Why don’t we know how our minds work? We can set feet on the moon but can’t figure out why we fall in love? We can calculate the distance to stars but we can’t fathom how a child can add two to three and get five? Why does the question that looks easier refuse to yield?

Common sense tells us that psychology takes place unobserved inside our minds while everything else exists outside where we can see it. That model has served physics very well while at the same time being wrong on both assumptions. A high-school science class asked to find the boiling temperature of water using current scientific beliefs and methods would report seeing boiling water at a thermometer reading of slightly plus or minus one-hundred degrees Celsius. That would be sufficient to answer the physics question, but ignores the existence of the mind that produced it. Observing our minds in action in the same way we can observe boiling water would give us the evidence we need to understand how they work, but two common sense assumptions have misled us.

Stereoscopic sight provides the illusion that we see things at various distances from our eyes, when all evidence tells us that we can only see in our eyeballs. We say and believe that a hand between our eyes and their object blocks our sight of it, when logic tells us that the reverse is true. The hand blocks the light reflecting from the object to our eyes. The rest of the world does exist at a distance from our eyes and so we learned by ourselves while still in our cribs to interpret our visual sensations as if we could see things where they exist because we must act as though we see a ball at a distance in order to grasp it. No doubt, all other animals learn the same lesson. Hand and eye coordination allows us to accurately touch and grasp things at a distance although we only see them in our eyeballs. The act of compensating for the distance has been learned and must be remembered giving us the feeling of experiencing sight in our brains, which adds to the illusion by misplacing the eye as a mere conduit between the object and the brain. Hearing works the same way. We have learned to interpret the loudness of sounds heard in each ear to gauge the direction and distance of the sound’s origin. Babies aren't sophisticated enough to realize the illusion and few adults have had a reason to question or consider the implications of it, but it affects the reliability of scientific observations. The belief that we all see and hear objects where-they-are instead of in our own eyes and ears has erroneously convinced us that two observers can share and objectively confirm an experience, both seeing and hearing the same things at their source. Cognitive scientists have previously rejected subjective introspection as a means of reliable scientific observation because they believed that objective truth can only be known through shared observations, but the phrase 'shared observation' is an oxymoron. None of us is really privy to another’s experience of any kind. For example I report seeing water boil at one hundred degrees Celsius and others might confirm my observation, but while we report duplicating each other’s sensory experience, we cannot share it. We have always based our understanding of physics on nothing more dependable than private and subjective observations, yet they have proved reliable enough to put feet on the moon.

Another misinterpretation of our feelings adds to the illusion that we experience thought and understanding in our brains by misleading us about the source of the conscious experience itself. We are aware that some part of us watches reality as though it were some kind of elaborate movie that adds sensations of taste, smell and touch to sight and hearing (the famous-five senses). This executive watcher feels the approval or disapproval that triggers action or inaction while following the events. Common sense based on our hand/eye coordination and dependence on language convinces us that decisions are the product of rational thought produced in our brains where they cannot be observed. We owe this misconception to ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, who believed that our ability to reason is a function of the soul that exists in an ideal, inaccessible spiritual world that overrides our emotional evaluations. With no possibility of physical evidence he reasoned that our knowledge is composed of transcendental elements and believed that we make rational decisions behind a metaphysical firewall beyond consciousness. The Christian church adopted this idea and taught it in their universities, but a simpler physical explanation also makes sense.

The mind’s complexity prohibits post-mortem analysis and vivisection presents overwhelming ethical and practical problems, but each of us can observe all our sensations directly in the sense organs that created them, just as we do with sight and hearing. Following the sensations in our conscious streams we find that in addition to the feelings of accessing hand/eye coordination from our brains, we have been misled because language has no need and, therefore, has no facility to express the evaluations of the speaker. Our evaluations of words are manifest as consciously felt emotions when we think and when we speak to others facial expression (smiles, frowns), tone of voice (harsh, loud, angry, soft, enthusiastic) and body language (aggressive, relaxed, defensive), reflexively, normally automatically, and often unconsciously convey our evaluations. Written words based on spoken words leave this evaluative communication channel off and replace the decision making role of emotions with the verbal reasoning that we use to rationalize our decisions to others. We usually rationalize after the emotional decision has been made in order to justify our emotional evaluation. In rare exceptions, reasons change the emotion felt, changing the subsequent decision. Either way emotion drives behaviour. We are as conscious of evaluative emotions in our conscious stream as we are of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, but because they are not represented in the verbal stream we have been ignoring them. 'Rational thought' then would consist of assigning the correct, decisive evaluation to perceptions and courses of action. For example someone offered a promotion might consider the factors for and against and only considering the words used in thinking or discussing the decision with a spouse or friend assume they had made a 'rational decision'. However when we add the evaluations to the words as they would be in our conscious streams we can directly observe their role. The sum of the evaluations of: more responsibility (pain) more pay (big pleasure) longer hours (pain) and more autonomy (pleasure) while providing less job security (big pain) and your own parking spot near the building (huge pleasure) would be the decision. You need not keep track of the recognized meanings because their individual evaluations adjust your mood to keep an emotional running total. The net end-result represents your evaluation of all the considerations put together and will determine your decision. Conventional wisdom advises that care and time be taken with important decisions because the process needs to start with a neutral emotional state. “Sleep on it.” You don’t want an initial good or bad mood to colour your decision.

