Category Archives: stages

Supportive Contexts for Growth and Development: an SDT Perspective

Self Determination Theory(SDT) posits that all humans require some nutriments to grow and develop; just like plants need nutriments like sunlight, water, nutrients etc to flourish, so do humans have some basic human needs for autonomy, competence, relatedness and meaningfulness (my addition) to develop and grow and thrive. If these needs are fulfilled (just like if the plants get sunlight , water and nutrients) then this leads to good outcomes like enhanced well being and optimal functioning and good relationships and purpose in life. However, if the needs are thwarted then ill-being and soured relationships, stagnation and nihilism may prevail.

SDT also posits that the sociocultural environment and situations and contexts can be more or less supportive of the basic psychological needs. If the sociocultural environment and situation/ context is more supportive of autonomy, competence, relatedness and meaning, then that leads to more growth and flourishing and better development over time.

Let’s just expand on this a little. We will consider basic psychological needs in infancy and childhood and see what activities or systems are involved in their satisfactions and what consequences it may have on the developmental trajectory.

Consider the need for autonomy; an infant/ child is typically exploratory and unless constrained exercises his/ her choice by exploring the environment. The parent has to set some limits on exploration to prevent harm and thus this conflicts with the child’s need for autonomy. Early on they learn that exploring unknown territories can lead to adverse outcomes and if parents are too permissive they quickly learn the emotion of fear. On the other hand they also have an intrinsic motivation associated with the emotion of interest that makes them find novel things and places attractive and hence worth exploring. If their need for autonomy is reasonably honored, they quickly form a concept of SELF that is distinct from caregiver. They realize, and start regulating, their emotions and an autonomy supportive environment leads to their emotional development. In terms of Erikson’s stage theories, they successfully navigate the autonomy vs shame and doubt stage.

Consider next the need for competence; an infant/ child typically likes to explore the limits of what they can do/ hope to do via play – both physical and symbolic. The parents/ adults typically provide some feedback on what is acceptable in terms of play to ensure that the right types of play are being indulged in to develop adult capability. For eg, if an infant tries to walk before crawling they will support the age appropriate crawling related play first. Early on infants/ children realize that playing in a free wheeling manner may lead to disappointment and sadness. On the other hand they also have an intrinsic motivation associated with the emotion of enjoyment that makes them find novel activities and objects interesting and worth playing with. If their need for competence is reasonably honored, they quickly become TASK-oriented, rather than ego oriented while indulging in any activity. They realize and start regulating their behaviors and a competence supportive environment leads to their physical and behavioral development. In terms of Erikson’s stage theories they successfully navigate industry vs inferiority stage.

Consider now the relatedness need; an infant/child is typically attuned to others and comes ready to be imprinted upon and have attachment with one or more caregivers. The infant/ child comes vulnerable and needy (the infant needs milk while the child needs say love) and greedy and the parent/ caregiver may regulate the care and attention and time they can devote to the child. Early on, when the needs are not met consistently or are contingent, the infant/ child learns to be (passive) aggressive and angry towards the attachment figure and learns to avoid contact. On the other hand the infant/child is driven by an intrinsic motivation associated with the emotion of love that makes them approach familiar people (parents/ teachers) and contexts(home/school) and worth building attachments with. If their need for relatedness is reasonably honored, they quickly become PEOPLE focused, considering people as ends rather than instrumental means to any outcomes.They realize and start regulating their relationships and a relatedness supportive environment leads to their social and moral development. In terms of Erikson’s stage theories they successfully navigate trust vs mistrust stage.

Lastly, consider the need for meaningfulness; an infant /child is typically a scientist-in-the-crib and comes ready to make sense of and interpret events and happenings and exercise agency and learn. The infant comes eager and curious and active and the parent may restrict some actions (like touching the genitals) that may lead to feelings of guilt and disgust in the infant/ child. On the other hand, the infant/ child is driven by an intrinsic motivation that is driven by the emotion of wonder and he/ she systemically and scientifically experiments with the surroundings and tries to find causal relations and have an impact and learn. If the need for meaning is reasonably honored, they quickly become WORLD focused, being ecological aware and seeing how they fit in. They realize and start regulating their cognition and a meaning supportive environment leads to their intellectual development. In terms of Erikson’s stage theories they successfully navigate initiative vs guilt stage.

In an nutshell, what I am proposing is that there are four systems revolving around exploration (autonomy), play (competence), attachment (relatedness) and learning (meaning) in the infants/ child that also give rise to the emotion pairs of fear/interest, sadness/enjoyment, anger/love and guilt/wonder that may sustain in adulthood also in a slightly transformed way. Also these may conceivable be related to the four major goals of Emotional well-being/positivity, Success/productivity, Morality/intimacy and Meaning/generativity.

I will rest my case here. In the next post I will actually go into what makes for an autonomy supportive, competence supportive, relatedness supportive and meaning supportive sociocultural context

My new PT blog: The Fundamental Four

Psychology Today

Image by ohdearbarb via Flickr

Dear Mouse Trap readers, I have some good news to share.


I have started blogging on Psychology Today and my brand new PT blog is named The Fundamental Four .

I am quite excited to be a part of a blogging platform as esteemed as that of PT, where I will be blogging alongside Timothy D Wilson and Art Markman, to name a few,  in the cognition category.  I’m awed to be writing alongside those whose work  I admire like Robert Biswas-deiner, Sonja Luybomirsky , Chris Peterson, Chris Badcock, Scott Barry Kaufman and Michael Michalko, again, to single out a few.

I look forward to that opportunity and to have conversations with these great minds and put forth my perspective.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my focus on the ABCD model of Psychology,  the four basic evolutionary processes and the eight stage evo-devo process. These themes I will now take to The Fundamental Four, (so will request all The Mouse Trap readers to subscribe to the new blog), but the Mouse Trap will continue in its present form focusing on many other themes that are dear to my heart.

I’ll also be cross-posting some of the stuff from The Fundamental Four over here, but do not depend on that:  subscribe to The Fundamental Four too, to keep up to date with my explorations in that sphere.

