for language and logic and a right-brain specialization for creativity and intuition. In fact, asymmetries are widespread among animals, and support the gradual evolution of asymmetrical functions such as language and tool use. Handedness and brain asymmetry are inborn and under partial genetic control, although the gene or genes responsible are not well established. Cognitive and emotional difficulties are sometimes associated with departures from the “norm” of right-handedness and left-brain language dominance, more often with the absence of these asymmetries than their reversal.

Evolution of Brain Asymmetries, with Implications for Language

One myth that persists even in some scientific circles is that asymmetry is uniquely human [3]. Left–right asymmetries of brain and behavior are now known to be widespread among both vertebrates and invertebrates [11], and can arise through a number of genetic, epigenetic, or neural mechanisms [12]. Many of these asymmetries parallel those in humans, or can be seen as evolutionary precursors. A strong left-hemispheric bias for action dynamics in marine mammals and in some primates and the left-hemisphere action biases in humans, perhaps including gesture, speech, and tool use, may derive from a common precursor [13]. A right-hemisphere dominance for emotion seems to be present in all primates so far investigated, suggesting an evolutionary continuity going back at least 30 to 40 million years [14]. A left-hemisphere dominance for vocalization has been shown in mice [15] and frogs [16], and may well relate to the leftward dominance for speech—although language itself is unique to humans and is not necessarily vocal, as sign languages remind us. Around two-thirds of chimpanzees are right-handed, especially in gesturing [17] and throwing [18], and also show left-sided enlargement in two cortical areas homologous to the main language areas in humans—namely, Broca’s area [19] and Wernicke’s area [20] (see Figure 1). These observations have been taken as evidence that language did not appear de novo in humans, as argued by Chomsky [21] and others, but evolved gradually through our primate lineage [22]. They have also been interpreted as evidence that language evolved not from primate calls, but from manual gestures [23][25].

Some accounts of language evolution (e.g., [25]) have focused on mirror neurons, first identified in the monkey brain in area F5 [26], a region homologous to Broca’s area in humans, but now considered part of an extensive network more widely homologous to the language network [27]. Mirror neurons are so called because they respond when the monkey performs an action, and also when they see another individual performing the same action. This “mirroring” of what the monkey sees onto what it does seems to provide a natural platform for the evolution of language, which likewise can be seen to involve a mapping of perception onto production. The motor theory of speech perception, for example, holds that we perceive speech sounds according to how we produce them, rather than through acoustic analysis [28]. Mirror neurons in monkeys also respond to the sounds of such physical actions as ripping paper or dropping a stick onto the floor, but they remain silent to animal calls [29]. This suggests an evolutionary trajectory in which mirror neurons emerged as a system for producing and understanding manual actions, but in the course of evolution became increasingly lateralized to the left brain, incorporating vocalization and gaining grammar-like complexity [30]. The left hemisphere is dominant for sign language as for spoken language [31].

Mirror neurons themselves have been victims of hyperbole and myth [32], with the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran once predicting that “mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology” [33]. As the very name suggests, mirror neurons are often taken to be the basis of imitation, yet nonhuman primates are poor imitators. Further, the motor theory of speech perception does not account for the fact that speech can be understood by those deprived of the ability to speak, such as those with damage to Broca’s area. Even chimpanzees [34] and dogs [35] can learn to respond to simple spoken instructions, but cannot produce anything resembling human speech. An alternative is that mirror neurons are part of a system for calibrating movements to conform to perception, as a process of learning rather than direct imitation. A monkey repeatedly observes its hand movements to learn to reach accurately, and the babbling infant calibrates the production of sounds to match what she hears. Babies raised in households where sign language is used “babble” by making repetitive movements of the hands [36]. Moreover, it is this productive aspect of language, rather than the mechanisms of understanding, that shows the more pronounced bias to the left hemisphere [37].

Inborn Asymmetries

Handedness and cerebral asymmetries are detectable in the fetus. Ultrasound recording has shown that by the tenth week of gestation, the majority of fetuses move the right arm more than the left [38], and from the 15th week most suck the right thumb rather than the left [39]—an asymmetry strongly predictive of later handedness [40] (see Figure 2). In the first trimester, a majority of fetuses show a leftward enlargement of the choroid plexus [41], a structure within the ventricles known to synthesize peptides, growth factors, and cytokines that play a role in neurocortical development [42]. This asymmetry may be related to the leftward enlargement of the temporal planum (part of Wernicke’s area), evident at 31 weeks [43].

 In these prenatal brain asymmetries, around two-thirds of cases show the leftward bias. The same ratio applies to the asymmetry of the temporal planum in both infants and adults [44]. The incidence of right-handedness in the chimpanzee is also around 65–70 percent, as is a clockwise torque, in which the right hemisphere protrudes forwards and the left hemisphere rearwards, in both humans and great apes [45]. These and other asymmetries have led to the suggestion that a “default” asymmetry of around 65–70 percent, in great apes as well as humans, is inborn, with the asymmetry of human handedness and cerebral asymmetry for language increased to around 90 percent by “cultural literacy” [46].

Variations in Asymmetry

Whatever their “true” incidence, variations in handedness and cerebral asymmetry raise doubts as to the significance of the “standard” condition of right-handedness and left-cerebral specialization for language, along with other qualities associated with the left and right brains that so often feature in popular discourse. Handedness and cerebral asymmetry are not only variable, they are also imperfectly related. Some 95–99 percent of right-handed individuals are left-brained for language, but so are about 70 percent of left-handed individuals. Brain asymmetry for language may actually correlate more highly with brain asymmetry for skilled manual action, such as using tools [47],[48], which again supports the idea that language itself grew out of manual skill—perhaps initially through pantomime.

Even when the brain is at rest, brain imaging shows that there are asymmetries of activity in a number of regions. A factor analysis of these asymmetries revealed four different dimensions, each mutually uncorrelated. Only one of these dimensions corresponded to the language regions of the brain; the other three had to do with vision, internal thought, and attention [49]—vision and attention were biased toward the right hemisphere, language and internal thought to the left. This multidimensional aspect throws further doubt on the idea that cerebral asymmetry has some unitary and universal import.

Handedness, at least, is partly influenced by parental handedness, suggesting a genetic component [50], but genes can’t tell the whole story. For instance some 23 percent of monozygotic twins, who share the same genes, are of opposite handedness [51]. These so-called “mirror twins” have themselves fallen prey to a Through the Looking Glass myth; according to Martin Gardner [52], Lewis Carroll intended the twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee in that book to be enantiomers, or perfect three-dimensional mirror images in bodily form as well as in hand and brain function. Although some have argued that mirroring arises in the process of twinning itself [53],[54], large-scale studies suggest that handedness [55],[56] and cerebral asymmetry [57] in mirror twins are not subject to special mirroring effects. In the majority of twins of opposite handedness the left hemisphere is dominant for language in both twins, consistent with the finding that the majority of single-born left-handed individuals are also left-hemisphere dominant for language. In twins, as in the singly born, it is estimated that only about a quarter of the variation in handedness is due to genetic influences [56].

The manner in which handedness is inherited has been most successfully modeled by supposing that a gene or genes influence not whether the individual is right- or left-handed, but whether a bias to right-handedness will be expressed or not. In those lacking the “right shift” bias, the direction of handedness is a matter of chance; that is, left-handedness arises from the lack of a bias toward the right hand, and not from a “left-hand gene.” Such models can account reasonably well for the parental influence [58][60], and even for the relation between handedness and cerebral asymmetry if it is supposed that the same gene or genes bias the brain toward a left-sided dominance for speech [60],[61]. It now seems likely that a number of such genes are involved, but the basic insight that genes influence whether or not a given directional bias is expressed, rather than whether or not it can be reversed, remains plausible (see Box 1).

