3. Operations of Sense Organs, Emotions, Muscles and Mirror Neurons



3 As comedians say, "timing is everything". The brain need not understand the various inputs and outputs, only link them. The appropriate action only needs linking to the recognized situation. Learning them together accomplishes that. Linking the need to send a machine to North Bay with the cheapest solution because of their previous coincidence reduces the brain's responsibilities to learning and remembering linked data physically encoded by sense, evaluative and muscle organs. The brain produces the linked, patterned nerve impulses on cue in a system that will be described in more detail over the next three chapters. The parts of our minds then could be the muscle, sense, and evaluative organs, which produce our conscious sensations, and the brain, which unconsciously stores those sensations only to return them to consciousness - remembering and re-experiencing them again at their originating sense organs.

3 His Theaetetus, https://archive.org/stream/the00aetetusofplatplatrich#page/158/mode/2up is an example of interest to psychology. In recommending Plato, the Church pushed some of his other mistaken ideas. The Theaetetus purports to be only an examination of knowledge, but Plato, apparently unintentionally, secreted the misclassification of emotions into the fabric of his epistemological discussion. He ignores their actual role, assumes that they are parts of our five senses, and also confirms the religious notions that our consciousness and decisions come from within our soul. He treats those mistakes as already proven facts and neither of the other dialogue participants questions his assumptions.

3 Our eyes lead our bodies around by triggering subroutines that identify and evaluate threats and opportunities and provoking muscle actions to deal with them. Our eyes, or others of our five senses, identify triggers that produce the matching consciousness survival subroutine. The five sense organs identify, the survival-reflex evaluates, and the muscles execute. Mostly sight, but any of our five senses can identify, thereby tripping an unstoppable, unrelenting, biological, chain-reaction - like a recording, the brain only stores the matching learned instructions and plays the recorded information back with no conscious part in controlling or ability to change the outcome.

3 We misunderstood our emotions right from the start of recorded history.

3 To repeat, emotions provide the self-interest meaning part of our thought process and motivate our behavior. Being unaware of their role in the comprehension of evaluative meaning and decision-making, Plato could not make sense of perception without using a non-physical, soul concept to understand and make decisions. Today, scientifically sophisticated psychologists believe that physical brains produce our decisions, but switching the word 'mind' for 'soul' didn't change the ancient psychological model. That required a twisting of observed reality to accommodate their belief.

3 As already discussed, they made four accommodations :

1. they misconstrued the site of thought,

2. and they misidentified the trigger for our behavior,

3. but they also misclassified our emotions,

4. they misconstrued the site of our experience.


3 Keeping 'mind' and 'mental-thoughts' mysteriously immaterial was necessary to maintain freewill and accountability, but if thoughts do not exist in our reality, we cannot study them.  If the same kind of religious foundation limited physics and chemistry, we would still be banging flint stones together in hope of a cutting edge. No one expects choices in physics. Everything follows one set of physical laws. Direct observations of the physical world provide a resource that gives us mastery over nature. Given the same kind of source for consciousness, meaning, and decisions, psychologists could use direct observation of those systems to drive the social sciences to a reality-based understanding of animal, and especially human, behavior. That depends on finding a tangible, physical counterpart to Plato's 'soul' and modern science's 'mental' concepts. Modern science offers powers well beyond those available to ancient philosophers and medieval priests; it's time to reexamine their four mistaken accommodations and replace their religion biased explanation.