With that said, I would exhort all readers to at least read my first post there and if it resonates with you, please subscribe to that blog too and carry on reading!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Buddha’s Brain

Buddha Daibutsu, Kamakura, Japan. This statue,...

Image via Wikipedia

I recently came across an authors@google talk by Rick Hanson, who is the author of ‘Buddha‘s Brain:  the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom’ and was immediately drawn by the similarity of the framework he uses and my ABCD model. Rick draws a lot from the Buddhist tradition and its humbling to find many similarities between what buddha preached thousands of years ago and what neuroscience tell us today.

In particular the root cause of suffering is believed to be due to

1) trying to avoid unescapable threats/ pains etc like ageing and death.

2) pursuit of pleasures/opportunities etc that are fleeting in nature/ not permanent.

3) trying to separate from and become individuated while the nature of reality is connected and interdependent.

4) trying to stabilize  that which keeps on changing

The roots of these Rick believes are tied up to the three (I’ve extended them to 4) motivational systems that govern us. These are:

1) Avoid system – reigning this in leads to Calm , a sense of peace and increase in a feeling of moment-to-moment Happiness.

2) Approach system –  properly aligning this leads to Contentment, a sense of gratitude and increase in feelings of Well-being.

3) Attach system – properly utilizing this leads to Caring, a sense of loving-kindness and increase in feelings of Love.

4) Absorb system – properly using this leads to Creativity, a sense of insight and increase in feelings of Wisdom.

To me these are absolutely aligned to the ABCD model; the Avoid system is primarily about reacting to -ve (or even +ve ) Affect; Approach system is driven by how Behaviouraly actively or passively you respond to opportunities;  the Attach system is all about the dynamics driving the Self-other relational issues; while the Absorb system is the more Cognitively focussed one driven by broad /  narrow focus concerns.


Rick also thinks that these are related to how the learning (synaptic strength modification)  , regulation (inhibition or excitation due to firing)  and selection (the decision to fire based on summation of inputs)  happens in brains at synapse levels and that reigning these systems leads to Mindfulness (attention relevant/leading to learning) , Virtue (self-regulation of behaviour)  and Wisdom (the ability to make informed choices) at the macro level. As Rick believes that not only brains lead to minds, but what and how our minds act also affects our neural wiring due to self-directed neuroplasticity, he advocates practising mindfulness, virtue and wisdom to rewire your brain to take it to the Buddha’s state.

Here one might pause and consider what mind actually is. some would equate it simply as mind is what the brain does, but more reflection shows that mind is multidimensional (ya…. fits the ABCD model). To me, mind is a result of:

1)  Brain Activity

2) Body rootedness (embodied cognition)

3) Embedded with Other minds (relational construct)

4) Shaped/interpreted by culture

Another thing to note about Rick is that he is a fan of Paul Mc lean’s tripartite brain; extending both the MacLean model and Rick associations and aligning with ABCD model, I see the evolution of brain as:

1) Brain-stem (Reptilian brain) : the relative brain sizes in reptiles or those driven by this Avoid mode system should be proportional to their land areas that they need to defend as in territorial defence; this is what I predict, the greater the area/ territory they typically defend the bigger this area. In the reptilian evolution this factor must have driven brain evolution.

2) sub-cortical areas ( Paleomammilian brain) : the relative size of brain in these simple mammals should be tied to their foraging area or how vastly they explore for food/ mating opportunities. I predict that brain evolution during this phase was tied to the Approach mode and linked with exploration propensity and must be linked with typical foraging area, with animals foraging far and wide having bigger brains proportional to those who don’t.

3) cortical areas ( mammalian brain ) : the relative size of brain in these higher mammals corresponds with the social group size (the famous Dunbar number) . This phase of brain evolution was primarily driven by Attach motivational system where concerns for others and groups drove evolution of brain with those having dense social groups needing more brainpower.

4) Neocortical areas/ lateralizations (the human/primate brain): the relative size of brains might be related to artistic/ imaginative ability. This phase of brain evolution is still taking place and is being primarily driven by Absorb system; how much one assimilates and accommodates and how much one intellectually rejects would determine whether the brain evolves further and proportional to how creative (broad-minded) the species is. The more narrow minded/ unimaginative the lesser thee neo-cortical size; perhaps this is the advantage we had over Neanderthals and other hominids. The autism-schizophrenia continuum may be one effect of the cognitive evolution still happening.

Which brings me maenderingly to my final comparison:

1) Affect, or Avoid system deregulation leads to Major Depression. The neurotransmitter of relevance here is Serotonin. Compare also to cloningers Harm Avoidance.

2) Behaviour or Approach system deregulation leads to Addiction.  The neurotransmitter of concern here is Dopamine. Compare also to cloningers Novelty Seeking

3) Drive/Dynamics or Attach system deregulation leads to Bipolar or manic depression.  The neurotransmitter of concern may turn out to be norepinephrine. Compare to cloningers Reward Dependence.

4) Cognition or Absorb system deregulation leads to Schizophrenia . The neurotransmitter of concern may turn out to be acetylcholine.

That covers the major group of disorders. I’m still reading ‘Buddha’s brain’ and not all insights shared above are related to what Rick/ Buddhism says; but I find them broadly aligned with my ABCD model and the eight stage evo-devo model based around Theodore Millons four basic polarities.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Four Fundamental Causes

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a ...

Image via Wikipedia

This post is an ambitious attempt to link the four causes delineated by Aristotle, to the four questions asked by Tinbergen to the four types of explanations that can be made for any human/animal ability.

First a bit of a background.

Aristotle had listed four causes – Material,  Efficient, Formal and Final causes. From the Wikipedia:
Aristotle held that there were four kinds of causes:

  • A thing’s material cause is the material of which it consists. (For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.)
  • A thing’s formal cause is its form, i.e. the arrangement of that matter.
  • A thing’s efficient or moving cause is “the primary source of the change or rest.” An efficient cause of x can be present even if x is never actually produced and so should not be confused with a sufficient cause.(Aristotle argues that, for a table, this would be the art of table-making, which is the principle guiding its creation.)
  • A thing’s final cause is its aim or purpose. That for the sake of which a thing is what it is. (For a seed, it might be an adult plant. For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might be coming to rest at the bottom.)

