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Authors: Evers, Kathinka
Title: Can we be epigenetically proactive?
Online publication date: 26-Oct-2016
Language: english
Abstract: The human brain is an essentially evaluative organ endowed with reward systems engaged in learning and memory as well as in higher evaluative tendencies. Our innate species-specific, neuronally-based identity disposes us to develop universal evaluative tendencies, such as self-interest, control-orientation, dissociation, selective sympathy, empathy, and xenophobia. The combination of these tendencies may place us in a predicament. Our neuronal identity makes us social, but also individualistic and self-projective, with an emotional and intellectual engagement that is far more narrowly focused in space and time than the effects of our actions. However, synaptic epigenesis theories of cultural and social imprinting on our brain architecture suggest that there is a possibility of culturally influencing these predispositions. In an analysis of epigenesis by selective stabilisation of synapses, I discuss the relationships between genotype and brain phenotype: the paradox of non-linear evolution between genome and brain complexity; the selection of cultural circuits in the brain during development; and the genesis and epigenetic transmission of cultural imprints. I proceed to discuss the combinatorial explosion of brain representations, and the channelling of behaviour through “epigenetic rules” and top-down control of decision-making. In neurobiological terms, these “rules” are viewed as acquired patterns of connections (scaffoldings), hypothetically stored in frontal cortex long-term memory, which frame the genesis of novel representations and regulate decision-making in a top-down manner. Against that background I propose the possibility of being epigenetically proactive, and adapting our social structures, in both the short and the long term, to benefit, influence, and constructively interact with the ever-developing neuronal architecture of our brains.
DDC: 100 Philosophie
100 Philosophy
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 05 Philosophie und Philologie
Place: Mainz
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:77-publ-550287
Version: Published version
Publication type: Buchbeitrag
License: In Copyright
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Citation: Open MIND
Metzinger, Thomas
Pages or article number: Kap. 13(T)
Publisher: MIND Group
Publisher place: Frankfurt am Main
Issue date: 2015
Publisher URL:
Publisher DOI: 10.15502/9783958570238
Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

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