In combination, the illusions described above have kept us from understanding that our conscious streams are our only evidence of both the world and the minds that perceive it. We have been acting as though duplicate physical observations were objective, when they can only be subjective and, therefore, could be faulty or one of us could be lying or, more likely, yielding to peer-pressure, but they could also be true. We still need independent verification; we just have to understand it is a subjective confirmation. We have been unable to observe our psychology in action because of normal science’s assumptions of objectivity, but any individual’s mind-made knowledge that can be demonstrated to conform to reality is true. General agreement tells us when we’re on the right track. Like the observations of physics, psychological observations are private and subjective but we have no reason to believe that they are less accurate or useful for it. A question based on those realizations would move the inquiry of our high-school boiling-water experimenters beyond physics into the now accessible realm of psychology by observing other sensations in their conscious streams.

Assuming that knowledge is sensations in their conscious streams, we could ask the students, which sensations were you conscious of? We would expect answers along the line of answers to the first question. They would mention seeing boiling water and reading thermometers. With a little prompting they may remember hearing the normal classroom sounds of others conducting their work. Pointed questions may get them to admit slight pains from boiling water bubbles splashing their hand as they reached for the thermometer. Leading questions might get them to admit a feeling of pleasure when comparing their result to the result they remembered as correct. These answers recognise a variety of sensations that exist in our conscious streams. So far that includes two kinds of famous-five sensations, sight and hearing, two kinds of evaluating sensations, pain from a current reflex and a remembered value of pleasure, and a memory of the sight or sound of the words, one-hundred degrees Celsius. Each is a distinctly different kind of sensation existing in all our conscious streams.

The second question asked of our students isn’t much different from the first but yields so much more information because it takes a metalevel view of the human experience. Its scope has expanded our observations beyond the narrow sight and sound experiences necessary for physics and now includes all conscious sensations. These observations of other sensations are of the same type, occur in the same kinds of sense organs and share the reliability of sight and hearing observations. This allows us to examine psychology in action using exactly the same observational experience and methods that have worked so well to understand a physical event like boiling water. If we are to understand how our minds grasp and use reality, we need to observe ourselves in the same way and in the same detail we have been observing the rest of the physical world. We each can now observe our conscious streams, taking a metalevel view of them, and that changes the way we do psychology. We can only proceed by subjectively observing their own conscious streams, reporting variances with others' results. Readers are now invited to introspect their own conscious experience and note that all famous-five, emotional and muscle sensations are experienced in their originating organs, necessarily private and therefore subjective. The reader must accept the validity of using observations of their own conscious experience as a credible scientific method in order to proceed because the theory presented hereafter was accumulated step by step guided by introspections of my own conscious stream while checking with others to confirm my observations.



Operations of Sense Organs, Emotions, Muscles and Mirror Neurons


Direct observations our conscious streams would reveal the following facts.

I and others report observations of a variety of distinct sensations within our conscious streams: the famous-five sense organs produce sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch; evaluative sense organs produce pain and pleasure and muscles produce sensations of tensed and relaxed. Evaluative sensory experience tells us that most sensations have no effect on us, but some representing things like food and shelter induce pleasure and can be exploited to help us survive and others representing things like poison or predators induce pain and would thwart us. Regardless of their absolute form and nature, our minds have evolved to identify some sensations as different from each other, evaluate which are neutral, useful or dangerous and appropriately act to ignore, employ or evade them. Each of us can directly observe that our minds (1) identify sensations, (2) evaluate their relationship to us and (3) act in regard to them with more or less success as defined by sensations of increases in pleasure or decreases in pain. How our abilities interact in combination with different things is our subject here.

Conscious beings can only start to cope with reality by identifying sensations that represent it, and the famous-five sense organs have evolved for that purpose. These sense organs identify sensations from reality by using nerves to interact with brains. Sight will be used as the example here, but all sense organs operate in exactly the same way, and hearing, taste, touch, smell and others can be substituted for sight at will. Every sighted person can see that our eyes perceive many distinct sensations, but to identify them, they must first recognize them. Logic tells us that recognition demands comparison, and therefore, previous experience. We can only recognize what has been seen before, stored and then reproduced for comparison with current perception. The first step learns the initial experience.

