Author’s copy: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences (2007)
The across-species genetic conservation of intercellular and extracellular chemical communication enables unicellular and multicellular organisms to functionally distinguish between self and non-self. Non-self olfactory/pheromonal input from the social environment elicits a vertebrate neuroendocrine response. The organization and activation of this neuroendocrine response modulates the concurrent maturation of the mammalian neuroendocrine system, the reproductive system, and the central nervous system during the development of sexual preferences that may be expressed in sexual behavior. Psychophysiological mechanisms for the development of these sexual preferences include focus on unconscious affects that are detailed in reciprocal cause and effect relationships. Olfactory/pheromonal conditioning elicits neuroendocrine effects accompanied by unconscious affects on the development of sexual preferences. Integrating these unconscious affects extends to humans a developmental model of behavior that includes the development of male sexual preferences for other males.
For comparison, see: How Can Physics Underlie the Mind? Top-Down Causation in the Human Context (2016)
by George Ellis
George Ellis, FRS, is one of the world’s leading researchers in general relativity theory and cosmology. He is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking.
- Addresses one of science and philosophy’s biggest puzzles: how complex structures that emerge from atoms and molecules can become causative agent
- Argues that the human mind and resultant social agency has a special status among complex systems
- Is fully consistent with present day physics, but also takes into account key features of biology and how the brain functions
- Will appeal to general and academic readers alike
Available 6/12/16 from Amazon books
Physics underlies all complexity, including our own existence: how is this possible? How can our own lives emerge from interactions of electrons, protons, and neutrons? This book considers the interaction of physical and non-physical causation in complex systems such as living beings, and in particular in the human brain, relating this to the emergence of higher levels of complexity with real causal powers. In particular it explores the idea of top-down causation, which is the key effect allowing the emergence of true complexity and also enables the causal efficacy of non-physical entities, including the value of money, social conventions, and ethical choices.
On pages 3 and 4 from my online version, look for:
In the influential book What Is Life, written in 1945, Erwin Schrödinger wrote [80, p. 81]: From all we have learnt about the structure of living matter, we must be prepared to find it
working in a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of physics. And that not on the ground that there is any ‘new force’ or what not, directing the behaviour of the single atoms within a living organism, but because the construction is different from anything we have yet tested in a laboratory.
See for comparison:
What is Life? in the section on ORGANIZATION MAINTAINED BY EXTRACTING ‘ORDER’ FROM THE ENVIRONMENT
…the awkward expression ‘negative entropy’ can be he replaced by a better one: entropy, taken with the negative sign, is itself a measure of order. Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of the orderliness ( = fairly low level of entropy) really consists continually sucking orderliness from its environment. This conclusion is less paradoxical than it appears at first sight. Rather could it be blamed for triviality. Indeed, in the case of higher animals we know the kind of orderliness they feed upon well enough, viz. the extremely well-ordered state of matter in more or less complicated organic compounds, which serve them as foodstuffs. After utilizing it they return it in a very much degraded form -not entirely degraded, however, for plants can still make use of it. (These, of course, have their most power supply of ‘negative entropy’ the sunlight)
Look inside for information on the role of virus-driven energy theft. Search for viruses on page 172 in my online version
Folding of Single-Stranded DNA Sequences Following Reverse Mutations. The selection of native nucleic acid folding (an irreducible higher level variable) is an epigenetic effect,with broad implications for the evolution of plants and their viruses. The folding structure (a higher level variable) corresponds to an equivalence class of lower level sequences, and is the biologically relevant variable determining the selection that occurs. How do we demonstrate this top-down causation? This has been shown in detail experimentally by Shepherd et al. .
Note: “…a three-nucleotide mutation adversely affected Rep nucleic acid folding…” and a “…single-nucleotide reversion [C(601)A] restored wild-type-like folding.”
My comment: This exemplifies the difference between virus-driven energy theft, which caused the mutation, and a nutrient energy-dependent change in a base pair, which was required to restore the energy-dependent biophysically constrained protein folding.
Look inside for information on the role of pheromones, on page 424 in my online version.
Hartwell et al. express the last point in the following way :
Much of twentieth-century biology has been an attempt to reduce biological phenomena to the behaviour of molecules […] Despite the enormous success of this approach, a discrete biological function can only rarely be attributed to an individual molecule, in the sense that the main purpose of haemoglobin is to transport gas molecules in the bloodstream. In contrast, most biological functions arise from interactions among many components. For example, in the signal transduction system in yeast that converts the detection of a pheromone into the act of mating, there is no single protein responsible for amplifying the input signal.
My comment: Sensing and signalling of differences in cell types is energy-dependent. No one who knows that would expect to find a single protein that was involved in two different biophysically constrained functions, which must link metabolic networks to genetic networks in yeasts and humans via the innate immune system, the physiology of reproduction, RNA methylation, and learning and memory which must be linked to supercoiled DNA and all biodiversity.
But wait, Ellis cites Schrödinger, and ignores what Roger Penrose claimed in the forward of the reprint.
It’s beginning to seem that George Ellis is going to tell only half of the story that he thinks explains how physics and the mind are connected, automagically. What about the energy source, George?
He is saved from ridicule only by the recognition that he may need to keep his faith in evolution despite the lack of experimental evidence of biologically-based cause and effect that could link neo-Darwinian theories to Darwin’s “conditions of life”. Clearly, he understands the need to establish the context in which his claims can be placed.
See page 141
184.108.40.206 Setting Values for Contextual Variables
Contextual variables set by the environment must lie in a suitable range. For example, the following are crucial to life as we know it:
• The environmental temperature must lie in a very narrow band.
• Oxygen and water must be available.
• A suitable energy source must be available (sunlight for a plant, food for an animal).
Without these contextual conditions being right,much life on Earth (animals, plants, and insects) would be in trouble. Other forms of life might have different sources of energy (e.g., thermal vents), but without some energy source, they will not survive.
My comment: Without a link from the contextual variables to the energy-dependent physiology of species-specific reproduction, the innate immune system could not be linked to all biodiversity. George Ellis knows that.
See also: Understanding and accounting for relational context is critical for social neuroscience
In the comments section, I wrote:
“New data on how genetic predispositions are epigenetically linked to phenotypically distinct neuroanatomy and behaviors is provided in the honeybee model. Across-species comparisons from insects to vertebrates clearly show that the epigenetic influence of food odors and pheromones continues throughout the life of organisms that collectively survive whereas individuals do not. These comparisons also attest to the relative salience of sensory input from the rearing environment. For example, when viewed from the consistency of animal models and conditioned behaviors, food odors are obviously more important to food selection than is our visual perception of food. Animal models affirm that food odor makes food either appealing or unappealing. Animal models reaffirm that it is the pheromones of other animals that makes them either appealing or unappealing.
Socioaffective neuroscience and psychology may progress more quickly by keeping these apparent facts in mind: Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans (Keller et al., 2007; Kohl, 2007; Villarreal, 2009; Vosshall, Wong, & Axel, 2000).”
— Kohl, JV (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 2012; 2: 17338 – DOI: 10.3402/snp.v2i0.17338
George Ellis replied: This is absolutely correct and forms part of the larger concept that top-down causation is a key factor not just in the way the brain works but in broader contexts in biology and even physics. This is explored here: http://rsfs.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/1.toc
George Ellis also responded: Great links, thanks. I’m intrigued by your work on pheromones. It is just possible it might relate to the issue of primordial emotional systems, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3540967/