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Do you believe the human brain will continue to increase its capabilities? Watch

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    According to neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran's TED talk, "The neurons that shaped civilization", a sudden emergence and rapid spread of a number of skills that are unique to human beings occurred 75k to 100k years ago. These defining skills include the use of tools, fire, shelter, language, and the ability to interpret a person's behavior.

    He attributes the rapid development of these skills to a sudden emergence of a sophisticated mirror neuron system. Mirror nuerons are a relatively recent discovered set of neurons that fire when an animal either performs an action or observes that same action performed by another, essentially allowing us to emulate and imitate each other's actions.

    Ramachandran speculates that this brain development was incredibly beneficial to the progression of mankind because it allowed an accidental discovery by one member of the group, such as use of fire or a particular kind of tool, to spread horizontally across the population and then transmit vertically down the generations. This temporarily made evolution Lamarckian instead of Darwinian, meaning that acquired traits over a lifetime could be passed down to offspring via emulation instead of relying on Darwinian evolution which could take hundreds of thousands of years.

    The question I would like to pose is, might our brains (collectively as a species) soon experience such a new type of development once again? If so, what new skills could this more sophisticated neuron system facilitate our ability to perform, considering trends in globalization, collaboration etc (e.g. collaborative tasks across geographies, learning multiple languages more quickly etc )? Has the brain's full potential already been unleashed? Or will it perpetually continue to develop more complex neural permutations?
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    (Original post by Xamanus)
    According to neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran's TED talk, "The neurons that shaped civilization", a sudden emergence and rapid spread of a number of skills that are unique to human beings occurred 75k to 100k years ago. These defining skills include the use of tools, fire, shelter, language, and the ability to interpret a person's behavior.

    He attributes the rapid development of these skills to a sudden emergence of a sophisticated mirror neuron system. Mirror nuerons are a relatively recent discovered set of neurons that fire when an animal either performs an action or observes that same action performed by another, essentially allowing us to emulate and imitate each other's actions.

    Ramachandran speculates that this brain development was incredibly beneficial to the progression of mankind because it allowed an accidental discovery by one member of the group, such as use of fire or a particular kind of tool, to spread horizontally across the population and then transmit vertically down the generations. This temporarily made evolution Lamarckian instead of Darwinian, meaning that acquired traits over a lifetime could be passed down to offspring via emulation instead of relying on Darwinian evolution which could take hundreds of thousands of years.

    The question I would like to pose is, might our brains (collectively as a species) soon experience such a new type of development once again? If so, what new skills could this more sophisticated neuron system facilitate our ability to perform, considering trends in globalization, collaboration etc (e.g. collaborative tasks across geographies, learning multiple languages more quickly etc )? Has the brain's full potential already been unleashed? Or will it perpetually continue to develop more complex neural permutations?
    I don't necessarily think we need develop a more sophisticated neuron system to make better use of our brains. If we start educating the right brain function as well as the left, we could do this in a single generation.
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    (Original post by Aliccam)
    I don't necessarily think we need develop a more sophisticated neuron system to make better use of our brains. If we start educating the right brain function as well as the left, we could do this in a single generation.
    What does this mean?
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    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    What does this mean?
    Broadly the left brain deals with more practical functions, the right with emotions, intuition, judgement and other things which may yet be discovered. The present education system focuses solely on left brain function.
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    (Original post by Aliccam)
    Broadly the left brain deals with more practical functions, the right with emotions, intuition, judgement and other things which may yet be discovered. The present education system focuses solely on left brain function.
    You do know that this is not based on actual neuroscience?
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    It may do, already you can see that certain races (not applied to everyone) are on average more intelligent than others. For example, you could argue that Asian's are more clever than Europeans (which is where the dumb blonde jokes come from). I am not saying that it is definitely true or applies to everyone, but it seems that you already have people like the Japanese using a lot more brain then others, which is why you can see that they are much more economically developed and have so much hi-tec etc. (Please do not be offended blonde people, as far as you know, I may be blonde myself )
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    To be honest I think that our minds will become more and more integrated with technology and computers, if that's the case then I can't wait.
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    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    You do know that this is not based on actual neuroscience?
    Yes. Probably used a bit of a broad stroke to make a point, but there is a tendency to train the brain (both sides) with a very narrow focus.
    http://psychology.about.com/od/cogni...ight-brain.htm
    This article outlines the basis of the left/right brain concept.
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    Actually, humans are getting dumber according to a Stanford university team.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...e-survive.html
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    (Original post by rolos12345)
    Actually, humans are getting dumber according to a Stanford university team.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...e-survive.html
    Using the Daily Mail as your primary (and only) citation to verify a claim tends to render that claim dead on arrival and void.