While the illusions just discussed have led us to believe that the famous-five senses have been our only sense organs, we can observe several other sense organs perceive and evaluate other data while operating in exactly the same way as the five. The kinds of genetically programmed reflexes that produce pleasure at the taste sensation of mother's milk and pain at the touch sensations of injury constitute inherent knowledge of our relationships with those particular sensations. Previous attempts to describe how our minds work have been hampered by the illusion that evaluation is a rational process, when in fact anyone can observe from within their own conscious streams examples of an as yet uncounted number of evaluative sense organs that generate pain or pleasure coincidentally with some sensations and thereby evaluate our relationship to them. Logic tells us that recognizing different forms and natures of famous-five sensations can only be useful in combination with this kind of evaluative knowledge of their neutrality, helpfulness or harmfulness.

Physical feelings, like hunger, warmth, sweetness and sexual excitement, and psychological feelings based on them, like joy, fear and hope, use pleasure or pain to evaluate current sensations from these organs or memories of pain or pleasure retrieved from our brains. As we can remember such evaluative feelings previously experienced with matching or approximately matching coincidental famous-five sensations we infer that the brain stores both kinds of sensations. (We can remember that apples taste good.) As we review any memories of the experience of the pain or pleasure produced by this genetic knowledge, we find that these sensations have evaluated coincidental famous-five sensations as harmful or helpful and have triggered reflex learning. (We remember the pain in the hammered thumb and the hammer that caused it.) Evaluations not only define our self-interest, they also appear to illuminate all simultaneous sensations causing consciousness and reflex learning of all coincidental sensations. Learning must be the result of simple and reflexive biology because it requires no effort from even the most limited of newborn mice. Once you have looked at something with a changed evaluation you can't refuse to remember what it looks like. Apparently changes in the feelings of pleasure and pain power learning. Passion is proportionate to life-promotion and makes learning effortless. You cannot learn uninteresting, unimportant sensations because they don’t generate the emotional wattage needed. Students can study all night, but unless the subject matter interests them, they will fail the exam. Anyone can observe that the greater the emotion, the easier the remembering. The most effective teachers provoke love or fear; no one learns from boring (unemotional) instruction. Reflex learning stores the first experiences of famous-five sensations that will produce recognition on later experience.

As has been said, we lose consciousness of all kinds of sensation energy when converted to their electrical form, as they exists in the nerves and at the brain end of their commute, but we can measure the millivolts that mirror the sensation energy collected by each organ with an oscilloscope. Converting 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 (afferent and efferent nerves). For example light falls on the eyes' rods and cones in patterns reflected from the environment. Seeing converts that light into electrical energy echoing those luminous patterns.

Logic tells us that evaluated recognition of famous-five sensations can only be useful in combination with the ability to act. (We must be able to dodge or catch the ball or run away from the snake.) We can observe that muscles provide the means to exploit or avoid what has been identified and evaluated as helpful or dangerous. In addition to the two kinds of sense organs already mentioned, we observe that evaluation reflexively produces consciousness and learning of muscle conditions in various degrees between tensed and relaxed. As Luigi Galvani discovered (1780) these sensation reports carried to the brain by afferent nerves and stored there can, just like famous-five sensations, be observed returning to muscles along efferent nerves to operate the muscle organ according to the rehearsed action. Our minds create, learn and remember muscle sensation energy almost like any other sensation. Muscles are different from other sense organs: they do not experience energy patterns from without but get their energy from the food we eat and the air we breathe. Two kinds of energies exist in muscles: the food energy stored within the muscle, that does the heavy lifting, and the sensation energy generated by the moving muscle. All the sensations in what we have normally thought of as the famous-five senses, emotional triggers and muscle sensations are reflexively learned when coincidentally experience with an evaluative emotion.

Mirror neurons identified by Giacomo Rizzolatti and Laila Craighero (1980) using magnetic resonance imaging would seem to be the most likely candidates to store and replay these recognition, evaluative and action sensations, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron). According to Rizzolatti et al mirror neurons fire when stimulated by perceptions matching their content and so 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 as yet unexplained way to recognise the ball. The explanation presented here for recognition using Rizzolatti et al’s findings is that the current ball experience excites the eyes’ rods and cones from the front. That triggers micro-electric currents sent along the afferent optic nerves to neurons encoded with the matching sight of previous ball experience.