3 In modern times, the idea that our brains experience our conscious streams seems like science and feels like common sense, but that is an illusion. It is based on the idea that we experience sight, hearing, and smell in our brains, but we are aware of our contact with the things we touch and taste and so need no adjustments to use the data from those two phenomenal sense organs. We hold no illusion of feeling touch and taste in our brains because we feel the sensations from those organs at some distance from the brain. We only need to touch ourselves or eat, in order to perceive correctly that we experience those sensations on our skins and tongues. If you wish to understand yourself and others, directly focus on your conscious feelings; the attentive observer will find surprises; different kinds of feelings exist there that will contradict previous teaching. Please observe in your own conscious stream now, that we experience phenomenal perceptions and memories in our five senses, that our brains feel no consciousness and only store information. (You can generate your own evidence to confirm this arrangement. Close your eyes and remember your mothers face. Closing your eyelids stopped current sight from overwhelming the rods and cones view of mom that you remember from the brain side of your eyes. If you were 'seeing' the remembered vision in your brain, the position of your eyelids wouldn't matter. The close proximity of eyes and ears to the brain generates confusion, but you can feel the pain of a burn on your skin. You taste in your mouth, not your brain. Clearly, a toothache is felt in the tooth. The dominant usefulness of eyes and ears combined with their closeness to the brain confuses the location of our experience.) We don't experience our conscious streams in one place; each sense organ becomes the focus of experience as it becomes conscious. We have assumed and been taught that our essence is unified within the soul or brain. The idea that our consciousness and identity is a crowd effort has distasteful implications. We are less angel and a more plant-like, biological machine than we were a few sentences ago, but our experience tells us that we feel most sensations as a movie in our eyes with a self-generated voice-over in our ears. Taste, smell, and touch account for other conscious phenomenal feelings, felt in their individual organs. Perception is a group effort, but who is in charge? We'll start with a brief description of a new scientific approach and theory based on the observation of inwardly focused reflex part of thought; later, details and proofs will be offered.

3 The claim that "our brains or souls run the show" has been hard to explain. So try this: our brains don't run the show. They just store information and understand none of it. The part running the show changes, sometimes moment to moment. Control, like phenomenal perception, is swapped among sense organs that have been misclassified as a sub-set of our five phenomenal senses. Phenomenal senses only generate reports of the external world. Close attention will reveal that the decisive power in our conscious stream is the second set of misinterpreted and uncounted evaluative sensory reflexes that fall into three classifications:

nutritive (nose, tongue, stomach, bladder and intestines - examples: hunger, thirst),

defensive (skin - ex: injury, itching) and,

reproductive (nipples and genitalia - ex: sexual arousal).

3 Those reflexes produce graduated evaluating feelings of pain and pleasure. Since ancient times these evaluative, sensory reflexes have been counted and classed as subsets of our five phenomenal senses. This miscategorization has stopped us from seeing how our minds control our behavior. Unlike our five phenomenal senses, which neutrally report on conditions external to us, the evaluative sensory reflexes detect and value internal states. For example, none of our sense organs measure outside temperature, but we do feel a feverish internal state as hot and a chill as cold. We have assumed that these feelings arose from our sense of touch, but they don't focus outwardly. They don't bring us the kind of reports that sensors and probes brought to Kirk. Awareness of being uncomfortably hot or cold are analogous to Kirk's internal feelings, not information about the environment beyond his ship, but rather information about how that environment affects Kirk. Such perceptions are felt as pleasure or pain, and represent the consciousness of self-awareness, self-interest, and self-identity. They are definitely not 'value free' or neutral. Consider hunger. It tells us nothing about the outside world. It speaks to our internal condition, and pain stops us from starving ourselves to death. Each such pleasant or uncomfortable feeling represents a commanding Kirk in our consciousness. The one we currently experience feels like our real being and has the command of our thoughts and muscles. Hunger pains empower your stomach until you eat. Discomforting cold empowers your skin until you find a sweater or turn up the temperature. Pleasant arousal empowers your genitalia until they are satisfied. The feelings from these evaluative organs demand control until they feel neither pleasure nor pain. As we will soon see emotion, based on previous experience with these physical appetites, often uses reason to overrule them, and this confuses us. As said before, evaluative reflexes become emotions when we re-experience them from memory, and, as we can distinguish between current and remembered experience, the single source of remembered emotional memories provides the illusion of a unified evaluator and single self-identify. Both reflexive and the learned emotional evaluative feelings based on them choose between options using a comparative standard (most pleasure/least pain available) called motive. Those evaluative reflexes, not the brain, run the show, and each one in the moment of its use is the real self-interested being that you call you.

3 Did I forget muscles? We can consciously feel tension in our muscles; again, the brain cannot feel. They are our agent that reacts to our evaluative feelings by neutralizing pain or generating pleasure. 

