The archaeology of mind [extracts]

To the best of our knowledge, the basic biological values of all mammalian brains were built upon the same basic plan, laid out in consciousness-creating affective circuits that are concentrated in subcortical regions, far below the neocortical “thinking cap ” that is so highly developed in humans. Mental life would be impossible without this foundation. There, among the ancestral brain networks that we share with other mammals, a few ounces of brain tissue constitute the bedrock of our emotional lives, generating the many primal ways in which we can feel emotionally good or bad within ourselves. As we mature and learn about ourselves, and the world in which we live, these systems provide a solid foundation for further mental developments. These subcortical brain networks are quite similar in all mammals, but they are not identical in all details. This similarity extends even to certain species of birds that, for instance, also have separation-distress PANIC networksóa GRIEF system, as we will often label it hereó one of the main sources of psychological pain within their brains and ours. © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Sheila Watson, Amy Jane Barnes and Katy Bunning; individual chapters, the contributors.

To the best of our knowledge, the basic biological values of all mammalian brains were built upon the same basic plan, laid out in consciousness-creating affective circuits that are concentrated in subcortical regions, far below the neocortical “thinking cap ” that is so highly developed in humans. Mental life would be impossible without this foundation. There, among the ancestral brain networks that we share with other mammals, a few ounces of brain tissue constitute the bedrock of our emotional lives, generating the many primal ways in which we can feel emotionally good or bad within ourselves. As we mature and learn about ourselves, and the world in which we live, these systems provide a solid foundation for further mental developments. These subcortical brain networks are quite similar in all mammals, but they are not identical in all details. This similarity extends even to certain species of birds that, for instance, also have separation-distress PANIC networksóa GRIEF system, as we will often label it hereó one of the main sources of psychological pain within their brains and ours. © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Sheila Watson, Amy Jane Barnes and Katy Bunning; individual chapters, the contributors.

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