VI. Life’s Cerebral Faculties Become More Complex, Smarter, Informed, Proactive, Self-Aware
CIRCA SEPTEMBER 2022, THIS CHAPTER IS IN THE MIDST OF A MAJOR REORIENTATION. PLEASE, tHANK YOU
With strong evidence in place for an organic conducive ecosmos (Part III), its independent, genome-like, complex self-organization (Part IV) and an evolutionary development (Part V), this multi-faceted Part VI will document how each Earthly spatial and temporal phase can be seen as a similar exemplary manifestation. It opens with a Universal Principles section gleaned from latest findings about an archetypal generative source which reiterate in kind everywhere. Nested Gestation of Communal Creatures then arrays into eight subsections from fractal geology to phenomenal peoples. Subsequent modules evince cerebral, cognitive, behavioral, talkative, individual autonomy, and ontogeny = phylogeny occasions.
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A. Natural Econsciousness and Ecognition
A perennial, mystic, more Eastern belief is a fundamental plenum of panpsychic consciousness, from which cognizant human sentience naturally arises. Now into the 21st century, a global brain scientific recovery, verification and acceptance is well underway, along with philosophical support. As a result, this original, encompassing mind milieu from which sequential scales of relative awareness, intelligent knowing and our manifest selves arise is being fulfilled. In this vein, another aspect would be that we microcosmic Earthly beings are achieving some measure of the animate macrocosmos looking back upon itself, so to self-recognize, realize and begin a new, cocreative, evolitionary future. See also the Conscious Integrated Information Knowledge section in Chapter VII.
.…western science is changing very rapidly now, toward an understanding of nature as alive, self-organizing, intelligent, conscious or sentient and participatory at all levels from subatomic particles and molecules to entire living planets, galaxies and the whole Cosmos…. Elisabet Sahtouris
2020: Although long at odds with an olden physical mechanism model, since circa 2000 due to a confluence of neuroscientific advances aided by philosophic engagements, an allowance of a pervasive mindfulness from universe to human beingness has gone forth. Along with contributions such as integrated information theory (see VII, A, 4), a recovery of panpsychism, and signs of intelligent behavior across all natural realms, an ecosmic econsciousness lately gains veracity, presence, as it may awaken to and affirm itself by way of Earthuman agency.
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Bridle, James. Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
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Chittka, Lars and Catherine Wilson. Expanding Consciousness. American Scientist. November-December, 2019.
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B. In the 2020s, a Cognitive Course from First Stirrings to Our Earthuman Acumen is Being Defined
As the Pedia Sapiens title of our Introduction conveys, a wealth of current findings which probe deeper into life’s minimal cognition and across evolutionary entities scales have now filled in and defined an embryonic gestation along with bodily, somatic forms, as per Chap. V. Of especial note is a Systems Neuroscience through the Lens of Evolution issue in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Cisek herein), and an The Emergence of Collective Knowledge and Cumulative Culture in Animals, Humans and Machines collection in the same journal ((see Whiten).
The nested, recurrent stages of skeletal, anatomic complexity from life's deep origin to valiant, smart peoples well display a mosaic and concerted encephalization process whence the embryonic body gains a ramifying complex brain faculty. Metazoan creatures across invertebrate, aquatic, amphibian, reptilian, avian and mammalian scales are now known to possess a modular, multiplex network, neural capacity for enhanced communicative cognition, and proactive group behaviors. A significant aspect is the presence of a ramifying complementary bicameral faculty which is traced back to earliest neural casts.
As a consequence, all these animal forms and stages become increasingly graced by familiar personal abilities and communal activities. A resultant arrow of integrated information and intelligence has become paired with a relative knowing consciousness which seems aimed toward our phenomenal homo, anthropo, and Earthropocene phases. The four subsections about brains, behaviors, bilaterality, and a communicative ability from grunts and gestures to syntactic language will altogether illume an ascendency of brain over body, mind over matter.
2020: The import of this section is to report and convey a 21st century appreciation that life’s evolution is more distinguished by a progressive emergence of cerebral and cognitive abilities. These features thus continue to define a true developmental gestation. And once again, at each stage and instance, the bigender naturome code is manifestly evident, especially with regard to bilateral brain complements.
Ball, Philip. The Book of Minds: How to Understand Ourselves and Other Beings from Animals to AI to Aliens. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022.
Brancazio, Nick, et al. Approaching Minimal Cognition: Introduction to the Special Issue Adaptive Behavior. 28/9, 2020.
