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The Semiotic Nature of the Brain

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posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 12:33 AM
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Whereas many here may be spiritual gurus and deem me "naïve" (which is ok), it is still nevertheless important and interesting to know what the nature of this brain of ours is, how it evolved, and how it works, no?

At a basic level, the human brain seems to have 86 billion neurons and 85 billion glia (Herculano-Houzel, 2016). This is a bit less from the typical number of 100 billion neurons which is usually reported, nevermind the outrageously large 1 trillion glia that has been assumed, but, the methods used by Herculano-Houzel are more sophisticated than the methods used to derive 100 billion, so the number, in fact, is 86 billion neurons, and 85 billion glia.

Neurons come in many shapes, sizes, and purposes, which basically split up between "activating" and "inhibiting", using the molecule glutamate to activate, or conversely, the molecule gamma-amino-butric-acid (GABA) to inhibit the cells bipolarization.

Glia, on the other hand, com in roughly four types: Astrocytes feed energy (oxygen,glucose) and connect up to neurons, cleaning up the spills around neurons and recycling the products for new activities. Oligodendrocytes are the myelin of brain axons - the long projections that shoot out from neurons. Myelin is basically a fatty "sheath" which insulates and so speeds up electrical-signalling in the brain. Microglia are the brains "immune cells", and endothelial cells are the blood cells that wrap through the brain.

The brain has roughly 4 discernible anatomical regions: the frontal lobe, the temporal lobes, the parietal lobe, and the occipital lobe. Each region is dedicated to: cognition, audition, localization, and vision. The cortex, or outer part, of each region, is about a millimeter thick, yet packs a big punch in "orchestrating" a response to the subcortical behavior of the brain, where neurons which produce core brain chemicals "charge" energetic processes. Phenomenologically (or consciously) this brain architecture parallels the way affect (feeling) occurs first, to which we exert "control" with our top-down mental "guidance".

Basic neurochemicals relevant to certain capacities are serotonin, which is produced in an area of the brainstem called the "raphe nucleus". Serotonin modulates the electrical behavior in a cell, and so is associated with affect-regulation (and hence, is used in anti-depressants). Dopamine, another big chemical, is generated in the VTA and the substantia nigra (this is the area that dystrophies in Parkinsons disease). Finally, norepinephrine is produced in locus coeruleus in the Pons (area of the brainstem), and is involved in mediating states of alertness, vigilance, and deep analysis.

From an neuroevolutionary point of view (I do hope people here subscribe to science, and understand how chemical-dating processes work, i.e. that our Earth is not infinite, that evolutionary had a beginning, and that Humans emerged into their present structure 200,000 years ago, albeit, in a very different psychological form) the lower brainstem evolved first, as in reptiles, and so the basic modulating neurotransmitter systems of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, can be found in crocodiles. In effect, evolution only "progresses" when the ecological situation on Earth accommodated the emergence of animals that could coherently i.e. symmetrically, handle the complexities of an environmental situation by "creating" something new (which perhaps may exist elsewhere in the universe, given the nature of information at the quantum level), so, for instance, mammals evolved to become smaller and smaller animals that lived under the shadows of dinosaurs (anyone see a metaphor here?) but in doing so, developed what crocodiles and dinosaurs didn't have: myelinated (glia covered) fibers, which allows these animals to move faster than the larger animals around them. However, this speed had an energetic cost: loss of energy means loss of heat which means a need to gather together with other conspecifics (members of your species).

This is, it seems, how love emerged: the need to get away from dinosaurs forced mammals to run, which forced them to huddle together to save heat, which overtime, evolved further into the mother-infant connection via the mammary glands.

The reason I point this out, is that the entirety of this process can be recognized to be a semiotic one, where a meaning basically becomes embodied in the dissipative-potentials of the organisms electro-chemical structure.

By the time the human being evolved, all prior organismic structures "evolved" perceptions and cognitive habits that built upon earlier semiotic foundations, so that by the time humans arrive on the scene, consciousness became more and more about "correlating" its internal structuring dynamics (grounded in symmetry) with the incoming signals from the environment, which of course, represent the object in a way that is either of "good" or "bad" significance to the organism, but always in terms of what occurred earlier.

