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The Origins of Mind Chapter 7: Evolution of Control-Related Mental Models


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Title: The Origins of Mind Chapter 7: Evolution of Control-Related Mental Models

The Origins of MindChapter 7Evolution of
Control-Related Mental Models
  • Describes the cognitive and brain systems that
    support explicit, controlled problem solving.
  • Discusses how the evolution of brain size and
    organization relates to the systems that support
    controlled problem solving.
  • Finally, reviews the research on social selection
    pressures and motivation to control.

Cognitive Systems
  • Implicit Processes
  • Explicit Processes
  • Making the Implicit Explicit
  • Central Executive
  • Slave Systems
  • Self-Awareness

Implicit Processes
  • Implicit refers to the neural, sensory,
    perceptual, and cognitive systems that
    automatically capture and process patterns of
    social or ecological information but operate
    below the individuals awareness.
  • Memory Systems
  • The most frequently encountered and affectively
    salient ecological information is automatically
    encoded and stored in long-term memory
  • Modular Information Processing Systems
  • Attention to and processing of the forms of
    information needed to support social discourse
    and relationships

Explicit Processes
  • Explicit processes are conscious, controlled
    understanding of logical, decontextualized, and
    abstract representations.
  • Controlled problem solving and the ability to
    engage in rational analysis are correlated with
    general intelligence.
  • Inhibition of heuristic-based responding
  • Formation of a conscious, explicit representation

Making the Implicit Explicit
  • How does one become explicitly aware of
    implicitly processed information patterns?
  • The mechanisms by which the central executive
    creates consciousness results in an
    attention-driven amplification of the activated
    information and a synchronization of the brain
    regions that compose the external executive and
    the brain regions that are processing the
    external information.

Central Executive
  • Allows individuals to focus on goal-relevant
    tasks and information and to inhibit irrelevant
    information from entering conscious awareness.
  • Working Memory
  • The combination of the brain regions that control
    attention-driven amplification and the amplified
    perceptual and cognitive processes compose
    working memory.
  • Individual differences in working memory are
    related to differences in the ability to focus
    attention on the task at hand.

Slave Systems
  • Baddeley and Hitch (1974)
  • Phonological loop
  • Composed of a phonetic buffer that holds acoustic
    information in short-term memory and an
    articulatory rehearsal mechanism.
  • Visuospatial sketch pad
  • Engaged when generating mental images and
    memories of objects, places, and people.
  • Baddeley (2000, 2002)
  • Episodic buffer results in the conscious
    awareness of experiences that require an
    integration of information across space and
    sometime across time.

  • Semantic memory refers to the retrieval of
    decontextualized facts and information.
  • Noetic awareness
  • Episodic memory refers to the retrieval of
    time-based, contextualized memories of ones life
  • Autonoetic awareness is the ability to
    consciously consider the self across time, that
    is, to recall personal experiences, relate these
    experiences to current situations, and project
    oneself into the future.
  • Autonoetic mental model (discussed later)

Brain Systems
  • Executive Control
  • Areas of the dorsolateral region of the
    prefrontal cortex
  • Involved in maintaining the task goal in the
    mind, guiding the sequencing of the multiple
    problem-solving steps, and suppressing the
    potential interfering effects of externally or
    internally generated distractions
  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Activated when goal achievement requires dealing
    with a novelty or conflict (e.g. choosing between
    two alternatives)

Brain Systems
Brodmanns map of the brain
Brain Systems
  • Episodic Memory and Autonoetic Awareness
  • The right prefrontal cortex is involved in the
    retrieval of episodic memories and
  • Craik and colleagues (1999)
  • PET scans were used to examine brain regions that
    were activated during the study.
  • It was concluded that processing and retrieval of
    information that involved memories of personal
    experiences and the persons self-concept are
    dependent on the functioning of the right
    prefrontal cortex.

Brain Systems
  • Episodic Memory and Autonoetic Awareness
  • Brain injuries
  • Injuries to the right prefrontal cortex causes
    there to be an inability to recall episodes of
    ones life, such as in the case of patient KC.
  • KC was also unable to project himself into the
    future through mental time travel.
  • Other people were also unable to problem solve
    when it came to novel situations or situations
    involving conflict.

Problem Solving and Human Evolution
  • Selection Pressures
  • Brain Evolution
  • Mental Models and the Motivation to Control

Selection Pressure
  • Selection Characteristics
  • Time scale of change
  • Must be within the limits of a single lifetime,
    and should occur repeatedly
  • Type of selection pressure
  • Needs to drive the evolution of self-awareness
  • Coevolutionary arms race
  • Favor brain and cognitive evolution
  • Forms of selection pressures
  • Should be different when comparing humans to apes
    and other primates
  • Climatic, Ecological, and Social conditions

Selection Pressures
  • Climatic Conditions
  • Not considered responsible for the
  • increase in brain volume and EQ or
  • the apparent changes in brain
  • organization during human evolution.
  • Tend to take longer than the time scale used for
    working memory.
  • Climatic variation does not fit the conditions
    normally associated with an arms race.
  • Other hominid and primate species were affected
    by the same climate conditions as our ancestors.

Selection Pressures
  • Ecological Conditions
  • Refers to the ability to extract resources from
    the environment and, at the same time, avoid
    being extracted by other species
  • Tool Development and Use
  • Hunting techniques have expanded through the
    development of various tools.
  • Humans use the executive control when developing
    tools because they are project themselves into
    the situations in which they would need to use
    the tools in the future.
  • Other animals tend to hunt through opportunity
    rather than with the use of mental time travel.