Cisek, Paul. Evolution of Behavioral Control from Chordates to Primates. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. December, 2021.
Ginsburg, Simona and Eva Jablonka. Picturing the Mind: Consciousness through the Lens of Evolution. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2022.
Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021.
Kverkova, Kristina, et al. The Evolution of Brain Neuron Numbers in Amniotes. PNAS. 119/11, 2022.
Lacalli, Thurston. An Evolutionary Perspective on Chordate Brain Organization and Function. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. December 2021.
Leopold, David and Bruno Averbeck. Self-tuition as an Essential Design Feature of the Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. December, 2021.
Lyon, Pamela, et al. Basal Cognition: Conceptual Tools and the View from the Single Cell. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Volume 1820, January, 2021.
Ogas, Ogi and Sai Gaddam. Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos. New York: Norton, 2022.
Miller, Jacob and Kevin Weiner. Unfolding the Evolution of Human Cognition. Trends in Cognitive Science. August, 2022.
Smaers, Jeoroen, et al. The Evolution of Mammalian Brain Size. Science Advances. 7/18, 2021.
Whiten, Andrew, et al. The Emergence of Collective Knowledge and Cumulative Culture in Animals, Humans, and Machines. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. December, 2021.
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1. Intelligence Evolution and Vital Knowledge Gain as a Central Advance
2020: Since 2015 we have reported a growing sense that as life evolves it does so by a directional emphasis on cerebral and cognitive qualities more so than somatic anatomy. An implication is that a developmental gestation seems to be skewed to and involved with becoming smarter and more informed. In this way, one can become a self-aware member in a coherent community.
Brun-Usan, Miguel, et al. How to Fit In: The Learning Principles of Cell Differentiation. PLoS Computational Biology. April, 2020.
Cisek, Paul and Ben Hayden. Neuroscience Needs Evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. December, 2021
Czegel, Daniel, et al. Bayes and Darwin: How Replicator Populations Implement Bayesian Computations. BioEssays. 44/4, 2022.
Dodig-Crnkovic, Gordana. Morphological Computation and Learning to Learn in Natural Intelligent Systems and AI. arXiv:2004.02304.
Hasson, Uri, et al. Direct Fit to Nature: An Evolutionary Perspective on Biological and Artificial Neural Networks. Neuron. 105/3, 2020.
Hochberg, Michael, et al. Innovation: An Emerging Focus from Cells to Societies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Vol. 372/Iss. 1736, 2017.
Jablonka, Eva and Simona Ginsburg. Learning and the Evolution of Conscious Agents. Biosemiotics. September, 2022.
Suchow, Jordan, et al. Evolution in Mind: Evolutionary Dynamics, Cognitive Processes, and Bayesian Inference. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 21/7, 2017.
Vanchurin, Vitaly, et al. Towards a Theory of Evolution as Multilevel Learning. arXiv:2110.14602.
Watson, Richard, et al. Design for an Individual: Connectionist Approaches to the Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. March 2022.
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2. The Evolution of Cerebral Form and Cognizance
While a general increase in bodily complexity and dexterity from trilobites to humans is admitted, what is in tandem process (and there really is something going on) is an essential ramification of cerebral capacities. By attributes of bilateral asymmetry, semi-specialized modules, which array in concerted and mosaic modes, crowned by a frontal lobe neocortex, brains evolve by much expanding the size of these components in place from the earliest neural stirrings. This steady course of life’s encephalization adds a further component to trace a central evolutionary axis and vector.
2020: By our worldwise retrospective, Earth life’s viviparous developmental course is seen to proceed by a distinct, continuous ramification from earliest neural rudiments to sequentially complexify brain architectures, cognitive acumens and cooperative behaviors. Cerebral faculties are found to avail modular functions, an interplay of concerted orientation and mosaic diversity, relative neocortex abilities, along with altogether networking with each other.
Briscoe, Steven and Clifton Ragsdale. Homology, Neocortex, and the Evolution of Developmental Mechanisms. Science. 362/190, 2018.
Burger, Joseph, et al. Toward a Metabolic Theory of Life History. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116/26653, 2019.
Callier, Vivianne. Brain-Signal Proteins Evolved before Animals Did. Quanta. June 3, 2022.
Changeux, Jean=Pierre, et al. A Connectomic Hypothesis for the Hominization of the Brain. Cerebral Cortex 31/5, 2021.