Given that the reports of evaluative organs and muscles are conducted in an electrical form on nerves just like famous-five reports, it would be logical to hypothesize that mirror neurons store all three kinds, regurgitating them in the same way. At least it would be challenging to explain how they differentiate the source of electrical sensations arriving on afferent nerves. Our brains appear to learn and remember every kind of sensation using identical biology. We lose consciousness of sensations as they retreat behind the firewall separates the stream of consciousness, sense organs, part of our minds from the unconscious, nervous system and brain, part. We have assumed that something mysterious and wonderful called thought was happening in the unconscious, but paying close attention to what we can remember tells us what we sensed while learning is simply returned as the memories. Having seen a snake before, we can close our eyes and re-visualize – re-feeling the previously seen characteristics like colour, shape and action. We can consciously see both ends of sight experience and it helps to close our eyes when trying to remember what a snake looks like because, as was said, that’s where the memory is seen. All three kinds of sense organs are, unexpectedly, also action organs. Our ability to re-experience learned sensations in sense organs as memories suggests that the brain must remember the source organ of each learned sensation. 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 the original source organ with the effect of repeating the original 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. No changes are required. What you see is what you get; what you put in is what you get back. While we had mistakenly deduced that the match between the perception and the mirror neurons identified the ball in the brain, a simpler explanation offered here states 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 sensations are compared, photo over negative, in the rods and cones and sight identifies the ball. The same process would then store, retrieve and recognise the sensations of the other famous-five, muscle and evaluative organs.

Hebbian theory speculates that “cells that fire together, wire together” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebbian_theory) and if true could link mirror neurons excited simultaneously by identifying and evaluative sensations. If the first sight of a snake was experienced at the same time as a feeling of anticipated pain (= fear), those two sets of recording neurons would be linked in memory. If it is also true that mirror neurons "wired together, fire together", matching any one neuron in a linked set would fire all. Triggering the remembered sensation necessary for recognition then, would also trigger the remembered evaluative and action sensations. For example identifying a snake automatically evokes the linked feeling of anticipated pain (= fear). "Wired together, fired together" would now produce and send recognition, evaluation and action sensations along efferent nerves back to their originating organs in response to a match to any one sensation kind.

The same kind of evaluations that trigger the learning and remembering of simultaneous famous-five sensations and muscle actions later function heuristically to recall the appropriate recognition and action response because a feedback loop changes the strength of the evaluation with each change in current conditions. Just as remembered perceptions returning to the eye precipitates recognition by reacting with current perceptions, we can observe that remembered evaluative sensations react with current sensations of pleasure or pain in evaluative organs. Current evaluative sensations can be observed to 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, subtract value from each other. Feedback evaluation can be observed to provide the biological equivalent of what psychologists have called motivation and bionics engineers have called self-correcting feedback loops. Observations will confirm that we act according to heuristic rules: acting when emotions are strong and continue to act until the emotion has been significantly reduced or overwhelmed by other current emotions. (We stop trying to tune the radio after recognising that a correction in steering is necessary.). Also that memory tempers current evaluation (The injection only hurts for a second.) and as current evaluations change so does the action they precipitate (We stop eating as hunger decreases.) and that 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. (We stop watching the movie, if the theater catches fire.)

We can observe that the interaction of triggered data from neurons "wired together" by coincidence effects their originating organs in such a way as to cause simultaneous recognition, motivation and behaviour depending on the nature of each kind of organ. The original "fired together, wired together" linked the mirror neurons imprinted with actions with mirror neurons imprinted with perceptions and evaluations of things, and we respond to recognising a snake as William James 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. If this theory that brains have the ability to store and retrieve recognising, evaluating and action perceptions is correct, logic tells us that many or most of the neurons in our cerebral cortexes are mirror neurons. As the effect of linked mirror neurons is homeostatic, I suggest we call them 'learned homeostats'.



Learned Homeostats


The homeostatic theory presented hereafter claims that our brains reflexively produce homeostats from three kinds of sensations just described. The mirror neurons that hold the homeostatic instructions cannot distinguish any one sensation from the others. Only simultaneous occurrence links them, so each one can be made from varying sources only limited by the total number of sensation generating organs. Brains hold the learned homeostats and feed their separate sensation instructions back to the famous-five, evaluative and muscle organs when cued by a match to any of them. Each kind of organ reacts to the returning instructions according to its unique nature: the famous-five identify, the evaluative senses vary the evaluation and muscles move.

Evolution has selected for learned homeostats because they automatically identify the causes of life-threatening and life-sustaining sensations and provide effective muscle instructions to thwart or utilize whatever they represent.

Starting at the beginning, every newborn's evaluative sense organs wait, like smoke alarms, for specific sensations that trigger pleasure or pain. One of these organs found in the digestive system or skin soon detects a change in a sensation, like sweet, hunger or cold; those changed sensations knock on their door with a conscious feeling. The first recognised evaluative sensation is usually pain. Feelings like hunger or cold automatically produce the reflexive muscle actions of frowns and cries, which communicate this evaluation. Normally the parent fills in the recognition and action components by quickly recognising the cause and solving the problem with food or a blanket, but later children take steps to recognise the cause of such changes and find a useful response for themselves. These steps provide a solution to a puzzle because, before they can respond independently, children must hunt out which part of the unintelligible world is knocking this time and how to act accordingly. The changed condition only triggers consciousness of pleasure or pain and some rudimentary, unconscious, reflex actions appropriate to simpler animals, not the needed recognition of the cause and actions useful for a complex being to produce a homeostat that will recognise the same situation and automatically produce the learned behaviour in future. There is obviously a process for identifying the cause and producing a useful response to deal with it.