We are relational ontological structures, necessarily making meaning in terms of a "point-counterpoint" structure. By the time we emerge into adulthood, we contain and retain the meanings imposed on us by our environments, which, of course, may be "built" into the fabric of the cosmos, but this ignores the point: stupid thinking only works in minds that feel in stupid ways. Nobody chooses what they feel. Everyone has feeling imposed on them. No one - not unless you think your body isn't the ground of your perceptual feelings - is beyond this. Indeed, if you're afraid or worry for yourself, and find yourself wondering "what's going to happen to me?", take solace in knowing that the body is always the ground of perception - that the body, instead of being a "mere vessel", IS the spiritual basis of our ability to perceive, act, and imagine in the ways that we are able to do. The body is not a mistake or an error, as the ancient Gnostics so-feared. Indeed, when it comes to the emergence of the "viral" civilizations on Earth, its sort of like a chicken-egg situation: what came first: the beliefs or the context which forced the beliefs into being? Clearly, the context, always, facilitates the formation of beliefs, but we may need to go far very back indeed to track the emergence of ways of being that operate on the premise that reality offers an "outlet", a "secret way out", when it is, in fact, always singular, always based-in-a-body, even if the mind seems and feels ethereal, it really isn't different from what's happening in the body in the first place - indeed, to get and be its proper nature, it needs a body to emerge.

Problem is, again, we can't choose our environments. I didn't choose my mom or dad or the country I live in (of which I am very thankful). I just 'became' what the environment offers as a potential, with my choosing mind either controlling desires that harm others, or not. Of course, for me, this is easy - not a big deal at all: I love being kind, good, and having fun. However, can a Mexican gangster, abused by his cultist parents, feel like I feel? The answer, of course, is no, as much "gunk" exist in him which shaves down hi standards to what he generally likes: sex, drugs, wildness, etc. He is "symmetrical" in very different ways from me, but of course, his are addictive and lead, typically, to a short life. Never mind the negative semiotic-karma you build up in hurting others.




posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 12:45 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

I think you're making a mistake confining people to definitions in order to understand them. A Mexican gangster isn't a Mexican gangster 24 hours a day.

They have families, kids, and kiss them goodnight before they go to bed too. People are people, and regardless of the circumstance we're raised in we always have the choice to choose who we are.

I don't want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 12:54 AM
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Out of all that you didn't even mention the "circle of Willis" ;p Sorry, I read some but it is hard for me to comprehend and it too much for me right now.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 01:59 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte




Whereas many here may be spiritual gurus and deem me "naïve" (which is ok), it is still nevertheless important and interesting to know what the nature of this brain of ours is, how it evolved, and how it works, no?



I'm not a guru or spiritual person, quite the reverse. My focus is the realm of life which includes a lot of unseen critters,, deities and so on. Nor do I think your naive for that matter


While I am not a fan of dogmatic science, I do see, hear, taste and feel (sometimes painfully, nursing broken rib at the moment) phenomenon that is so close to us one could reach out and touch it literally. I do a lot of study of that realm and the Beings who live there including humans and their selves.

While we have a physical brain and "yes" I am aware in a medical sense how it works. This brain, it's substance, and chemicals, etc., does have a very profound effect on life.

Methinks the material brain is not the entire story. I say this because of my current interest; trauma.

In children who die a very traumatic death, say violent prolonged rape followed by a brutal murder, the trauma is still very much there in the afterlife. No physical brain present.

All their memories are there, all their emotions and other facilities. For all intents and purposes they are a very real person.

Unfortunately, some end up in the (so-called) lower astral where their emotions and self perceptions acquired from life polarised them. No one comes from the "higher" realms into the "lower" to rescue them. Thus my interest in trauma.

Anyway, you've piqued my interest in psychology simply because while we can rescue them and keep them out of danger, even after several years, the traumas are still there.





edit on 10-8-2017 by Whatsthisthen because: typo



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 02:37 AM
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OP, you might get more response if you simplified your writing a bit. And I think the opening could throw people off, I don't know if the number of neurons is relevant to your point, nor the other neurological details.

