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BIOLOGY, the BRAIN and HISTORY

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Biology, the Brain and History

Unknown to people during the Stone Age, the brain was the center of their nervous system, including the center of emotions. A heart beat faster when one was excited and, among the many assumptions that were to endure, the heart, not the brain, was thought to be the center of emotions.

Humans had a six-layered brain, a brain at the inner-level with involuntary and automatic functions common to other creatures: breathing, sexual response, vision, mobility, taste and smell. The outer part of the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex, was larger in humans than it was in other primates. About 100,000 years ago, there were primates with a brain weighing about one pound. In humans this became as much as three times that amount: a collection of a 100 billion neurons with as many as 10,000 connections that supplied their cognitive skills.

The human nervous system was fibrous and glandular. Those with the right chemicals survived. Those lacking a proper balance of chemicals had mental aberrations to contend with, madness or a tougher go of it that discouraged the survival of this imbalance. Chemical distribution affected mood and emotion. With normal beneficial chemicals, humans had empathy – without which they could not have survived. It helped them to live in a group, not unlike the canine creatures humans domesticated. An incapacity for empathy was the stuff of psychopathic loners and the black widow spider, the product of another evolutionary line – a loner who ate her mate immediately after fertilization.

Humans had a chemistry that made rage possible and produced aggression and self-defense rather than enduring passivity. Rage was a function more of the inner brain. Anger involved a degree of reflection and therefore involved the outer layer of the brain.

Within species, nature did not provide precise amounts of anything. Near amounts was the likelihood. Variation in hormones contributed to the differences between male and female.

Biology of the brain made humans what they are, but in making their way through the challenges of life, people had to make choices, and their environments differed. Making choices, Stone Age humanity was on its way to creating different cultures. The minds of people were products of their biology but also the age and culture within which they lived.

Copyright © 1999-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.