3 That's it; those elements (five phenomenal senses, evaluative senses, muscle sensations, and memories of all three) make up our conscious stream, the only experience and record of life we will ever have. Readers, who are suspicious of conventional authority, will already know that this is a better description of their psychological experience. I have placed this bullet-point explanation in the first few paragraphs here to prepare the reader for the explanations, proofs, and insights that follow.

3 How did we fail to notice the role of emotions in thought? Anyone with access to their own consciousness can feel for themselves that emotions dominate our conscious streams. How had emotional evaluation been subtracted from the examination of human thought? That question sent me back to research that eventually led all the way back to, ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He altered social science history and committed a crime against reason, science, and humanity.

3 Pain and pleasure set limits on behavior by evaluating successful behavior with pleasure and unsuccessful behavior with pain. We all feel pleasure at eating and pain when starving because our genetic codes supply those evaluations. Degrees of pleasure and its negative, pain, evaluate our actions. Just as Google's PageRank finds the most used pages, not the best or truest information; our mental algorithm does not select behavior based on the true situation, it selects the most-pleasurable, least-painful option. The mind algorithm does not have to find the truth; it only needs to respond to evaluative standards that keep us alive, and maybe that was Plato's objection to emotion as a standard for decisions, but this is biology as bound to the laws of physics. Evolution sets the relationship between pain and pleasure and true and false by extinguishing all the reflexive code stipulating pleasure and pain evaluations that do not meet the reality check. We feel pleasure when we act to sustain life by doing things like eating and protecting ourselves from heat or cold or act to reproduce by having sex. We feel pain when we act to starve or expose ourselves or forgo the opportunity to reproduce. Any organisms with code that produced pleasure while starving or freezing did not reproduce. Our mental algorithm uses evaluation to sort sensations and actions. It peruses all available sensations from our five senses and muscles, marking those coincidental with pleasure or pain by making them conscious. This gives us an algorithm that is much easier to find and understand because its standard is inborn, not based on a correct understanding of the external world, and, rather than being unconscious, it expresses itself consciously - incessantly, insistently.

3 Emotions, like everything else in this universe, conform to the rational laws of nature and in chapter four; we explain their biological necessity for determining both rational and irrational behavior. An individual's emotions define meaning as self-interest by representing the effect of things, events, and actions. In some instances, we might agree on our interests, but that does not make meaning absolute, only duplicated. As has been explained, the Christian Church chose Plato's version of meaning because his idealism conveniently confirmed the Church's belief in absolute meaning from a higher power - their Christian God. That excluded the role of human emotions, and produced the crippled "value free" scientific analysis taught in their universities. A system roughly parallel to the disastrously inhuman Canadian government funded residential schools for aboriginals that were also run by churches. The Greek language in Plato's time had no separate word to distinguish art from other manufactured objects, so they could not have conceived of objects without value or a "value free science". For some two-thousand years, we have scientifically ignored emotions because the Church owned all the universities; their beliefs coincided with Plato's concept of absolute meaning, and they taught their students to dismiss emotions as irrational, unscientific, and sinful. Plato was a human being, science is a human invention, and like other human inventions such as automobiles, it needs an occasional upgrade like seatbelts to improve safety. Before we can understand how our minds work, we need to redesign the assumptions of Western Science because they explicitly exclude a vital component of thought. Adding a rational explanation of emotional meaning to the new model will heal the division between hard and soft sciences producing a unified and more realistic human-centered scientific concept.

3 Consciousness of pleasure or pain is a sensation much like the feelings of sight or hearing. Let me repeat that for emphasis. Consciousness of pleasure or pain is nearly the same kind of feeling as the sensations of smell, taste, or touch. While we can experience sight or sound without being conscious of them (we often fail to notice available sights and sounds), we cannot experience sensations of pleasure or pain without being conscious of them. Consciousness is always consciousness of pain or pleasure and any other coincidental phenomenal feelings. Pain and pleasure sensations biologically evaluate phenomenal sensations for us; no one wonders if their feelings of pleasure or pain indicate self-interest, but we have no counterpart inborn, comparable feeling for identifying truth. No little bell goes off when we find a fact. While our stomachs biologically trigger conscious pain sensations that evaluate the hunger condition, our considered experience teaches us that we must turn to the scientific method for proof that we are not fooling ourselves when we think we have found truth. The unconscious decisive, externally sourced, truth standard that science has assumed will guide us is non-existent. Our front and center, conscious, decisive, internally generated, evaluative standards (pain and pleasure) provide the basis for judging phenomena and behavior.