But I agree with you, we can't choose who we are. It's really a paradox, because in everyday life we expect people to take responsibility for their actions, and they do, and we make choices and sometimes we regret them and sometimes things turn out well for us. But isn't that just an illusion? It's not like I can decide to be someone else, or to feel the opposite of what I feel. That requires an outside force. So someone will have to figure this out I think.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 03:26 AM
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a reply to: Cutepants

Perhaps that is what makes life so wonderful, so precious, priceless. For no two lives are ever the same and a life can never be repeated.

Diversity.




posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 05:23 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte
So you admit to being a reptilian crocodile person! I knew it!


If I got your points correctly: you are arguing that
1) The biological basis of nature overrides any "spiritual" aspects
2) Evolutionary psychology plays the largest role in our present beliefs and feelings which are externally determined
3) Human behaviour is largely a natural response as opposed to a true choice (as choice involves struggling against nature)

If I interpreted you correctly then I agree wholeheartedly, that is where the evidence points. Emotion and belief are determined by environmental experience and memory association, including through epigenetic inheritance from ancestors.

I have to say though that herd behaviour exists in non-mammals, so I dont think that is where it originated. Herds are simply sensible ways to increase survivability as a prey. Fish school together because it confuses predators and increases the chance that they will not be a target.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 05:29 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

Quote possibly the best item I've ever enjoyed on ATS.

Thank you for your work and your insight.

Further I would hazard, regarding your comment about "those" who question your "spiritual" bona fides ... given that "spirit" by most definitions is both eternal and infinite, I'd say that any relative difference (whether actual or perceived) between humans is infinitesimal.

Thanks again.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 07:26 AM
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a reply to: Gryphon66

I dunno, man. If feels like a "bait and switch" once you get to the 2nd half of the last paragraph. To paraphrase, it's about Mexican gangsters being raised by cultist parents, with them focusing on the sex, drugs, & wildness that they enjoy, being the same in some ways to the OP but never being able to be of the same type, etc.

Seems like an anti-Hispanic immigration thread disguised as a deep thread about the capabilities of the brain and how our environment shapes us.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 03:56 PM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant


I agree and it also seems a pattern with this member.


edit on 10-8-2017 by Kashai because: Content edit



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 05:38 PM
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originally posted by: Whatsthisthen
a reply to: Astrocyte




Whereas many here may be spiritual gurus and deem me "naïve" (which is ok), it is still nevertheless important and interesting to know what the nature of this brain of ours is, how it evolved, and how it works, no?



I'm not a guru or spiritual person, quite the reverse. My focus is the realm of life which includes a lot of unseen critters,, deities and so on. Nor do I think your naive for that matter


While I am not a fan of dogmatic science, I do see, hear, taste and feel (sometimes painfully, nursing broken rib at the moment) phenomenon that is so close to us one could reach out and touch it literally. I do a lot of study of that realm and the Beings who live there including humans and their selves.

While we have a physical brain and "yes" I am aware in a medical sense how it works. This brain, it's substance, and chemicals, etc., does have a very profound effect on life.

Methinks the material brain is not the entire story. I say this because of my current interest; trauma.

In children who die a very traumatic death, say violent prolonged rape followed by a brutal murder, the trauma is still very much there in the afterlife. No physical brain present.

All their memories are there, all their emotions and other facilities. For all intents and purposes they are a very real person.

Unfortunately, some end up in the (so-called) lower astral where their emotions and self perceptions acquired from life polarised them. No one comes from the "higher" realms into the "lower" to rescue them. Thus my interest in trauma.

Anyway, you've piqued my interest in psychology simply because while we can rescue them and keep them out of danger, even after several years, the traumas are still there.




No, now that's quite it.....

The brain can be gone almost and still have an above average high school student....as in the ninety....

The brain forms daily and does it differently when thinking on Scriptural readings. That's actually science, as seen on a thread here at ATS



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 07:35 PM
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originally posted by: Whatsthisthen
a reply to: Astrocyte

[Quote]
Unfortunately, some end up in the (so-called) lower astral where their emotions and self perceptions acquired from life polarised them. No one comes from the "higher" realms into the "lower" to rescue them.
Assuming that's true for this moment, why? It sounds awful.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 07:45 PM
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Semiotics (from Greek: σημειωτικός, "simiotikos") (also called semiotic studies; not to be confused with the Saussurean tradition called semiology which is a subset of semiotics)[1] is the study of meaning-making, the study of sign processes and meaningful communication.[2] This includes the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, allegory, metonymy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication.