Bionics engineers use the word ‘hunting’ to describe how electronic governors in self-correcting mechanisms like vehicle cruise-controls and building thermostats use feedback to zero-in on preset speeds and temperatures. ‘Hunting’ can also be used to describe how a mind, consciously zeros-in on causes and useful responses when the world comes calling with some previously, unexperienced change in evaluation. We don’t reason with God-like intelligence; it is done biologically in a two-stage, four-step, learning and remembering process. ‘Hunting’ deals with our very first experience with an evaluative senation. Humans can also learn cause and useful responses through instruction, but we, like all learning animals, must start with the basic four step reasoning process because we must learn how before we can learn through instruction.

Four steps in two learning-and-remembering cycles that could take nanoseconds or minutes will be described next because that would be a normal reasoning process to create a homeostat to deal with easy situations, but in humans the learning and remembering cycle can continue, sometimes thousands of times over many generations, each repeat refining the search for cause. It took more than two thousand years to find the Higgs boson subatomic particle. Once learned the fourth-step of this same hunting process will automatically identify and respond to the cause unconsciously like a reflexive homeostat. All learning animals use this same basic four-step, biological process to create and use learned homeostats and it is understandably simple; our human superior mental performance depends on other, soon to be explained, factors.


1. Gather the Possibilities


The first step in the hunt is a change in the feelings of pleasure or pain for which no previously learned cause and response exists. As a feeling of cold in the night proves, life normally keeps evaluative organs turned on, paused, but primed to recognise the changes in sensations evolution has flagged as life-promoting. Such reflexively identified changes trigger consciousness of one of the two emotions of pleasure or pain, setting off the alarm that starts the hunt. Adults have learned to focus the search for the cause of an injured finger to the place where the hand just left, but, that’s an upgraded learned response, a newborn would just be astounded.

This first change in emotion triggers the learning of all coincidental sensations, which makes a good first step in the reasoning hunt to find a cause and response because it casts a wide net to include all the possible causes of the change and immediate DNA programmed responses to it. Evolution doesn’t care that Scottish philosopher, David Hume, said that no logical connection exists between cause and effect; it bets that the cause of the emotional change is in amongst the identifying sensations just learned and useful muscular actions to deal with it can be fine-tuned from our knee-jerk reactions. Evolution could have separately searched for cause first and then later searched for an effective muscle response, but it is more efficient to do both at the same time, so the sensations learned include those generated by reflex muscle actions. Evolution loves efficiency.


2. Filter the Possibilities


The first step in the hunt was learning; the second is remembering, and what we remember and when we remember it can be analysed to understand what happens behind the unconscious firewall, deducing the unconscious operations by comparing the conscious experience and re-experience of sensations. Re-experience leads us to wonder what evolutionary advantage accrues from remembering any particular memory at any particular time, and we find that we remember past experience at the prompt of matching current experience and that is how we normally identify or recognise currently significant things. This recognition process depends on two matches: a preconscious match in the brain and a conscious match in the sense organ, but not all possibilities are recognised. Of the possible matches only the one that will produce the greatest emotional change whether increases in pain or pleasure or changes from one to the other comes to consciousness. The matching process starts with a sensory flood, for instance the eye can take in the sensations from a hundred objects with a glance, but we do not notice all of them. The eye has seen them all, it cannot discriminate, and it has sent all sensations to the brain, again this is biology, it has no choice, but, absent a change in current emotional feeling, none of these hundred sensations will be noticed or learned. They are just more signage in the continuum, but should one of these afferent famous-five sensations match or nearly match a sensation with the potential to trigger a change in emotion, it will be reconstituted and sent back to its originating organ where the match can be consciously experienced.

Early experimenters with photography were amazed to find things in their photographs that they hadn't noticed in the original scene. The second viewing identified things not recognised as from the first viewing. Selection by the greatest emotional change filters all the matches to memory currently available by ignoring any famous-five sensations not evaluated by feedback as relevant to current experience. A full three quarters of any currently experienced recognition comes from memory and only recognises those things with matches in memory that cause the greatest change in emotion. The photographers’ amazement resulted from the minds filtering process limiting their original experience which contradicted their belief that we all see the same whole view objectively. Photographs, of course, do record the whole scene. As experimenters in witness reliability have discovered, our memories are far from a complete record of events. Our ability to respond quickly to the world depends on our ability to filter, only recognising its currently relevant parts.