Karten, Harvey. Vertebrate Brains and Evolutionary Connectomics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 370/0060.2015, 2015.
Liebeskind, Benjamin, et al. Evolution of Animal Neural Systems Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 48/377, 2017.
Lyon, Pamela, et al. Basal Cognition: Conceptual Tools. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Volume 1820, January, 2021.
Melchionna, M., et al. Macroevolutionary Trends of Brain Mass in Primates. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 129/1, 2020.
Murray, Elizabeth, et al. The Evolution of Memory Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Pontes, Anselmo, et al. The Evolutionary Origin of Associative Learning. American Naturalist. 195/1, 2020.
Roumazeilles, Lea, et al. Longitudinal Connections and the Organization of the Temporal Cortex in Macaques, Great Apes, and Humans. PLoS Biology. July, 2020.
Schmidt-Rhaesa, Andreas, et al, eds. Structure and Evolution of Invertebrate Nervous Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Vallverdu, Jordi, et al. Slime Mould: The Fundamental Mechanisms of Cognition. Biosystems. January, 2018.
Watanabe, Shigeru, et al, eds. Evolution of the Brain, Cognition, and Emotion in Vertebrates. International: Springer, 2017.
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3. Laterality: A Bicameral Brain Emerges with the Nested Scales
2020: Still another 21st century discovery of much import is the steady presence of a bilateral, hemispheric, archetypal endowment across every Metazoan creature. This common property was unknown before 2000 but has since been robustly verified from our human double brain through mammalian, avian, reptilian, and aquatic kingdoms all the way to insects and invertebrates. It is surmised that a broad reciprocal ability to peck for seeds with the right eye which informs the left side while the left view which goes to the right brain scans for predators is optimum for evolutionary survival. In regard this binocular quality of characteristic dot focus and holistic image to left and right hemispheres seems to hold through all past and present instances. And as this optimum bigender complementarity reaches our homo to anthropo to Earthomo sapience, a true microuniverse could be seen to ordain our cerebral capacity.
In this year, we have added a citation as Laterality Entering the Next Decade: The 25th Anniversary of a Journal Devoted to Asymmetries of Brain, Behavior and Cognition by Markus Hausmann, et al as a record of the consummate advances in this now universe to human study to an extent that, as its text says, a profound, salutary realization has been achieved.
Corballis, Michael and Isabelle Haberling. The Many Sides of Hemispheric Asymmetry. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 23/9-10, 2017.
Forrester, Gillian, et al, eds. Cerebral Lateralization and Cognition. Progress in Brain Research. Volume 238, 2018.
Giljov, Andrey, et al. Facing Each Other: Mammal Mothers and Infants Prefer the Position Favouring Right Hemisphere Processing. Biology Letters. 14/1, 2018
Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Integration, Lateralization, and Animal Experience. Mind & Language. 36/2, 2021.
Gunturkun, Onur, et al.. Brain Lateralization: A Comparative Perspective. Physiological Reviews. 100/1019, 2020.
Hausmann, Markus, et al. Laterality Entering the Next Decade: The 25th Anniversary of a Journal Devoted to Asymmetries of Brain, Behavior and Cognition. Laterality. 26/3, 2021.
Letzner, Sara, et al. Visuospatial Attention in the Lateralized Brain of Pigeons. Nature Scientific Reports. 7/15547, 2017.
Moskovitz, Ted, et al. A Unified Theory of Dual-Process Control. arXiv:2211.07036.
Vallortigara, Giorgio and Lesley Rogers. A Function for the Bicameral Mind. Cortex. Online December, 2019.
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4. Animal Intelligence and Sociality
2020: As the cover image bookends, a revolution has taken place since the early 1990s when animals were still seen as instinctive, dumb beasts. Today, as we well know, all great and small creatures are known to possess an intelligent sentience, personality, clever behaviors, quorum senses, empathy, salutary groupings and more. Rather then anthromorphic concerns as before, it seems that animals actually have a whole human-like array of cognitive and communal qualities. As references here and elsewhere convey, it could appear as if an independent, common cognitive and social repertoire extends through life’s evolutionary fauna and flora from the earliest neural occasion to our nascent personsphere.
Into 2021, we add an expanded title by way of a Natural AI: Animal Intelligence and Behavioral Sociality. In regard, recent contributions by wise women scientists such as Lori Marino, Jennifer Mather, Nicola Clayton, Tanya Latty, and Suzanne Simard reveal the deep communal sensitivities of emergent life’s fauna and flora.