The semiotic tradition explores the study of signs and symbols as a significant part of communications. As different from linguistics, however, semiotics also studies non-linguistic sign systems.


en.wikipedia.org...

How exactly are you defining these symbols Astrocyte???

edit on 10-8-2017 by Kashai because: Added content



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 09:34 PM
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a reply to: underwerks

Have you ever heard of the concept "self-state"? It's a popular psychoanalytic concept. A self-state is a state of "being you" which is brought out by a particular context.

So, with the Mexican gangster, because he is involved in immoral activity vi-a-vis others, he becomes traumatized psychologically by his actions. The brain seems to be built by symmetry dynamics (Castillo), so that, because we emerged-in-time in a self-other context, we naturally synchronize with one another.

So lets say this gangster has a family as well. This context, unlike those involving his criminal brethren, will activate different affective profiles within his system, and so he'll "be" different with them. Both states are true. Both express the needs underlying the conditions which shape him.

Problem is, he is enormously "dulled" to the nature of what he does - how it hurts other people - and how he seems to think that the universe permits him to feel so entitled. If he is able to be kind, loving, and generous, it is because he dissociates the self-states where he is cruel, greedy, arrogant, and insulting.

We are made of self-states, which is why, I think, ego-worship necessarily leads to severe mental illness.




I don't want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.


Would you kill all the scientists then? Because this is what logical analysis produces. Knowledge says this is so, and that person who believes differently is tragically lying to themselves - misrepresenting reality to do what ALL ANIMALS DO: do what they need to survive. Yes, I'm sorry. I feel you're pain about this, because I have been in states where I've thought the same thing. However, since feelings are ephemeral, relational, and dependent on how I see things, we also possess the means to experience a different vantage point towards the same mental object.

That said, the truth is the truth, and it is pure hubris to deny logic and trust what your feelings tell you. Indeed, all the things which mysticism speaks of i.e. levitation, etc, has a logical basis in reality. Reality does not "disappear" when such feats are performed. It is, actually, via the way the inside and outside world connect - and are always in non-stop connection - that such feats can even be said to be real.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 09:51 PM
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a reply to: Ridhya



1) The biological basis of nature overrides any "spiritual" aspects


Why the dualism? The biological IS spiritual - the fact that 75 trillion cells and 28 zeros worth of atoms are being processed through our structure is, in fact, of the same exact nature as the spiritual dimensions i.e. based in a fractal geometry. Mae Wan Ho, the late biophysicist, believes that the entire lattice-work of our system propagates through the golden mean i.e. the "irrational" number. That is, properties are related through this 'frequency'.



2) Evolutionary psychology plays the largest role in our present beliefs and feelings which are externally determined


No. Early-life development, where early-brain architecture becomes shaped, is what guides/biases later developmental processes. I mention evolution because of the connection between evolutionary biology and developmental biology, i.e. "evo-devo". Evo-devo is about mapping the correlations between evolution in animals, and the development of the brain.

The main thing to take away is this: early life sets neurtransmitter responses (i.e. brainstem, midbrain and cerebellum development) to external objects, which means, early life sets your feelings-in-your-body. Your affects i.e. "visceral feelings", sensorimotot rhythms, or how you move and end to be in your body - all this is programmed by early-life development.

It is shockingly important to know, particularly if you're deeply involved in mysticism and do not realize that any experience of transcendence is being "weighed against" early-life-relational-disturbances. If the world feels like "maya" - thank your brain for that. If the sensorimotor - or "embodied" part of your mental experience - isn't properly correlated to being-with-others, that is the problem.

It is, again, absolutely shocking how human beings built myths about reality i.e. see Hinduism and the whole doctrine of maya, without ever knowing early-life disturbances in self-other recognition dynamics sets-our-feeling-body.

This is what you get when you look at things through the lens of science, and ignore the "transcendent" realm. You aren't as afraid as other people because you are not splitting your self into two on the inside.



3) Human behaviour is largely a natural response as opposed to a true choice (as choice involves struggling against nature)


I would cast the problem as reflexive vs. reflective cognition. When we simply "blurt" things out, or operate on automatic, it is entirely a function of the environment channeling our awareness and our responses. Of course, its blissful to be this way, but we also act like self-absorbed maniacs who confabulate justification for dissociative behavior because we do not - or are afraid - to know that we are human, make mistakes, and can hardly be perfect.