    But your article mentions fairly on the point I was going to make to the OP.


    Evolution of the human brain would naturally continue, but seeing as human technology and civilization has rocketed far ahead of evolutionary time scales it won't be an issue.

    Chances are we'll be 'evolving' ourselves via genetic manipulation long before natural change takes noticeable effect.
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    (Original post by Danya1)
    ...Japanese using a lot more brain then others
    Most of what you have said is nonsense, but I just wanted to touch on the above since it derives its existence from a common misconception.

    The misconception is that humans do not use all of their brain. This is not true. It was once believed, but with brain scans today scientists have been able to calculate that parts of the brain which we thought weren't used are actually used. We have been able to identify which areas of the brain control language, memory, motor neurones, the autonomic functions of the ANS, and so on.
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    I'm not sure. I'd imagine there are limiting factors to how much a brain can develop. I don't know if we've reached them yet, but at some point in human existence I imagine we'll peak at a kind of 'optimal brain function' where it can't get any better. Maybe we'll sustain it, or maybe it will develop off in another direction that's not so useful.

    If we're talking about the evolution of the species, change tends not to happen spontaneously, but as a response to an external stimulus. Fish don't evolve lungs and then handily discover air - they evolve lungs because the air is already there and they are forced to deal with it for various reasons. The ones that live longest pass that on. So I think our brains would need a reason to develop to this next level you're speaking about and at the moment we seem largely focused on making life easier for ourselves. I'm not sure if that external stimulus exists.
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    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    Using the Daily Mail as your primary (and only) citation to verify a claim tends to render that claim dead on arrival and void.


    But your article mentions fairly on the point I was going to make to the OP.


    Evolution of the human brain would naturally continue, but seeing as human technology and civilization has rocketed far ahead of evolutionary time scales it won't be an issue.

    Chances are we'll be 'evolving' ourselves via genetic manipulation long before natural change takes noticeable effect.
    I agree that we'll be evolving ourselves faster than evolution ever could, but I don't think that if we left evolution to do its thing we would necessarily become more intelligent. Right now we're intelligent enough to survive better than any other species in the world without any competition. As long as we can survive under our current conditions with our current brains, there will be no need for it to change.
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    (Original post by Dragonfly07)
    I agree that we'll be evolving ourselves faster than evolution ever could, but I don't think that if we left evolution to do its thing we would necessarily become more intelligent. Right now we're intelligent enough to survive better than any other species in the world without any competition. As long as we can survive under our current conditions with our current brains, there will be no need for it to change.
    I never claimed we'd evolve to become more intelligent. Evolution isn't a series of steps inexorably going upwards towards some predefined and positive outcome.

    Sorry for any confusion.

    (Original post by FlyingTeapot)
    x
    Actually interestingly we've reached the limits of brain-size, due to our bipedalism.

    Womens hips are generally as wide as they can be to allow walking, any wider (to allow passage of the child's head and thus brain) and they couldn't stand and move upright.

    The only evolutionary solution I could imagine is even longer 'childhoods' where our brains take even longer to develop but like all evolutionary traits that'd be a series of happy accidents in mutations that will take far longer to develop than humans will tolerate (we'll engineer it ourselves).
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    (Original post by Aliccam)
    Broadly the left brain deals with more practical functions, the right with emotions, intuition, judgement and other things which may yet be discovered. The present education system focuses solely on left brain function.
    I think the article summed it up pretty well. Everything you just said is nonsense.

