Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Intriguing Exocerebro Hypothesis: Another Way to Look at Consciousness

The exocerebro hypothesis is an interesting theory about consciousness that, in general terms, states that it is located not only in the brain, but also in the environment in which humans operate.

The Intriguing Exocerebro Hypothesis: Another Way To Look At Consciousness

Last Update: December 25, 2022

The exocerebro hypothesis is a theoretical extension formulated by anthropologist Roger Bartra.In the first decade of the 21st century. It states that consciousness is the result of internal processes that occur in neurons in conjunction with external processes that occur outside the brain, more precisely in the symbolic environment of each individual.

Bartra argues that a vast majority of neurobiologists have tried to explain the phenomenon of consciousness in terms of the biophysical and biochemical processes that take place in the brain. According to anthropologists, despite great advances in neuroscience, this has prevented significant progress in this specific area.

In Roger Bartra’s opinion, what is missing from this approach is to take into account that many functions of the human brain would not be possible without the necessary supplements provided by the environment. This is the core of the exocerebro hypothesis, which we’ll talk about next.

,Neuroscientists often feel uncomfortable in this motley company, but they must get used to sharing the field of consciousness with strange allies if they want to get ahead.,

-Roger Bartra-

exobrain hypothesis

Roger Bartra debuts with work prepared by Steven Hernad In which the studies done on consciousness till the beginning of the 21st century were compiled. the title of the long article was no easy way out And this served as a starting point for Bartra to formulate the hypothesis of the exocerebro.

A first approach, although very bold, was to point out that Consciousness is not the result of any function of the brain but a procrastination, To explain this idea, he compares the brain to a pneumatic machine. He says that if the latter is faced with a job that is beyond her strength, the result is that she stagnates.

In theory, this should be the case with the human brain, but it is not. Why? Because humans have invented “prostheses” or external means that prevent this from happening. These prostheses are cultural and social networks in which humans are immersed., Bartra calls them “cultural prostheses” and they are basically made up of language and symbols.

Cultural prostheses and the Exocerebro

exobrain hypothesis He then argues that the brain is incapable of generating consciousness on its own., It should be clarified that Bartra defines consciousness in general as “self-awareness or the awareness of being aware”. The lack of a brain would be compensated by cultural prostheses, that is, social and cultural systems existing in the environment.

So, Awareness would have the ability to link internal processes of the brain with external circuits located in the environment, Bartra indicates that this process is similar to the process that occurs when a prosthesis is installed to correct a sensory dysfunction, such as deafness, for example. In these cases, the brain adapts to these devices and comes to incorporate them into its functions.

hence, Cultural prostheses are defined as symbolic replacement systems, which act as compensatory mechanisms of the brain., For example, when hominids changed locations and encountered unknown or adverse conditions, instead of stopping, as a machine, they built signaling or orientation systems to detect and adapt.

lack of cultural prostheses

Roger Bartra points out that one of the pieces of evidence for the exocerebro hypothesis is found in two specific cases. One is that of autism, a disorder in which many cognitive functions may remain intact and even underdeveloped. Yet, lack of connection with the environment prevents the formation of such a conscience.

Another example is people with antisocial personality disorder. It turns out that it is common for people with this diagnosis to present with a low amount of gray matter, up to 11%. Due to this they fail to connect with the environment and this leads to lack of consciousness. In this case, as in the previous case, there is talk of a lack of an exocerebro.

The exocerebro hypothesis was born by an anthropologist and is very difficult to prove experimentally, but it has attracted the attention of many neuroscientists around the world. At the moment, this is considered a plausible explanation, but under verification.

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