While studying these causes scholars have stressed on two sorts of distinctions, the first is the concept of actuality and potentiality– while some causes like the final cause (teeos or entelchiea) and formal cause (eidos or energiea) are actual; the material cause is deemed to be poetntial.

The other concept is that of Hylomorphism, or the distinction between matter and form. I believe that the four causes can be broken down along the two dimensions of potentiality/actuality and matter/form as below to lead to a 2×2 matrix of causes.

Niko Tinbergen , a great ethologist, asked four questions or explanations about any biological phenomenon, inspired by the Aristotle’s 4 causes. . From the Wikipedia page:


However, I like to arrange it slightly differently. I retain the ultimate/proximate distinction, but supplement it with Accidental/ Teleological distinction. Accidental to me means phylogeny due to random genetic drift and genetic baggage; and physiologic mechanisms like hormones etc kicked in accidentally by random interaction with immediate environment;  on the other hand the process of adaptation and developmental unfolding to an adult form (ontogeny)  appear purposeful and pseudo teleological. Thus my arrangement:

Which leads to how I became re- interested in these four causes recently- it was while reading an article by Dean Simonton on ability , wherein he conjectured that studying both the generic and specific factors that affect performance as well as acquisition of ability is problematic and non-fruitful, that I remembered about these and saw how fruitful it may be to conceptualize ability in just so many terms. Hence my conceptualization:

In general for ability I think the following four factors are applicable and all four have strong influences on ability; I have named them talent, hard work, grit and optimism etc elsewhere. In general for any trait like intelligence, emotionality etc I think the 2×2 factor matrix is relevant and worth keeping in mind.

That brings me eventually to my own levels of explanations for any phenomenon. I believe evo-devo explanations as well as psycho-social factors have equal weight-age while explaining say behavior. while some of these explanations are mechanistic/deterministic other are of non-deterministic or chaotic origin. Similarly, while some are governed by factors internal to the organism others are mostly affected by extrinsic factors.

I hope the above conceptualization makes sense. It is inline with my eight stage model and four domains model where Evo is stage 1&2; social- stage 3&4, devo- stage 5&6 and psycho stage 7&8.


Enhanced by Zemanta

2 factor theories of personality

Simple emoticons of the four temperaments cita...

Image via Wikipedia

While most people are generally aware of the five factor model of personality (that is the FFM or OCEAN model that is revealed by factor analysis), the two factor models of personality may not be that readily apparent, though most readers will be familiar with some form or the other of the 2 factor models of personalities like the four humors/temperaments of the Greeks or the enneagrams or the temperaments used in Kiersey personality sorter.

In brief, two factor models of personality posit that individuals differ on two bipolar dimensions and that one’s personality type or temperament can be determined based on whether one is high or low on these 2 dimensions. for eg consider factor 1 and factor 2 as the 2 underlying personality factors; then there would be 4 typical temperaments : high factor 1, high factor 2; high factor 1, low factor 2; low factor 1, high factor 2; and low factor 1, low factor 2. Typically the extremes of the bipolar factors would be named such that low factor 1 corresponds to some trait and high factor 1 to opposed trait and similarly for factor 2.

The scheme becomes sometimes more complex by not mandating that a personality type lies on extremes, but positing that the balanced or middle value of these factors is also relevant; in these cases up to 9 personality types can be created by using the 3 typical values (high, mid, low) of the two factors. Enneagrams uses this schema.

To clarify by way of an example, the ancient Greeks posited 2 underlying personality factors – a hot-cold factor that coded the response-delay as to whether response was quick or slow to follow an event; and a dry-wet factor that coded whether the response was sustained or subsided quickly. This resulted in 4 temperaments: sanguine ( Air i.e. hot and wet; quick onset and quick offset; the happy-go-luck personality ) ; choleric (Fire i.e. hot and dry ; quick onset but prolonged offset; the energized or angry personality) ; Phlegmatic ( Water i.e. cold and wet; prolonged build-up but quick offset; the hard-to-provoke calm personality) and finally melancholic (Earth i.e. cold and dry; prolonged onset and prolonged offset ; the classical brooding personality) .

As one can see from the Wikipedia page on 2 factor models of personality, there are a lot of theories that define their personality types on the basis of 2 underlying factors one of which is factor 1 (the Wikipedia page cites that as extroversion scale) and teh second is factor 2 (which the Wikipedia labels people-task orientation scale, a nomenclature to which I am more sympathetic).

There is a table listed at the end of the Wikipedia article and form a cursory look at the table one can see that the interpretation of the two factors have changed from time to time; it began as affect/emotion based interpretation; got morphed into behavioral terminology; briefly flirted with motivational constructs that lead to character types(refer Fromm) and finally also had some recent cognitive interpretations. I am a big proponent of the ABCD model of psychology and the eight stage models of personality; I have formerly reconciled the ABCD model with eight personality factors/stages by following Theodore Millons approach whereby each Affect, Behavior, Desire (Motivation) and Cognition is split in 2 underlying polarities viz, pleasure/pain; active/passive; self/other and broad/narrow respectively.

While reconciling the above I have also been acutely aware that I am more focused on the person side of personality rather than the situation side of personality. Those who are aware of the person-situation debate in personality psychology will be aware that any analysis that focuses on person to the exclusion of environment/situation is not doing full justice to the study of personality or psychology. To remedy that I propose that while factor 1 in each ABCD domain can be used as a proxy for the splitting of Affect, Behavior, Desire or Cognition under the 2 polarities and in internal focused , the factor 2 is more in relation to the environmental/ situational effects and is more external.

