Though the progress of neuroscience in studying the human brain operation, it still represents one of the largest enigmas of present times, with still some insoluble, even some paradoxical, issues.
Evolution of human embryo (ontogeny) constitutes evidence that man is the result of an evolutionary continuum of species. In such process, that flowed in an accelerated rhythm when compared to the adaptation process of mankind to habitat, it was noticed, at a certain moment, the appearance of a man endowed with a thinking brain, as it is known it today, being impossible to determine in which moment such conscience emerged, or even how it was processed. The most recent was the image of Homo sapiens.
At this point, appears one of the paradoxes mentioned above: if the adaptation to habitat happened in a slow and gradual way, same think can not be said about the brain, already noticed, as it is today, about 100.000 years ago. This fact means that superior brain evolution process overcomes in speed the physical body development, still subject to further adaptation.
And if one considers those mankind only uses 10% of its brain, one can wonder what will be him capable to do with a full use of it.
The study of history elucidates another enigma: the knowledge level of particular people and civilizations, as Egyptians and Aztecs, for example, which, in certain measure, was attached to a certain era, being enable to remain or evolve from that starting point.
Also in search of understanding such cerebral complexity, neuroscience is trying to scientifically conceptualize emotions, as well as to define its role in the neuronic net and to locate its connections, observing its relationship with the limbic system.
Consciousness is also another indefinite aspect of the brain, regarding settings and operation. How and why groups of cerebral cells link themselves in certain moments, forming gathering of neurons, which will determine in a specific situation an impression, under the form of a life experience?
To those questions, others are added, all without logical explanation, what can lead to the belief that brain is being observed under an inadequate optics.
Thus, it is possible to experiment displacing such approach to another direction, in order to study brain in the light of a new paradigm.
Manifestation (Pulse) of Life
In an attempt of understanding brain
under a new perspective, a return to the first forms of human life is proposed.
Everything begins with the appearance of life; therefore, the pulse of life is the starting point of evolution process and, antithetically, its terminal point. Life is manifested through a pulse, having, in regard to human being, mankind as its representative. And in such process, during its development and adaptation to habitat, it is being structured and qualified through the brain. Such pulse of life is the alpha and the omega of the evolutionary process.
Demystification of brain (neocortex)
Mankind, as it is known today, is an accomplishment
of that initial pulse of life, whose existence and perpetuation demand
a transmission process. Always leaving from a new cell, such pulse of life
can create a new man in a constant reproduction.
Nevertheless, there is also here a paradox: as an expression of that pulse of life, why trying to destroy the natural chain that gave man its origin and allowed it to adapt itself?
The pulse of life responds for the acceleration of evolution process in the planet. The mankind, for having a conscience that allows not only the building of its own knowledge, as well as to identify its superiority among other species, was positioned as the prodigy of evolution. However, such evolution only represents the experience of an adaptation of life to the planet.
It is not man who lives; life is what manifests itself through mankind. Mankind represents nothing but a moment in evolution of something that is not understood and therefore can not be reached: the initial pulse of life.
Life itself is capable to reproduce an entire evolutionary chain, starting from a cell or from an insect; but man can make unfeasible such a process, with its power of destroying life in its wider sense.
If man is understood as a manifestation of life developing in chain, the conclusion is that human brain can represent a dangerous experience in this chain.
The philosophical digression is necessary in order to meet the starting point of the hypothesis one intends to meet.
The hypothesis that human brain is an experience life’s manifestation has, as an assumption, the idea that pulse of life experienced, in a certain evolutionary moment, a new organ that was aware of its own existence. An organ that, when identifying with the I am assertive completely separated itself from the initial pulse of life that generated it. Such organ can manifest as a positive or negative experience in the continuous process of adaptation to life.
A positive, if the conscience manifested through the organ understand that is nothing else but the manifestation of a pulse of life, materialized in a certain moment, and to enter in harmony with nature. Negative, when the subject hangs for another aspect of the dialectic and the pulse (now a terminal pulse) doesn't hesitate in destroying man and its brain, before destroying itself. And such final pulse can appear in the form of a simple virus, or so many viruses against which there still is not defense.
If it is not man, with its brain, who lives, but pulse of life that manifests itself through him, so it was not the man who acquired conscience of itself, but life that became conscious. Thus, the reformulation of the Cartesian maxim: I exist, soon I think.
The three brains
| In a simplified way, human brain
is disposed in three layers that represent three phases of evolution, as
if they were three superposed computers. Those layers, although clearly
defined, are not totally tight, nor were formed independently.
