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Charting the domains of human thought: A new theory on the operational basis of the mind

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The article presents a new theory for the subdivision of human thought into four domains that are experientially and operationally discrete and are elaborated by activity in four anatomically definable areas of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. I propose that these areas constitute the Social, Material, Temporal and Abstract divisions of the mind and that their sequential maturation accounts for the cognitive stages of childhood. The Social Mind (Brodmann's area 9 (BA9)) is responsible for our emotional intelligence. The Temporal Mind (BA10) enables us to contemplate the future in terms of a sequence of manageable sub-goals. The Material Mind (BA47 and BA45) is responsible for our practicality. The Abstract Mind (BA46) enables us to comprehend possibility and generate hypotheses. Because recent neurogenetical studies show the powerful influence of genes in controlling the size of the areas of Brodmann, I suggest further that variation in the size of these areas provides an explanation for (a) the genetic basis of personality and (b) many of the so-called cultural differences apparent between long-isolated human populations.

Keywords: cognitive development; consciousness; creativity; language; mind; prefrontal cortex

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wilson Laboratories, Department of Human Biology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2360, Australia ., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2003


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