Genetic considerations aside, departures from right-handedness or left-cerebral dominance have sometimes been linked to disabilities. In the 1920s and 1930s, the American physician Samuel Torrey Orton attributed both reading disability and stuttering to a failure to establish cerebral dominance [62]. Orton’s views declined in influence, perhaps in part because he held eccentric ideas about interhemispheric reversals giving rise to left–right confusions [63], and in part because learning-theory explanations came to be preferred to neurological ones. In a recent article, Dorothy Bishop reverses Orton’s argument, suggesting that weak cerebral lateralization may itself result from impaired language learning [64]. Either way, the idea of an association between disability and failure of cerebral dominance may be due for revival, as recent studies have suggested that ambidexterity, or a lack of clear handedness or cerebral asymmetry, is indeed associated with stuttering [65] and deficits in academic skills [66], as well as mental health difficulties [67] and schizophrenia (see Box 1).

Although it may be the absence of asymmetry rather than its reversal that can be linked to problems of social or educational adjustment, left-handed individuals have often been regarded as deficient or contrarian, but this may be based more on prejudice than on the facts. Left-handers have excelled in all walks of life. They include five of the past seven US presidents, sports stars such as Rafael Nadal in tennis and Babe Ruth in baseball, and Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the greatest genius of all time.

 

 

 

 


Archaic H. sapiens – H. sapiens sapiens / Testosterone

A composite image shows the facial differences between an ancient modern human (Archaic Homo Sapiens) with heavy brows and a large upper face and the more recent modern human (Homo sapiens) who has rounder features and a much less prominent brow. The prominence of these features can be directly traced to the influence (reduction) of the hormone testosterone. Photo Credit: Robert Cieri, University of Utah

2238323698Archaic vs Modern

Read more: http://www.zmescience.com/science/archaeology/civilization-testosterone-skull-04082014/#ixzz3eYaNNQr0

“It is important to note that lower testosterone is associated with tolerance and cooperation in bonobos and chimpanzees, and with less aggression in humans. It seems very plausible that as humans started to group up in larger and more interconnected settlements,

they needed to find less violent ways to sort out their problems – and in the long run, the non-violent path won.”

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Cave Art in Indonesia as old as in Europe / 39,000 ya

Gee Whiz! Could it be that Archaic Humans, including H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens, were visual thinkers?

just-the-facts

Eurocentric Archaeology and Anthropology take a hit:

Pleistocene cave art from Sulawesi, Indonesia

Aubert1, 2, 9, A. Brumm1, 10, 9, M. Ramli3, T. Sutikna1, 4, E. W. Saptomo4, B. Hakim5, .  Morwood11, G. D. van den Bergh1, L. Kinsley6, A. Dosseto7, 8,

Nature / Volume: 514; October 2014
Archaeologists have long been puzzled by the appearance in Europe ~40–35 thousand years (kyr) ago of a rich corpus of sophisticated artworks, including parietal art (that is, paintings, drawings and engravings on immobile rock surfaces)1, 2 and portable art (for example, carved figurines)3, 4, and the absence or scarcity of equivalent, well-dated evidence elsewhere, especially along early human migration routes in South Asia and the Far East, including Wallacea and Australia5, 6, 7, 8, where modern humans (Homo sapiens) were established by 50 kyr ago9, 10. Here, using uranium-series dating of coralloid speleothems directly associated with 12 human hand stencils and two figurative animal depictions from seven cave sites in the Maros karsts of Sulawesi, we show that rock art traditions on this Indonesian island are at least compatible in age with the oldest European art11. The earliest dated image from Maros, with a minimum age of 39.9 kyr, is now the oldest known hand stencil in the world. In addition, a painting of a babirusa (‘pig-deer’) made at least 35.4 kyr ago is among the earliest dated figurative depictions worldwide, if not the earliest one. Among the implications, it can now be demonstrated that humans were producing rock art by ~40 kyr ago at opposite ends of the Pleistocene Eurasian world.
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“Ancient cave drawings found in Indonesia show that early Europeans weren’t the only ones creating art. Known as the Sulawesi paintings, the prehistoric images were discovered some years ago inside limestone caves in Indonesia’s Maros and Pangkep regions. The drawings, which include depictions of animals and hand stencils created by spraying red pigment on to the rock face, have been analyzed using sophisticated new dating techniques and are now believed to date back at least 40,000 years. The discovery is particularly important because it shows that primitive forms of artistic expression were not exclusive to the people living in Europe at the time.”

“Cave painting and related forms of artistic expression were most likely part of the cultural traditions of the first modern humans to spread out of Africa and into Asia and Australia, long before they reached Europe,” said study co-author Adam Brunn. – See more at: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/news/273448/indonesia-rock-art-dates-back-40000-years#sthash.drHN9iFa.dpuf

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“Until now, we’ve always believed that cave painting was part of a suite of complex symbolic behavior that humans invented in Europe,” says archaeologist Alistair Pike of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. “This is actually showing that it’s highly unlikely that the origin of painting caves was in Europe.”

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“What this suggests is that this whole ability to make these things and possibly the tradition of making them is part of the cultural repertoire of the people who left Africa. ” Alison Brooks, archaeologist, George Washington University

Unraveling Asperger’s and Pain / “Normalizing” Chronic Misery

I don’t like to rely solely on my experiences to unravel what might be going on with Asperger types, but sometimes it’s all you have to go on. One reads that Asperger individuals either over react to pain and discomfort, or will not notice pain at all. Another of those “gotcha” symptoms in which we are either “over or under” the “normal” human behavior or experience, but in the case of pain, which is a subjective experience, what is “normal”?

Now is a good time to think about this, since I have a toothache (not another root canal!) and severe allergies. I’m a mess. I hate being sick, mostly because I’m very active and have trouble staying in bed or on the couch, resting as one should.

Questions arise. What was I like as a kid whenever some illness like the flu was going around? The plot thickens: how did my parents behave toward us (I had an older brother) when the inevitable sick days that kids have, came round?

Not good! My brother was six years older and from my observations was babied. He always had something “mysterious or nebulous” going on that meant staying home from school or being spared from regular tasks and chores that he didn’t want to do. This was very bad; by the time I arrived, a triad of dysfunctional relationships was already in place.

You say you're sick? PROVE IT

You say you’re sick? PROVE IT

The short story is that my brother received gifts, toys and attention if ill, but I was punished. If I said I didn’t feel well, I had to prove it: have a measurable fever, be vomiting or be possessed of some obvious bug going around school, and parents had been asked to keep symptomatic kids at home. I wasn’t allowed out of bed, or to have books or toys. Although my mother was merely peeved or angry with me, when my Asperger father came home, he  would state how he never became ill (it was true) and that illness was a sign of weakness and failure; why wasn’t I like him?  This message came through loud and clear and has been a negative influence – absolutely. When unwell, I have to fight feelings of inadequacy and failure, and a residue of abandonment. It’s ridiculous.

Here’s the question: Is this cruel message served up by my father a product of Asperger’s, or is it something else? Although his attitude was obviously hurtful, I also knew my father’s story: he had been a premature twin and his brother died at birth. He  was not expected to live, but he pulled through.  My father’s childhood had been a living Hell of beatings and hard work on the farm, dished out as tough love by his father in order to make him strong. In one of those “tragic” outcomes, my father ended up being a highly fit and muscular adult; tragic, because he believed his father’s cruelty was responsible for his good health.