The recognition process plucks one current sensation from the hundreds in the sensation flood for recognition because the combination of past experience with current effect provides feedback interesting enough, that is, triggered a survival or reproductive sense organ to produce a change in emotional power necessary to notice it. Again, same previous valence adds to current valence increasing value; opposite previous valence reduces, cancels or reverses current emotional value. (We could speculate that this summing, cancelling or reversing characteristic suggests that on a physics level they are acids and bases or electrical charges or something else that sums or neutralizes each other proportionately, but that kind of question must be left for future investigators.) Re-experience of a sensation with the same recognition and evaluative components as one in current time will double that emotion triggering relearning, which is the next step in the hunt.

As a second step in the hunt, recognition has the effect of drawing the net in around the cause of the life promoting change in sensation by filtering the possibilities. It may have even identified the cause. While much of what was learned at the first experience was irrelevant, repeated famous-five sensations in different circumstances are more likely to be causally linked to the triggering change in emotion. Because we can experience both circumstances simultaneously: one from current experience and the other from memory, just as we compared sensations in a single organ, photo over negative, we now compare all the sensations from two moments. Some sensations present in the first instance are not present in the second instance, and will therefore be eliminated in the next step.


3. Re-evaluate the Possibilities


The third step is a conscious relearning of any change in emotional value or valence experienced with recognized duplicated famous-five sensations.

Relearning is a reflex response. It has the effect of editing the evaluation of the homeostat from the first step by re-evaluating any repeated sensations with the sum of emotions from both the first and current experiences. Any repeated sensations might have been the cause of the original change in emotion. This selects to find the cause of the emotion (because the value associated with repeated famous-five sensations increases at each re-experience).  As any teacher knows repetition reinforces the ability to remember.

We cannot neglect the fact that this reasoning process also searches for useful responses simultaneously with the search for cause of the evaluation. No doubt our first movements are left-over reflexive responses to emotional triggers and all humans automatically smile at feeling pleasure and grimace at pain. We also automatically suck, grasp and gag on cue and randomly, lash-out at pain and relax from pleasure. These kinds of automatic responses are the beginnings of a tailored response, for instance, sucking is the start of chewing. Actions that change emotional valences: pain to pleasure or pleasure to pain will also be made conscious and learned proportionally to the change in value. In the absence of instruction we tune and develop our reflex actions like sucking converting them to actions like chewing by accident. Any random action that produces pleasure or lessens pain and any that produces pain or lessens pleasure will be learned because of the change and included in the homeostat for use or avoidance next time.

Non-repeated sensations from the first step homeostat would not be matched nor recognised or re-learned in the replacement homeostat, which narrows the field of candidates for our hunt’s cause. The third step has relearned any recognised sensations repeated from the first step in a homeostat simultaneously with any action sensation that produced a change in evaluation. The feedback enhanced value in the second homeostat will set up a tightening of the net that, in step-four, will normally identify the source of the emotion in question.


4. Act on the Most Probable


 In the fourth step, eating food will from now on be remembered as the solution to hunger because of all the matches to quenching hunger it had the greatest emotional value and relearning has now stored it in the same homeostat as hunger.

We notice that the homeostats from both learning steps (1 and 3) can be remembered and conclude that the second one has not replaced the first one, but joins it in memory. This presents no problem because, again by nature, when two or more matches to current experience exist in memory, the one producing the greatest emotional change will be remembered first. (That is normally the most recent.) If there is only one famous-five sensation in common between the two circumstances, we recognise the cause and solution by their now higher emotional values as the obvious cause of the life-promoting trigger and action. The second and subsequent experiences of the same situation produce the already learned solution from memory.

The fact that eating quenches hunger seems painfully obvious to us as adults, but to a newborn it might as well be differential calculus, not all problems yield easily. What if two actions often coincide with quenched hunger? At first there may be several candidates for the cause of this emotion, but repeated experiences in different environments and times should eliminate the pretenders by increasing the evaluation of the repeated sensation. By the third or fourth, fifth or sixth experience the causal possibilities have been narrowed and we automatically act to or not act to maximise pleasure or minimise pain.

The sensations assembled in a learned homeostat combines them in the way the expertise of a safe cracker, electronics engineer, weapons expert, lookout and stunt driver are assembled into a movie, bank-robbery team. Our conscious streams record the activities of the various team members. Matching recognition prompts remembered homeostats to use each organ’s expertise to "pull the job" instructing them to repeat their previously learned and specialised actions. Not only do we recognise, evaluate and take appropriate action, but the brain wires all learned homeostats together sequentially and we recall them in the order they were learned. Your brain plays 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 first-cut to sew-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, (1953) offer some support for this account of sequential homeostatic structure and replay. He trained pigeons to perform specific, predictable actions by (in homeostatic language) selectively adding random muscle sensations to homeostats by inducing pleasure triggered by food pellets. In other words, when they accidentally did what he wanted, he fed them. The specific desired action was selected for learning by the pleasure inherent in the food. Just by rewarding clock and counter clockwise steps in the right order he taught the pigeons the sequential stepping homeostat needed to walk in figure eight patterns.