The first layer, the primitive brain, is formed by the cerebral log, by the bulb, by the cerebellum, bridge and mesencephalon, by the pale globe and the olfactory bulbs. It is the brain that responds for the maintenance of vegetative life. It is capable to adapt to cold, to heat, to hunger and thirst. It can command the largest or smallest intensity of multiplication of the parts and of the whole; correct the countless deviations of the being formation process; identify danger and command the answer. It is, finally, the larger expression of initial pulse of life, in its evolutionary chain.
In this primitive brain – the first manifestation of the life -, information of great importance to mankind evolutionary experience are found, from the initial cell to the present. In a certain way, such epic evolution, all mankind experiences, are registered in the synapses of primitive brain (archipalium).
Primitive brain communicates with the body, integrating itself to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, and communicates through the internal secretion glands. It is main experience of evolutionary process that began with a pulse of life.
In this ensemble (primitive brain and body) the steps of pulse of life, from its initial manifestation to the current stage, are registered. Some enigmas are registered on it, and they are being revealed little by little. In the sympathetic connections of the solar plexus, neurons are found with capacity of receiving, analyzing and answering to incentives of alimentary canal (to think practically). Such type of formation report that, in a certain evolutionary moment, life opted to develop a brain in such site, and such option nevertheless was abandoned; though, if carried on, it would develop a thinking being very different from known mankind.
This is the most potent of the three computers;
it is the one that basically stocks the information of whole the evolutionary
process and it is able to maintain and to perpetuate life.
The intermediary brain locates right above the archipalium, recovering it. In it we meet the limbic structures that have as the main function of coordinating emotions.
Mach has been studied and discussed about the location and the roads crossed by emotions. Since the establishment of Papez circuit until the new areas attributed to it by MacLeans, it has been observed that there is not a precise delimitation of the area where emotions are processed. One can only assert that the area that intermediates emotions is located between the primitive brain and the neocortex.
Comparing with other brains, it is observed that the limbic system has a way of acting that differs from the other two. Returning to the terms of computer science, it is as if it was a computer with analogic operation, while others would have a digital operation.
The superior or rational brain is positioned recovering the whole encephalon. It is composed by the two cerebral hemispheres and of some sets of sub-cortical neurons. A type of cortical tissue of recent formation called neocortex constitutes it. Above all, neocortex is met, working as the consciousness headquarters. In the evolutionary process of the human embryo, it is noticed that it was the last to be formed.
Mankind, through the neocortex, gathers conscience of himself and assumes a dominant role in the planet evolutionary progression. It was through to neocortex that he accessed the world of science, searching for knowledge. Knowledge generated by this structure has become, in a certain way, independent of its origin, the pulse of life. Clearly after Renascence and increasingly in last centuries, scientific methodologies were created in order of solving problems generated by neocortex. Thus, it seems that a separation between science and pulse of life have happened.
Life, as an adaptation experience (the brain), developed a consciousness structure that is assuming command of evolution through a way which differs from the one of its genesis, therefore, distanced of its original purpose.
A perfect man could draw a perfect pentagon
with a sole line because he has registered that information in his
nervous system, due to the multiple adaptation experiences to life.
Science has created a mathematical, geometric and technological methodology, in order to facilitate to an imperfect man to draw the perfect pentagon.
So derives the separation between science and religion, stressed during the last 500 years, as a result of superiority assumed by the neocortex.
Mankind has assumed with this new organ that the conscience of himself, the conception of "I am ", of "being", when in fact he represents the pulse of life that inhabits inside him. The taking of conscience is nothing else that an evolutionary experience that can result in a well or a not well happened, according to the application of that consciousness. Once applied in the perpetuation of the pulse of life, it can be a positive experience; on the contrary, when applied in a disastrous way, it acts contrarily to the pulse of life, as it has been done, leading to the destruction of life on the planet. In this way, perceiving such disastrous experience, the pulse of life certainly will destroy human specie. And the appearance of virus mutations can confirm such assertive.
Neocortex, as the main element of the evolutionary process of the pulse of life, has a great potential, and can be compared to the high-tech computers, whose potential resources we are still not able to use.
Once presented such new perspective for
an approach of brain, some issues remain: How has the neocortex been formed?
What would be the motivation of this life experience?
This subject comprehends countless discussions and, for sure, it does not have a scientific character, since more studies are requested.
The presentation of the hypothesis object of this work will be made in a sequential form, in order to give a didactic aspect to what we intend to call the "emotionality catapult".
Initially, we will call “port man"
the being that preceded the "Homo sapiens". The "port man", when leaving
the top of trees and to stand up, created a special situation for the adaptation
of the life.
The fact of standing up provided the possibility of foreseeing problems and situations that would happen soon, before they happen.