I attribute my father’s survival to having good care as an infant, and good genes, not magic or cruelty. If a premature baby survived in the 1910s, long before the elaborate interventions of today’s medical devices and drugs, he or she had to have had a package of healthy provisions on board, just to survive the first year. I was stuck with a mystery; was my father a product of nature, or “severe” nurturing?

It just wasn’t my father’s nature to be cruel; his weak – strong theory of life descended like a dark curtain when issues of vulnerability appeared. Otherwise he was generous with his time and attention and I remember that father also. Unfortunately, he had no insight into the brutal treatment he endured as a child, and let’s face it, American males are subject to the irrational fear of being labeled as “weak” or soft; a “girl” – a fear intensively cultivated by American culture, then and now. And, the outcome was that “spoiling” my brother left him entirely dependent on my parents, but some “ill-treatment” did prepare me for an  independent life; the challenges were great, but made me an adult – slowly, but at least I made it.

It is my view, after two years of reading and thinking about Asperger’s, especially the bizarre dogma of psychology, medical information, and anecdotal references, that Asperger’s is a personality or temperament type, characterized by an intellectual “state” that is simply not socially-oriented, but attuned to the physical world: sensory attention, logic based, not word-supernatural based.

Conformity institutions (like psychology, corporations, religions and schools) simply cannot tolerate people who think for themselves. It’s the old story of domestication: dogs are useful to humans because they “work for food” and “adjust to” cruelty from humans, because – mostly they have no choice, and have been bred to various “addictions” – behaviors like extreme herding behavior or tracking of drugs, criminals or lost people; exploitation of their more accurate and extensive sensory abilities. abilities,drugs and criminals or lost people. A lucky few (?) become family, and are classified as “pets” – literally, we stroke and hug them, overfeed them bad food, and lock them in tiny apartments, basements or porches, abandoning them for long hours. Many breeds have been literally deformed to physically fulfill the awful constraints of being substitute infants for infantile people: purposely deformed, as if we were acceptable to “create” humans with severe physical distortions and disabilities, because it satisfies some warped idea of “cuteness”.

The desire for lifeforms to be either enslaved by work or to be enslaved as “cute social objects – status symbols” is domestication.

Wolves are despised and exterminated because they can’t be tamed; they remain free to be competing predators. Myth, fairytales and fabrications place wolves close to the devil. It’s not true; like any competing predator species, they have been hunted by human predators to near extinction.

There is no doubt that humans have domesticated humans: slavery is “forced ” domestication followed by sexual selection from the “survivors”. The designation of an individual, or group, or class of humans as having “potential” to be tamed – that is, be forced to work without resistance, as dogs and horses and other animal laborers do,   has always been paramount. Humans were selected just as animals were, to be reshaped into “useful” tame forms. Over thousands of years of this “civilizing” process, the “owners” of grand cities and the agricultural and manufacturing systems necessary to their existence, simply exterminated all things wild and increasingly cultivated submissive behavior, just as we continue to do today.

The relentless selection of human form and abilities “useful” to the predatory hierarchy changed humans into “specialized” organisms; varieties of people that have become “natural” to us – the class system as it exists today, in which domestic types – peasants, wage slaves; the middle and low classes; immigrants, and others who do the “shit work” for the upper and ruling classes, are fed scraps from the “dinner table” because like dogs, they have been bred to this condition, which no “wild human” could or would, tolerate.

Pain and its subjective experience by individuals is a tricky subject when you look into it. We are amazed and frightened by the “dangers” that wild animals live with 24 / 7 – but we forget that “pain” in nature is usually swift and brief: a few seconds to a few hours – and the animal has either recovered, been “finished off” or has died of stress – lack of water, blood loss and shock.

The human “domestic” condition may be seen as far worse. Someone said, “The problem with humans is that they will put up with anything.” One of the most obvious “changes” to the human animal has been the development of tolerance of very bad treatment by other humans, not unlike the dog that is chained to a post or fence, day after day, with little or no food, a dirty bucket of water (if that) and is expected to demonstrate “wild affection” at the appearance of its tormentor.

Human empathy, compassion or kindness? The system provides relief, but not freedom, and an “easy” new form of slavery – to religion, to drugs, to alcohol, to violent punishment and sadistic entertainment; to hopelessness and lies. Pain in humans is not swift; it is chronic and lifelong. Pain is stretched out over decades, and declared to be “progress” when medical intervention patches people up, so that they can return to fulfilling their role in the social machinery. Pain does not go away; it is a protracted state of dependency cultivated by the hierarchy. “Modern pain” is a result of domestication, which has become panhuman, and is “considered” to be normal – pain and slavery have been socialized.

The “idea” of pain, despite the knowledge that this is a highly subjective and variable physical experience, is so controlled, that Asperger types are classified as defective, because “supposedly” our experience of pain is “abnormal” – that is, we do not “behave” like domesticated animals; we do not respond with compliance to pain applied as punishment and control: our “reactivity” falls outside the imposed parameters of “being suitable for use as a slave.” We “leave” – physically if possible, and we suffer greatly if we can’t. Withdrawal into a “better world that exists in nature and in satisfying our curiosity and need to acquire knowledge” (labeled as “obsessions”) is a healthy reaction – too healthy for society to tolerate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Intense World Theory of Autism / Interview with the Markrams

by John Scott Holman, interviewer for “Wrong Planet”

http://wrongplanet.net/interview-henry-and-kamila-markram-about-the-intense-world-theory-for-autism

Comment: There is much about the theory as presented here that requires objection or clarification – a bit “Messianic” in predictions. But it does agree with my experience that (Aspergers) are hyper-functioning and as a consequence, “hypo” social. My concern is that it merely repeats current social prejudice, by not differentiating individuals who are disabled in terms of brain function (claiming all autistics are geniuses is extreme) from individuals who are “gifted” – remember; gifted people are not all “autistic” and it would be outrageous to claim that they are.

The Autism Spectrum is archaic in concept (as stated here repeatedly by the Markrams and pointed out in many of my posts) and must be considered a “dead dodo” as an explanation for neurodiversity in Homo sapiens.

“Giftedness” has been “pathologized” in this socio-psychological “spectrum” scheme; labeled a “developmental defect” even though giftedness is a long-standing and praiseworthy attribute of some percentage of the population, across cultures and eras of human existence. Giftedness is an extended range or degree of talent and learned abilities that is recognized as exceptional, if curious – or suspicious, or if feared.

The U.S. population has always shown “disdain” for intellectual activity, unless it generates money and power, due to its founding “Puritanical” beliefs and compounded by adherence to supernatural OT fundamentalism. “Genius” can only be acceptable if it generates enormous profit. Rewarding athletic excellence is socially promoted; the abject worship of “money-making” individuals (even if that wealth is accomplished by ”criminal” behavior) is socially mandatory. Isn’t it time that we grew out of this nonsense?

Also – some of the basic assumptions are “suspicious” – Autists are (hyper) sensitive to the environment; that is obvious. But instead of seeing this as rampant and recent “maladaptive disaster” would it not be reasonable to question modern environments as the culprit in the rapidly growing epidemic of “environmental” catastrophes of our own making?   Perhaps many “autists” are not defective in their “hyper qualities” but represent the tip of the ice berg as casualties of “sick social environments” – and the devastation that is occurring in “normal” children and adults is being ignored or denied?

