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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

3. A Complementary Brain and Thought Process

Smith, Eliot and Jamie DeCoster. Dual-Process Models in Social and Cognitive Psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review. 4/2, 2000. The growing case for two distinct, alternative modes of thought and memory. Longer term recall is slower and more associative in kind and involves pattern completion while a rapid short term faculty uses a discrete, rule-based procedure.

Rule-based processing also tends to be analytic, rather than based on overall or global similarity. For example, a symbolic rule may single out one or two specific features of an object to be used in categorization, based on conceptual knowledge of the category. In contrast, associative processing categorizes objects nonanalytically, on the basis of their overall similarity to category prototypes or known exemplars. (112)

Spelke, Elizabeth, et al. Beyond Core Knowledge: Natural Geometry. Cognitive Science. 34/5, 2010. In an issue dedicated to the work of Susan Carey, Harvard psychologists (as Carey also) from still another aspect, identify as the Abstract avers two harmonizing phases of a relational pattern, and entrained items. See also in the same issue a companion paper “Bootstrapping the Mind: Analogical Processes and Symbol Systems” by Dedre Gentner.

For many centuries, philosophers and scientists have pondered the origins and nature of human intuitions about the properties of points, lines, and figures on the Euclidean plane, with most hypothesizing that a system of Euclidean concepts either is innate or is assembled by general learning processes. Recent research from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology, animal cognition, and cognitive neuroscience suggests a different view. Knowledge of geometry may be founded on at least two distinct, evolutionarily ancient, core cognitive systems for representing the shapes of large-scale, navigable surface layouts and of small-scale, movable forms and objects. (1)

Stephan, Klaas Enno, et al. Mechanisms of Hemispheric Specialization. Neuropsychologia. 45/2, 2007. Neuroimaging studies of asymmetrical degrees of connectivity amongst bilateral brain areas provide a novel approach to their understanding. In a target test to sort detail and field, the left hemisphere would notice a highlighted letter in a word and phrase, while the right tended to the overall spatial array.

Tadic, Bosiljka, et al. Functional Geometry of Human Connectomes. Nature Scientific Reports. 9/12060, 2019. Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia systems physicists (search BT) and a Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada mathematician apply sophisticated network theories to cerebral studies via an expansion to and emphasis upon inherent, generative topologies, aka simplical complexes (Bianconi). In regard, they serve to inclusion of previously unnoticed patterns and processes, which in this neural instance reveals a deeper degree of intra- and inter-hemispheric connectivities. Building on a Hungarian brain atlas (Szalkai), neuroimages of equal male and female subjects finds that women’s brains possess a denser intricacy, as the quotes note. See also Hidden Geometries in Networks Arising from Cooperative Self-Assembly by Mulovan Suvakov, et al in this journal (8/1987, 2018).

Mapping brain imaging data to networks, where nodes represent anatomical regions and edges indicate the occurrence of fiber tracts between them, has enabled an objective graph-theoretic analysis of human connectomes. However, the latent structure on higher-order interactions remains unexplored, where many brain regions act in synergy to perform complex functions. Here we use the simplicial complexes description, where the shared simplexes encode higher-order relationships between groups of nodes. We study consensus connectome of 100 female (F-connectome) and of 100 male (M-connectome) subjects that we generated from the Budapest Reference Connectome Server. These results shed new light on the functional architecture of the brain, suggesting that insightful differences among connectomes are hidden in their higher-order connectivity. (Abstract)

To summarise, our study reveals how the functional geometry of human connectome can be expressed by higher-order connectivity, simplicial complexes and induced cycles. This kind of structure is built into the anatomical communities of the brain at the mesoscopic scale in both hemispheres. In this context, new topological measures of the consensus networks quantifies the perceptive differences between connectomes. Specifically, in the studied female and male consensus connectomes, a part of connections is more natural to invoke in the female than in the male brain, where much more fibres need to be launched to identify them. Whereas the other fraction of such connections consists of edges that appear exclusively in the consensus female connectome, they have not been identified in the consensus male connectome. (9)

TenHouten, Warren. Time and Society. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005. From studies of Australian Aborigines and European-Australians, the UCLA biosociologist proposes a complementarity based on bicameral brain hemispheres. As noted in the quotes, this neural basis can define two modes of time perception and subsequent social culture. A recapitulation between individual brain maturation and the course of history is tacitly evident, for both proceed from an initial holistic milieu to a later, longer particulate stage. (Now poised at the verge of a worldwide humankind, an emergent reciprocity of both phases would seem a salutary resolve.)

It is proposed that the ordinary-linear mode of time consciousness is an aspect of the logical-analytic, serial mode of information processing of the left side of the brain, and patterned-cyclical time consciousness of the gestalt-synthetic, global, and simultaneous information processing of the right side of the brain. (7) The RH maintains in the present a spatial-cognitive model of our surroundings, a global awareness of the web of life, of the patterns, processes, and oscillations of nature and culture; it is a worldview, a dynamically interrelated basic cognitive structure that is collectively held and constantly updated. (75)

Insofar as the left and right sides of the brain are involved in spatial and linear-temporal information processing, respectively, we see a process of development first of RH-dependent spatial reasoning and second of LH-dependent temporal reasoning. (79) In the development of the human, the right hemisphere develops earlier than does the left hemisphere, which is not a new phenomenon with humans but rather has a long evolutionary history and exists in other species as well. (116)

Thatcher, Robert. Cyclic Cortical Reorganization: Origins of Human Cognitive Development. Geraldine Dawson and Kurt Fischer, eds. Human Behavior and the Developing Brain. New York: Guilford Press, 1994. A discussion of the prime properties and formative sequence of the bicameral brain.

