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PRIMAL INSTINCTS; THAT GOVERN HUMANS

SUBHANKAR'S OPINIONS

PROLOGUE:

Human life is peculiar. At first glance, it may seem that what we do, we do it own our own. But, hold on! We are not such a free entities as we think we are! It may seem to be so outlandish idea, but it is true that we are slaves of our instincts! So what are those instincts? From where they originate? There are lots of questions regarding our instincts that have been baffling philosophers since time immemorial. If we try to understand the underlying dynamics of our thought processes and the basis of our behaviours and impulse, we shall have to understand the processes of Human Evolution and the ability to transfer information along the vertical generations after generations.

In the course of the last 4.5 billion years of evolution by natural selection, the planet has produced a prodigious number of living species, both current and extinct. The basic composition of the DNA in all cases has changed very little over this time, but has produced a great variety of possible combination and exquisite creatures, including man.In spite of some obvious physical differences, the molecular biology of life has evolved a common architecture in response to the environment of this planet that is common to all life forms. Basic body, appendages of some type, and a head with two eyes, two ears, a mouth, etc. Whether a fish, a wasp, a cat, or a human, the basic form is identical. DNA has been the carrier of 'locator genes' which determine this basic shape, function, and relative placement of body parts. As we move down the evolutionary ladder to invertebrates and single celled micro-organisms, this distinction becomes less obvious, but the rudiments of earth based architecture are apparent never-the-less.
born

Less apparent is the ability of DNA to carry other information, specifically, genes capable of assisting the organism to adapt to the environment via behavior to insure its survival. The very nature of natural selection involves competition for control of resources and helps insure survival over less adapted organisms. But, amazingly, adaptation is not limited to survival alone. As physical form has evolved, so has the complex chemistry of environmental response. This can be defined by instinct. As thousands of nucleotide sequences are required to carry this enormous amount of information, it is apparent that DNA alone is not sufficient as the mechanism for information storage. Hence the evolution of the brain as a memory repository. This allows for greater capacity, but also greater diversity and complexity. Survival and adaptation are ever more complicated as we move up the evolutionary ladder, and the brain becomes larger and more diverse in its function. In order to understand the nature of instincts, it is necessary to approach the subject with some basic ground rules in place. First, take a mature position on molecular biology, involving the facts of evolution by natural selection. Second, behavior by instinct is a new approach, not an absolute, in determining the response to environment by living organisms. It is, therefore, an hypothesis, and, as all theories, cannot be proven, only disproven. My conclusions are based on empirical observation, knowledge of neurophysiology, and research into evolution by natural selection and molecular biology.

picture by fantafabulous
i

STRUCTURE AND PHYSIOLOGY OF THE BRAIN For discussion purposes, I will limit preliminary facts to the structure and physiology of the human brain only, but it is important to note that these generalizations apply to all living organisms on earth and is not limited to Homo Sapien alone. It is, in fact, the very idea that human behavior is animal behavior but tempered with limitless intellect, that allow conclusions to be made.The human brain is composed of several parts, or levels of function, and, in its present form, is the product of over 4 billion years of evolution, specifically, about 100 million years of mammalian development, and 20 million years of primate evolution. This fact allows us to examine behaviors in other animals, and apply lessons to our own behavior.The most primitive structure of the brain is composed of the Pons, Medulla, and brain stem. These control the autonomic body functions such as breathing, heart functions and vital organ regulation. They possess very little information that can be attributed to behavior and are the earliest known brain structure present in most life forms. The next development in brain structure to evolve, some 350 million years ago, was the R-complex. (Sometimes known as the Reptilian brain, it is mis-named. Its source was early amphibians of the Devonian Period, and only later developed in reptiles, dinosaurs, and mammals. Note: these are all separate taxonomic groups and evolved independently.)

picture by fantafabulous
mri of human brain

MRI OF HUMAN BRAIN: The R-complex was an extremely important development, in that it allowed organisms to aquire rudimentary intelligence and develop problem solving capability. Along with these important features, the basics for emotion and the chemistry of instinct also surfaced.The next development in brain structure occurred quite by accident, about 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period. Dinosaurs and Reptiles were the predominant life forms on the planet and mammals, while present, accounted for a small percentage of animals, mostly small rodent-like creatures. The Yukatan asteroid KT event destroyed most life forms on the planet, and allowed mammals to proliferate, as they were the best adapted to the new environment. The small mammalian brains developed a new and important layer of gray matter, known as the Limbic System. It is here that most emotion is present and the area is 'pre-wired' with basic instinct information beyond what DNA can supply.Finally, the third, and most important development, was proceeding during the proliferation of evolving mammals. The Neocortex. This structure, while part of the brain as a whole, is the seat of intelligence, human initiative, and self awareness. The growth of the right side of the brain before the left is purely accidental and accompanied the evolution of higher mammals, especially primates, including man.Brain physiology is a bit more complex, but must be understood in relation to structure and instinct development. One important fact must be emphasized first. Intelligence and behavior is not determined by brain size alone, as has been believed. The overwhelming majority of brain thought, function and intellect is explained by neurophysiology and not by size. Some basic facts would be helpful. The brain is not composed of truly solid matter as once thought. Instead, it is a collection of trillions of independent brain cells, or neurons. Since they do not touch each other, they cannot transmit information by conductivity alone. The mechanism of action for information movement is accomplished by a plethora of chemicals called neurotransmitters. They include nor-epinephrine, acetylcholine, dopamine, seratonin and a variety of enkephalins such as endorphin.

picture by fantafabulous
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