If you have lost me till now, please bear patience. Let me clarify by way of an example. consider the DiSC theory and assessment produced by William Martson. He proposed 2 factors ; Factor 1 is Active/passive with reference to behavior of person and Factor 2 is open/controlled or favorable/antagonistic with reference to the environment one chooses to operate in/ finds oneself in. Thus, his definition of DISC as follows:

Dominance, which produces activity in an antagonistic environment; with a feeling of unpleasantness until stimulus is acted upon
Compliance, which produces produces passivity in an antagonistic environment; with a feeling of unpleasantness until stimulus is reconciled
Inducement, which produces activity in a favorable environment; with a feeling of pleasantness increasing as interaction increases
Submission, which produces passivity in a favorable environment; with a feeling of pleasantness increasing as yielding increases

Of course he is working on 2 levels – the Affect level where he discusses feelings and emotional tone and stimuli and the Behavioral level where he discusses active/passive behavior in a appropriate environment. With this I am all set to propose my new 16 factors theory of personality that may also bridge the gap between ABCD model of personality/psychology, the eight stages /factors theory of personality and the 16 personality factors or the 16 MBTi types.

To recall, Affect is the first stage/domain where pleasure/pain polarity is operational; I propose we also take in account a second polarity/factor as to whether the stimuli causing pleasure(pleasantness)/ pain(pleasantness) is present/being introduced or being recalled/ is absent. Let us call this factor Stimuli present/stimuli absent.

Behavior is the second stage/domain where active/passive polarity is operational; here the effect of environment can be subsumed under the polarity of whether the environment is favorable or antagonistic. Let us call this factor env favorable/antagonistic .

Desire is the third stage /domain where the motivational impetus can be either Self /Other focused. Here the environment/situational factors to consider are the significant others or the desirable objects – be it things or peoples . I call this polarity of being concerned with objects the things/ people factor.

Cognition is the final fourth stage/domain where the operational polarity is that of Broad/narrow – or put another way abstract(generalized) and concrete (specialized) ; here I posit that the system which is being cognized can be either chaotic/ orderly and that view of how the system is conceived results in factor of system chaotic/orderly.

Let me now elaborate all the 16 different types that emerge once one takes all these 2 factors (diff for each domain) and the 4 domains (ABCD) under consideration.

Affect driven combinations/types :

  1. generally feels pleasant due to presence of stimuli (a happy-g-lucky sanguine person; predominant emotion : joy; ‘reward’ driving factor in terms of reinforcement theory)
  2. generally feels pleasant due to absence of stimuli ( a lazy , lethargic., contended phlegmatic personality; ‘relief’ in terms of reinforcement theory) .
  3. generally feels unpleasant due to presence of stimuli ( an angry person energized to remove that stimuli; choleric with predominant emotion anger and ‘punishment’ driven in terms of reinforcement theory;)
  4. generally  feels unpleasant due to absence of stimuli (a sad person grieving loss of a beloved object ;melancholic with  predominant emotion sadness and ‘penalty’ is the reinforcement principle in use)

Behavior driven combinations/types

  1. Actively strives in favorable environments. (Influence/Inducement in DiSC terminology)
  2. Actively strives in even antagonistic environments (  dominant in DiSC terminology)
  3. Passively accommodates in even favorable environments (Submission/ steadfastness in DisC terminology)
  4. Passively accommodates in unfavorable environments ( Compliance in DiSC)

Desire /Motivation driven combinations/types leads to Fromm’s Character orientations

  1. Accommodating others with a focus on people – Marketing Character orientation as per Fromm
  2. Accommodating others with a focus on things – Receptive orientation-Fromm
  3. Assimilating in self the other people – Manipulative orientation-Fromm
  4. Assimilating in self with a focus on things- hoarding orientation-Fromm

Cognition driven combinations can be correlated with Hermann Brian dominance Instrument

  1. Broad/generalized synthesis of chaotic patterns ( Imaginative thinking style)
  2. Broad/generalized synthesis of ordered  patterns (Interpersonal thinking style)
  3. Narrow/specialized analysis of chaotic patterns ( Sequential thinking style)
  4. Narrow/specialized analysis of orderly patterns  ( Logical thinking style)

Of course I would love to correlate the cognitive factors with the Beauty and sublime factors of Kant but am unable to paint a coherent picture at this time. Maybe one day I will.

How do you find the above marriage of ABCD theory with 2 factor models of personality? do let me know via comments.



Enhanced by Zemanta

Dichotomies; or Psychology in a nutshell

"Two buckets" view of heritability.

Image via Wikipedia

The field of psychology abounds with dichotomies– some of which are patently false/outdated, as per the grapevine. The familiar ones include Nature-nurture and mind-brain; in the former it is assumed that now everything is a mixture of both nature and nurture while in the latter both mind and brain have been conflated to be the same. However as separate disciplines of neurology and psychology attest , and the naive disorder classification system scientists themselves use, which squarely puts one disorder as psychological while other as more neurological attests, there is some merit in considering things at different level of explanation- at the brain or neuronal level of explanation and at the mind or self/ organism level of explanation,


In this article I argue that not only there is merit in these dichotomies, but that these dichotomies grasp fundamental aspects of being and all provide a glimpse of the proverbial elephant to the blind men that we are.


To begin with , the most fundamental dichotomy I consider is that of BRAIN-MIND or DETERMINISM-FREE WILL. To me the proponents of BRAIN fall on  the DETERMINISM side of the table, while those of MIND fall into the FREE WILL camp. Let me elaborate. On the one side is reductive materialism that believes everything can be reduced to and explained in terms of neural firings and that all behavior is predetermined( from say the time of the Big Bang); on the other hand are people who tout the  HARD problems and propose that qualia exists, subjectivity exists, agency exists, even if the basis for that be found only in quantum effects, or rather the basis for which will never be found in classical brain based accounts but will always be non-computable/ non -comprehensible but intuitively grasped by phenomenological experiences alone.  To me there is merit in both arguments and my personal belief is that we are both determined and free, both brain and mind and that one is not the same as other but entails a different sort of world view. If I can go out on a limb, the first view of BRAIN is mechanistic/autistic in nature; while the second view that of MIND is mentalistic/psychotic in nature.  But we are moving ahead of ourselves.