Selection Pressures
  • Ecological Conditions
  • Contributed to the evolution of the brain and
    cognitive processes in humans and it does explain
    all features of executive control, especially
  • Consistent with the time scale used for working
    memory and an coevolutionary arms race

Selection Pressures
  • Social Conditions
  • The achievement of ecological dominance shifts
    selection pressures to social competition.
  • Consistent with the time scale of working
  • Group-level competition and dynamics often
    require sustained attention and
    other features of executive control.

Selection Pressures
  • Social Conditions
  • Self-awareness is the ability to understand those
    features of the self that others might cue in on
    and use in their social interactions and
  • Not only is social competition consistent with a
    coevolutionary arms race, but it should also
    accelerate the race.
  • Sharp population crashes
  • Consistent with changes in brain volume and EQ
    and potential changes in brain organization

Brain Evolution
  • Expansion of the Prefrontal Cortex
  • The absolute size of the human prefrontal cortex
    has expanded over the course of our evolution,
    which has resulted in an increase in the
    interconnections among these regions and other
    regions of the brain.
  • The human prefrontal cortex has been shown to be
    comparatively larger than in chimpanzees and
    other primates.
  • This suggests that humans may have an enhanced
    ability to integrate information across
    modalities in comparison to apes and primates.

Brain Evolution
  • Reorganization of the Prefrontal Cortex and
    Anterior Cingulate Cortex
  • It is almost certain that the human prefrontal
    cortex (left and right dorsolateral areas) and
    the anterior cingulate cortex have undergone
    substantive reorganizations during human
  • The result would be accompanying improvement in
    the ability to inhibit evolved heuristic-based
    responses and instead internally represent and
    mentally manipulate ecological and social
    information explicitly and consciously in working
  • Neuron only found in the anterior cingulate
    cortex of great apes and humans
  • Right versus left frontal cortex

Mental Models and the Motivation to Control
  • Conscious-Psychological Evolution
  • Autonoetic mental model the individual creates
    a self-centered mental simulation of the perfect
    world, which is one the individual is able to
    organize and control social, biological, and
    physical resources in ways that would enhanced
    the survival or reproduction options of the
    individual and kin during human evolution.
  • These models are needed for situations that
    cannot be resolved with heuristic-based
  • These models enable individuals to anticipate and
    mentally simulate potential behavioral strategies
    to deal with variations in social dynamics and
    ecological conditions.

Mental Models and the Motivation to Control
  • Conscious-Psychological Evolution

These models are experienced as daydreams and
Mental Models and the Motivation to Control
  • Foci of Conscious-Psychological Control
  • The focus of behavioral strategies is gaining
    access to and control of social, biological, and
    physical resources that covary with survival and
    reproductive outcomes during evolution.
  • For humans, these resources can be abstract (e.g.
  • The foci of conscious-psychological simulations
    should be restricted to conditions that also tend
    to be variant within lifetimes.
  • Support hunting, tool use, and social dynamics

Social Cognition and Folk Psychology
  • Control-Related Conscious-Psychological
  • Are there conscious-psychological mechanisms
    consistent with an evolved motivation to control?
  • Self-efficacy beliefs involve a conscious
    assessment of ones competencies in regard to the
    desired outcome and the perceived competencies of
    other who are attempting to achieve the same
  • There are conscious-psychological and implicit
    mechanisms that maintain self-efficacy and goal
    directed behavior in the face of inevitable
  • Attribution to external cues (Example I failed
    that test because the teacher made it too
  • Predictable failure (Example I knew I was going
    to fail that test.)

Control-Related Conscious-Psychological Mechanisms
  • Control-related conscious-psychological
    mechanisms can be integrated with other
  • The focus of ones attempts to achieve control of
    personally important outcomes varies with
    physical, social, and cognitive competencies
  • Example Decline in physical competencies
    associated with terminal illness
  • Control-related attributions might be integrated
    with models of explicit, controlled problem
    solving and with activity of the anterior
    cingulate cortex and other brain regions.
  • Occur because of discrepancy between ones
    desired outcome and the actual outcome.

Social Cognition
  • Social cognition should be focused on the self,
    relationships, and inferences about the behavior
    and internal states of other people, and
    group-level process.

  • The self schema is a long-term memory network of
    information that links together knowledge about
    the self, including positive and negative traits,
    episodic memories, and self-efficacy in various
  • Most of the time this knowledge is implicit.
  • Self schemas appear to regulate goal-related

  • When evaluating the competencies of others,
    people focus on the attributes that are central
    features of their self schema and prefer
    relationships with others who seem consistent
    with self schema.
  • Example Athletes versus Academics
  • Ideal self
  • Difference between actual self and ideal self
  • Attention is driven to the space between selves
    and consciously show that abilities or social
    strategies must be modified.

  • The person schema is a long-term memory network
    that includes representations of the other
    persons physical attributes, memories of
    specific behavioral episodes, and more abstract
    trait information.
  • Theory of mind would include memories and trait
    information about how the person typically makes
    inferences and responds to social cues and their
    social and other goals.
  • Usually implicit except when the persons
    behavior is inconsistent with the schema.

  • The person schema is also related to the use of
    mental simulationcalled the simulation
    heuristicto make judgments about how the person
    might react in various situations.
  • Enables better prediction of other peoples

  • Social selection pressures assist in the
    formation of groups that work for control of
    survival-related or reproduction-related
  • Leads to in-groupout-group psychology and group

  • When resources are threatened, humans tend to
    form groups and show favorable bias towards
    in-groups and negative bias towards out-groups.
  • Usually happens for males in order to protect or
    obtain the needed resources.
  • Sometimes these biases are explicit.
  • Other times, these biases are implicit and
  • The amygdala is often activated when encountering
    the faces of unfamiliar out-group members, which
    suggests that they automatically and
    unconsciously trigger negative feelings in many