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VII. Earthomo Sapiens: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

3. A Complementary Brain and Thought Process

O’Reilly, Randall, et al. Complementary Learning Systems. Cognitive Science. Online December, 2011. University of Colorado psychologists contend that this theoretical model proposed in the mid 1990s, well researched in the interim, has now reached a proven veracity. Akin to dual process models, an original, hippocampal mode is distinguished by “conjunctive,” fast connective operation, while a later cortical phase is seen to tend more to an “elemental” emphasis.

This paper reviews the fate of the central ideas behind the complementary learning systems (CLS) framework as originally articulated in McClelland, McNaughton, and O’Reilly (1995). This framework explains why the brain requires two differentially specialized learning and memory systems, and it nicely specifies their central properties (i.e., the hippocampus as a sparse, pattern-separated system for rapidly learning episodic memories, and the neocortex as a distributed, overlapping system for gradually integrating across episodes to extract latent semantic structure). (Abstract, 1)

O’Reilly, Randall, et al. Deep Predictive Learning: A Comprehensive Model of Three Visual Streams. arXiv:1709.04654. While most neuroscience papers identify and study the internal aspects of human cerebral form and function, University of Colorado neuroscientists here proffer a whole brain expanse proposal. As the abstract cites, a dynamic reciprocity and synthesis of ventral What object focus and dorsal Where (How, Why) field view can be joined in an integral unity as it seeks to sight and plan ahead. Akin to Stephen Grossberg’s complementary computation (2017) and other dorsal/ventral work, when both particle detail and contextual image neural streams are availed they accomplish the cognitive acuity of thoughtful vision. As brain science advances, this latest perception of reciprocal archetypes accords with left/right hemispheric asymmetry (search sections), and dual process, fast and slow thinking, modes to further establish our reciprocal bigender microcosm. See also Pun Processing from a Psycholinguistic Perspective (McHugh 2016) for a similar insight.

How does the neocortex learn and develop the foundations of all our high-level cognitive abilities? We present a comprehensive framework spanning biological, computational, and cognitive levels, with a clear theoretical continuity between levels, providing a coherent answer directly supported by extensive data at each level. Learning is based on making predictions about what the senses will report at 100 msec (alpha frequency) intervals, and adapting synaptic weights to improve prediction accuracy. In vision, predictive learning requires a carefully-organized developmental progression and anatomical organization of three pathways (What, Where, and What * Where), according to two central principles: top-down input from compact, high-level, abstract representations is essential for accurate prediction of low-level sensory inputs; and the collective, low-level prediction error must be progressively and opportunistically partitioned to enable extraction of separable factors that drive the learning of further high-level abstractions. Our model self-organized systematic invariant object representations of 100 different objects from simple movies, accounts for a wide range of data, and makes many testable predictions. (Abstract)

Our model encompasses most of the posterior visual neocortex, including both the dorsal Where (and How) and ventral What pathways, along with a proposed third visual stream, that serves to integrate information from these other two streams (i.e., a What * Where stream). (1)

Ornstein, Robert. The Right Mind. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1997. The psychologist who first popularized the brain's reciprocal hemispheres looks back on 30 years of research on the subject.

It’s this specialization that contributes to one side (left) being good for the analysis of the small elements versus the synthesis or holistic vision, (right) or language via the literal meaning versus the intonation and indirect meaning. I still like text and context. (175)

Otis, Laura. Rethinking Thought: Inside the Minds of Creative Scientists and Artists. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Based on interviews with innovative, accomplished people such as Lynn Margulis, Scott Gilbert, Katherine Hayles, Temple Grandin, Gerd Gigerenzer and many more, the Emory University neuroscientist and literary scholar contributes this work at the frontiers of cognitive imagination. As Maryanne Wolf, Nina Kraus and others are lately finding, people are at our best when a dynamic synthesis of literal detail and conceptual context, an “interdependence of visual and verbal,” is in effect. This reciprocity results from the primary cortex’s ability to dual process a ventral stream of items and dorsal field of view. Another section refers to the fluid integration of the analytic and holistic hemispheres. So once again we find that a gender complementarity to be the life of the mind.