3 I can introspect and others agree that injury generates pain and a memory of that injury also creates a real pain feeling, but remembered pain only affects us psychologically, no blood is lost; its effect is still unpleasant and it definitely evaluates a true account of remembered injury. A bar full of men watching a soccer game on TV will groan and protectively raise their knees in unison at seeing a player accidentally hit in the testicles. We know that others feel the same sorts of physical and psychological evaluative sensations because they independently report them. By induction, we believe our own and all reports of pleasure and pain, made by strangers and acquaintances, in literature or in person, do establish their existence.

3 If readers would use their memories to imagine the conscious streams of two friends watching a TV football game together, they can imagine how remembered evaluative pleasures and pains (emotions) work. They will realize that from slightly different perspectives, the two sports fans would see an almost identical vision of reality, but if they were rooting for different teams, they would evaluate and act differently. Their friendly rivalry would cause one to evaluate a score positively while the other would evaluate it negatively; one might stand and cheer while the other sits and stews. The part of their conscious streams that identifies reality would be similar, but the evaluation and action parts would be unique to their past experience. Each conscious stream provides a complete record of a mind's control system for thought and behavior.

The steps in the four-step pleasure-seeking algorithm described in the next chapter depend on two biological processes: learning and remembering, which in combination are called recognition. Each takes place prompted by specific biological conditions that we can identify from within our conscious streams. Their operations require explanation because, while they result in the most pleasurable action known to the individual, those operations take place in unexpected organs and simple rules produce complex results.

The operations of our minds are the variety of distinct sensations experienced within our consciousness. As has been previously repeated, our phenomenal sense organs produce sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch; while nutritive, defensive, and reproductive evaluative sense organs produce sensations of pain and pleasure and muscles produce various sensations between tensed and relaxed. Evaluative sensory experience tells us that most of our phenomenal and muscle sensations have no emotional effect on us, but some, representing things like food and shelter, induce pleasure and properly exploited will help us survive, and others, representing things like poison or predators, induce pain and would thwart us. Regardless of what we can say about the absolute form and nature of nomenal reality, our phenomenal senses have evolved to identify sensations as different from each other, our evaluative senses assess which are neutral, useful or dangerous and our muscles appropriately act to ignore, employ or evade them. We do not need to understand, only act appropriately. Our minds consist of the five defining senses, the uncounted number of evaluative senses, muscles, nerves and brain. Each of us can directly observe that these four kinds of organs function cooperatively to (1) identify phenomenal sensations, (2) evaluate their relationship to us and (3) act with more or less success as defined by sensations of increases in pleasure or decreases in pain. Conscious beings can only cope with reality by identifying and evaluating phenomenal sensations that represent threats and opportunities that trigger appropriate actions. Our subject here is how our sensitive organs heuristically interact with mirror neurons, learning and remembering past experience to ensure survival and reproduction.

Our explanation starts with how we learn the significance of specific phenomenal sensations. Sight is the example here because we humans most often use our eyes to recognize, but all phenomenal sense organs operate in exactly the same way. Every sighted person can see that our eyes differentiate sensations, but to identify them they must first recognize them. Logic tells us that identification demands comparison, and therefore, previous experience. We could not recognize our own mothers, if we had never seen them before. We can only identify things seen before, learned and then remembered for comparison with current perception. Recognizing differences between phenomenal sensations can only be useful in combination with evaluative knowledge of their neutrality, helpfulness or harmfulness and that can only be useful with the ability to act. Knowing the dog is dangerous only helps, if you know how to avoid the bite. We can observe that muscles provide the means to exploit or avoid things identified and evaluated as helpful or dangerous. Only linking the correctly evaluated identifications to the correctly evaluated muscle actions is useful.

Learning links all three kinds of sensation experience together making past experience recognizable and useful for acting on current conditions.

