[Neuroscience] Re: why did humans grow a bigger neocortex?

Glen M. Sizemore via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by gmsizemore2 from yahoo.com)
Tue Sep 4 18:11:49 EST 2007

"konstantin kouzovnikov" <myukhome from hotmail.com> wrote in message 
news:mailman.815.1188938729.11350.neur-sci from net.bio.net...

> From: bingblat from goaway.com.au> Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 18:10:44 +1000> To: 
> neur-sci from magpie.bio.indiana.edu> Subject: [Neuroscience] Re: why did 
> humans grow a bigger neocortex?> > > "Randolph" <solor from cmc.net> wrote in 
> message> news:13din4dartu9223 from corp.supernews.com...> > Incorrect, many 
> animals engage in very complex behaviors in order to kill> and maim. And 
> yes they even do it just because they can.

K: the following is a part of my communication with my good friend Glen:I am 
sorry arriving so late in to discussion ... >BTW, there have not been many 
that have taken "spontaneity" seriously.   With a few making rather 
fundamental input into the problem. Would work of Llinas et al considered as 
within this context? The concept of thalamocortical system (TCS) has 
probably a lot to do with the "spontaneity", especially what they described 
as "internal functional nodes" generated in TCS also in the absense of any 
sensory input. Neurons in TCS are described as having intrinsic resonance 
capability, although "independent" they are facilitated by arousal 
mechanisms (Steriade et al; Curro Dossi et al). Sensory input only modulates 
gamma-frequency discharge activity from these neurons (Varela et al).

GS: Hi Konstanin,

The research you describe could very well be consistent with my interest, 
and that of behaviorists, in “spontaneity.” I am unfamiliar with it , but I 
am interested in your viewpoints. It is “spontaneity” that separates the 
Skinnerian view from the so-called “stimulus-response” view. In addition, 
the notion that such behavior is modulated by “arousal mechanisms” is, I 
think, also quite consistent. I am not really a “brain guy” but I remain 
quite interested in views concerning the physiological mediation of 

K: There was an interesting follow up to 2006 pubication re: cruelty 
pehnomenon: just bear with me, the point is at the end
Cruelty’s rewards: The gratifications of perpetrators and spectators.
BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2006) 29, 211–257.One response, from 
Ralf-Peter Behrendt, produced following insights:
“pain” and “blood” are unlikely to represent rewards
for the sake of which the animal kills
predation is an intrinsic instinctual[]

GS: I do not hold that all behavior is a function of its consequences. Some 
is, some isn’t. Still, it isn’t clear to me that consequences are 
unimportant with respect to predation (if I am understanding you correctly). 
My understanding is that many predators must learn to kill – obviously, in 
some species it does not require a specific history.

K: drive that – once set into motion and energised – has to run its

course (according to drive theory), as opposed to it being something

done for the sake of enjoying a reward (hedonism) or
instrumentally to achieve a certain end (teleology). [That explains the 
point they are making in the latest Mr.Brown with Keving Coestner _ killing 
is only a relief of the pressure to act, a post-action phenomenon, doing 
almost nothing to the nature of the drive; here you go - spontaneity of one 
type of a killer; how do you like that? it's the actors face at the very end 
of the feature... total loss and helplessness while praying to "make it - 
the drive - to go away"... - kk]

GS: I am not a big fan of references to “hedonism”; the view is imbued with 
so many assumptions that I question its worth.

K; McDougall (1924), for whom instincts were central to behaviour,
argued comprehensively against hedonistic theories of behaviour.
It can be argued that it is the suppression of aggression in the

process of cultural evolution – not enjoyment of cruelty per se –

that became “a primary driver of the modern entertainment

industry” (sect. 1.1.3). People are likely to enjoy media cruelty

for the same reason that they show an incessant interest in scandals

involving the downfall of people in society, where there is no

role to play for “blood, pain, and death.” Impulses of intraspecific

aggression that are culturally suppressed can find transient relief

also in humour (laughter as a sudden relief of inhibited aggression,

according to Lorenz [1963/2002]), but once the cultural

inhibitory framework is removed (including through “moral disengagement”),

intraspecific aggression becomes disinhibited and
can manifest in actual acts of cruelty.
Enjoyment of media cruelty is not reinforced by

“emotional circuits” adapted to predation, but represents transient
relief from culturally determined inhibition of aggression. An interesting 
topic, Glen! One more comment: I think it would be much more effective if 
one would replace the term "spontaneity" for "perseveration", as in 
external/internal modulation refractory continuation of "emitting" a 
behavior. Konstantin

GS: Wow! I can’t say that I think I understand everything you are saying 
here, my friend. Please give me some time to think it over. I think that – 
what’s the German term – (shoedenfreud or something like that? ) is 
connected to reinforcers that accrue from “having something interesting to 
say” but, also, from hurting the fitness, in the evolutionary sense, of 
rivals, even if they are friends. Remember, behaviorism is not incompatible 
with evolutionary biology, it simply represents a different focus.

As always, I like you Konstanitn, but I can’t claim that understand 
everything you are driving at.

With Affection,


100’s of Music vouchers to be won with MSN Music

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net