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by John Scott Holman, interviewer for “Wrong Planet”

http://wrongplanet.net/interview-henry-and-kamila-markram-about-the-intense-world-theory-for-autism

Interview: Henry and Kamila Markram about The Intense World Theory for Autism

Question 1. The Intense World Theory sheds light on the mystery of autism, and offers fascinating and refreshing insights. This theory may baffle those with a limited understanding of neuroscience. How would you explain Intense World Theory to the layman?

The Intense World Theory states that autism is the consequence of a supercharged brain that makes the world painfully intense and that the symptoms are largely because autistics are forced to develop strategies to actively avoid the intensity and pain. Autistics see, hear, feel, think, and remember too much, too deep, and process information too completely. The theory predicts that the autistic child is retreating into a controllable and predictable bubble to protect themselves from the intensity and pain. The theory originated from neuroscientific discoveries on an animal model of autism and was extended by accounting for previous research on autism in humans. It is a unifying theory because it takes into account and explains the many different results and interpretations from a spectrum of studies on autism.

The brain is supercharged because the elementary functional units of the brain are supercharged. These units are called neural microcircuits. Neural microcircuits are the smallest ecosystem of neurons that can support each other to carry out functions. The brain is made up of millions of these units. These microcircuits are hyper-reactive and hyper-plastic. That means that they react and process information much faster and more intensely, they can learn much more and remember much longer, and they can remember things with much greater detail. The Intense World Theory proposes that having such powerful units makes orchestration difficult – like trying to play a piano with a million run-a-way keys. The microcircuits that are mostly affected will depend on genetics, toxic insults during pregnancy and the kind of environmental exposure after birth. Each autistic child will therefore be unique because different microcircuits are hyper-functional and they dominate the idiosyncratic pattern that emerges.

The theory predicts that there are three factors in the cause of autism; a genetic predisposition, a toxic insult during pregnancy and environmental exposure after birth. Our genes normally switch on an off in a well-timed and precise sequence like the playing of a piece of music throughout life. Autism is a triggered acceleration of this cascade of gene expression during brain development. We believe toxins during pregnancy trigger this acceleration. Many possible genetic mutations can lower the threshold for triggering the accelerated cascade. Environmental exposure that normally accelerates brain development accelerates brain development even further in autistics making the brain too sensitive, too early.

The danger of accelerated brain development is that all the steps needed to complete the trimming down of the connections between neurons is not completed and that some microcircuits that should wait their turn to develop, develop too early and begin to dominate over the other microcircuits driving hyper-preferences, repetitiveness, idiosyncrasies and eventually making unlearning and rehabilitation very difficult.

While it will be difficult to reverse and correct these developmental changes completely, the theory points to many exciting new possibilities for diagnosing, treating and helping autistic children benefit from their unique brain. For example, if the environment can be carefully controlled after birth, then the autistic child could potentially keep the supercharged microcircuits as well as their ability to orchestrate these microcircuits to fully express their genius without the suffering that can come with a supercharged brain.

Question 2. Describe the evolution of Intense World Theory from inspiration to publication. (Hmmm. Who is answering? Unless Henry and Kamila both have a “fear of” personal pronouns? It’s a mystery as to who is speaking…)

Our research into autism started in 1998 while Henry Markram was at the Weizmann Institute. Henry has an autistic child (now 16 years old) and was of course motivated to understand him. At that time most researchers were looking at the cerebellum, brain stem and other areas for alterations and very few were looking at neocortical alterations. Henry thought this was odd since most of the symptoms in autism are related to alterations in perception, attention and memory, and such advanced functions depend heavily on normal neocortical functions. In 2000 Henry went on sabbatical to Michael Merzenich lab at UCSF and proposed that perhaps the excitatory-inhibitory balance was affected. Henry first thought that inhibition was impaired and received a grant from NAAR (National Alliance of Autism Research) to establish how the inhibitory system is recruited in the normal brain and in animal models of autism.

This research continued when Henry moved to the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). His student Tania Rinaldi used the valproic animal model of autism, which seemed promising based on the work of Patricia Rodier. They could not find malfunctions in the inhibitory synapses and started looking at the excitatory connections. They found that too many excitatory connections where formed in the neocortex of autistic animals. They also found that the circuit responded much too strongly when stimulated and that the synapses learned much easier than normal about the stimulus.

Kamila Markram, a behavioral neuroscientist working in Carmen Sandi’s laboratory, then stressed the importance of also examining the amygdala because autism has a profound emotional component and because previous theories suggest that the amygdala is malfunctioning, that it is hypo-functioning and that autists can’t interpret people’s feelings and have dampened down emotions. Kamila carried out behavioral studies on the animal model and found that the autistic animals developed excessive fear memories, that these fears lasted much longer and where (were) difficult to undo. She also found that they generalized these memories too easily to associated stimuli (i.e. once afraid of a sound with a certain pitch, they become afraid of all sounds regardless of the pitch). Kamila realized that this could lead to autistic children quickly to becoming fearful of parts of the world for no apparent reason and it would make rehabilitation very difficult. This also suggested that one would need to be extremely careful when exposing an autistic child to the world and especially when punishing an autistic child. They will never forget the punishment and generalize it quickly to a point where they will fear so many things that they not be able to function normally. Kamila then re-examined all previous studies by all major laboratories that studied autism and reinterpreted their results in this new light.

Kamila and Henry then came up with a unifying theory that accounts for the facts and first called this the intense world syndrome hypothesis. Further experiments in their lab on how genes and proteins are expressed as well as an even deeper analysis of past studies culminated in the Intense World Theory

3. Many members of the autistic community have embraced Intense World Theory, claiming it to be an accurate reflection of their own experiences, and a radical departure from the outdated and socially stigmatizing disease models of the past. Why has it taken so many years for the scientific community to draw a conclusion which autistics themselves find to be quite obvious? What prevented Intense World Theory from emerging years ago?

The main reason is that historically autism has been classified as a form of mental retardation. Biologically, mental retardation results from malfunctions in genes, proteins, cells, synapses and circuits and so most researchers were just looking for evidence of malfunctions because scientists mostly look for evidence to support current theories and hypotheses. Autism is still today classified as a form of mental retardation in the bible of brain diseases, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This superficial classification has led to scientists looking for malfunction, hypofunction, and deficits at the biological level. So the research has become messy and confused and many mistakes have been made in the interpretation of experimental results.

The second major mistake is that scientists have reasoned that because every autistic child is so unique that there are many different causes of autism. The consequence has been that each researcher has made localized interpretations of their data and proposed their own isolated theory of autism ignoring “the other forms” effectively hiding behind “the spectrum”. We can see the result – today there are dozens of fragmented theories of autism that each focus on a specific aspect of autism.

The third major mistake has been the belief that autism is primarily a genetic disorder. There is of course good reason for this because the second twin of identical twins has a much higher chance of having autism than in the general population, but this has led researchers to hunt only for the genetic malfunction while ignoring the fact that the twin of an autistic child that has the “bad” gene(s) does not have autism – this also proves that autism can be cured if we understand it. The hunt for bad genes has also led researchers to play down toxins as triggers of autism and injected confusion when it comes to whether the incidence of autism is increasing. Together this has resulted in researchers ignoring how genes can lower the threshold for autism triggered by a toxin or to such a low level that the probability of that autism can be spontaneously triggered without a toxin, is significantly increased.