Allen, Jenny. Community through Culture from Insects to Whales. BioEssays. October, 2019.
Baluska, Frantisek, et al. Memory and Learning in Plants. International: Springer, 2018.
Birch, Jonathan, et al. Dimensions of Animal Consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Science.. August 2020.
Gagliano, Monica. The Mind of Plants. Communicative & Integrative Biology. 10/2, 2017.
Japyassu, Hilton and Kevin Laland. Extended Spider Cognition. Animal Cognition. 20/3, 2017.
Kelly, Debbie and Stephen Lea. Animal Cognition: Past Present and Furute: a 25th Anniversary Special issue. Animal Cognition. December 2022.
Marino, Lori and Debra Merskin. Intelligence, Complexity, and Individuality in Sheep. Animal Sentience. Vol. 4, 2019.
Mather, Jennifer. What is in an Octopus’s Mind? Animal Sentience. Volume 5, 2019.
Pfeffer, Sarah and Harald Wolf. Anthropod Spatial Cognition. Animal Cognition. 23/11, 2020.
Regolin, Lucia and Giorgia Vallortigara. Rethinking Cognition: From Animal to Minimal. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Volume 564, 2021.
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Yong, Ed. An Immense world: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us. New York: Random House, 2022.
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5. Organisms Evolve Rhythmic Protolanguage Communication
As our Earthrise sapience expands its retrospective temporal and spatial compass, we can add a 2018 subsection to report novel recoveries of creaturely semiotic calls, gestures, signings for mating, subsistence, rank, and other needs in conspecific groupings. While Microbial Colonies cites quorum sensings via chemical means, here the subject matter involves visible motions and audible vocalizations across aquatic, reptilian, amphibian, mammalian, primate classes and onto proto-homo sapiens. Since Cultural Code covers human languages and conversation, here are studies about how our voluble literacy arose apace from evolution’s consistent cross-talk.
In this endeavor, many researchers find birdsong to be an iconic exemplar, Surely a disparate instance, it has yet revealed parallels with human alphabetic words and rhythmic prosody. Another notice is a sequential appearance over time with analogue song and dance preceeding and preparing for digitized, textual varieties. To serve this new field, an Oxford Journal of Language Evolution began in 2016. Special issues on the origins, evolution, and neuroscience of communicative language also appeared in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (24/1, 2017), Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences (21/1, 2018), and Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Review (81/B, 2017). OK
2020 Our linguistic abilities are often seen as a definitive human quality. But into the 2010s by way of novel technigues aided by international efforts, akin to paleogenomic studies a precursor course across creature, primate, and hominids onto to early rudiments is now being recovered. A notable finding is that original occasions had a holistic, prosody, musical basis, aided by communal dance. This sequential phase predates later discrete, hieroglyph, alphabetic stages. Active studies consider gestural signs, meaningful utterances, how grunts became grammear and so on. If traced to bacterial quorum sensings by chemical and/or electrical means, there seems to be inherent propensity for Earth life’s evolution to gain to communicate by any and all means.
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Chen, Zhuo and John Wiens. The Origins of Acoustic Communication in Vertebrates.. Nature Communications. 11/369, 2020.
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D. A Creative Union of Free Personal Agency in Reciprocal, Supportive Societies
As somatic complexity, proactive cerebral intelligence and represented knowledge proceeds in an evolutionary gestation, another directional attribute and quality becomes evident as each organism’s relative sense of self-awareness and personal identity. A corollary, as Cooperative Societies and elsewhere cite, is that a “semi-autonomous” state is best achieved as a symbiotic, reciprocal member of a viable grouping. From our global moment, the arc of an emergent genesis increasingly appears as an embryonic conception of an individual and collective selfhood. And lately we may have reached the verge of a global individuation and persona, as Systems History advises.
2020: As the section intro advises, from our Earthomo sapiens vantage the long arduous trajectory of an ecosmic evolutionary developmental genesis does take on the vectorial guise of a self-making, liberating, realizing individuation. As references attest, it is vital that entity members in communal groupings possess and enhance a semi-autonomous freedom for optimum survival. This reciprocity is in effect from slime molds to social insects, bird flocks, mammals and so on.
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Miquel, Paul-Antoine and Su Young Hwang. On Biological Individuation. Theory of Biosciences. 141/203, 2022.
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