Paivio, Allan. Mind and Its Evolution. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2007. An emeritus University of Western Ontario psychologist and educator advances a “dual coding theory” of discrete linguistic and analog image streams of cognitive thought, which generally agree with left and right brain hemisphere propensities. In this latest work, such a complementarity is found to have deep roots in animal evolution.

Panksepp, Jaak and Lucy Biven. The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions. New York: Norton, 2012. This 500 page meditation by Pankseep, Chair of Animal Well-Being, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, with Lucy Bevin, a British child psychologist and editor, envisions life’s long creaturely march as a grand recapitulation of the neural development and maturation of each human person. Ancient Affective origins, right brain emotional, analog, perceptive but less computational in kind, evolved on to later Cognitive stages which are left side digital, more geared to active intention, a sense of bicameral Metazoan awakening dawns. Out of seven main emotive states such as fear and care a “seeking system” is seen as primary - “brain sources of eager anticipation, desire, euphoria, and the quest for everything.” All of which in our retrospect begs for “Integrations between cognitive (higher) and affective (lower) forms of consciousness,” i.e., personal and planetary whole brain. A deeply thoughtful, caring essay, when and how might we ever learn?

Pesic, Peter. Polyphonic Minds: Music of the Hemispheres. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2018. A philosopher, pianist, and Director of the Science Institute at St. John’s College (the Great Books home) in Santa Fe here scores the past and present of our day and night melodic sensitivities. We especially note with M. Gazzaniga’s 2018 The Consciousness Instinct along with recent studies of “prosody” (search) as “patterns of rhythm and sound in poetry and language” which bring right brain sense to left brain text. Later chapters review the history of this dual cerebral asymmetry, the Nobel work of Roger Sperry, and currently of NYU neuroscientist Gyorgy Buzsaki (search) as he quantifies our microcosmic attunements.

Polyphony―the interweaving of simultaneous sounds―is a crucial aspect of music that has deep implications for how we understand the mind. How does a single mind experience those things as a unity (a motet, a fugue) rather than an incoherent jumble? Pesic argues that polyphony raises fundamental issues for philosophy, theology, literature, psychology, and neuroscience as they seek an apparent unity of consciousness in the midst of multiple simultaneous influences. A trace of Western polyphony from ninth-century church music to experimental modern compositions leads to considerations of analogous cerebral activities, a “music of the hemispheres” that shapes brain states from sleep to awakening. He goes on to discuss how neuroscientists draw on concepts from polyphony to describe the “neural orchestra” of the brain. (Publisher excerpts)

Pink, Daniel. A Whole New Mind. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. As commerce become global, a transition is underway from old left brain analysis to right hemisphere integral vision as the locus of civilization shifts from Western fragments to Asian imaginations. By this view, dichotomies of sequential or simultaneous, text or context, detail or big picture, and so on are set in West/East contrast. While a popularization, a clever tour of business and artistic creativity is provided.

Rauschecker, Josef and Sophie Scott. Pathways and Streams in the Auditory Cortex. Hickok, Gregory and Steven Small, eds. Neurobiology of Language. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press, 2015. Georgetown University Medical Center and University College London cognitive neuroscientists update their work and findings on how primates and humans hear and see by way of dual processing domains. As Laura Otis (search) also reports, akin to hemispheric asymmetries, an antero-ventral path focuses on objects while a postero-dorsal mode views spatial perception.

Ravignani, Andrea, et al. Editorial: The Evolution of Rhythm Cognition: Timing in Music and Speech. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. June 13, 2017. Ravignani, MPI Psycholinguistics, Henkjan Honing, Maastricht University, and Sonja Kotz, MPI Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences introduce a Research Topic collection with this title. The many articles proceed to cover individual traits, group social modes and life’s long advance by way of tempo and talk.

