People can recognize themselves in the mirror, why most animals can't do it for unexpected reasons!

2020-01-09 | Zhong Ming talks about science original |

Three classic questions in the field of philosophy: Who am I, where do I come from, and where do I go.

Among them, if you want to know who I am, you must first have the ability to recognize yourself, that is, I know that I am different from others. Although this problem seems simple, in fact, many creatures do not have self-awareness.

So, what kind of creatures have self-awareness? Scientists have done a mirror experiment.

Mirror Experiment

In 1970, the scientist Gordon Gallupki performed a series of mirror experiments on different organisms. In the experiment, he would mark the experimental animals with two colored spots without any taste, and then mirror the mirror.Move to that creature.

If the creature can realize that the spot appears on itself through the mirror, then it is considered that the creature has the ability of self-cognition; if the creature passes through the mirror, it cannot realize that the spot appears on itself, instead, the "self"Think of it as another creature, and the biologist would think that the creature does not have self-awareness.

At present, scientists have found that all anthropoid species, that is, close relatives of humans, can pass mirror experiments. In addition, European magpies, elephants, macaques, bottle-nose dolphins, and orcas have passed mirror experiments.

The dogs and cats we are familiar with all experiment through mirrors. That is, when your dog is looking in the mirror, he doesn't know that it is himself, but instead thinks it is another dog.

At present, there are many controversies in the mirror experiment. Although some creatures have not passed the mirror experiment, it does not mean that they have not evolved self-awareness. Some creatures may have poor vision; or they have never touched the mirror, and they haveSpeck unresponsive creature.

But all in all, the mirror experiment still screened out a group of non-self-conscious creatures. For example: human infants, and autistic patients.

Humans in their infancy did not have self-awareness, and they rarely used "I" in their language, replaced by broader words such as "Baby is hungry", "Baby wants to drink water", etc.

It was only after 18 months that the baby gradually realized the existence of "I", was able to use the word "I" correctly, and knew that the creature in the mirror was himself. This period is the period of the baby's self-awareness building.

People with autism and other brain diseases cannot pass the mirror experiment due to lack of self-awareness.

Then the question comes, how exactly does self-awareness arise?

Emergence of self-awareness

We know that self-awareness cannot be separated from the brain, but which part of the brain controls human self-awareness? Scientists have found that it is possible that mirror neurons in the brain are functioning.

It is embarrassing that scientists do n’t know how many mirror neurons are currently. We only know that when a creature is looking at a mirror, the mirror neurons in the brain will be based on the actions in the mirror and their own actions.Two pieces of information to integrate. If the two pieces of information are exactly the same, then we will know that the person in the mirror is me.

For example: Liu Ye never looked in the mirror in "A Dream of Red Mansions". When she looked in the mirror for the first time, she saw an old man wearing a flower in the mirror. She couldn't help asking where the other party was.After a few actions, she found that the action in the mirror was consistent with herself, so she knew that it was the mirror and the person inside was also herself.

We still have one problem left unsolved, that is: how does the mirror neuron judge that the action in the mirror is consistent with its own action?

Scientists once performed an experiment. In the experiment, they connected a small wire to the monkey's brain area. The monitor will record the monkey's response radio waves.

Studies have found that when a monkey moves something, some electrical signals are released in the monkey's brain, and when researchers move something, the monkey brain also releases some electrical signals.The electrical signals are exactly the same. That is, when a monkey sees an action and when the monkey does it, their neurons are excited.

In other words, the information that monkeys receive from the outside world will be consistent with the information they have experienced themselves, and will cause the same neuron to excite. Therefore, they can link the two, which is the ability to learn and empathy.

Since monkeys see people doing actions, they can excite the same neurons as they do actions, so why do n’t monkeys treat humans as themselves in the mirror? In fact, this is because, in a complex brain, nervesYuan can detect more complex features, such as facial expressions and body language. That is to say, there are always some differences even if humans imitate them again, and monkeys can judge that they are not themselves through these differences.

Monkey's process of judging whether the other party is his own or self-consciousness. In fact, it is precisely because of human beings' self-consciousness that we have such a complex civilization, such as: sense of shame, honor, and self-fulfillment.

and understand: who I am, judging from the perspective of self-consciousness, I am a kind of existence that is different from other creatures.


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