There are many other reasons such as strong prejudices in how autism must be studied. On the one hand, some believe that one can only study autism in humans. Humans are mammals and what makes us mammal special is the neocortex. The microcircuitry of the mammalian neocortex is very similar. There are small variations in each species, but far more is preserved than changed. It is therefore illogical to say that autism can only happen in humans. This assumes that some gene or protein only found in humans must be the cause of autism and there is no evidence of that. A related community has argued that since it is a human disorder the closest relative, the monkey must be used in the studies. This led to one of the biggest detours in autism research where the amygdala was lessoned (lessened) in monkey. When the amygdala was destroyed in monkeys, they also withdrew and showed no emotionally driven behavior. Scientists then thought that this proves that autism is a disorder of hypofunction of the amygdala. This was a relic of the theory that autism stems from malfunctioning systems that started with the refrigerator-mother theory many decades ago. On the other hand, there is a community that believes that autism is genetic and the only relevant animal model is the mutated mouse. The problem with this line of research is that they mostly still look for malfunctions.

More recently, these studies have also started testing for hyperfunctions so it is a good sign that the Intense World Theory is starting to change the field. Since hundreds of genes can be involved in setting the threshold for autism, these studies will however have to go to the next level rather than try to prove one gene at a time. What is really needed is to understand how the gene expression cascade is altered starting as early as possible in development. Epigenetics and behavioral studies after birth will therefore become central to the research into autism in the future.

Question 4. Intense World Theory has been widely accepted by supporters of the Neurodiversity movement. Were these sociological implications foreseen in early development, and if so, can their influence be found in the published text?

This was not a factor in the discovery of the Intense World Theory. The theory was triggered bottom up from neuroscientific studies and the real changing point for us was when we found that fear memories were so quickly acquired, lasted longer, where difficult to erase and over generalized. This put all the results into context because the neocortex could render the world intense, highly fragmented and overly specialized while the amygdala would dial up the emotional component of the intense world making it potentially extremely painful and aversive forcing the autistic child to take refuge in a secure bubble. If they don’t succeed to take refuge through repetitive behavior, routines, rocking, and other types of behaviors, then they may display self-injurious behavior – like ants crawling all over your body. The diversity comes from the fact that we are normally diverse and if you add hyperfunctional circuits to that then naturally each autistic child will be even more different from each other. It is like taking all our normal differences to an extreme. This challenges society to accommodate autists, but diversity is the key to social evolution and so it is a good challenge.

Question 5. How does the alternative cognitive style of the autistic mind prove beneficial or detrimental to autistic self-advocacy?

Autistics could be at the pioneering edge of human brain evolution. Society should embrace and support this exploration into the extraordinary. According to the Intense World Theory, if autism can be identified at birth, then a well-structured and filtered environment could allow the sequence of brain development to unfold normally while preserving the hyperfunctional microcircuits. This does not mean the environment must be impoverished, in fact it should be a rich and diverse environment, but presented in a gentle and predictable way. Great care should be taken since any surprising event could be traumatic and potentially trigger a cascade of development that is difficult to reverse. Behavioral treatments that apply strong negative and positive reinforcement could have serious adverse effects according to the Intense World Theory, especially at a very early age. Such treatments are better suited to mental retardation or to older autists that have passed through the critical phases of brain development. The idiosyncratic behavior of autistics should be respected as they can make a unique and highly valuable contribution to society. Autists should fight for the way they believe the next generation of autistic children should be raised – those that succeed to free their locked up genius can help free the next generation. Society should compensate and help families with autistic children.

Question 6. Disregarding social and ethical implications, do you believe an autism cure is a scientific possibility? Why or why not?

The Intense World Theory predicts that all autistic children have exceptional talents that are locked up. The challenge is to free talents and to make it possible for them to integrate in society. We do believe that autism can be turned into a highly beneficial “disorder” if we understand how to help the autistic child harness their genius rather than suffer from it. The route is to understand the epigenetic alterations so that we can make better and earlier decisions on the direction of therapy. We also need to understand all the different ways that we can raise the threshold of epigenetic alterations so that the progression does not become so severe as to lead to a social handicap. We have to be prepared to develop a custom treatment for each autistic child. We have to be prepared to create special environments for the early stages of life of an autistic child. If this is all done, most autistic children could pass through the critical periods of brain development quite normally and emerge from it with their full genius intact.

Question 7. Do you believe the direction of autism research must be dictated by a governing social conscience, (if it existed – me) or does such a conscience corrupt scientific objectivity?

A social conscience must always govern all kinds of scientific research not just for autism research. Scientists cannot just do anything in the name of science. It must always be justifiable at all levels of society and actually understandable to all people. Co-evolution of science and society makes for a healthy planet.

Question 8. “Unraveling the Paradox of the Autistic Self,” by Michael V. Lombardo and Simon Baron-Cohen, states that “neural evidence provides a key clue that an ‘egocentric’ response in the brain (i.e., Self = Other) is actually the result of an impairment in self-referential coding of information.” Do you believe an elusive sense of self is a universal autistic characteristic? Does Intense World Theory account for this impairment?

Well, we would not agree with their analysis and theory. This is just another theory that is a relic of the theories of mental retardation. It is contaminated by older theories that there is a deficit in the ability of the brain to develop a theory of mind, the ability to see and respect others thoughts feelings and emotions. This archaic theory has also led to gross misinterpretations of the mirror neuron discoveries. According to the Intense World Theory, autists could actually be seeing much deeper into the minds, thoughts and emotions of themselves and others, which triggers active avoidance and lock down behaviors. It also requires the ability to simulate others as if you where (were) them and to extrapolate to where their thoughts and behaviors are leading them. Seeing into the minds of others can be extremely disturbing. Even if autists don’t feel this is true for themselves it is because their brain has developed strategies to cope with this extreme insight leaving them seemingly isolated.

This theory of a deficit in self-referential coding or theory of egocentricity is also likely to be incorrect for another reason. Self-referential coding is the foundation of human consciousness. To be conscious of yourself and others requires you to have to be able to localize yourself in space and time. If you enter an isolation tank, anesthesia, or deep meditation you can lose track of yourself, where you are, who you are, what time it is. So impairment in self-referential coding will also mean that autists are barely conscious and living in peaceful state of diffused consciousness (pain is based on a sense of self, locality). It is most likely the exact opposite of autists. They are in an extremely localized state, extremely aware of themselves, extremely aware of others and in a battle for their life to hold back the intensity and pain of it all.

9. Intense World Theory proposes that autism is “hyper-functioning of local neural microcircuits, best characterized by hyper-reactivity and hyper-plasticity.” Does this mean that savantism may be a universal, though not always objectively measurable, autistic characteristic?

Absolutely. In fact the Intense World Theory predicts that severely autistic people that cannot speak or interact at all have locked up abilities even greater than savants. In other words, those autists classified as severely mentally retarded by the psychiatrist, may be the greatest savants of all. Savants as we know them are just lucky that they retained the ability to express themselves. The Intense World Theory predicts that the amygdala is less affected in savantism so the pain of the intense world is dialed down making it easier for them to cope with what they see, hear, feel and think, and allowing them to express themselves. There is so much potential lying behind this wall of pain and fear.

Question 10. Do you believe Intense World Theory will endure the test of time, and have a long-term scientific and sociological impact? Predict the legacy of Intense World Theory.

Scientific theories probably never last indefinitely. However, we do believe that the Intense World Theory will replace all existing theories because it is the only unifying theory of autism today. Other theories are piece-meal theories accounting of a selective set of observations and mostly based on a paradigm of autism as a form of mental retardation. Nobody likes one to come up with a unifying theory that explains all the facts. It will take time for scientists to embrace it and they will argue that it does not explain their corner of the facts because they like to interpret their facts in a certain way, they will use the fact that it is based on rodent brain changes to avoid the theory for as long as possible. The hyperfunctional theories such as those of Laurent Mottron have gone in the same direction. Rebellion and criticism is part of every scientific revolution where the paradigm is turned upside down.

