The Human Brain Essay

730 WordsDec 8, 20113 Pages
The human brain consists of a large number of domain-specific evolved psychological mechanisms to solve recurrent adaptive problems, such as problems of food procurement and mate selection. In this sense, our ancestors did not really have to think in order to solve such recurrent problems. Evolution has already done all the thinking, so to speak, and equipped the human brain with the appropriate psychological mechanisms, which produce in us the appropriate preferences, desired, cognitions, and emotions, and motivate adaptive behavior in the context of the ancestral environment. All our ancestors had to do to solve their everyday adaptive problems was to follow the dictates of such evolved psychological mechanisms and behave according to how they felt, following their emotions and feelings. Conscious and deliberate reasoning was seldom necessary for our ancestors because most of their adaptive problems were recurrent and familiar, and they had innate solutions in their brains. Even in the extreme continuity and constancy of the ancestral environment, however, there were likely occasional problems that were evolutionarily novel and nonrecurrent, which required our ancestors to think and reason in order to solve. Such evolutionarily novel problems may have included, for example: 1. Lightning has struck a tree near the camp and set it on fire. The fire is now spreading to the dry underbrush. What should I do? How could I stop the spread of the fire? How could I and my family escape it? (Since lightning never strikes the same place twice, this is guaranteed to be a nonrecurrent problem.) 2. We are in the middle of the severest drought in a hundred years. Nuts and berries at our normal places of gathering, which are usually plentiful, are not growing at all, and animals are scarce as well. We are running out of food because none of our normal sources of

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