Neurons for controlling fire

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by baftan, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

    Do we have them?

    Like many other brain controlled animals, we are born with some specialized neural blueprint, hardwired by repeated -and "useful"- information accumulated after evolutionary adventures. When infant is exposed to human language (preferably starting from the earliest age), the infant will only be able to control it if necessary brain connection is present; infants of other animals and/or human infants born with/develop some form of brain architecture issue(s) will not be able to "at least" fully manipulate this tool, no matter what degree they can comprehend the external conversations.

    According to some archaeological interpretations, control of fire by early humans goes back to 1.7 million years ago. Is it enough time for brain to develop a relevant "fire control" compartment?
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  3. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Huh? What are you asking? You aren't thinking that we are born with some inherent knowledge of fire are you?
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  5. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

    No, I am asking. There is no proven "fire neuron" in brain. That does not necessarily mean that we haven't; unless proven otherwise. If, for example, we can prove that 1.7 million years time span is not enough for brain/dna to develop any hardware, we might not suspect for the possible existence of any neuron group specifically dedicated to control of fire. Actually, there is another way of proving this: If controlling fire has nothing to do with hardware requirements, it's all about cultural/thought dimension, that is to say "software" of brain, mind, and we will not be able to find any "fire" region.
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  7. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    There is no "fire region" in the brain. It's something that has to be learned by each individual following birth. Nothing strange at all about it.
  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Your problem is with the word 'control'. We have never controlled fire - or spears or faucets - in the same way that we control our tongues, sphincters and digits. The control of fire has always been external to its user: subject to the prevailing flammable material, tools and environmental factors. It has always been a conditional and provisional control: learned and adapted by every generation - and with uneven success. It's not inherent or genetic, and could be forgotten again in two generations.

    The things we do have genetically transmitted control of are adaptations of far older functions than the specifically human. Such neural control mechanisms as regulating the rate of eye-blinks and suppressing a sneeze might be an interesting phenomenon to study. While monkeys, dogs and mice are equipped with similar eye and nose structures, I'm not aware that any other animals exert conscious control over these muscles, while humans can.
  9. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

    Dang...I thought this thread was going to be about pyro-kinesis

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  10. wellwisher Banned Banned

    There are children who can play the piano at a very young age, who never had lessons. A piano is very modern in comparison to fire. How would you explain that? I would say, there are certain natural modern fire starters, but maybe not everyone, to the same degree.

    Fire is interesting in that it satisfies all the definitions of life.

    That being said, I would assume the brain can make this life parallel and extrapolate this is fire, anew for each generation. But not fall all since you only need one per tribe.

    One needs a seed of fire or a spark to begin the life of a fire. Since this is a baby fire, we feed it baby food, such as grass, tiny sticks. As it get larger, we give it bigger food like logs. We can take seeds from this bigger fire and share them with our neighbors who will nurture them to adult size.
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Whatever knowledge we have at any stage of our lives is due to exposure and learning.
    I believe one of the most important functions of the brain is to be able to store physical and associated emotional experiences. This is a function of the mirror neural network.
    It is a fairly recent discovery but IMO, once we understand it fully, it will explain all our behaviors, such as compassion, cooperation, social adaption, etc.

    scientific pdf,
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You picked a bad example, because human language is also dependent on a very complex set of evolutionary adaptations in the mouth and throat. For example, our voice box is pushed so far down in our throat, in order to provide the ability to form the necessary sounds, that we are one of very few mammals who cannot swallow and breathe at the same time. Most of them simply cannot choke to death on their food, like many people do, because eating doesn't block their breathing.

    In addition, we also have many more muscles in our jaw, lips, tongue, glottis, etc, than they do; this allows us to pronounce the enormous number of phonemes (individual elements of sound such as B, K, A, etc.) that are the building blocks of language. A dog can't come close to forming enough different kinds of sounds to communicate in spoken language, even though he can learn to recognize, understand and react to as many as 200 words.

    This is what makes the technology of spoken language so fantastic. Evolution has redesigned a significant portion of our anatomy to support it. Furthermore, it has also set aside a major part of our brain to serve as a speech center.

    Gorillas and chimpanzees have been taught American Sign Language; they can read and sign as many as 1,000 words, using correct grammar. (And ASL grammar is considerably different from the grammar of spoken English.) But these primates have a forebrain that is much larger (in proportion to body size) than most other mammals, even though it's only about one-third the size of ours. Even if it doesn't have a true "speech center," it has enough neurons to handle at least rudimentary processing of language.

    Dolphins communicate by sound, and what little we've managed to learn about this indicates that, at least, they each have a personal name and each pod has a sort-of chant that may be something like a national anthem, or perhaps just an analog of a military cadence count on a long journey, "I don't know but I've been told/Orca ass is mighty cold/Sound off one-two/Sound off three-four..."

    Anyway it's clear that language has a strong evolutionary component, it's not something that an animal without it can be expected to invent simply by being clever.

    The same is surely true of fire. Most animals run away from it as fast as they can. We tame it and put it to work.

    I don't see why not. It only took seven million years for Ardipithecus, the first fully bipedal primate but still a grazing herbivore, to evolve into an animal who can't climb trees to escape from predators, who learned how to turn flint rocks into weapons, who used those weapons to kill other animals for meat which allowed him to grow a larger brain, who eventually became an obligate carnivore and the apex predator of the entire planet, and finally outgrew his pack-social instinct to build gigantic civilizations, and furthermore invented entire new technologies such as agriculture, ceramics, the wheel, writing, industry and electronics.

    Somewhere along the way our ancestors overcame their fear of fire and put it to good use. One of its most important applications was safety, as predators were instinctively reluctant to come near us at night with our campfires burning. (The domestication of dogs, with their sharp teeth and keen night vision, must also be credited with a role in this seminal change in our lifestyle.) This allowed us to sleep for longer periods at one stretch, and it's recently been discovered that R.E.M. sleep is when we unconsciously organize all of our thoughts.

    Without fire we wouldn't be as clever as we are. All of this did, indeed, happen around 1.7MYA. (Not the dogs, they didn't come to live with us until 30KYA at the very earliest.)

    Read the works of Carl Jung (or better yet one of his more understandable popularizers, notably Joseph Campbell) to learn more about the role of fire in our psychology. There are many junctures in our evolution at which we can say, "This is what made us what we are." That statement is true of every one of them, not just fire!
  13. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    I think our emotions can change weather and make fire. I have sparked fire before.

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