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Self-Consciousness as a Product of Biological Evolution

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This paper argues that self-consciousness and associated psychic consciousness emerges as a consequence of a recursive selfdirecting on itself of the cognitive centre in the human brain. The neural mechanisms and circuits underlying self-consciousness appeared and developed during biological evolution as an adaptation that increased the fitness of our social ancestors, chances of their survival, and reproduction. These mechanisms/circuits strengthened the efficiency of individuals in various social relations, enabled separation of 'I' from 'he/she' or 'them' and the formation of firstand higher-order theory of mind, stimulated development of complex, recursive language, facilitated forming temporary coalitions directed to achieve a particular goal, helped to establish social hierarchies, and increased coherence and cooperativity of a social group. The reciprocal reinforcement of the development of the neural network in the brain underlying self-consciousness and of the network of various social relations and aspects was a self-driving process, one of positive feedbacks abundant in anthropogenesis.
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Keywords: biological evolution; cognitive centre; consciousness; neural network; self-consciousness; social brain

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: BioSimulation Center, ul. Filarecka 6/7, 30â–“110 Kraków, [email protected], Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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