The Intense World Theory predicts so many exciting completely new directions for autism research, for autistics, and for society that we believe this theory will last a long time.

For research, we will isolate various agents that can induce epigenetic insult of the genome and may even learn how to use these agents to guide evolution of the human brain. We will learn which sets of genes are predisposing – lower the threshold of epigenetic insult during pregnancy – so that we can be better informed on nutrition during pregnancy and get ready to raise an autistic child if necessary. We will learn how to gently guide the development of the brain of an autistic child through the critical irreversible periods and avoid traumatic moments that could spin the brain development into a nightmare configuration and preserve the hyperfunctional microcircuits allowing autists to cope with the intensity and pain and express their genious. Nutrients, drugs and other treatments such as brain stimulation, will emerge that can dampen down selectively some uncontrolled hyperfunctional components.

For autists, they will learn how to nurture rather than lockup the deep insight and how to contribute these insights to society. We will learn how to help the next generation of autists cope and express their individual genius.

For society, we will learn how valuable the autistic community is for society. We will adapt the planet to embrace rather than lockup autistic people. Normal people guess at the world, while autists process information completely, comprehensively. This feature would not be good for survival in the jungle, but in human society, we can nurture these individuals and they can make a fantastic contribution to society. We will begin special compensation to families with autistic children as if they are potential Olympic athletes of the world.

 

Psychological Nuttiness Strikes Again / Theories of Emotion

from verywell.com

What Are the 6 Major Theories of Emotion?

Some of the Major Theories to Explain Human Emotions

By Kendra Cherry, Updated May 10, 2017

What Is Emotion?

In psychology, emotion is often defined as a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence thought and behavior. (We’re knee deep in magical thinking already – inverted and circular “reasoning” at the same time!)

Emotionality is associated with a range of psychological phenomena, including temperament, personality, mood, and motivation. According to author David G. Meyers, human emotion involves “…physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.” (Just what do “psychological” and “conscious” mean here? Psychology is rife with “opportunities” for misinformation and crazy interpretation because it lacks self-regulation for standards of “scientific behavior” on the part of its researchers and practitioners. It is a “secular religion”)

Theories of Emotion

The major theories of motivation (?) can be grouped into three main categories: physiological, neurological, and cognitive. (This implies that neurological activity and cognitive activity are not physical phenomenon) Physiological theories suggest that responses within the body are responsible for emotions.

Neurological theories propose that activity within the brain leads to emotional responses. Finally, cognitive theories argue that thoughts and other mental activity play an essential role in forming emotions. (that chopping up into categorical objects again – thoughts and whatever other “mental activity” refers to – are held to be objects that act on other objects. Psychology is hopelessly stuck in a pre-20th C. conception of “physics” –

Where have psychologists been for the past 100+ years of scientific revolution?

Evolutionary Theory of Emotion

It was naturalist Charles Darwin (also a geologist) who proposed that emotions evolved because they were adaptive and allowed humans and animals to survive and reproduce. Feelings of love and affection lead people to seek mates and reproduce. Feelings of fear compel people to either fight or flee the source of danger. (Oh dear, the social narrative intrudes, as usual)

According to the evolutionary theory of emotion, our emotions exist because they serve an adaptive role. Emotions motivate people to respond quickly to stimuli in the environment, which helps improve the chances of success and survival. (Standard social blah, blah, blah)

Understanding the emotions of other people and animals also plays a crucial role in safety and survival. If you encounter a hissing, spitting, and clawing animal, chances are you will quickly realize that the animal is frightened or defensive and leave it alone. By being able to interpret correctly the emotional displays of other people and animals, you can respond correctly and avoid danger. (That’s it? That’s not a theory. That’s a script for a PBS kid’s show.)

The James-Lange Theory of Emotion

The James-Lange theory is one of the best-known examples of a physiological theory of emotion. Independently proposed by psychologist William James and physiologist Carl Lange, the James-Lange theory of emotion suggests that emotions occur as a result of physiological reactions to events. (A scientific theory does not “suggest” – it produces one or more testable hypotheses; generates valid experiments and must be independently confirmed or disproven. Neurotypicals reject this method, because they only believe in “social” authority. Independent “reality” does not exist for them.)

This theory suggests that when you see (or sense – we have multiple senses) an external stimulus that leads to a physiological reaction. (This is so.) Your emotional reaction is dependent upon how you interpret those physical reactions.

For example, suppose you are walking in the woods and you see a grizzly bear. You begin to tremble, and your heart begins to race. The James-Lange theory proposes that you will interpret your physical reactions and conclude that you are frightened (“I am trembling. Therefore, I am afraid”). According to this theory of emotion, you are not trembling because you are frightened. Instead, you feel frightened because you are trembling.

(Amazing how the standard “fear response” – common to primates, mammals and other animals, can be “negated” by “pausing” to think about what’s going on – and coming up with a “cognitive interpretation” of one’s physiologic response to an ACTUAL threat – the presence of a grizzly bear: fear is an instinctual response – WHATEVER WORD(S) YOU CHOOSE TO DESCRIBE IT. This scenario is plausible and applicable only if there is no danger present. If you are sitting quietly in your living room, and experience the rush of adenaline, etc, that is the FFF response, you might stop to think “Gee, there’s no danger present, but I feel afraid – this must be a “false alarm” – and this realization may result in a cessation of the physiological response. But – anyone who makes this “interpretation” when confronted by actual threat will be in serious trouble.

The Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion

Another well-known physiological theory is the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion. Walter Cannon disagreed with the James-Lange theory of emotion on several different grounds. First, he suggested, people can experience physiological reactions linked to emotions (?) without actually feeling those emotions. For example, your heart might race because you have been exercising and not because you are afraid. (Mind-boggling)

Cannon also suggested that emotional responses occur much too quickly for them to be simply products of physical states. (Beyond mind-boggling)

When you encounter a danger in the environment, you will often feel afraid before you start to experience the physical symptoms associated with fear such as shaking hands, rapid breathing, and a racing heart. (Okay, this is simply stupid! We are confronted again by “supernatural” fear that precedes the actual physical response that IS FEAR. And this “supernatural” power travels faster than the speed of light. LOL!)

Cannon first proposed his theory in the 1920s and his work was later expanded on by physiologist Philip Bard during the 1930s. According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, we feel emotions and experience physiological reactions such as sweating, trembling, and muscle tension simultaneously.

(Gee, could it be that these two “categorical objects” are one and the same phenomenon – that “emotions ARE physiological responses? This is an example of the archaic conception of “mind and body” as separate “things” – and the attribution to a supernatural dimension the “magical patterns and templates” that  are believed to “create” reality.)

More specifically, it is suggested that emotions result when the thalamus sends a message to the brain in response to a stimulus, resulting in a physiological reaction. At the same time, the brain also receives signals (via amorphous goo from the supernatural dimension?) triggering the emotional experience. Cannon and Bard’s theory suggests that the physical and psychological experience of emotion happen at the same time and that one does not cause the other. (Separate but equal? That’s justice!)