The first belief system, that based around BRAIN/ DETERMINISM, is not without its own challenges/dichotomies. Consider that the BRAIN is sculpted and so everything is pre-DETERMINED. Who sculpted the BRAIN? NATURE or NURTURE? Both GENES and ENVIRONMENT can be equally strongly deterministic and capable of shaping our brain and predisposing us to act in a particular way.  No matter whether you believe in the all-empowering GENES or in the power of SITUATION to elicit behavior, or in the childhood influences that still govern adult REACTIONS, or believe in middle ground of developmental unfolding and epigenetic mechanisms, the predominant theme is that of doom and gloom and predestination. So NATURE-NURTURE is the dichotomy relevant here.

What about the FREE WILL/MIND camp? They too have to answer some tough questions as to what causes agency- is it REASON or PASSION? Does the freedom come from a lifetime of UNCONSCIOUS HABIT that gets engrained as character/PASSION or do we make a CONSCIOUS and REASONED  DECISION every time we ACT ? Is it FREE because it is an inbuilt IMPULSE; or is it  WILL because it can veto and CONTROL? The focus is squarely on ACTIONS- but Actions driven by PASSIONS or Actions driven by REASON? Note that in the NATURE-NURTURE theme the focus was on REACTIONS- what hidden force (genes/environment) causes us to react so and so; here the focus is on actions and what drives them ;  here the focus is on the perennial battle between romanticism and enlightenment /rationalism.   We grant that someone acts- but what is the basis of that action- is it PASSION or is it REASON? is it hidden, unconscious and spontaneous or is it deliberate, conscious and planned? the basic dichotomy here is between PASSION and REASON as the drivers of human action.


What about finer levels of dichotomies. Here again , on further analysis one can see that NATURE /GENES has a dichotomy in terms of Paternal genes or Maternal genes (working at cross-purposes at times as per genomic imprinting theory) ? NURTURE/ENVIRONMENT has a dichotomy in terms of SHARED (or PASSIVE) ENV. influences versus nons0hared or ACTIVE (niche constructing) ENV. influences.  PASSION has tensions between SPONTANEITY/random/Life force/EROS versus HABIT/ingrained/Death instinct/THANTOS; while  REASON has to balance between IRRATIONAL (mythos/chaotic) reasons versus RATIONAL (logos/orderly) reasons .

GENES are historical past facing; ENVIRONMENT is organism past + present facing; PASSION is Present + organism future  facing; while REASON is totally future facing.

So where am I getting from here.  It is to my ABCD model of psychology. Affect, Behavior , Desire/Motivation and Cognition.

To me, BRAIN-MIND/ DETERMINISM-FREE WILL debate is a manifestation of debates between primacy of Affect/behavior over motivation/cognition. Motivation /cognition are not directly observable/ measurable while in some sense affect and behavior are . Further, in BRAIN side there is tension between Affect (mostly inbuilt or genetic)  and  Behavior (mostly learned and a result of environmental influences) ; in a similar view, on the MIND side there is tension between Motivation (FREE/ PASSION) and Cognition (WILL/REASON).


Of course, there are finer levels of dichotomies embedded in ABCD as per the eight stage model where each of ABCD splits in two components based around- that of pleasure-pain, active-passive, self-other and broad-narrow. To me these dichotomies make perfect sense now.

To extend to one particular domain of personality psychology: you have deterministic personality theories emphasizing traits or behaviorism and you see a conflict/debate in personality theory in terms of Person (genes/traits) vs. situation(environment) variables.   On the other hand are free-will theories of personality centered around Psychoanalytic theories and Phenomenological/existential theories where the fundamental conflicts is between conscious/ and unconscious; between past and future orientation, between passion/libido and reason/actualization.


To extend to another domain – that of psychopathology- Motivation defects in EROS and THANTOS lead to Mania and Depression respectively and remain in conflict with each other; Cognitive deficits in REASONs, that is, in MYTHOS based chaotic/dreamy/irrational reasoning versus LOGOS based orderly/reality-oriented and logical reasoning lead to the opposed and yet conflated phenotypes of Autism spectrum disorders and Psychotic spectrum disorders.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Intrinsic connectivity Networks: Neurodegenerative link
In my last 3 posts, I have talked about ICNs and how they change over developmental time-frame and how many basic ICNs we have in the adult human brain.  This post will talk about neuroegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and how the underlying atrophy in neurodegenrative networks closely resembles the underlying ICNs and SCNs.

But first let us brush our knowledge of neurodegenrative dementia- I will be focusing on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) , Fronto temporal lobe degeneration related dementia ( (bv-FTD) behavioral variant Fronto-temporal dementia , (SD) Sementic dementia and  (PFNA) Progressive non-fluent Aphasia ); the cortico basal syndrome (CBS) and Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALs/Lou Gherings disease) . What all these diseases have in common is that they are progressively degenerative, related to aging, have both genetic as well as sporadic occurrence, and as we will see affect distinct dissociable brain networks (ICNs/SCNs).

These two studies for eg discuss the 3 distinct  variants of Froto temporal lobe degeneration – the bvFTD, SD and PNFA.  As per the first study:

The clinical hallmark of bv-FTD is a disturbance in the personality and behavior, with changes of mood, motivation, and inhibition, leading to profound social disruption.[1,21,22] As the initial symptoms are neuropsychiatric, without impairment on cognitive screening tests, or overt changes on structural imaging,[23,24] these patients may be inappropriately diagnosed as suffering from a psychiatric disease, usually, depression or personality disorder.[20,25]
Patients may perform normally on standard neuropsychological tests of memory, language, attention, and visual spatial ability, but more recent tests designed to assess emotion processing,[27] social cognition,[28] theory of mind,[29] and complex decision making[30] are more sensitive and may show deficits in early cases, even if standard cognitive battery are normal.[24]

Its interesting to note that bvFTD patients have intact visual-spatial abilities but show socio-emotional deficits (more on this later) .