Evaluation prompts learning. We can observe that evaluative sense organs generate pain or pleasure coincidentally with some specific phenomenal and muscle sensations, and by their coincidence evaluate our relationship with them. The genetically programmed reflexes that produce pleasure at the taste of mother's milk and pain at the site of injury are examples of inherent knowledge that defines our evaluative relationships with such gene-recognized sensations. The coincidence between pre-identified sensations and evaluative pleasures and pains, extrapolates these gene-programmed relationships to previously unexperienced identifying sensations. We extrapolate our pleasurable evaluation of mother's milk to evaluate other foods. Psychological feelings, like joy, fear and hope, based on such basic evaluations also evaluate both phenomenal and muscle sensations for us. We observe that feeling either the pre-programmed or the extrapolated emotional evaluation reflexively triggers learning, which is one of two conscious operations. The other is remembering. Learning must be the result of simple and reflexive biology because it requires no effort. Once you have looked at something while experiencing a changed evaluation you cannot refuse to remember what it looks like. Apparently, changes in the feelings of pleasure and pain power learning, more or less, depending on the magnitude of the change in feeling. A change from pain to pleasure, or the reverse, more powerfully instills learning than a strait increase or decrease in either. Good news will be more memorable, if it follows bad news. The winning homerun in the bottom of the ninth and the successful "Hail Mary" pass generate more pleasure and are more memorable than a victory based on an early lead. Passion is proportionate to life-promotion and makes learning effortless. You cannot learn uninteresting, unimportant sensations because they do not generate the emotional wattage needed. Students can study all night, but unless the subject matter interests them, they will fail the exam. It also true and anyone can observe, that the greater the emotion, the easier the remembering. The most effective teachers provoke humor, love, or fear; no one learns from boring (unemotional) instruction. Evaluations not only define our self-interest, they also illuminate all simultaneous phenomenal and muscle sensations causing conscious feelings of learning. We are aware of the sensations that we learn.

We lose consciousness of sensation energy when transduced to its electrical form, as it exists in the nerves and at the brain end of its commute. Measuring the millivolts carried by nerves that mirror the sensation energy collected by each organ with an oscilloscope (Luigi Galvani, 1780) confirms that transduction has taken place. For example, light falls on the eyes' rods and cones in patterns reflected from the environment. Seeing transduces that light into electrical energy echoing those luminous patterns. Our set of afferent nerves carry identifying, evaluative and muscle sensations to the brain. The brain stores them. As we can remember such evaluative feelings, previously experienced along with matching or approximately matching coincidental phenomenal and muscle sensations, and so we infer that the brain stores all three kinds of sensations. We have a different set of nerves, called efferent nerves (Mader S. S. (2000): Human biology. McGraw-Hill, New York). We can also measure electricity returning on efferent nerves back to sense organs and muscles. It causes remembering, which also changes our emotional state and, just like in learning, evaluation is a conscious operation that illuminates coincidentally remembered identifying and muscle sensations. Evaluations not only define our self-interest, they also appear to consciously illuminate all simultaneous identifying and muscle sensations causing conscious feelings of both learning and remembering. (We remember the pain in the hammered thumb, the hammer and action that caused it.)

We feel consciousness of all three kinds of sensations in their generating organs. Transducing all kinds of sensation energy to electricity simplifies the mind’s biology in that all sense and muscle organs connect to the brain by the same double-wired system of afferent and efferent nerves. As Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1886) observed nerves only conduct electrical currents across synapses in one direction. A controlling brain would only need afferent nerves to carry information from identifying and evaluative sense organs to the brain and only efferent nerves to carry instructions from the brain to the muscles. However, every sense organ and muscle is double wired to the brain (Ivan Pavlov, Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes, 1928). As explained in the previous chapter, neurons, identified as mirror neurons, were discovered using magnetic resonance imaging (Giacomo Rizzolatti and Laila Craighero, 2004). They "fire both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another." According to Rizzolatti et al, the sight of a ball would excite mirror neurons that stored the previous perception of a ball. Their assumption being that the brain uses this information in some yet unexplained way to recognize the ball. Given that the reports of identifying, evaluative and muscle organs are conducted in an electrical form on nerves, it would be logical to hypothesize that mirror neurons store all three kinds, regurgitating them in the same way. We can consciously see both ends of sight experience and it helps to close our eyes when trying to remember what a ball looks like because that is where we see the memory. It seems that our double-wired system carries perceptions both ways allowing us to experience both current perceptions and memories in all the three kinds of sense organs at the same time. At least it would be challenging to explain how they differentiate between the electrical sensations arriving on the same kinds of afferent nerves.

