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VII. Earthomo Sapiens: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

3. A Complementary Brain and Thought Process

Kosslyn, Stephen. Where is the “Spatial” Hemisphere? Reuter-Lorenz, Patricia, et al, eds. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Mind. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010. The Harvard University psychologist provides for this Gazzaniga festschrift a synthesis of his years of research upon asymmetrical cerebral attributes, with this unique insight. Our visual perception of global patterns is actually composed of two aspects – discrete categorical or integrally coordinate – which then align with the left or right hemispheres. So once again, as so many endeavors coalesce upon and affirm circa 2010, these archetypal modes and their relative lateral locales indeed gains real confirmation.

Laland, Kevin, et al. The Evolution of Dance. Current Biology. 26/1, 2016. Senior behavioral scholars Laland, University of St. Andrews, with Clive Wilkins, and Nicky Clayton, Cambridge University contribute to later 2010s realizations of the long, intertwined reciprocal occasion of rhythmic motion and linguistic content. A constant, vital interplay of an integral reciprocity of motion and message can now be filled in and traced across the array of Metazoan animals.

Senior behavioral scholars Laland, University of St. Andrews, with Clive Wilkins, and Nicky Clayton, Cambridge University contribute to later 2010s realizations of the long, intertwined reciprocal occasion of rhythmic motion and linguistic content. A constant, vital interplay of an integral reciprocity of motion and message can now be filled in and traced across the array of Metazoan animals.

Levitin, Daniel, et al. The Psychology of Music Rhythm and Movement. Annual Review of Psychology. 69/51, 2017. As studies of life’s vital duality of movement and communication advance, they lately merit this Annual Review chapter by psychologists Levitin, McGill University, Jessica Grahn, Western University, Ontario, and Justin London, Carleton College. Section headings such as Tempo and Temporal Structure, Synchronization, Embodied Cognition, Groove, and Cross-Modal Correspondences convey scholarly features as they explain life’s score and script.

The urge to move to music is universal among humans. Unlike visual art, which is manifest across space, music is manifest across time. When listeners get carried away by the music, either through movement (such as dancing) or through reverie (such as trance), it is usually the temporal qualities of the music — its pulse, tempo, and rhythmic patterns — that put them in this state. In this article, we review studies addressing rhythm, meter, movement, synchronization, entrainment, the perception of groove, and other temporal factors that constitute a first step to understanding how and why music literally moves us. The experiments we review span a range of methodological techniques, including neuroimaging, psychophysics, and traditional behavioral experiments, and we also summarize the current studies of animal synchronization, engaging an evolutionary perspective on human rhythmic perception and cognition. (Abstract)

Li, Mike, et al. Transitions in Information Processing Dynamics at the Whole-Brain Network Level are Driven by Alterations in Neural Gain. PLoS Computational Biology. Online October, 2019. University of Sydney, Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland, and Stanford University systems neuroscientists including Joseph Lizier provide another window upon how and why cerebral cognition proceeds by way of an active sequence and balance of bringing together and moving apart, which conceives a one and/or many optimum complementarity.

A key component of the complex flexibility of the brain is its ability to adapt its functional network structure between integrated and segregated brain states. Integrated states are prevalent for tasks such as maintaining items in memory, consistent with models of a global workspace architecture. Recent work has suggested that the balance between integration and segregation is under the control of ascending neuromodulatory systems, via changes in neural gain. In this study, we show that the gain-mediated phase transition involves the dynamics of the subcritical (segregated) regime for information storage, whereas the supercritical (integrated) regime is associated with information transfer. Operating near to the critical regime with respect to modulating neural gain parameter appears to provide computational advantages which offer flexibility in the information processing. (Abstract excerpt)

Luders, Eileen, et al. Parasagittal Asymmetries of the Corpus Callosum. Cerebral Cortex. 16/3, 2006. UCLA and University of Zurich neuropsychologists including Eric Zaidel avail 21st century MRI imaging methods and enhanced computer analysis to gain novel insights into the central role of this significant bundle of fibers connecting complementary brain hemispheres. Among the results reported, additional proof is stated for the gender tendencies of a main left side emphasis in males, while female brains tend to balance left and right modes. We add that this increasingly verified finding ought to be appreciated as a major scientific discovery and distinction. It is commonly held that men deal in dots, but miss connections. But women do not employ, as long defined, only a right bias of sensitive, “irrational,” holistic emotions, rather both competitive entity and cooperative empathy are equally integrated.

