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VII. Earthomo Sapiens: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

3. A Complementary Brain and Thought Process

Friederici, Angela and Kai Alter. Lateralization of Auditory Language Functions: A Dynamic Dual Pathway Model. Brain and Language. 89/2, 2004. We refer in 2018 to a prior entry by MPI Cognitive Neuroscience neuropsychologists as an original posting of these now well documented left ventral and right dorsal areas and streams. Their popular What (separate detail - seeds, words), and Where/Why (integral field - forest, meaning) terms define another evidential way that human, and creaturely brains are distinguished by archetypal complements. See also The Language Network in Current Opinion in Neurobiology (23/250, 2013), and White Matter Pathways for Prosodic Structure Building in Brain and Language (183/1, 2018) which each have A. Friederici as a coauthor.

Spoken language comprehension requires the coordination of different subprocesses in time. After the initial acoustic analysis the system has to extract segmental information such as phonemes, syntactic elements and lexical-semantic elements as well as suprasegmental information such as accentuation and intonational phrases, i.e., prosody. According to the dynamic dual pathway model of auditory language comprehension syntactic and semantic information are primarily processed in a left hemispheric temporo-frontal pathway whereas sentence level prosody is processed in a right hemispheric temporo-frontal pathway. The observed interaction between syntactic and prosodic information during auditory sentence comprehension is attributed to dynamic interactions between the two hemispheres. (Abstract)

Funnell, Margaret. The Interpreting Hemispheres. Reuter-Lorenz, Patricia, et al, eds. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Mind. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010. A Dartmouth College neuropsychologist, and former doctoral student of Michael Gazzaniga, contributes a cogent chapter to this volume about his work. With Stephen Kosslyn below, and others, a new clarity is lately reached with regard to our dual but complementary brain. In this case, to prior proposals of a left side “interpreter” with a fine focus is added a right counterpart that importantly weighs in with a relational, contextual view.

Although the left hemisphere is clearly capable of sophisticated visual processing – after all, reading is predominantly a left-hemisphere function, we found that it represents spatial information relatively crudely compared to the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is vastly superior to the left in a variety of visuospatial tasks, including mirror image discrimination, simple perceptual discriminations, such as orientation, vernier-offset, and size discrimination, and in temporal discrimination. These studies led Paul Corballis to theorize a right-hemisphere interpreter that complements Mike Gazzaniga left-hemisphere interpreter. Whereas the left-hemisphere interpreter makes sense of the congnitive and linguistic world, the right-hemisphere interpreter makes sense of the visuospatial world, with both making inferences and filling missing information about their specialized domain. (74-75)

The right hemisphere, however, has its own, albeit different, interpretive capacity that the left hemisphere does not possess. The right hemisphere, but not the left, is able to fill in missing information and draw conclusions about visuospatial information. This right hemisphere capacity for interpretation in the visuospatial domain is likely based on its superior visuospatial processing abilities. In the intact brain, these two interpreters work together seamlessly to make sense of the world around us. (84-85)

Gabora, Liane and Diederik Aerts. A Model of the Emergence and Evolution of Integrated Worldviews. Journal of Mathematical Psychology. 53/5, 2009. University of British Columbia, and Free University of Brussels, scientists provide another vista upon the ascendant passage of a cerebral complementarity from early, integral “associative” phases to a later “analytical” fine-focus. Not only do these archetypal modes grace our modern minds, their sequential heritage can be reconstructed and traced in similar fashion to ancient evolutionary origins. As noted below, “It is widely believed that there are two forms of thought,…” which, as found to pervade every corner and crux of space and time, they attest to, in a human genesis universe, the evidential occasion and consequence of its reciprocal genetic code. However today may its latest cultural manifestation be associated with, to beneficial advantage, our bilateral earthkind?