The sensation itself must somehow be its own storage address in our brains. For instance, the sight of something must be transduced to a code that includes its address as its content. At least, I cannot think of any other addressing system that would achieve our seemingly almost instant recognition. Our ability to re-experience learned sensations in sense organs suggests a connection between memories and their source organ. In the absence of any other explanation, it is reasonable to believe that memories are the result of returning efferent electricity stimulating the receptors in each kind of original source organ. This transduces electricity back into the original energy type of the afferent experience: the eye films and also screens recorded images, the ear acts as both microphone and ear buds, the stomach produces pain at the memory of hunger and once a muscle action has been rehearsed we can replay it. Sense organs are, unexpectedly, also action organs. While we had mistakenly deduced that the match between the perception and the mirror neurons had only identified the ball in the brain, the more complete explanation holds that those excited perceptions travel from the neurons back along the efferent nerves to the eye’s rods and cones from behind. Front and back, current and remembered light sensations, compared, photo over negative, in the rods and cones. Seeing the similarities identifies the ball confirming the correct match in the brain. The same principle would also postulate that muscle and evaluative perceptions returning to their originating organs as instructions would consciously re-create their previous states: contracting or relaxing muscles and recreating pains and pleasures. No changes are required. What you see is what you get. What you put in is what you get back. While we are not conscious of sensations in our brains, every kind of sense organ is capable of consciousness.

We respond to recognizing a snake as William James (The Principles of Psychology, 1890) said, "...not by feeling fear and then running away, but by running away while at the same time feeling fear". The brain must hold a memory of them all linked together. Donald Hebb (1949) proposed, “Cells that fire together, also wire together.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebbian_theory) and, if true, could link mirror neurons excited simultaneously by identifying, evaluating, and muscle sensations. If the first sight of a snake was experienced at the same time as a feeling of anticipated pain (= fear) and the leg instructions to run away, those three sets of recording neurons would be linked in memory. If mirror neurons that "wired together, fire together", matching any one neuron in a linked set would fire all. We can observe that the interaction of triggered data from neurons "wired together" by simultaneous coincidence effects their originating organs in such a way as to cause simultaneous recognition, motivation and behavior depending on the nature of each kind of organ. Matching a current identifying sensation to a comparable one from memory identifies it. Triggering the remembered sensation necessary for identification then would also trigger the remembered evaluative and muscle sensations. "Wired together, fired together" would now produce and send recognition, evaluation and muscle sensations along efferent nerves back to their originating organs with the effect of evaluating and appropriately operating them according to the match. If learning has linked the sight of a ball with the muscle instructions to kick it, those instructions travel along efferent nerves to the legs along with the identity-confirming image sent to the eyes. Their combination has the effect of a safecracker, electronics engineer, weapons expert, lookout, and stunt driver in a heist movie. Learning has recorded the specialized activities of the various team members. Matching recognition prompts each organ’s instructions to "pull the job" repeating their specialized actions. Each kind of organ reacts to the returning instructions according to its unique nature: the five senses identify, the evaluative senses vary the evaluation and muscles move. Remembering identifies currently perceived parts of the world, evaluates their potential and activates muscles. For example, seeing a snake automatically evokes the linked feeling of fear and the instructions to run. Because a match to any one part of a memory triggers the rest, seeing other people run leads us to look for a snake.