In regard, a popular quip nowadays is that if Lehman Brothers were Sisters, they would not have gone bankrupt through reckless, myopic, self-serving investments. Might one obvious use be to view the United States “bicameral” two party government, “two sides of the aisle,” as brain hemispheres that alas are trapped in gridlock opposition? A true organic, intelligent democracy would join both right Republican “me” individual with left Democratic “We” community. A worldwide bilateral brain, and her/his genesis universe revolution, would thus be much more feminine in natural kind and humane peacefulness.

The present study revealed distinctive and extensive asymmetries in the anterior body and additionally in a small and less significant region in the anterior third of the CC of males. In contrast, asymmetry in females was less significant in general and applied to smaller callosal regions in the anterior body, in the anterior third and additionally at the border between the isthmus and splenium. (352) Our findings are of particular interest considering previous results which indicated that right-handed males show significantly different depths of the central sulcus in the two hemispheres, whereas no interhemispheric asymmetry was found in females. Similarly, functional imaging revealed sex differences in peri-rolandic asymmetries in a tactile discrimination task, where females predominantly activated both premotor cortices but males showed an asymmetric activation. (352)

Macchi, Laura, et al. Dual Process Theories of Human Thought. Mind & Society. 11/1, 2012. An Introduction to a special issue about this paleo-psychological school which avers that two alternative, sequential styles of cerebral cognition distinguish primates and people. Due much to Jonathan St. Evans, who has a concluding paper, an earlier Type or System 1 rapid, associative, intuitive mode is paired with a subsequent Type or System 2 of a more reflective, serial awareness. While I have only seen Chris Collins’ Paleopoetics (search) match them with obvious brain hemisphere complements, this active approach opens still another window on these ubiquitous gender archetypes.

Martin, Ingerith and Skye McDonald. Weak Coherence, No Theory of Mind, or Executive Dysfunction? Solving the Puzzle of Pragmatic Language Disorders. Brain and Language. 85/3, 2003. With regard to cases such as autism and right hemisphere damage, the RH is seen to play a role in creating coherence and situational integration. The RH is engaged with forming gestalts of information from multiple domains and deficits of this kind cause these disorders.

McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019. This is a second edition of the magisterial 2009 volume by the Scottish psychiatrist because 10 years later it has become a best-selling, luminous exposition of the awesome bicameral brain that evolution has endowed us with. The first edition is extensively reviewed in Current Vistas and cited elsewhere. Today its deep analysis is well proven and its message even more imperative. Our human cerebral faculty is graced with asymmetric hemispheres that are distinguished by complementary archetypal attributes and purposes. The long litany of entity/empathy, particle/wave, dot/connect, fire/love and so ever on is familiar (see also Jonathan Rowson herein for a 2013 interview with Iain). His prime point is that through history and especially now the mechanistic, objects only, left side sans any right contextual meaning and guidance has reached a terminal planetary crisis. One may add in April 2019, this is why American politics polarize, Brexit is intractable, small and large gang wars rage (Sri Lanka), all the while that Antarctica melts.

McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Once in a while a book comes along that is so special it changes our thinking. Such is this well researched volume by a British psychiatrist that makes an audacious claim – since our asymmetric brain hemispheres do possess unique, archetypal capacities, as a result, the course of history ought to be seen anew based upon which neural side was dominant in any age. A strong point is made that after four decades of research the holistic, creative vs. analytic, rational polarity has been proven. The right brain, with a broader purview, takes in the whole, contextual scene. It is the seat of empathic relations, where new experience, good or bad, is encountered. The left half, alternatively, employs a finer focus, to the exclusion of background. Pieces or dots are closely noted, sans any connective pattern. While the RH senses vitality, flux, and emotion, the LH defaults into inert, fragmented mechanism.

The book’s first part explains the latest neuroscience of our bisected brain, to an extent “nothing makes sense except in the light of lateralization.” (Curiously at the outset any association with gender is dismissed, although the following chapters offer evident parallels.) The second half goes on to trace Western cultural history from initial, ancient origins to the Renaissance as a Dionysian phase springing from and embodying RH propensities. While a later minority Romanticism preserved, a Reformation, then Enlightenment, took over with an Apollonain vengeance that so narrowed its compass to drain all spontaneity from a (post)modernity unable to imagine any greater reality or creation. This “zombie” LH rules today to the exclusion of any RH vista, or its cautions. Any deviation from a prior, fixed model (read natural selection, or the 2nd Law) is thus not allowed. If not soon corrected, a dire planetary fate is sealed.

