Our brain also mapped relationships

Neuroscientists showed that room dimensions are a basic pattern of thinking

"The room is a necessary idea, a priori, which is based on all the external views. You can never make an idea that no room is whether you can think of the same way that no items are encountered in it."

As a Kant this in the "Critique of Pure Reason" wrote, he thought concretely to the room in the true sense. He is a priori given prerequisite for perception; All we perceive and imagine is in the room.

One of Kant’s youngsters, Oswald Spengler, modified Kant on the one hand (the room performance is cultured with him) and advanced him: the respective room performance of a culture determines all their exercise forms, thus also transferring to areas such as politics and music that are not directly domestic.

In fact, domestic metaphors determine a rough part of our perception and thinking. Tones are high or deeper than others; In the color space colors are close to or far; Even to be hired we are looking for gain distance or we are standing on you. Are all these only language images that have?

Also our social, now yes, room we structure on the basis of space ideas: someone is close to or far – "I’m at a distance to winter grain", Stamped Piech – and at the same time was not quite clear who there was the other. In fact, the two dimensions (still such a domestic term) are indicated, according to which we classify social relationships according to many theorists: close (affiliation) and power. Each of us is therefore at the zero point of its own social coordinate system and locates other on the one hand over or below (Y-axis: power) and, on the other hand, as familiar or foreign (X-axis: close).

This is more than a metaphor?

An irregularly published study from the working group around Rita Tavares and Daniela Schiller at the Icahn School of Medicine in MT. Sinai, New York, explores the for unlikely. Scientists love 18 volunteers play a pretty simple computer role game, while they were in the magnetic resonance tomograph.

"They have to do overtime!" – Role playing and relationship coordinates

In it, the players were drawn in a new city and got to know five persons – potential friends, boss, neighbor, colleagues – who presented various requests to them on which they had answers to choose from (boss: "They have to do overtime!" (A) "Whatever you want, boss!" (B) "I work very hard on the project, I get that paid?"To). The choice of answers changed the relationship, so that the story then developed a little differently.

The idea was that the subjects at the moment of the decision make their previous relationship with the respective person and determine how they want to continue to design this relationship. With each coincidence, therefore, the position which the non-player character occupies in the individual coordinate system by closely and power to be defined on a manner defined by the study managers.

Now one can describe such a position in Euclidean coordinates (A * close, B * power), or as polar coordinates (vector with angle [social position] and long [absolute social distance]). In the second case interact and makes with each other, so that about a person who is close to us, changes in the relative makes much strong impact than one that is remotely. Theoretical approaches suggest that such a description is true – and in fact, the scientists showed to Schiller in control calculations that the use of Euclidal coordinates leaked to nothing. So they took advantage of the two components of the polar coordinates – angle and long of the vector – and searched for brain areas whose activity was correlated during the decision with one of the two.

They found several, of which most of which were to return to trivial conditions of the task. Among other things, they excluded all correlations that occurred, while the subjects were confronted with a new sans of the non-play characters – and thus could reflect a Blobe memory performance. They focused on those who are associated with changes in social location during the reply decision.

Activity in the hippocampus

Incibly two solid finds remained: the long of the relationship vector correlated with activity in the rear of Zingular cortex. This is an area that is already brought to gain a first impression of people and that if necessary. to modify. The angle of the vector, however, correlated with activity in the hippocampus. And this correlation in turn was the strong high the social competence of the subjects determined in personal test was.

Location of Hippocampi (red) in the human brain: View from below. Image: Washington Irving. Public-free

And that’s a hard thing, because the hippocampus is the area in the brain that provides a cognitive map of the environment. For this discovery already made in the 1970s, John O’Keefe got the Nobel Prize last year (together with the couple Moser). He was the first to observe the site neurons in the hippocampus, ie neurons whose activity determined places in the vicinity of an animal.

According to O’Keefe, who also theoretically expanded this finding, the space protrusion of the space neurons is allocentric, so the current location of the rat independent. However, newer data suggests that an egocentric environmental reputation station has an impact on the activity of both the point neurons and the lattice cells discovered by the Mosers.

The results of the workgroup Schiller now show that the hippocampus also maps in the relative social position of persons in the environment of a person. Although self-centered: In one of their control experiments, the scientists counted the positional chants of the non-play characters on allocentric reference points around: all correlations with brain activity disappeared. So we put ourselves in the center of our social coordinate system and place our fellow human beings in it after dependent coordinates, which suggests and makes at least two of the most important ones.

The memory as an internalized room?

That the hippocampus with its space neurons is not only state-of-room orientation, but also for long-term reminiscence, is long known. As these two tasks could go together, both O’Keefe and Moser have been able to disseminate in a variety of ways: as similar as space neurons fires in a certain sequence, when rats run along a path, so maybe such a fire la Ola also binds together thoughtspisodes, which we Counter in the memory.

It could be explained with how long-term remuneration builds on space processing. Our reminder would be something like an internalized room. Maybe Mnemotechniken, where thought contents are placed at certain points of a presented environment, this inner structure of the reminder.

The New York working group showed that the hippocampus represents its room proteination to the brain for even quite different thinking processes. We also construct our social environment in space. The dimensions of the room are, it seems, actually a basic pattern of our thinking.

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