    The two halves of the brain are, in essence, two separate entities linked by lower functioning areas of the brain, and the corpus callosum. There is a slight tendency for one half of the brain to perform better at some tasks, but mostly negligible. The one major difference is speech and language, and there is evidence to suggest that about two thirds of women show bilateral language development.

    While it is possible to say there is some lateralization in function, the idea that our education system's flaw is that it only focuses on one side's function is utter nonsense.

    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    Evolution of the human brain would naturally continue, but seeing as human technology and civilization has rocketed far ahead of evolutionary time scales it won't be an issue.

    Chances are we'll be 'evolving' ourselves via genetic manipulation long before natural change takes noticeable effect.
    I agree. The next stage of evolution would be similar to how the mirror system works, in that it is not natural evolution which causes the changes.

    Although I believe it is more likely to come about through technological integration, as opposed to genetic manipulation.
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    (Original post by Farm_Ecology)
    I think the article summed it up pretty well. Everything you just said is nonsense.

    The two halves of the brain are, in essence, two separate entities linked by lower functioning areas of the brain, and the corpus callosum. There is a slight tendency for one half of the brain to perform better at some tasks, but mostly negligible. The one major difference is speech and language, and there is evidence to suggest that about two thirds of women show bilateral language development.

    While it is possible to say there is some lateralization in function, the idea that our education system's flaw is that it only focuses on one side's function is utter nonsense.



    I agree. The next stage of evolution would be similar to how the mirror system works, in that it is not natural evolution which causes the changes.

    Although I believe it is more likely to come about through technological integration, as opposed to genetic manipulation.
    Indeed, though I wonder if straight inorganic technology may be a limiting factor. Computers have incredible calculation capabilities but seem to lack the problem solving and creative thinking capabilities that the human brain utilises so well.

    Computers can 'know' more but humans can utilise the information we have much better.
    I wonder if to get computer technologies to function nearly half as well as the human brain it'd need to be too complex for realistic manufacture and too energy intensive, in comparison the human brain is pretty fairly efficient (we consume some organic matter, brain is fueled).

    Still despite the rapid advances of humanity chances are you and I won't have to really consider or deal with any notable natural decline or artificial advance within our life-times.
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    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    Indeed, though I wonder if straight inorganic technology may be a limiting factor. Computers have incredible calculation capabilities but seem to lack the problem solving and creative thinking capabilities that the human brain utilises so well.

    Computers can 'know' more but humans can utilise the information we have much better.
    I wonder if to get computer technologies to function nearly half as well as the human brain it'd need to be too complex for realistic manufacture and too energy intensive, in comparison the human brain is pretty fairly efficient (we consume some organic matter, brain is fueled).
    Artificial Intelligence is making massive leaps at the moment. Neural Networks can emulate biological learning very effectively, and while they may not have reached human levels in some aspects, are fast approaching it. Three of the main problems artifical neural networks are encountering (as far as I can tell) is complexity, diversity and mutability. A normal Artificial network will have far fewer units than a human one, and they will often run by similar rules (human neurons do not). The final issue is the human brain's learning also comes from it's ability to add and remove units. A lot of the complexity of the brain is keeping it in working order, the principles behind the way it stores and interprets data is relatively simple compared to the rest.

    The added benefit of an inorganic brain is that it will be very energy efficient, as the units needed for learning are not physical structures that need to be changed in the same way as in the human brains. They would also have the added benefit of utilizing more efficient power sources.

    While a lot of this needs to be more refined and explored, and won't be utilized until the future, that future may not be as far off as you may think.

    (Original post by Studentus-anonymous)
    Still despite the rapid advances of humanity chances are you and I won't have to really consider or deal with any notable natural decline or artificial advance within our life-times.
    I don't know, science if moving pretty fast and life extension is the new hot button.
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    Probably. We may stop thinking with our emotions (or think less with our emotions) and develop the ability to look at everything objectively.
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    As long as "TOWIE" and "Geordie Shore" are around then no.
 
 
 
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