But the remedy is not a lurching shift, antithesis back to thesis, rather it is, as life’s neural evolution found best for survival, a mutual, whole brain complementarity. Such a resolve may be witnessed, for example, in a “dialectical” East Asian cognitive balance or “better symbiosis” of both hemispheres. (One wonders if a spate of “scientific” books (Gleiser, Impey, Carroll) that profess doom in an insensate multiverse, based on quantum collider physics, are a nadir of this (male) LH obsession.) Such a novel revision via this brilliant microcosmic universe in our individual and collective heads, with its temporal turns, and spatial expanse, (the arc of Islam as corpus callosum) just might help us come to our senses.

My thesis is that for us as human beings there are two fundamentally opposed realities, two different modes of experience; that each is of ultimate importance in bringing about the recognisably human world; and that their difference is rooted in the bihemispheric structure of the brain. It follows that the hemispheres need to co-operate, but I believe they are in fact involved in a sort of power struggle, and that this explains many aspects of contemporary Western culture. (3)

An increasingly mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualised world, marked by unwarranted optimism mixed with paranoia and a feeling of emptiness, has come about, reflecting, I believe, the unopposed action of a dysfunctional left hemisphere. (6) So if I am right, that the story of the Western World is one of increasing left-hemisphere domination, we would not expect insight to be the key note. Instead we would expect a sort of insouciant optimism, the sleepwalker whistling a happy tune as he ambles towards the abyss. (237)

In the opening pages of this book, I wrote that I believed it to be profoundly true that the inner structure of our intellect reflects the structure of the universe. By ‘profoundly’ I meant not just true by definition, as would be the case for those who believe that the universe is in any case a creation of our brains. I think it goes further than that. I believe our brains not only dictate the shape of the experience we have of the world, but are likely themselves to reflect, in their structure and functioning, the nature of the universe in which they have come about. (460)

McHugh, Tara and Lori Buchanan. Pun Processing from a Psycholinguistic Perspective. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition. 21/4-6, 2016. University of Windsor, Canada, psychologists explain how brains can understand the humor in a play on words by complementary modes from the left and right hemispheres. While the LH perceives discrete words, grammar, sentence, the RH provides the integral mode of “surprise reinterpretation” and meaning. The contribution was amusing enough to merit notice in the December 2016 issue of Scientific American as Your Pun-Divided Attention (17).

Ambiguity processing was examined using a stimulus set consisting of homograph puns in which semantic salience, as measured by semantic co-occurrence, was manipulated. Two lexical decision tasks using puns as primes for ambiguous targets revealed that high co-occurrence meanings were processed faster than low co-occurrence meanings. A divided visual field protocol revealed involvement of both hemispheres, but with the pattern of priming from the right visual field more similar to that of the centrally presented condition than the left visual field pattern. In contrast to the lexical decision data that favoured high co-occurrence targets, data from a forced-choice relatedness task showed an advantage for the low co-occurrence associates. (Abstract)

Morone, Flaviano, et al. Model of Brain Activation Predicts the Neural Collective Influence Map of the Brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114/3849, 2017. We note this paper by CCNY, ETH Zurich, and Boston University physicists including Eugene Stanley because it recognizes our dynamic cerebral networks as a microcosmic icon of nature’s macrocosmic, universally manifest, complex system.

Efficient complex systems have a modular structure, but modularity does not guarantee robustness, because efficiency also requires an ingenious interplay of the interacting modular components. The human brain is the elemental paradigm of an efficient robust modular system interconnected as a network of networks (NoN). Understanding the emergence of robustness in such modular architectures from the interconnections of its parts is a longstanding challenge that has concerned many scientists. Therefore, we introduce a model of NoN to shape the pattern of brain activations to form a modular environment that is robust. The model predicts the map of neural collective influencers (NCIs) in the brain, through the optimization of the influence of the minimal set of essential nodes responsible for broadcasting information to the whole-brain NoN. (Abstract)

Morton, Bruce and Stein Rafto. Corpus Callosum Size is Linked to Dichotic Deafness and Hemisphericity, not Sex or Handedness. Brain and Cognition. 62/1, 2006. Studies of differences in aural hearing, one ear to the other, lead to a revised view of brain hemisphere attributes and roles, along with the fibrous connection between them.

“Redefined” hemisphericity is a behavioral laterality syndrome in which normal individuals are categorized as either right brain- or left brain-oriented in their cognitive and behavior styles. That is, either they fall into the right brain style, briefly characterized as bold, intense, talkative, big picture oriented “lumpers,” or into the left brain style of cautious, sensitive, quiet, important detail-oriented “splitters.” (6)

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