Pulse of life needed some adaptation in order to use the evolutionary potential stored in the archipalium (primitive brain), permitting the "proto-man" the taking of decisions. Thus it was generated the necessity that life had a "knowledge" of such experience.
The confront of two cerebral hemispheres, that certainly appeared as a defense way, gave to the "proto-man" the possibility of rendering dual the impressions of himself; of seeing of two manners. Such duality, resultant of its confrontation with an external world, can represent one of the causes of the "proto-man’s" identification as the " I am ", therefore, a great step in evolution process. This, because, when positioned on the trees, the events didn't have great importance. Though, once on the ground, became to participate to the menace, and became vital to foreseeing the form of defense, developing in him a new type of needs, which was the effective involvement with the situation that was ready to happen.
Such factors provided an unusual condition in the development process consisted by the transfer of all the evolutionary knowledge of archipalium for a new structure, the new organ called neocortex. This organ would have the possibility (not the capacity) of a conscience of all the information accumulated in the primitive brain during millennia, originated during the evolutionary process.
But the conversion of knowledge from the archipalium to the neocortex was not a conversion of information, but of the possibility of rendering such information conscious, as a type of option, for the case of “proto-man", when threatened, to decide between escaping and the aggression.
In this way, neocortex would have being formed as a group of new connections of different type, with potentiality to express all the knowledge and to coincidentally select it when taking decisions.
It is necessary to stress that such conversion
happened very rapidly, if on follows its evolution. It could be compared
to a moment of genetic mutation; a mutation discreetly expressed in chromosomes,
since the one of a superior mammalian differs a little of the man's chromosomes,
considering the great difference that exists between them.
To that abrupt conversion is compared the effect of a catapult that projected knowledge in a new organ, with the possibility of conscience. This “catapult " can result of the interference of the intermediary brain, of the limbic system and of the emotionality between the two brains, the primitive one and the superior.
The physical participation (of the whole
organism) due to the foresight of the problem can characterize the basis
of the emotional. The need of the conscious knowledge appeared with the
emotional involvement in this "proto-man". The conscience of the situation
implied the involvement of the whole organism, which should be ready to
opt between the aggression and the escape.
Because of adaptation and survival attempts, life dared to turn conscient the experience accumulated in evolutionary chain, allowing the "proto-man" to use those information for surviving. In this way, neocortex came to express those informations.
In summary, the conversion of information from the primitive brain for the creation of new connections happened by the interposition with the limbic system in an abrupt way, here call the "emotionality catapult".
The intermediary brain (limbic system),
working as an analogic computer, allowed that a new structure was formed
above it, composed by countless connections working in a different way,
with potentiality to transform all information accumulated by the pulse
of life in conscious information. The connections were made to be used
in moments of menace.
The whole human knowledge, fruit of the experience of the evolution of life from the unicellular phase until mankind, was "catapulted" by intermediary brain (emotions), creating a new organ that allowed the conscience of such knowledge. In such way, neocortex is nothing else but an experience of the pulse of life.
The man's conscience is an adaptation for the survival of life, which tends to perpetuation.
Unfolding of the Emotionality Catapult Theory
The understanding of the brain under such approach allows a series of interesting considerations, able to explain a great number of paradoxes of human brain.
Paradox of the evolution – To count on
an organ with a potentiality that is not used contradicts the evolutionist
concept clearly exposed in ontogeny.
The superior brain would have the possibility "to decode" and to render conscious the entire mankind evolutionary experience, from the initial pulse of the life until today. The appearance, more than 100.000 years ago, of a brain that remains almost the same until today, could possibly be more comprehensible by the use of the emotionality catapult theory.
Importance of sexuality
The formation of neocortex occurred with
the mediation of limbic system, where the connections responsible for perpetuation
of life are located (reproduction), would justify the importance of sexuality
in the use of neocortex system of connections.
The connections controlling the processes of reproduction and the behaviors tied to them are strongly linked to the intermediary brain. For this reason, the importance of sexual component (reproductive) in the development of reasoning and of human conscience.
Importance of the emotion
There is no doubt that emotion represents
an important mechanism for brain functions, especially for the memory.
It is through it that man accesses the possibility of finding the necessary
information for decisions.
Seating of emotion’s circuits
The identification of circuits where emotions are processed has been a reason for debates from Broca to melenas. The extension of such circuits to pre-frontal cortex and its inferior ramifications with the archipalium could be understood with the theory of emotionality catapult.
Little chromosome alterations could determine
the appearance "Homo sapiens". Given the little difference between the
man's chromosomes and the ones of great monkeys, we can say that mutation
can have happened in a similar way to the alteration observed today in
the Trisomy of the 21 (Down Syndrome).
