Modern Neuroscience has had great success in the analysis of the anatomical and physical bases of learning and memory. We make rational judgements based on the information stored in our brains. The Hippocampus is involved in the object location of our memory. It decides whether the memory with be encoded permanently or temporarily in our brain.It also determines in what way the memories are consolidated within our brain. The Neuroscience of language further explains when a memory is formed and stored, are there particular genes and proteins that are involved in memory, and how can a memory last for a lifetime? etc…
So what’s the ability in Homo Sapiens that makes them superior to all the other species on this planet? It is Thinking (commonly defined as “using thought or rational judgement” ) From my observations, I have come across certain patterns which are attributed to Human Thinking. Although this is a very limited categorization & many individuals may come under 1 or many types of patterns (which I explain below) I feel it’s important to begin with identifying those qualities which are strongly prevalent within us.
These are people who are highly prejudiced, stereotypical and intolerant. In a nutshell, it’s those who believe the things they want to believe. They engage only with the things which appeal to them, (their subconscious warning them of their limited deduction skills). When one analyses their brains, we find their Prefrontal Cortex and Amygdala are most active when presented with different situations. Amygdala as you know, plays the primary role in emotional reactions, especially those in relation to fear. So instincts, although primaeval, play a crucial role in their decision making.
These are people who can be easily influenced, but in most cases they aren’t aware of it. They remain dedicated to their “current cause”. They’re logically consistent but often prone to changing stances when introduced to even partial inconsistencies of their cause. From the Neuroscience of Social Influence, we notice the Amygdala, The orbitofrontal cortices, and The Brainstem are most active when these individuals are influenced emotionally. When it comes to factual influence, the posterior parietal cortex and the superior prefrontal cortices are activated.
These people rely on definite/conventional information. Facts and Figures.They are the original Gatekeepers of the establishment or status quo. The Data munchers. Because they deal with explicit memories, most sections of the Medial Temporal Lobe and Medial diencephalon exhibit maximum activity (later in their life, it may get disturbed & the sudden realization may appear as an epiphany :-P ).
These are people who are slightly different from Type-3. Not only do they rely on facts, They go by their “gut feeling”… in other words, they’re driven by a strong sense of intuition. They are known to explore the vicinity of outlandishness, but are contained within the realm of rationality. Because of their exhaustive/comprehensive tendencies to exert pressure on the brain, the entire Prefrontal cortex behaves like an industrial power house.
From all the types I’ve discussed above, these people are the most tractable & intractable. They’re “Free spirited” in the true sense & unorthodox in many cases. They don’t recognize the social constructs/conventions set by society at large. The causes they’re mostly dedicated to lie within the peripheries of the establishment. But inorder to ensure their voice is heard, they unwillingly adopt the traditional means outlined within the status-quo. Normally, the area of the brain associated with a sense of self is the medial prefrontal cortex. What I found fascinating from a study conducted on Cultural Neuroscience, was the pattern of medial prefrontal cortex activity was similar to those both “collectivists” and “individualists” for the same set of instances.
Categorizing the above types based on Cognitive Neuroscience is one thing. The question that confronts us is WHY? The indubitable conundrum of consciousness. Why do we think, the way we think? Conventional studies (which have mostly applied a classical approach) have not been able to answer this question so far. Which way do we turn to then? The best option today is the Quantum Theory.
The Neural Correlates of Consciousness in combination with the concept of Neural Substrates (researched mostly within the fields of Neurophysiology and Neuroanatomy) constitute a wide set of neuronal events/mechanisms sufficient for conscious percepts and cognition/behaviour. Unfortunately, it has not been comprehensive in explaining the unpredictability/vastness of the human experience. But when we change our approach, on the basis of Quantum Cognition a lot of the “mysteries” surrounding the “human” element begin to unravel. The inimitable clarity of the Quantum Mind, its distinctive properties of Quantum Entanglement and Quantum Superposition, and their limitations by Quantum Decoherence is the closest theory we have to explain the riddle of consciousness.
When one acquaints himself with the facts of the universe or the multi-verse, the experience of it should you make you more humble. We have been genetically programmed & our brain has been hard wired in such a way that the overwhelming sensory reality is inescapable. We are intrinsically hedonistic/instinctual beings. Now that we are closest ever to understanding our “inner-verse” it won’t be too long when we evolve again. The Cosmos has forever been playing its role. It’s time we recognize our path to fit in the scheme of things. (or maybe even what Arthur C Clarke imagined… The Mind joining the Overmind).