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Chapter 16: Focquaert, F., & Platek, S.M. Social cognition and the evolution of self-awareness (pp. 457-497). Hypothesis: Human self-awareness arose because.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 16: Focquaert, F., & Platek, S.M. Social cognition and the evolution of self-awareness (pp. 457-497). Hypothesis: Human self-awareness arose because."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 16: Focquaert, F., & Platek, S.M. Social cognition and the evolution of self-awareness (pp ). Hypothesis: Human self-awareness arose because of the need to understand and predict the behavior of others. Two aspects to this hypothesis: That understanding and predicting the behavior of others would have brought fitness benefits to the individual doing the understanding and predicting That this understanding and predicting would have applicable to both cooperative and competitive situations.

2 Self Awareness A related potentially adaptive byproduct: self- understanding may have brought with it its own adaptive benefits in terms of an increased ability to plan our own behaviors more effectively Mental simulation theory: the close connection between self and other; using self as model for understanding others Evidence: Autism/Asperger’s syndrome – individuals show both TOM deficits and self- awareness deficits

3 Self Awareness Metarepresentational ability: understanding how mental states affect another’s internal representation of a situation. Not just knowing what another can or cannot see; but how another’s perspective changes their understanding of an event or situation. Often AS or high functioning autistic individuals can pass standard TOM tests, but still struggle with their ability to understand other’s mental states (mental state attribution or MSA). Authors argue this may be connected to their impaired introspective abilities. Understanding self is a requirement for fully understanding others. Perspective-taking (meta-representational ability) and introspection are separable skills and both may be required for sophisticated, fully human TOM.

4 Mirror self-recognition (MSR) Mirror test and Mirror self- recognition (MSR): Gallup argued that MSR equals MSA, but recent studies suggest that this is too simplistic. Authors argue there is gradual evolutionary connection between MSR and MSA Chimpanzees have MSR and the ability to understand goals and intentions of others (especially in competitive situations) but not meta-representational ability in the sense of being able to understand the world from another’s perspective.

5 Covert vs. Overt mental states Authors argue that Understanding overt mental states such as attending and intending evolved to deal with competitive situations (nonhuman apes, maybe monkeys) Understanding covert mental states such as knowing and believing evolved to deal with cooperative situations (humans).

6 Role of self-conscious emotions often AS or hF autistics still have impairments in more complex self- conscious emotions such as embarrassment, shame, pride, guilt, etc. including empathy. Link between empathy and TOM: both appear to draw on common brain areas – medial pre-frontal cortex, temporoparietal junction, and temporal poles (cognitive part); cingulate cortex and amygdale for emotional component. Role of empathy: understanding another’s emotional state and understanding it as being the cause of their mental state.

7 Empathy and TOM Capuchin monkeys as intermediate link: large brained monkeys that show some evidence of MSR and TOM and empathetic behavior. They will console another who seeks out contact. Anecdotal and experimental evidence indicate a certain degree of empathetic understanding among chimpanzees and even greater TOM and MSR. Experimental: chimps shown video of emotionally arousing scene could match that scene to picture of chimp facial expression.

8 Cognitive neuroscience data: If self-awareness and other awareness are linked then similar brain areas should be involved in both. Mirror neurons: Mirror neurons respond to intentions not just actions Greater mirror neuron activity noted when actions are shown in context (actually grabbing something) as opposed to out-of-context (grabbing motion but nothing being grabbed). Greater mirror neuron activity in “drinking” context vs. cleaning context. Actions that affect individuals elicit more mirror neuron activation then those affecting objects.

9 Cognitive Neuroscience data Other evidence: observing an emotion producing overlapping activation in areas involved in actually experience the emotion (“unmediated resonance model of simulation”). Adolphs et al (2000) “visual- somatosensory reverse simulation” gestural expressions in others (especially facial expressions) are registered in visual system which connects to somatosensory cortex which creates a bodily map of the emotional reaction in the observer. “What would be happening in my body if I were experiencing what this person seems to be experiencing?”

10 Cognitive Neuroscience data Evidence for mirror matching systems motor actions (premotor cortex); emotions (somatosensory cortex); pain (ACC and insula – unmediated by SSC); and possibly also touch. Mirror neuron deficiencies may also be present in autism and AS individuals

11 Narrative “I” Self awareness and episodic memory: ability to project self into the future (constructing personal narrative) may provide motivation for long-term goal directed behavior. Facilitate more effective self-regulation and adaptive long-term planning.


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