In this case, the duplication of part of chromosome 21 chain determines the appearance of an individual with a decrease of the cerebral circumvolutions and with characteristics that could resemble him to the proto-man (flexion of hands). The individual with the Down Syndrome also has a special characteristic in relation to the affectivity; in general, they are very affective. It is as if the catapult had failed in the neocortex formation.
It is possible that through an inversely similar mechanism had occurred the mutation from "proto-man" to "Homo sapiens". The possibility of few alterations of chromosomes determining such a big transformation.
When one dreams, he/she is disconnected
with the body, that is, the connections inside the brain are being processed
in an inverse way.
The neocortex works autonomously, generating groups of connections as if they were assemblies of neuronic connections, which keep a certain pattern in all individuals. This happens because neocortex was set up in agreement with a similar plan.
On the other side, it is possible, when dreaming, to have visions and solutions for problems that it would not be had in vigil. This is because on those moments the potentiality to access total knowledge of life is larger, since the attention is not attached to the senses.
When we dream, there is a circulation in neocortex free from prejudices established by culture. So derives the richness of dream symbology.
The access to knowledge available to ancient
peoples as Egyptians can be understood through the emotionality catapult
theory. The access to knowledge was made by means of priests who used artistic
and religious (emotional) methods to arrive to the conscience of knowledge.
Thus, they were able to build pyramids with so perfect measures that until today there are discussions on how they obtained them. The location of the great pyramid as well as its proportions show a knowledge that would only be possible today for who had the most modern technologic resources. The Egyptians attained this knowledge by methods that were progressively abandoned by civilization that followed them. Egyptians "dreamed".
If we considered that the whole evolutionary knowledge of pulse of life is registered in primitive brain, it is easy to imagine that the ancient Egyptians had a way of accessing to this knowledge, ignored until today. And that is not completely discarded, since priests kept that method.
The archipalium is able to make "cures" that could be called miraculous. The scientific knowledge is nothing if compared to the knowledge registered in the body, to which there is no access.
During the last 200 years, science has not added almost anything to the human level of satisfaction or happiness. Last century rendered clear that human happiness and satisfaction are not related with the progress of conventional science. Man is not the brain, but the pulse of life that lives inside him. Man will find his happiness in the accomplishment of his function of perpetuating life as any other animal.
Such conscience perspective that man is
an expression of the pulse of life has waked the so-called ecological movements.
It has opened the way for the return of some ancient conceptions linked
to vision of man as a whole, today known as holistic conceptions.
All this is contaminated by the prepotency of modern science, which identifies the "I am" with the “which lives ".
Art, as religion, access those connections through unknown emotional processes, always related to sexuality.
The painting of the roof of the Sistine
Chapel, by Michelangelo, representing the creation of man, is a demonstration
of that theory. The god, bounded in a cloud clearly representing the encephalon,
extends the hand to the man, in a grandiose emotional gesture. So are all
the great artists, thanks to the perception of a totality of cerebral connections,
as if it was the process known as the formation of neuron assemblies, accessed
by an emotional ecstasy.
1. AMARAL, Júlio Rocha do. O Centro
das Emoções. Mente e Comportamento. n 5
2. CHARDIN, Teilhard. O Fenômeno Humano.
3. Consciência. Opinião. n 6
4. Interdisciplinariedade e o Estudo da Mente. Opinião. n 6
5. Mapeando o Cérebro. Tecnologia. n 3
6. Memória e Consciência . Opinião e Discussão. n 1
7. MONTANGNO, Elson A. Cérebro: Para Que? Opinião e Discussão. n 1
8. OLIVEIRA, Jorge M. Percepção e Realidade. Opinião e Discussão. n 4
9. PINKER, Steven. Como Funciona a Mente. Rio de Janeiro: Schwartz, 1998
10. RODINI, Elaine S. de Oliveira. Síndrome de Down: Características e Etiologia. Doenças do Cérebro. n4
11. Sistema Límbico: O Centro das Emoções. Mente e Comportamento. n 5
About the author:
José Carlos Fragomeni is an urologist medical doctor, graduated in 1968 at the Faculdade Nacional de Medicina Universidade do Brasil. Specialist in Urology. Former teacher of Faculdade de Ciências Médicas do Norte Fluminense, RJ; former teacher of Urology at Universidade de Brasília, UnB, Brazil; former head of the Urology Service at the Hospital das Forças Armadas, Brasília DF; effective member of the Brazilian Society of Urology.
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Copyright 1997 State University of Campinas