Semantic dementia
Patients typically present with “loss of memory for words” and show impairment on tests of word comprehension, although the underlying deficit is the amodal store of semantic memory or knowledge about words, objects, people, and sounds.[7] . Patients show a gradual reduction of vocabulary and use high frequency terms (thing, boy), although speech is fluent and well articulated, without phonological or syntactic errors.[8,44,45]
A consistent feature is the impairment of naming objects or anomia. The performance is influenced by the level of familiarity and specificity of items asked. In other words, if the item is extensively encountered by the patient, it is likely to be forgotten later.[45] Likewise, the patient will tend to name objects that are prototypic of their category.[46] For instance, patients are able to name cat, dog, and horse, but not tiger or zebra, and use superordinate or general labels, calling the latter also a cat and horse, and may be just animal.[47]

Unlike SD, the presenting features of PNFA are more varied and may reflect breakdown at various stages of speech production, from alterations in lexical retrieval, misarrangements of the words according to grammatical rules, or impaired motor programming of the intended utterance.[11]
Generally speaking, there are problems with the syntactic or motor aspects of speech, causing speech to be halting, slow, and distorted.[54]
Severe agrammatism causes oversimplification of the language production, lack of function words (e.g., prepositions, auxiliary verbs, or articles), or words inflections (i.e., endings of verb or noun according to conjugation or number, respectively).[10] But in the early stages, grammatical errors are subtle and may be difficult to distinguish from common errors or detect in a short interview. Syntactic problems are usually best assessed by testing sentence comprehension.[55]

I’ll now go directly to this study by Seeley et al that shows that there are five distinct ICNs/SCNs that  closely match the underlying atrophy in five distinct such neurodegenerative diseases.  the figure below shows the atrophy maps and the ICNs and SCNs they observed for the 5 diseases they studied, viz AD, bvFTD, SD, PNFA and CBS.

The ICNs linked here to disease represent canonical findings from the ICN literature. Our AD-affected ICN (right ANG seed) corresponds to the ‘‘default mode network’’ that participates in episodic memory (Buckner et al., 2005) and became known for its task-related deactivations across fMRI studies (Fox et al., 2005; Fransson, 2005; Greicius et al., 2003). The ICN targeted in bvFTD (right FI seed) was first identified with ICA (Beckmann et al., 2005) and later linked to emotional salience processing capacities (Seeley et al., 2007) lost in early bvFTD (Seeley, 2008). SD affects an ICN (left Tpole seed) that has escaped previous detection in humans but corresponds to a Tpole-subgenual cingulate-ventral striatum-amygdala network, well-established in nonhuman primates (Mesulam and Mufson, 1982), that shows progressive atrophy in early-stage SD (Brambati et al., 2007). The PNFA-targeted ICN (left IFG seed) includes the frontal operculum, primary and supplementary motor cortices, and inferior parietal lobule bilaterally, linking the language and motor systems that enable speech fluency. This ICN, often divided into left and right hemispheric systems, has been noted in several previous studies (Beckmann et al., 2005; Damoiseaux et al., 2006; De Luca et al., 2006; van den Heuvel et al., 2008). In PNFA, asymmetric degeneration of this system may reflect its accentuated functional and connectional asymmetry in healthy humans (Stark et al., 2008). In CBS, prominent skeletal and ocular motor abnormalities result from disease within a dorsal sensorimotor association network (right PMC seed) detailed in several ICN studies (De Luca et al., 2006; Fox et al., 2005; Vincent et al., 2008) and elegantly mapped in the macaque using convergent ICN, oculomotor task-based fMRI, and axonal tracer methods (Vincent et al., 2007).

They also hypothesize about some diseases they did not study and the possible ICNs associated with them:

ICNs frequently reported (Beckmann et al., 2005; Damoiseaux et al., 2006; De Luca et al., 2006; van den Heuvel et al., 2008) but not studied here include primary and secondary visual networks that may provide substrate for the visual-spatial variant of AD known as the posterior cortical atrophy syndrome (Hof et al., 1997), a primary sensorimotor ICN that may relate to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Kassubek et al., 2005), and a lateral frontoparietal executivecontrol network (Seeley et al., 2007; Vincent et al., 2008) that falters in most neurodegenerative diseases as degeneration spreads beyond the sites of initial injury into widely interconnected supervisory neocortical systems.

I think of these arranged on the eight fold evo devo model as follows:

  1. posterior cortical atrophy syndrome: Visual ICN
  2. ALS /CBS : Sensorimotor ICN. (PMC seed)
  3. unknown (to me) neurodegenrative disease (ALS/CBS?) : Auditory cortex ICN
  4. PNFA : syntactic ICN (Inferior Frontal gyrus seed)
  5. Semantic Dementia : Semantic ICN (seed temporal pole)
  6. bvFTD: SALience ICN (seed Froto Insula)
  7. Alzheimer Disease : DMN ICN (seed angular gyrus)
  8. Dementia with Lewy Bodies ?? : Executive Control Network ICN.

Which brings me to the next paper by Seeley et al in which they showed that not only AD and bvFTD are respectively correlated with atrophy of DMN and SAL ICNs; but that as these networks are anti-correlated in normal control humans and as these diseases show opposite clinical profiles , the diseases are also correlated with increased connectivity in the converse network i.e AD leads to increased connectivity in SAL and bvFTD leads to increased connectivity in DMN.