(The neurotypical brain simply cannot let go of the “magical thinking” stage common in childhood, which attributes all phenomena to MAGICAL POWERS that defy physical reality. ‘Psychological’ refers to the imaginary explanations and narratives that are necessary to the neotenic brain, which is frozen in infantile conceptions. These narratives are created by social indoctrination into a subjective and isolated cultural context)

Schachter-Singer Theory

Also known as the two-factor theory of emotion, the Schachter-Singer Theory is an example of a cognitive theory of emotion. This theory suggests that the physiological arousal occurs first, and then the individual must identify the reason for this arousal to experience and label it as an emotion. (At last – someone recognizes “emotion words” as LABELS) A stimulus leads to a physiological response that is then cognitively interpreted and labeled which results in an emotion. (AYE, yai, yai! The “emotion” IS the physiological response. The “labels” are the myriad words that children are taught to use to “parse” the physical experience into socially-approved verbal expressions. Only social humans could invent this awkward imposition of “cognition as verbal manipulation” as existing prior to instinct in evolution.)

Schachter and Singer’s theory draws on both the James-Lange theory and the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion. Like the James-Lange theory, the Schachter-Singer theory proposes that people do infer emotions based on physiological responses. The critical factor is the situation and the cognitive interpretation that people use to label that emotion. (My head hurts, my stomach hurts, I’m out of exclamations of shock and disbelief. Children “learn” to label physiological response as “verbal” expressions, which are specific to their particular social and cultural context. Many societies also demand that “physical emotion responses” be quashed, hidden or forbidden expression.)

Like the Cannon-Bard theory, the Schachter-Singer theory also suggests that similar physiological responses can produce varying emotions. For example, if you experience a racing heart and sweating palms during an important math exam, you will probably identify the emotion as anxiety. If you experience the same physical responses on a date with your significant other, you might interpret those responses as love, affection, or arousal.

(This demolishes the idea that “emotions” are distinct categories of experience or “objects” in the brain, body or supernatural dimension. The ever-expanding array of “parts” that constitute brain and body in Western culture is astounding – and imaginary. The incredible number of “emotion words” in languages, do not each correspond to “an emotion”. They are invented labels.)

Cognitive Appraisal Theory

According to appraisal theories of emotion, thinking must occur first before experiencing emotion. Richard Lazarus was a pioneer in this area of emotion, and this theory is often referred to as the Lazarus theory of emotion.

According to this theory, the sequence of events first involves a stimulus, followed by thought which then leads to the simultaneous experience of a physiological response and the emotion. For example, if you encounter a bear in the woods, you might immediately begin to think that you are in great danger. This then leads to the emotional experience of fear and the physical reactions associated with the fight-or-flight response. (Nonsense again – this conceit that “conscious thinking via verbal language” is SUPERIOR to instinct screws up analysis of “how things work” The effectiveness of instinct is that you don’t have to THINK ABOUT IT! Instinctual behavior is automatic and has been aiding survival of myriad species for hundreds of millions of years!)

Facial-Feedback Theory of Emotion

The facial-feedback theory of emotions suggests that facial expressions are connected to experiencing emotions. (That does not a theory make) Charles Darwin and William James both noted early on that sometimes physiological responses often had a direct impact on emotion (for the love of sanity: the physiological response IS EMOTION), rather than simply being a consequence of the emotion. Supporters of this theory suggest that emotions are directly tied to changes in facial muscles. For example, people who are forced to smile pleasantly at a social function will have a better time at the event than they would if they had frowned or carried a more neutral facial expression.

(The “jump” from “reverse smiling” – mimicry – which may stimulate a pleasant “feeling” to the socially-mandated “having a better time at an event” demonstrates belief in contagious magic.)

What is the experiential phenomenon that is called EMOTION?

Emotion in animals is pretty simple: a subjective physiological reaction to “something” in the environment. What we call “emotion” is activation of the familiar “fight, flight or freeze response” that results from sensory stimulation, and is usually attuned to “danger”.

Emotion is a word: a noun, which designates an object that can be “named” – but the physical phenomenon is not an object: the naming of “emotions” is a socio-cultural activity. Nature never created an “emotion thing” that resides somewhere inside a human or animal; like other animals, we have a brain and nervous system which interacts with the environment, ostensibly for our benefit – to promote survival. Humans created the social “idea monstrosity” that claims to be “the truth” about how Homo sapiens works. Emotions are presented as parts “inside of you” – their location has been argued over forever! The heart, brain, gut, mysterious fluids, etc. have been given the attribution as the “seat” of emotion. Most “social” views of emotion are negative: weird and destructive animal inheritances that must be controlled, not surprisingly, by society!

Peculiar dogma plagues our concepts and application of “emotion rules” –  notions which are purely cultural and do not “transfer” from Western psychology to “all humans”. Psychology demands the conceit that ALL HUMANS are mere replicas of “normal humans” who happen to be white males; underneath all the obvious  “human diversity” of size, form, skin color, hair types, skull dimensions, manners, behaviors and individual preferences is a “white male” prototype. “Evolution” is deemed to be a “mistake” – all humans were meant to be white males in thought, behavior and belief; inferior mistakes ought to at least “mimic” their superiors.

This promotion of a bizarre “evolutionary” fantasy sounds ridiculous when plainly stated; a farce, a narrative born of childish arrogance, a sociopathic “plan” for world domination, and yet this Western psychological addiction to imaginary superiority is supported, promoted and fed by American Psychology – in theory, policy and practice.

As usual, we must go back to basics to untangle the mess surrounding “emotions” and the “off-topic” arguments over good and evil, positive and negative, male and female, race and class, biology and religion, authority and expertise and supernatural origins, which are indulged as serious consequences of human beliefs (not facts) of what we call “emotions” – fact, myth and propaganda.

Example 1.

From Gerrig, Richard J. & Philip G. Zimbardo (a self-diagnosed psychopath, BTW) . Psychology And Life, 16th ed.  Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 2002 by Pearson Education.

Emotion:  A complex pattern of changes, including physiological arousal, feelings, cognitive processes, and behavioral reactions, made in response to a situation perceived to be personally significant. (Wow! Considerable “mumbo-jumbo” ahead)

Emotional intelligence: Type of intelligence defined as the abilities to perceive, appraise, and express emotions accurately and appropriately, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and analyze emotions, to use emotional knowledge effectively, and to regulate one’s emotions to promote both emotional and intellectual growth. (See? Mumbo-jumbo of the ‘throw in every Psych-concept cliché you can think of’ type)

Example 2.

Paul Thagard Ph.D./ What Are Emotions? / April 15, 2010

Happiness is a brain process 

Philosophers and psychologists have long debated the nature of emotions such as happiness. Are they states of supernatural souls, cognitive judgments about goal satisfaction, or perceptions of physiological changes? Advances in neuroscience suggest how brains generate emotions through a combination of cognitive appraisal and bodily perception.

Suppose that something really good happens to you today: you win the lottery, your child gets admitted to Harvard, or someone you’ve been interested in asks you out. Naturally, you feel happy, but what does this happiness amount to? On the traditional dualist view of a person, you consist of both a body and a soul, and it is the soul that experiences mental states such as happiness. This view has the appealing implication that you can even feel happiness after your body is gone, if your soul continues to exist in a pleasant location such as heaven. Unfortunately, there is no good evidence for the existence of the soul and immortality, so the dualist view of emotions and the mind in general can be dismissed as wishful thinking or motivated inference. (Not so fast: this “duality” remains the hard-core belief of the “majority” of people in the U.S. And, as we shall see, in American Psychology.)

