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Human consciousness and primate consciousness.

Updated: May 29, 2022

Studying the "Study of Consciousness" (Stanislas Duanne) can further deepen your understanding of coaching theory.

I am studying to add a unique flavour to "unconscious rewriting".

This series of blog posts are my study notes. This time, the theme that follows the unconscious and conscious

I will write a "sign of consciousness".


Although monkeys have a conscious neuronal workspace and can be considered to be able to think about themselves and the outside world,

There is no doubt that humans have better introspection than monkeys.

What's the difference in the human brain?

Size, language ability, social cooperation, lasting plasticity, education, etc., are possible.

These questions are issues that cognitive neuroscience must address in the future. But, unfortunately, we haven't got a clear answer yet.

Although we share a similar brain system with many other animals,

The human brain is unique in that it can connect those systems using a sophisticated "language of thought."

René Descartes argued that only Homo sapiens "uses words and other symbols as they are constructed to convey one's thoughts to others."

The ability to compose thoughts is thought to have been an essential factor in the explosive growth of our mental abilities.

Noam Chomsky's theory states, "Language has evolved as a symbolic device rather than a communication system. Its main advantage is that it gives the ability to come up with new ideas in the first place, rather than the ability to share them with others. There is something in it. "

The human global neuronal workspace may be unique in that it can consciously form thoughts, such as "tall than Tom," "left of the red door," and "don't give it to John." Hmm.

Each of these examples is in a completely different area of ​​ability, such as size (high), a person (Tom, John), space (left), colour (red), object (door), logic (not), action (give), etc. However, it is a combination of several basic concepts involved.

A different neural circuit initially codes each element in the brain. Still, the human mind does more than connect the words.

As animals undoubtedly do, for example, "my wife's brother" and " Assemble sentences at will by using a higher-order syntax that carefully distinguishes between "my brother's wife" or "a dog bites a man" and "a man bites a dog".

This talent for composing thoughts by language is the basis of many unique human abilities, from making complex tools to inventing advanced mathematics.

Also, consciousness may be the origin of the advanced ability of self-consciousness.

Humans have a very sophisticated sense of mind. Psychologists call this the "theory of mind," which acts as a set of intuitive rules that allow the thoughts of others to be inferred and represented.

Every language has an elaborate vocabulary system that expresses the state of mind.

Of the ten most frequently used verbs in English, six are about knowledge, emotions, and goals.

  1. Find <find>

  2. Talk <tell>

  3. Ask <ask>

  4. It seems <seem>

  5. Feel <feel>

  6. Try <try>

We apply these vocabularies to ourselves and others using appositional pronouns.

(In terms of frequency of use of English, "I" is 10th and "you" is 18th).

You can express what you know and what others know in precisely the same format.

"I think it's X, but you think it's Y."

This psychologistic perspective is already in place from birth, and even seven-month-old babies can generalize what others know from what they know.

Without language syntax,

"He thinks that I do not know that he lies."

I don't think I can think in a nested manner.

Such thinking goes far beyond the capabilities of non-human primates.

Primate metacognition does not have the infinite possibilities of concepts realized by recursive language but is limited to only two steps (thinking and some belief in it).

Within the primate lineage, perhaps only the human neuronal workspace system has its adaptability to assemble and manipulate thoughts and beliefs in the mind.

The prefrontal cortex is the centre of the conscious workspace.

The prefrontal cortex of primates occupies a significant part of the brain but is even more prominent in humans.

Among primates, the neurons of the prefrontal cortex of humans have the largest dendrites.

This large dendrite may increase the ability to collect and integrate information from other brain regions.

The anterior part of the frontal lobe, the area along the median, is always active when thinking about society and self.

The cortex of the frontal pole (Brodmann area) is more significant in Homo sapiens than in apes.

Also, the white matter, which is the basis of long-distance neural connections in the brain, is much more prominent in humans than in primates in terms of overall brain size ratio.

Another particular area is Broca's area, which is located in the lower-left region of the frontal lobe and plays an essential role in language processing.

The third-layer neurons of Broca's area, which send out long-range projections, are more widely located in humans than apes, allowing for mutual solid neural connections.

Constantine von Econom found giant neurons in this area and another area that plays an essential role in self-control, the anterior cingulate gyrus along the median plane.

This neuron seems to be unique to the brains of humans and great apes such as chimpanzees and bonobos and does not appear to be found in other primates such as macaque monkeys. Perhaps these cells play a critical role in the mass transmission of conscious messages in the human brain through their giant perikaryon and long axons.

Throughout the evolution of humans, the network of the human prefrontal cortex has become increasingly dense and unpredictable from brain size alone.

The neural circuits in our workspace have expanded disproportionately, but this increase is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Humankind is not just a type of primate with a large brain.

"I wouldn't be surprised if cognitive scientists in the future discover that the human brain has its microcircuits that enable a new level of recursive processing similar to language. "Stanislas Duanne said.

While other primates can capture the outside world through inner life and consciousness, our inner world is probably due to its unique ability to enable nested thinking. , Much richer.

In all primates, consciousness initially evolved as a communication device. The prefrontal cortex and its associated long-distance neural circuits broke the modularity of local circuits and began to transmit information all at once throughout the brain.

But only in humankind, this communication device has emerged as a "language of thought" that enables the formation of advanced beliefs and sharing with others.

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