The now identified cause and the useful action have been learned as a homeostat ready to deal with repeated situations in the same way and then we lose consciousness of it. No one exclaims that food and eating are the solutions to hunger; we automatically look for food and eat whenever hungry. Learned homeostats take on the automatic characteristic of DNA programed homeostats like taking a breath or beating our hearts. The response to recognition has become habitual and we can recognise the cause of our discomfort after sitting for a while and shift our weight or dial a familiar phone number without saying the numbers or walk in the direction of our sight, even climbing stairs on the run without being very conscious of recognition, emotion or action. Such an automated system has been difficult to fathom precisely because once established so much of it operates on standby emotional wattage. We experience these low-level emotions as a mood rather than identifying each emotion with a specific homeostat. Ordinary life would be an emotion dominated drama, if we couldn’t perform routine actions, without the amazement that must be felt by a baby at discovering that it can move its fingers.

Emotions are the feedback that regulates behaviour. They not only rate and select between perceptions and actions, but we can observe that they also release the energy needed. Perception prompts emotion to feed energy to action thereby linking the parts into a whole. The parts of our whole biological being feel simultaneously unified by a wave of energy from our control system.


These four steps describe an Archimedean, eureka moment, and most of the time, the DNA-produced life-promoting, emotional, seal-of- approval provides learning animals with a survival advantage. DNA always told you that coconuts taste sweet and therefore provide nutrition, but learning to recognise them by sight provides an extra advantage; your mouth no longer needs to bump into them; you can see them and know they will taste sweet from across the beach. Once cause has been combined with effective action in a homeostat, recognition becomes the trigger to feel the evaluation and act. Now that hunger and coconuts reside in the same homeostat, "what’s wired together fires together" and recognition of any sensation in the homeostat produces all including the instructions to eat.

What could go wrong with such a system? Well, plenty: we could learn something that was pleasurable but later turned out to be painful, like sweets lead to tooth ache, or something painful that later leads to pleasure, like medicine that cures an illness. Mental homeostats are stable and may remain the same for years, but they can also be renewed by overwriting. Each use of a homeostat produces some valence and strength of evaluative feeling and if such a change in feelings rises above the consciousness threshold, as they would if the result were surprising, the increased value triggers the learning of available sensations. In practice this means that the currently available sensations are relearned. Feedback provides an opportunity to add or subtract sensations or increase, decrease the strength or change the valence of the evaluation or recognise a new homeostat. This overwriting or change of homeostat feature plays out as a change of mind. The pain of the tooth ache cancels the pleasure of candy many times over and the pleasure of restored health cancels the bitterness of the medicine too. We reconsider a homeostat by re-evaluating the action because, just as the value of the same emotion whether pleasure or pain was juiced by repetition. The new homeostat supersedes the old one because it has a higher value, and therefore will automatically be selected first causing us to decline the sugar and accept the medicine. This stunningly useful feature allows us to automatically and continuously re-evaluate the best response and rewrite our software improving the efficiency of our stored homeostats and maturing our ability to survive and reproduce.

The response remains locked-in to the recognised sensations (we always retie our shoe with a bow knot) until a change in emotional feedback triggers the four-step hunting process to start over again. Disappointment results from an unexpected emotional response (the knot comes undone) and we search for the cause of that pain to rid ourselves of it by changing behaviour. If it was ethical to do so, you could watch a change in behaviour 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), which 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 will be snatched 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. We spend all day trying, more or less successfully, to avoid pain and pursue pleasure.

Reviewing the monkey’s experience, we find that while the apple and the shock evaluations remained constant, something must have changed because the behaviour changed from passive 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 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 behaviour switched from the one evaluated by electric-shock pain to the one evaluated by eating pleasure because that now had the higher value. The change in behaviour followed the change in evaluation 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. The change was biologically dictated. Changes in either the current sensation or its evaluation reset the street address to the now matching homeostat, tapping new instructions. 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 behaviour sound like common sense and feel like freewill.



Implications for Humans


Why are we so much more intelligent than the next smartest animal? We all start out by looking at a meaningless kaleidoscope of colour and shape and hearing an incoherent cacophony of sound. Famous-five sensations must be meaningless because newborns of all species lack the memories to recognise them. What they do have is a means of producing the emotions necessary to learn them. These genetically-produced, emotion-generating, sense organs provide the basic survival handbook for all animals by evaluating basic needs and start the hunt for cause and effective action. We humans use these basic tools far more effectively than other animals by using our accidentally evolved physical characteristics. Mothers of child bearing age and children of both sexes lack facial hair and can openly display their emotional evaluations and all humans have the vocal capacity to produce language.  Only by using language and emotional displays can we efficiently communicate our experience and evaluations of reality. Communication to and from others allows us to teach and learn, sharing a pool of knowledge based on generations of past experience. Asking ourselves questions allows us to reference knowledge from our own brains using them as portable libraries. In addition, the ability to communicate evaluations causes the psychological dependence that defines our social relationships and the obedience needed to brainwash us with the family and cultural beliefs of our parents, and in our turn, we will do the same to our children. It makes the difference between an intellectual culture that supports all modern civilization’s fantastic proficiency and the bare survival knowledge learned by other animals.