This editorial serves a number of purposes. First, it aims at summarizing and discussing 33 accepted contributions to the special issue “The evolution of rhythm cognition: Timing in music and speech.” The major focus of the issue is the cognitive neuroscience of rhythm, intended as a neurobehavioral trait undergoing an evolutionary process. Second, this editorial provides the interested reader with a guide to navigate the interdisciplinary contributions to this special issue. For this purpose, we have compiled Table 1, where methods, topics, and study species are summarized and related across contributions. Third, we also briefly highlight research relevant to the evolution of rhythm that has appeared in other journals while this special issue was compiled. Altogether, this editorial constitutes a summary of rhythm research in music and speech spanning two years, from mid-2015 until mid-2017. (Overview)

Ravignani, Andrea, et al. Musical Evolution in the Lab Exhibits Rhythmic Universals. Nature Human Behavior. Online December, 2016. In the inaugural issue of this journal, University of Edinburgh, Center for Language Evolution, system linguists Ravignani, Tania Delgado and Simon Kirby model, test, and quantify a deep, aboriginal spontaneity for musical harmonies. Instrumental, rhythmic sounds and songs facilitated our social groupings, along with linguistic expression. See also Statistical Universals Reveal the Structure and Functions of Human Music by Patrick Savage, et al in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (112/8987, 2015).

Music exhibits some cross-cultural similarities, despite its variety across the world. Evidence from a broad range of human cultures suggests the existence of musical universals , here defined as strong regularities emerging across cultures above chance. We empirically investigate the mechanisms underlying musical universals for rhythm. Human participants were asked to imitate sets of randomly generated drumming sequences and their imitation attempts became the training set for the next participants in independent transmission chains. Drumming patterns developed into rhythms that are more structured, easier to learn, distinctive for each experimental cultural tradition and characterized by all six statistical universals found among world music, the patterns appear to be adapted to human learning, memory and cognition. We conclude that musical rhythm partially arises from the influence of human cognitive and biological biases on the process of cultural evolution.. (Abstract excerpts)

Rowson, Jonathan and Iain McGilchrist. Divided Brain, Divided World. iainmcgilchrist.com. The whole transcript is reachable from McGilchrist’s website under Events as an interview/ conversation by Rowson, a Scottish chess grand master who has a doctorate in wisdom philosophy from Bristol University, with the author of The Master and His Emissary (2009, search). As our review above of its 2019 edition says, his 600 page testimony about how much our dual hemispheres possess definitive part/object focus and field/context image options has gained wide acceptance. As Iain explains, the left emissary side has historically taken leave of any original right masterful guidance to such an extent that its mechanistic sterility is at the base of an aberrant, terminal world.

JR: Iain, let me begin by stating the argument as I have come to understand it, and you can tell me how you might express it differently or more fully. You seem to be saying that the left hemisphere of the brain is gradually colonising our experience. While the brain hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum, and both are involved in everything we do, if we cease to ask what the hemispheres do such as language, reasoning, creativity, forecasting, and instead ask how they do it, we find very significant differences in the two hemispheres. For instance the left hemisphere tends to decontextualise issues while the right contextualises, the left tends to abstract while the right makes vivid and concrete, the left seeks instrumental feedback while the right prefers affectively nuanced responses, and the right hemisphere appears to be much more receptive to evidence that challenges its own position. (10)

IM: It’s like this. Suppose it could be shown – because it can – that our brains are so constructed as to enable us to bring into being and conceive the experiential world in two quite distinct, complementary, but ultimately incompatible, ways. Suppose each has its uses, and that – here’s why the brain view helps – these versions of the world, which have importantly different qualities, are generally so well combined or alternated from moment to moment in everyday experience that individuals are not aware of this being the case. (14) The left hemisphere is not, as is sometimes thought, unemotional and down to earth. Anger is one of the most clearly lateralised emotions and it lateralises to the left hemisphere. The left hemispheres is manifestly not in touch with reality, and when it does not understand something it simply makes up a story that makes sense in its own terms and tells it with conviction. (21)

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