It is proposed that the ability of humans to flourish in diverse environments and evolve complex cultures reflects the following two underlying cognitive transitions. The transition from the coarse-grained associative memory of Homo habilis to the fine-grained memory of Homo erectus enabled limited representational redescription of perceptually similar episodes, abstraction, and analytic thought, the last of which is modeled as the formation of states and of lattices of properties and contexts for concepts. The transition to the modern mind of Homo sapiens is proposed to have resulted from onset of the capacity to spontaneously and temporarily shift to an associative mode of thought conducive to interaction amongst seemingly disparate concepts, modeled as the forging of conjunctions resulting in states of entanglement. The fruits of associative thought became ingredients for analytic thought, and vice versa. The ratio of associative pathways to concepts surpassed a percolation threshold resulting in the emergence of a self-modifying, integrated internal model of the world, or worldview. (Abstract, 434)

It is suggested that the transition from a mimetic to a modern form of cognition is what gave rise to the cultural transition of the Middle/Upper Paleolithic, and that this came about through onset of the capacity to subject different situations to different kinds of cognitive processing. It is widely believed that there are two forms of thought, or that thought varies along a continuum between two extremes. At one end of the continuum is an analytic mode of thought conducive to deduction and to describing and analyzing relationships of cause and effect. At the other end of the continuum is an intuitive, overinclusive, or associative mode of thought conducive to finding subtle relationships; i.e. connections between items that are correlated, but not necessarily causally related. (444)

Gazzaniga, Michael. Cerebral Specialization and Interhemispheric Communication. Brain. 123/7, 2000. The renowned neuroscientist, presently (2010) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, makes a case that a distinguishing trait of human cognition, in an evolutionary train, is a relatively larger corpus callosum, an interbridging bundle of fibers that serve to connect the left and right hemispheres.

Gibbon, Dafydd. The Future of Prosody: It’s About Time. arXiv:1804.09543. A posting of a keynote to the Speech Prosody 2018 conference in Ponzan, Poland, see below. The emeritus Bielefeld University, Germany linguist adds a temporal aspect which covers discourse, personal, social, historical, and evolutionary phases for this rhythmic complement to good communication. Into the 21st century it is being realized that along with syntax and grammar verbiage, another mutual mode of analog, gestural and facial (body language) is necessary for full, meaningful conveyance. See also Rhythm Zone Theory: Speech Rhythms are Physical After All by DG and Xuewei Lin at 1902.01267.

Prosody is usually defined in terms of the three distinct but interacting domains of pitch, intensity and duration patterning, or, more generally, as phonological and phonetic properties of 'suprasegmentals', speech segments which are larger than consonants and vowels. Rather than taking this approach, the concept of multiple time domains for prosody processing is taken up, and methods of time domain analysis are discussed: annotation mining with timing dispersion measures, time tree induction, oscillator models in phonology and phonetics, and finally the use of the Amplitude Envelope Modulation Spectrum (AEMS). While pitch tracking is a central issue in prosodic analysis, here amplitude envelope demodulation and frequency zones in the long time-domain spectra of the demodulated envelope are of interest. (Abstract)

Glatzeder, Britt. Two Modes of Thinking: Evidence from Cross-Cultural Psychology. Han, Shihui and Ernst Poppel, eds.. Culture and Neural Frames of Cognition and Communication. Berlin: Springer, 2011. The Parimenides Center philosopher and publication director notes dual process schools which join on an evolutionary scale an earlier holistic, slower mode with a later rapid, linguistic focus. A viewer may variously attend to either pond or fish. From a 2010 vista, history’s resolve then ought to be a palliative, vital individual and global complementarity.

The long history of the study of human thought is shaped by a dichotomy of two different views of the nature of thinking: the logical, analytical, rule-following thinking on the one hand, and the intuitive, and holistic, experiential thinking on the other. Recently, a lot of empirical evidence has been accumulated for the dual mode view of thinking. In this chapter, I shall highlight some of this evidence and interpret findings in cross-cultural research on thinking in order to better understand and train holistic thinking, which has been neglected in our logocentric Western culture. The underlying claim is that thinking draws on both modes and that, instead of prioritizing one of the two, we are challenged to develop both concerted expert analytical thinking and expert intuitive–holistic thinking and to master their interplay. (Abstract, 233)

Glezerman, Tatyana and Victoria Balkoski. Language, Thought and the Brain. New York: Kluwer Academic, 1999. Cognition and speech involve reciprocal activities of an analytic left side and a synthetic right, which is reflected in their neural substrates.