This is what they hypothesized:

Behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and Alzheimer’s disease, the two most common causes of dementia among patients less than 65 years of age (Ratnavalli et al., 2002), provide a robust conceptual framework for exploring ICN fMRI applications to neurodegenerative disease. Early bvFTD disrupts complex social-emotional functions that rely on anterior peri-allocortical structures, including the anterior cingulate cortex and frontoinsula, as well as the amygdala and striatum (Rosen et al., 2002; Broe et al., 2003; Boccardi et al., 2005; Seeley et al., 2008a). These regions constitute a large-scale ICN in healthy subjects, which we have referred to as the ‘Salience Network’ due to its consistent activation in response to emotionally significant internal and external stimuli (Seeley et al., 2007b). Notably, while this anterior network degenerates, posterior cortical functions survive or even thrive, at times associated with emergent visual creativity (Miller et al., 1998; Seeley et al., 2008b). In contrast, Alzheimer’s disease often preserves social-emotional functioning, damaging instead a posterior hippocampal-cingulo-temporal-parietal network, often referred to as the ‘Default Mode Network’ (DMN) (Raichle et al., 2001; Greicius et al., 2003; Buckner et al., 2005; Seeley et al., 2009). DMN-specific functions continue to stir debate, but elements of this system, especially its posterior cortical nodes, participate in episodic memory (Zysset et al., 2002; Buckner et al., 2005) and visuospatial imagery (Cavanna and Trimble, 2006); functions lost early in Alzheimer’s disease. Just as bvFTD and Alzheimer’s disease show opposing clinical strengths and weaknesses, the Salience Network and DMN show anticorrelated ICN time series (Greicius et al., 2003; Fox et al., 2005; Fransson, 2005; Seeley et al., 2007b), suggesting a reciprocal relationship between these two neural systems. This rich clinical and neuroimaging background led us to hypothesize (as detailed in Seeley et al., 2007a) that bvFTD and Alzheimer’s disease would exert opposing influences on the Salience Network and DMN.

and this is exactly what they found. This is more than enough for today, but I cant leave without posting these two quotes from the paper:

Although patient strengths are rarely cited as important dementia diagnostic clues (Miller et al., 2000), preserved social graces and interpersonal warmth often lead experienced clinicians to suspect Alzheimer’s disease in a patient with mild memory or visuospatial complaints. Remarkably, we found that Alzheimer’s disease produces heightened Salience Network connectivity in anterior cingulate cortex and ventral striatum compared with healthy elderly controls.
Like patients with frontotemporal dementia, children with autism, who feature social-emotional and anatomical deficits akin to bvFTD (Di Martino et al., 2009a), may show superior posterior cortical functions manifesting as extraordinary artistic, arithmetic or mnestic talent (Hou et al., 2000; Treffert, 2009). In the present study, bvFTD showed increased left parietal DMN connectivity that correlated with reduced Salience Network connectivity in right frontoinsular, striatal and cingulate regions.

If you are a regular reader and know my zeal for the ‘opposites on a continuum theory’ you will be right on track as to where I am headed, but for that you have to wait for the next post.

Mathuranath, P., Aswathy, P., & Jairani, P. (2010). Genetics of frontotemporal lobar degeneration Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 13 (6) DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.74246
Hodges, J., & Leyton, C. (2010). Frontotemporal dementias: Recent advances and current controversies Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 13 (6) DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.74249
Zhou, J., Greicius, M., Gennatas, E., Growdon, M., Jang, J., Rabinovici, G., Kramer, J., Weiner, M., Miller, B., & Seeley, W. (2010). Divergent network connectivity changes in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease Brain, 133 (5), 1352-1367 DOI: 10.1093/brain/awq075
Seeley, W., Crawford, R., Zhou, J., Miller, B., & Greicius, M. (2009). Neurodegenerative Diseases Target Large-Scale Human Brain Networks Neuron, 62 (1), 42-52 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.03.024

Enhanced by Zemanta

Intrinsic Connectivity Networks: the adult form

In my last two posts I introduced the concept of ICNs and the form they take over developmental time-frame. This post focuses on the most common and consistent ICNs that have been found in the adult humans. To recap, ICNs are found by Independent Component Analysis (ICA) of Resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) and the number and components of ICNs have been found to vary over the developmental time-frame.

Different studies find different number of components/ICNs  and some of the variance is due to different methods used to estimate an delineate the number of components. For eg., in one study multiple methods were used and they led to estimates ranging from 8 to 20 + for the number of components using the same rs-fcMRI scan.

The same study listed the following ICNs out of which 4 are clearly a result of artifact and not true ICN’s.

We sorted the 20 components into two broad classes – functionally relevant components (i.e., ICNs) and scanner/physiological artifactual components – based on visual inspection of each component’s spatial profile (e.g., biological plausibility, comparability to patterns previously reported in ICA-based studies) and timeseries-based power spectrum profile (e.g., whether or not signals < 0.1Hz were prominent). We noted 4 components that appeared to be associated with artifactual sources: cerebrospinal fluid (IC01), white matter (IC03), head motion (IC05), and large vessels (IC16). These four components accounted for 39.4% of the total variance in the resting state fMRI data. Several functionally relevant components consistent with prior reports were also revealed in our results. Two components (IC04 and IC15) are involved in vision. IC09 combines visual and motor regions including the occipital pole, superior parietal cortex and precentral gyrus. IC13 includes brain regions such as the primary motor cortex and primary and association auditory cortices. Several components include regions related to various high-order brain functions: fronto-parietal networks corresponding to cognition and language functions (IC07 and IC19), medial-frontal including anterior cingulate and paracingulate associated with executive control (IC08) and three “default mode” networks (IC10, IC12 and IC14). We found six other components that are rarely reported or investigated systematically corresponding to the cerebellum (IC11 and IC18), a motor-striatal component (IC02), a ventromedial prefrontal component (IC17), a brainstem component (IC06), and a temporal-lobe component (IC20). Of note, we found several components that exhibit anticorrelation relationships between regions (IC04, IC08, IC14 and IC15). In particular, the executive and attentional network (IC08) and the “default mode” network (IC14) demonstrated prominent anti-correlation relationships (Figure S1).
We detected the classic “default mode” network, although in the form of three components that we interpret as sub-networks. The first is a medial-prefrontal subsystem (IC12), the second is a posterior cingulate/precuneus subsystem (IC10), and the third is a temporal subsystem (IC14). These three subsystems mainly overlap in the posterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex (Figure S2). As we discuss below, the existence of three overlapping but differentiable sub-networks may account for some of the variations in the specific spatial distributions or functional specialization of the “default mode” network reported across ICA studies (Buckner et al., 2008; Harrison et al., 2008).