Not only do we recognize, evaluate and take appropriate action, but also the brain wires all instructions together sequentially and we recall them in their learned order. Your neurons fire forward in time from the point of matching. This explains why you have to start over at the beginning when you lose your place while reciting poetry. It also explains why you can tell a joke as a story and perform surgery in the right order from the first cut to sewing up. Our conscious streams provide a continuous record of our simultaneous, sequential, experienced and remembered perceptions, emotions and actions. Experiments by the American psychologist, B.F. Skinner, (Science and Human Behavior, 1953) offer some support for this account of sequential homeostatic structure and replay. He trained pigeons to perform specific, predictable actions by sequentially adding random muscle homeostats in a series by inducing pleasure triggered by food pellets. In other words, when they accidentally did what he wanted, in the order he wanted, he fed them. The pleasure inherent in the food selects the specific desired action for learning. Just by rewarding clock and counter clockwise steps in the right order, he taught the pigeons the sequential stepping instructions needed to walk in figure eight patterns.

If this theory, that brains have the ability to store and retrieve recognizing, evaluating and action perceptions is correct, logic tells us that many or most of the neurons in our cerebral cortexes are mirror neurons that fire past experience back to its originating organs as memories. As the effect of the memories from linked mirror neurons is homeostatic, I suggest we call them 'learned homeostats'.

The same emotions that trigger the learning of simultaneous identifying sensations and muscle actions later function heuristically to select the appropriate recognition and action response using a feedback loop. The emotional feedback loop starts, stops, and sets the speed of our responses. Just as remembered sight returning to the eye precipitates identification by reacting with current sight, we can observe that remembered pleasure or pain reacts with current sensations in evaluative organs. Current pleasure or pain sensations sum out with remembered evaluations. Same valence emotions (pleasure with pleasure or pain with pain) add their values. Opposite valence emotions (pleasure and pain together) net out their values by subtracting value from each other. This combination of remembered with current evaluations and perceptions gives rise to the variation and complexity of emotions. Feedback evaluation provides a control system that is the biological equivalent of what bionics engineers have called self-correcting feedback. Observations will confirm that in addition to acting on the highest evaluated match to current experience, heuristic rules govern that action. We continue to act to significantly reduce the emotion or overwhelm it by other current emotions. We stop trying to tune the car radio after recognizing that a correction in steering is necessary. In addition, memory tempers current evaluation. The injection only hurts for a second. As current evaluations change so do the actions they precipitate. We stop eating as hunger decreases. The source of adding or subtracting emotions is irrelevant: emotions sourced from other memories and other current experiences can influence and even overrule the actions motivated by a previous emotion. Emotional feedback stops us from watching the movie, if the theater catches fire.

If it was ethical to do so, you could watch a change in behavior prompted by a changed evaluative sum by producing feedback in the form of a mild electric shock each time a monkey reached for an apple. A not-very-hungry monkey would stare at the fruit as the homeostat with the highest value produces the remembered shock (pain) that will keep the monkey from touching the apple. However, as its hunger increases, the feedback sum will make the apple ever more tempting and at some point, the monkey would snatch the apple in spite of the zap. No one would want to do that to any animal, but we can imagine how it would work because of our personal experiences with pain and pleasure.

Reviewing the monkey’s experience, we find that while the apple and the shock evaluations remained constant, something must have changed because the behavior changed from frustrated watching to active grabbing. From a biological perspective, the feedback value of the monkey’s anticipated eating pleasure increased in proportion to its current hunger until it overwhelmed the value of the anticipated (remembered) zap. Emotional feedback changed the value of eating the apple. At that point even though the apple sight sensation remained the same, the homeostat controlling the monkey’s behavior switched from the one evaluated by electric shock pain to the one evaluated by eating pleasure because that homeostat now had the higher value. The behavior changed because defining sensations and evaluations act like x and y coordinates or, if you prefer, a homeostat’s number and street address in the brain. Biology dictated the change. Changes in either the current sensation or its evaluation reset the street address to the now matching homeostat, tapping new instructions. The system works because our genes define successful behavior as pleasurable/not painful. For that reason, pleasure prompts the learning of successful behavior and recognition of the same situation prompts the remembrance of previously successful behavior for as long as it brings pleasure. Past experience governs present behavior. We might doubt that monkeys spend much time reflecting on their motives, but to the ancient Greeks it apparently felt like a message from their gods. To us, such changes in behavior sound like common sense and feel like freewill. The next chapter will discuss the method of finding the specific causes of pleasure/not pain and the behavior that takes advantage of that result.