Modern anatomical data regarding cortical connections have tended to support the concept ‘two hemispheres - two cognitive styles.’ For example, in the right hemisphere the dendritic overlap among cortical columns is greater than in the left hemisphere, allowing for the possibility of more joint (synchronous) responses, which may correspond to a more ‘holistic processing’ style. The much greater center-center distance between columns in the left hemisphere is consistent with a better segregation of input and more independence in the left. (22)

Grimshaw, Gina. Integration and Interference in the Cerebral Hemispheres. Brain and Cognition. 36/2, 1998. A further contribution to confirm the characteristic left and right brain propensities.

…the left hemisphere performs computations that extract local features (or high spatial frequencies), while the right hemisphere performs computations on the stimuli that are relevant to global form (or low spatial frequencies). At some point, local and global analyses are integrated to produce a unified precept. (109)

Grossberg, Stephen. A Half Century of Progress Towards a Unified Neural Theory of Mind and Brain. Kozma, Robert, et al, eds. Artificial Intelligence in the Age of Neural Networks and Brain Computing. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press, 2018. The veteran Boston University neuroscientist and original theorist of this whole BI and AI revolution reviews his 50 year project (search) to theoretically and conceptually explain how our bilaterally complex brains proceed to envision, quantify, consider, think, learn, and effectively act in dynamic social and natural environments. The invited chapter is fully available on the author’s publication page. See herein his major paper Towards Solving the Hard Problem of Consciousness a year earlier in Neural Networks (87/38, 2017), along with Iain McGilchrist 2019. We include 3 quotes to convey its essence and message.

This article surveys some of the main design principles, mechanisms, circuits, and architectures that have been discovered during a half century of systematic research aimed at developing a unified theory that links mind and brain, and shows how psychological functions arise as emergent properties of brain mechanisms. This project advanced in stages by way of revolutionary computational paradigms like Complementary Computing and Laminar Computing that constrain the kind of unified theory that can describe the autonomous adaptive intelligence that emerges from advanced brains. Adaptive Resonance Theory, or ART, is one of the core models that has been discovered in this way. ART is not, however, a “theory of everything” if only because, due to Complementary Computing, different matching and learning laws tend to support perception and cognition on the one hand, and spatial representation and action on the other. (Abstract excerpt)

Complementary Computing clarifies why there are multiple parallel processing streams in the brai to resolve computational uncertainties that cannot be overcome by just one processing stream or stage. Complementary Computing describes how the brain is organized into complementary parallel processing streams whose interactions generate biologically intelligent behaviors. A single cortical processing stream can individually compute some properties well, but cannot, by itself, process other computationally complementary properties. Pairs of complementary cortical processing streams interact to generate emergent properties that overcome their deficiencies to compute complete information with which to represent or control some faculty of intelligent behavior. (35)

The WHAT and WHERE cortical streams are complementary: The category learning, attention, recognition, and prediction circuits of the ventral, or What, cortical processing stream for perception and cognition are computationally complementary to those of the dorsal, or Where and How, cortical processing steam for spatial representation and action. One reason for this What - Where complementarity is that the What stream learns object recognition categories that are substantially invariant under changes in an object's view, size, and position. These invariant object categories enable our brains to recognize valued objects. They cannot, however, locate and act upon a desired object in space. Cortical Where stream spatial and motor representations can locate objects and trigger actions towards them, but cannot recognize them. By interacting together, the What and Where streams can recognize valued objects and direct appropriate goal-oriented actions towards them. (36-37)

Grossberg, Stephen. The Complementary Brain: Unifying Brain Dynamics and Modularity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 4/6, 2000. A pervasive reciprocity amongst neural activities such as gestalt ‘boundary completion’ and detailed ‘surface filling-in,’ which then mirrors the extant physical realm, is described.