It is argued that the left-hemisphere expanding sequence reflects a process of functional integration of differentiated subsystems, whereas the right-hemisphere contracting sequence is a process of functional differentiation of previously integrated subsystems. These left- and right-hemisphere cycles are repeated throughout the life span and are postulated to represent a process that iteratively narrows the gap between structure and function by slowly sculpting and refining the microanatomy of the brain. (232-33)

Thompson, Valerie. Towards a Metacognitive Dual Process Theory of Conditional Reasoning. Oaksford, Mike and Nick Chater, eds. Cognition and Conditionals: Probability and Logic in Human Thinking. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. In this chapter, the University of Saskatchewan psychologist succinctly contributes to growing realizations of these archetypal complements. But once again, and in the next chapter “A Multi-layered Dual-Process Approach to Conditional Reasoning” by Niki Verschueren and Walter Schaeken, in this approach they are yet to be connected with their obvious brain hemispheres.

Dual-Process Theories have emerged as the dominant theoretical framework for human reasoning and decision making. These theories commonly assume that reasoning and decision making are accomplished by the joint action of two types of processes: Automatic system 1 processes give rise to a highly contextualized representation of the problem and produce rapid, heuristic (experienced-based, common sense) answers. System 2 implements more deliberate, decontextualized analytic processes.

Trimble, Michael. The Soul in the Brain: The Cerebral Basis of Language, Art, and Belief. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. An esteemed professor of behavioral neurology at the University of London affirms complementary hemispheres with the neglected right side as the seat of our integral affinity.

The left and right hemispheres of the brain manipulate information differently, but it is only recently that the important contributions of the right hemisphere to our cultural achievements have become clearer. The right hemisphere more than the left is involved with the creation of the sense of self, is dominant for control of emotion and for retrieval of autobiographical memories, and is intimately involved with processing personally bonded features of an individual’s world – essentially, that which is familiar and is necessary for the creation and appreciation of poetry and music… (231-232)

Tucker, Don. Mind from Body. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Based upon a wealth of neural research findings and teaching experience, the University of Oregon psychologist achieves a novel synthesis which serves to (re)connect the human brain with its evolved organism. The influence of dual nervous system modes – the somatic which involves skin surface and skeletal muscles, and the visceral which regulates internal states – can be correspondingly noted in the brain’s structure and its responsive function. A major aspect is the elucidation of a structural relationship of these phases with the complementary, archetypal hemispheres. Another insight in this regard is to affirm a temporal sequence of right to left brain in the course of a child’s cognitive development. The implied recapitulation of this ontogeny with historical phylogeny is then duly mentioned.

Theorizing in this way could help us explain both cognitive and emotional aspects of hemispheric specialization: The right hemisphere’s organization of nonverbal communication of emotion is not only holistic and syncretic but emotional as well. It is strongly rooted at the limbic core. The left hemisphere’s contribution to rational thought is not just a product of the structural differentiation of ideas; rationality may be supported by a greater distance of left hemisphere networks from the embedding base of limbic, emotional meaning. (27) As we recognize hemisphere specialization for core and shell networks, we can see that the lateralized structures of intelligence, the holistic and analytic conceptual patterns, have each been elaborated toward one pole of the dialectic, the holistic core for the right hemisphere and the differentiated shell for the left. (240)

The child’s mind begins with a holistic, diffuse order and gradually differentiates into more articulated and systematized conceptual organization. (54) The developmental basis for this right-to-left shift of hemispheric contributions may be seen in the first years of life. Babies appear to start organizing intelligence within the right hemisphere, as their dominant mode of processing, in the first year of life. In the second year, as motor and language patterns become more routinized and practiced, the left hemisphere takes on a greater role… We can see that this progression – from syncretic on the right toward differentiated on the left – is the same one that we have deduced from examining the core-to-shell progression of network organization within each hemisphere. (235)

Van Lancker, Diana. Personal Relevance and the Human Right Hemisphere. Brain and Cognition. 17/1, 1991. An earlier insight that a person’s self-identity and significance is based in and maintained by the holistic right side of the brain.

Vingerhoets, Guy. Phenotypes in Hemispheric Functional Segregation. Physics of Life Reviews. Online June, 2019. A Ghent University neuropsychologist contributes an advanced explanation for life’s cerebral, cognitive allotment into complementary, near/far, below/above, dense/sparse reciprocities. See also a commentary Hemispheric Functional Segregation as By-products of the Evolution of Lateralization Population Structure by Giorgia Vallortigara.

Directional hemispheric dominance has been established for numerous cognitive functions in the human brain. Strong population biases with some functions favoring the left and others the right hemisphere generated the popular idea of an advantageous prototypical division of labor, molded by evolution and genetically blueprinted. As most lateralization studies focused on a single function at a time, little is known about the relation between asymmetric and atypical segregation in healthy individuals. I summarize the literature about behavioral and neural consequences and the evidence for intermediate phenotypes in brain functional segregation that could bridge behavioral and genetic data. (Abstract)

Vogel, Jennifer, et al. Cerebral Lateralization of Spatial Abilities. Brain and Cognition. 52/197, 2003. An extensive literature survey finds that for many individuals and situations, the right hemisphere is more dominant for spatial visualization and tasks. Males tend to primarily use the RH for this purpose while females rely more on an integration of both hemispheres.

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