Ivan Pavlov (1901) did a series of experiments that had the effect of teaching dogs to salivate at the ringing a bell by having previously rung the bell each time they were fed. According to the previously presented theory, the hunting process wired the bell sound to the food by their consistent coincidence. Any sensations consistently coincidental with the same change in evaluation must be linked, even if they (like the bell sound and the food) are not causally connected. All newborns who survive have mothers who respond to their demand by making food available. By the same hunting process that taught Pavlov’s dogs to salivate at the bell sound, all human babies learn to wire together food and their mothers' emotional display at the time of feeding. Normally mothers' smile connects to food, but the connection is not causal, so it is possible to link her frown with the food. This human nonverbal communication forms the foundation of all our advanced intelligence because it links an evaluation to another’s emotional display. The child will feel an evaluation at the sight of its mother’s emotional display and that will trigger learning of coincidental sensations – like instructions from her.

Animals have varying vocal abilities depending on their capacity to push breath through their mouths. Human larynxes open furthest down the throat, creating a sound modifying chamber between the epiglottis and soft pallet called a pharynx. The least vocal animals have their larynx opening and epiglottis further-up the throat, next to the gullet and nasal openings. A horse or deer does not have a pharynx chamber. Opening their larynx automatically flips their epiglottis up to seal their gullet, which forces them to exhale through their noses severely restricting their ability to vary sound. Positioning our epiglottis at the bottom of the pharynx prevents it from sealing our gullets, so we have the advantage of pushing breath through the double chambers of our pharynxes and mouths where vocal-chords, tongue and jaw can shape sounds into speech. No other animal has the gymnastic verbal talent to produce the thousands of distinct sounds necessary for language.

As emotions are an integral part of every homeostat they must be felt at each experience of learning and memory, and having been felt must be reflexively expressed. Simple words, like mommy, daddy, good and bad, repeatedly spoken coincidentally with an evaluating emotional display will be learned by the child through the hunting process. The matching process triggers approximate as well as exact matches and so the ability to provoke teaching emotions becomes generalized to authorities like teachers, police and employers. The same hunting process will produce previously learned word sounds from mirror neurons and, as a result, the spoken language forms the action component of the learned verbal homeostat.

The link between emotional display and food is coincidental, not causal, and so, the particular emotional display of the mother will become linked to the pleasure triggered by food. Linking a smile to pleasure will result in obedience to mother and other authorities and linking a frown to pleasure will have the opposite result. This produces four personality types as learning links the emotional displays of mother and father to reflexive evaluations felt by the child. These evaluations of parental emotional displays also become generalized responses to individuals as differentiated by sex. The four types are:

  1. obedient to both parents (upper class)
  2. obedient to mother, disobedient to father (middle class)
  3. obedient to father, disobedient to mother (poor class)
  4. disobedient to both parent (criminal class)

As the individual members in each class derive pleasure and pain from each other’s emotional displays, they limit their associations to those who produce the most pleasure and least pain, which are those who share their personality type. Interactions between members of different classes are formally proscribed and brief.

The same hunting process will produce previously learned word sounds from mirror neurons and, as a result, the spoken language forms the action component of the learned verbal homeostat. As translating sensations to language is the first homeostatic response to recognition, muscular action is deferred while word matches link to other verbal homeostats. This greatly expands options and as the matching homeostat that will produce the most positive emotional change will be selected by feedback, the best option will be chosen. In addition, we are taught to ask questions of ourselves that using the emotional feedback loop will further refine the search for more positive emotional change options.

The above has been a description of the control system of learning animals with an expanded explanation of the human advantage. Humans learn more and more quickly because they learn abstract knowledge based on emotional displays and language. The interrogatory provides access to more options by delaying immediate automatic responses. What follows is a more detailed explanation of the same with philosophical musings on the implications.





This does not look good! The battle that looked nearly even this morning now deterioates by the moment, and my feet have decided to amble the rest of me towards that clump of Birtch just beyond the battle edge. It's a risky move. Caught by either side leads to immediate execution. One side for desertion; the other for revenge. But to continue in this lost cause must be counted as madness.

Stereing clear of enemy entanglements and draging an exhausted limping countenance brings me to the no-man's land between the battle and the trees. Seasoned solders, like me, have been on one side or the other of many battles, and now some twenty, or so, of us have gathered without plan or arrangement only united by our intent to escape the looser's bill. Other, less experienced fighters, raging on driven by the justness of the cause, provide the necessary destraction .