This article reviews evidence that the brain’s processing streams compute complementary properties. Each stream’s properties are related to those of a complementary stream in the way that two pieces of a puzzle fit together. It is also suggested how the mechanisms that enable each stream to compute one set of properties prevent it from computing a complementary set of properties….I suggest that the concept of pairs of complementary processes brings new precision to the idea that both functional specialization and functional integration occur in the brain. (234) According to this view, the organization of the brain obeys principles of uncertainty and complementarity, as does the physical world with which brains interact (and of which they form a part). I suggest that these principles reflect each brain’s role as a self-organizing measuring device in and of the world. (235)

Grossberg, Stephen. Towards Solving the Hard Problem of Consciousness. Neural Networks. 87/38, 2017. The Boston University pioneer systems neuroscientist (search) continues his half century of innovative theoretical contributions. Visit SGs website for more publications, along with many credits such as founding editor of this journal. The 50 page essay further finesses how dynamic brain resonances achieve an informed awareness by way of two reciprocal cognitive modes. This generative essence dubbed Complementary Computing proceeds by an integral interplay of ventral fast object What and slower dorsal holistic Where (Why) streams. Three quotes follow to properly report this advance, bold added. And we record that these insights add more scientific evidence for a natural, universally manifest, bigender trinity. But a deep disconnect remains between such findings and political, militarist societies and nations locked in mortal conflict between these very archetypes. .

The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how we experience qualia or phenomenal experiences, such as seeing, hearing, and feeling, and knowing what they are. To solve this problem, a theory of consciousness needs to link brain to mind by modeling how emergent properties of several brain mechanisms interacting together embody detailed properties of individual conscious psychological experiences. This article summarizes evidence that Adaptive Resonance Theory, or ART, accomplishes this goal. ART is a cognitive and neural theory of how advanced brains autonomously learn to attend, recognize, and predict objects and events in a changing world. ART has reached sufficient maturity to begin classifying the brain resonances that support conscious experiences of seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing. This analysis also explains why not all resonances become conscious, and why not all brain dynamics are resonant. The global organization of the brain into computationally complementary cortical processing streams (complementary computing), and the organization of the cerebral cortex into characteristic layers of cells (laminar computing), figure prominently in these explanations of conscious and unconscious processes. (Abstract excerpts)

The first paradigm is called Complementary Computing. Complementary Computing describes how the brain is organized into complementary parallel processing streams whose interactions generate biologically intelligent behaviors. A single cortical processing stream can individually compute some properties well, but cannot, by itself, process other computationally complementary properties. Pairs of complementary cortical processing streams interact, using multiple processing stages, to generate emergent properties that overcome their complementary deficiencies to compute complete information with which to represent or control some faculty of intelligent behavior. (44-45)

For example, the category learning, attention, recognition, and prediction circuits of ART are part of the ventral, or What, cortical processing stream for perception and cognition. The ventral stream exhibits properties that are often computationally complementary to those of the dorsal, or Where and How, cortical processing stream for spatial representation and action. One reason for this What–Where complementarity is that the What stream learns object recognition categories that are substantially invariant under changes in an object’s view, size, and position. These invariant object categories enable our brains to recognize valued objects without experiencing a combinatorial explosion. They cannot, however, locate and act upon a desired object in space. Where stream spatial and motor representations can locate objects and trigger actions towards them, but cannot recognize
them. By interacting together, the What and Where streams can recognize valued objects
and direct appropriate goal-oriented actions towards them. (45)

Habib, Reza, et al. Hemispheric Asymmetries of Memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 7/6, 2003. The left prefrontal cortex is involved with episodic memory encoding while right PFC processes memory retrieval and remembering.

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