There are currently two main scientific ways of explaining the nature of emotions. According to the cognitive appraisal theory emotions are judgments about the extent that the current situation meets your goals. Happiness is the evaluation that your goals are being satisfied, as when winning the lottery solves your financial problems and being asked out holds the promise of satisfying your romantic needs. Similarly, sadness is the evaluation that your goals are not being satisfied, and anger is the judgment aimed at whatever is blocking the accomplishment of your goals. (BTW, this is not a scientific theory – it is a social narrative)

Alternatively, William James and others have argued that emotions are perceptions of changes in your body such as heart rate, breathing rate, perspiration, and hormone levels. (A reasonable proposition based in physiology) On this view, happiness is a kind of physiological perception, not a judgment, and other emotions such as sadness and anger are mental reactions (why is “mental” used here? That “ghostly” duality again!) to different kinds of physiological stages. The problem with this account is that bodily states do not seem to be nearly as finely tuned as the many different kinds of emotional states.Yet there is undoubtedly some connection between emotions and physiological changes. (OMG! This is a rambling misconception of a “supernatural origin of emotions” and refutation of physical reality as the foundation for valid hypotheses about thought and behavior in humans. This brilliantly demonstrates the serious mistake of believing that words are “actual objects” that precede and supersede physical reality. This is word magic – the belief that words have the power to create reality – Abracadabra!)

Understanding how the brain works shows that these theories of emotion – cognitive appraisal and physiological perception – can be combined into a unified account of emotions. (are you ready for some fabulous psych nonsense?) The brain is a parallel processor, doing many things at once. Visual and other kinds of perception are the result of both inputs from the senses and top-down interpretations based on past knowledge. Similarly, the brain can perform emotions by interactively combining both high-level judgments about goal satisfactions and low-level perceptions of bodily changes. The judgments are performed by the prefrontal cortex which interacts with the amygdala and insula that process information about physiological states. Hence happiness can be a brain process that simultaneously makes appraisals and perceives the body. For details about how this might work, see the EMOCON model of emotional consciousness (link is external).

Before we proceed to, Major Theories of Emotion,

(I desperately need a break)

let’s peruse a few “general” definitions of emotion.

Word origin of ’emotion’: from old French esmovoir to excite, from Latin ēmovēre to disturb, from movēre to move (this is the same, regardless of the specific definition)

Note how many “non-physical” reference words are included

Thanks to FARLEX ONLINE, which collects stuff for you, in one place.

emotion

a state of arousal characterized by alteration of feeling tone and by physiologic behavioral changes. The external manifestation of emotion is called affect; a pervasive and sustained emotional state, mood. adj., adj emo´tional. The physical form of emotion may be outward and evident to others, as in crying, laughing, blushing, or a variety of facial expressions. However, emotion is not always reflected in one’s appearance and actions even though psychic changes (duality again) are taking place. Joy, grief, fear, and anger are examples of emotions.

Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

emotion

A strong feeling, aroused mental state, or intense state of drive or unrest, which may be directed toward a definite object and is evidenced in both behavior and in psychological changes, with accompanying autonomic nervous system manifestations.

Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

emotion

a strong feeling state, arising subjectively and directed toward a specific object, with physiological, somatic, and behavioral components.

Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. © 2007 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

emotion

1. A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, and anger.

2. Such mental states or the qualities that are associated with them, especially in contrast to reason: a decision based on emotion rather than logic. (That duality again, when “reason” and emotion are not opposed in human behavior, but work together)!

The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

emotion

1 the outward expression or display of mood or feeling states.

2 the affective aspect of consciousness as compared with volition and cognition. Physiological alterations often occur with a marked change of emotion regardless of whether the feelings are conscious or unconscious, expressed or unexpressed. See also emotional need, emotional response. (“Conceptual clichés” again)

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

emotion

Psychology A mood, affect or feeling of any kind–eg, anger, excitement, fear, grief, joy, hatred, love. See Negative emotion, Positive emotion, Toxic emotion. (Yeah, a list of emotion words is not a definition; neither is a social “judgement” about “good and evil”) 

Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

emotion

Any state of arousal in response to external events or memories of such events that affect, or threaten to affect, personal advantage. Emotion is never purely mental (emotion is physical, actually) but is always associated with bodily changes such as the secretion of ADRENALINE and cortisol and their effects. The limbic system and the hypothalamus of the brain are the mediators of emotional expression and feeling. The external expression of emotional content is known as ‘affect’. Repressed emotions are associated with psychosomatic disease. The most important, in this context, are anger, a sense of dependency, and fear. (Oh dear, the unscientific social narratives never end – emotions  are the “bringers” of pestilence and punishment.)

Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005

emotion

a short-term positive or negative affective state. Typically differentiated from mood in that an emotion is of shorter duration and evoked in response to a specific event, such as anger. (So odd! Anger is  the ’emotion’ – reaction; there seems to be a universal neurotypical inability to discern cause and effect!)

Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine by Churchill Livingstone © 2008 Elsevier Limited. All rights reserved.

emotion

a complex feeling or state (affect) accompanied by characteristic motor and glandular activities; feelings; mood.

Mosby’s Dental Dictionary, 2nd edition. © 2008 Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

emotion

aroused state involving intense feeling, autonomic activation and related behavior. Animals have emotions insofar as they are motivated to behave by what they perceive and much of the reaction is learned rather than intuitive (instinctive) (Hmm … the categorical division  animal  / human is maintained, but with animal emotion being “lower in status” – a mere reaction – which is true in humans also. The reactions are based on rewarding and adversive properties of stimuli from the external environment. The center for the control of emotional behavior is the limbic system of the brain.

Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary, 3 ed. © 2007 Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

Is there any question as to why social  humans cannot communicate with each other?  Without a foundation in physical fact and common meaning, language is gibberish – an extension of confused personal opinion, narcissism and nonsense.; a toy, a sham, a hindrance to understanding.

Asperger Emotion / Music and Visual Art

Music expresses and elicits “feeling” – I don’t need words to describe my reactions to music; in fact, words are simply inadequate.  “Amazing” “Brilliant” and  such word-reactions are completely without depth.

Visual art both expresses and elicits “feelings”  – I don’t need words to describe my relationship to visual art, although specific paintings, or other objects and images, may induce expressions of “meaning” that can be communicated in words.

The pagan goddess of love: Sandro Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” ca. 1480 AD remains, after 500 years, an awestruck view of the natural female

Case in point: Sandro Boticelli’s vast canvas, The Birth of Venus, mesmerized me when I first came across a reproduction in an art book. I had never before seen an image of a female as a “natural being” – and not some trussed up, disguised and despised “product” of social manipulation.  A goddess, no less.  Timeless; a living being outside social jeopardy; worthy of admiration. I did not understand this in words. I felt it, intuited it, as an image that rescued a worthy perception of myself as female; a powerful antidote to the miserable characterizations of doomed females in American culture. Women were routinely characterized as defective, cursed, a nuisance: women in Western culture had become miserable servants, “wedded” prostitutes and baby makers – held to be mentally inferior and emotionally-ill by (God’s) social definition. All that, I understood in one image: experience brought the message into ‘cognitive” focus.

The “reality” of discrimination and inferior status as a female grew ever more damaging and overwhelming as I grew from a child to into a young adult, the time when one “enters” society, and the expectation is conformity to one’s role, no matter how against reason and compassion that role may be. The backlash was especially severe when I tried to fulfill that “positive” image of a natural female within the confines of misogynist American culture.

Asperger types are characterized as unfeeling, uncaring and “subhuman” – a declaration that I have found to be a useful “excuse” for bullying of every type: the dumb animal cannot “feel” the pain, and is therefore, fair game.