Re: Unique Neurons Make People, Apes Smart - Report

Anders Sandberg (
30 Apr 1999 11:33:45 +0200

"Gina Miller" <> writes:

> They found their spindle cells in the anterior cingulate cortex of
> the brain, which controls automatic functions such as heart rate but
> which also has been linked to emotions -- including the emotional
> response to pain -- and facial expressions.

It is deeper than that; the anterior cingulate cortex is closely related to our decisionmaking processes. It could be seen as the bridge between the limbic systems (emotions, valuations) and the frontal cortices (planning). Damage to this area has rendered people catatonic: some survivors described afterwards that they dimply didn't feel they wanted to do anything (see Damasio's _Descartes' Error_). In many ways it could be seen as a part of what we call the will; a guess is that it ties values to actions, so that we can decide what to do.

Maybe the higher intelligence of homids is due to a better ability to evaluate the pros and cons of different actions, or maybe in a more flexible way.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y