Noticing the difference between consciousness in reflection, and consciousness in flow, is what matters. If someone, for instance, is offended by something we said, it is a reflex to defend ourselves - no? But the truth is, if were honest, and take their perspective on what we said, it'll make a lot of sense.




If I interpreted you correctly then I agree wholeheartedly, that is where the evidence points. Emotion and belief are determined by environmental experience and memory association, including through epigenetic inheritance from ancestors.


Indeed. I love it when people just accept the evidence, and not believe, as so many people here believe, that the universe is conspiring against our wellbeing.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 09:53 PM
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a reply to: enlightenedservant

LOL What a crazy and irrational thing to think. You think I wasted all those words/ideas simply to trash Hispanics????



Occams Razor

I wish I could edit my post and write in "Sicilian mobster", or "KKK Satanist", or "Russian mobster"

My mind went to the wrong group. Damn!
edit on 10-8-2017 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 09:58 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte



So in your "self-state" you seem unable to relate violent behavior to someone more like yourself than someone from Mexico who sells drugs. How does not that also result in the delusion that portends to the conclusion. That you seem to be unable to relate in discussion, the idea that someone that you define as "like you" is in capable of the same behavior as the your apparent stereotype?


If not then why not in a public forum relate that behavior as an example rather than someone from another culture?

Do you have a problem doing that?


edit on 10-8-2017 by Kashai because: Added content



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 10:09 PM
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a reply to: Whatsthisthen

I have very little understanding of what you write about i.e. the astral realm.

Right now, the emerging idea in the sciences is that the whole matter-mental distinction is wrong, and that we better think of everything as semiotic i.e. as ideational - or mental; or signs - or granular "bits" - which come together in logical ways i.e. as one part (sig) interpreting another sign and producing a third. The genius - probably the smartest human to ever live (and was only appreciated by another genius, William James) Charles Sanders Peirce, developed a whole system of philosophy, which might as well be an ontological of relations, which applies as much to biochemical processes as to mental process.

But there is a major twist here: if everything is ideational, why is everything so ordered, so consistent, so banal? Because all things evolve through habit (CS Peirce). Habit is how all things work. Habit is nature, and it the nature of reality to repeat structure-itself in the same old ways we normally experience it.

Now, as to what you write, with regard to what happens to minds following death, again, I have no inkling of a clue as to what that means. You claim to have an idea, and I'm sure you've had meaningful experiences, but it would be a mistake (scientifically - it wouldn't be tolerated at most universities) to assume that existing-in-this-society with others, which is fundamentally building large amygdalas, is conducive to correct perception.

I'm not saying what you're saying is wrong or BS - I'm inclined to think humans exist in some form following death. However, what it is, or where it is (vis-à-vis the world around us) is still not known.

It'll be exciting if science can one day figure this out.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 10:14 PM
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a reply to: Kashai






So in your "self-state" you seem unable to relate violent behavior to someone more like yourself than someone from Mexico who sells drugs. How does not that also result in the delusion that portends to the conclusion. That you seem to be unable to relate in discussion, the idea that someone that you define as "like you" is in capable of the same behavior as the your apparent stereotype?


Hmmm. No, Kashai. I have violent tendencies - but they will never be as bad as people who grow up in much harsher relational contexts than I did. Violence is bred - it does not form in a vacuum - if that is what you appear to be arguing.

If you want an example of a violent tendency in me? When I'm already activated, from running, for instance, and someone talks to me, and I happen to find what they're saying to be irritating, my heart rate - which is already high - will naturally lead to an over-aroused or aggressive response.

When I was a kid, I was very aggressive. I once stomped on my brothers head, giving him a concussion.

That said, people change - as I have. I'm mostly in control of myself, if my body is in a good state i.e. I'm taking care of myself. If not - for instance, underfed, hot, or too much caffeine, I will be a b*itch, as many people are liable to be when they aren't taking care of their bodies.



posted on Aug, 10 2017 @ 10:27 PM
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a reply to: Whatsthisthen

You know, matter is what we mean by the physical world, but if, as astrophysicists say, most of the known universe is dark matter/energy, there is plenty of space for mind to be found.





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