In another famous study by Damoiseaux they found 10 components as follows:

The 10 components showed low-frequency variations in time (mean peak frequency: 0.015 Hz; range 0.005–0.030 Hz) and can be described as follows. Fig. 1 A and A’ shows a pattern that consists predominantly of the peristriate area, and lateral and superior occipital gyrus [Brodmann area (BA) 19], which are areas recognized as part of the visual cortex. Fig. 1 B and B’ shows a cluster consisting of the prefrontal (BA 11), anterior cingulate (BA 32), posterior cingulate (BA 23’31), the inferior temporal gyrus (BA 20’37), and the superior parietal region (BA 7), known as the default-mode network as described by Raichle et al. (18) and Greicius et al. (17). Hippocampal involvement in this component, as described by Greicius et al. (22), is not found. Fig. 1 C, C’, D, and D’ shows components that are predominantly in the left (C and C’) and right (D and D’) hemispheres, the middle frontal and orbital (BA ‘6’9’10), superior parietal (BA 7’40), middle temporal gyrus (BA 21), and the posterior cingulate (BA 23’31; C and C’ only). These are the only components that show strong lateralization and are areas known to be involved in memory function. Fig. 1 E and E’ encompasses part of the striate and parastriate (BA 17’18). The visual cortex is apparent in two separate components. The more lateral visual areas are in Fig. 1 A and A’, and the more medial visual areas are in this figure. Fig. 1 F and F’ shows the pre- and postcentral gyri (BA 1’2’3’4) in one component, representing the motor and sensory network. Fig. 1 G and G’ shows the superior temporal (BA 22) area as the main element of this spatial map. Involvement of the cingulate (BA 23) and superior frontal (BA 9’10) areas is also seen. This cluster of brain regions bears a strong resemblance to the occipitotemporal pathway (ventral stream). Fig. 1 H and H’ involves mainly the superior parietal cortex (BA 7) with additional involvement in the occipitotemporal (BA 37) and precentral (BA 4) areas. Fig. 1 I and I’ involves the superior temporal (BA 22) and insular and postcentral cortex (BA 1’2), which are areas acknowledged to represent the auditory cortex.

To simplify things I propose the following eight ICNs listed in the order of strength/developmental unfolding/ evolutionary precedence, following my proven eight stage evo-devo model. All ICNs referred below are those in study by Zuo et al. unless otherwise stated.

  1. Visual (IC4) fig 1A in Damoeseoux- occipital
  2. Sensorimotorfig 1 F in Damoseousx -pre-post central gyrus
  3. Auditory/memory (IC13) fig 1 I -auditory/temporal cortex
  4. Language/spatial (IC7/IC19) Fig 1C and Fig 1D of damoseoux – fronto-parietal, strongly lateralized in two hemispheres
  5. SALience(also Known as SAL) Anterior Insula+ anterior Cingulate
  6. Balance and co-ordination (IC 11) – Cerebellum
  7. Default Mode Network(IC10, IC12, IC14) , Fig 1 B- Medial frontal, posterior cingulate, Angular gyrus
  8. Executive Control Network (IC8)Fig 1J – dorsolateral, prefrontal + sup parietal

Some may doubt why I include CERebellum ICN as a basic ICN, but it has been shown that cerebellum not only provides distinct components to existing ICNs , there is an separate Cerebellum ICN also. For eg. Peterson et al used a Cerebellar component in their analysis of how ICNs change over developmental time-frame.

A Structural Covariance Networks (SCNs) based approach to delineate the devlopemental time course of networks in brain comes closest to the eight stage /networks elaborated above. The study is by Zielenksi et al and use seeds from well known ICNs to grow SCNs in children, adolescents and adults.  These are the eight SCNs/ICNs (seeds given in brackets) they studied :

  1. Visual (ccalcerine sulcus)
  2. Motor (pre-central gyrus)
  3. Auditory (Heschel’s gyrus)
  4. Syntax (Inferior Frontal Gyrus)
  5. Semantics (temporal pole)
  6. SALience (Fronto Insula)
  7. DMN (Angular Gyrus)
  8. ECN (DLPFC)

I am convinced that there are only 8 basic ICNs/SCNs with perhaps the DMN split into 3 sub-networks (as is usual for stage 7) and Speech/syntax split or lateralizaed into 2 distinct ICNs. (as is sometimes the case with stage 4) . If you come across  other such basic ICNs do let me know.

Zuo, X., Kelly, C., Adelstein, J., Klein, D., Castellanos, F., & Milham, M. (2010). Reliable intrinsic connectivity networks: Test–retest evaluation using ICA and dual regression approach NeuroImage, 49 (3), 2163-2177 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.10.080
Damoiseaux, J., Rombouts, S., Barkhof, F., Scheltens, P., Stam, C., Smith, S., & Beckmann, C. (2006). Consistent resting-state networks across healthy subjects Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103 (37), 13848-13853 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0601417103
Fair, D., Cohen, A., Power, J., Dosenbach, N., Church, J., Miezin, F., Schlaggar, B., & Petersen, S. (2009). Functional Brain Networks Develop from a “Local to Distributed” Organization PLoS Computational Biology, 5 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000381
Zielinski, B., Gennatas, E., Zhou, J., & Seeley, W. (2010). Network-level structural covariance in the developing brain Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107 (42), 18191-18196 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1003109107

Enhanced by Zemanta

Maslow’s motivational hierarchy revisited

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Resized, renamed,...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve written previously about Maslow’s motivational hierarchy and how that relates to the eight stage evo-devo model. Most people are familiar with the 5 motivational basic needs/motives theory of Maslow, but are not aware that he had later revised it to include eight basic needs/ motives.

A recent paper by Krenrick et al also discusses the more popular 5 motivational scheme of Maslow and revamps the model by dropping self-actualization at the top and making room for 3 reproduction related motives -mate attraction, mate retention and parenting.  Regular readers will note that this is inline with the eight stages discussed during life-history theory based perspectives on this blog.

This new paper, which is available in full on authors website, is an important contribution and gets many things right, though I believe that safety need should trump physiological needs and that we need an eighth motive/need which would be related to finding meaning/purpose/transcendence .

Anyway, lets first see what a motivational system is:

Throughout this article, we have used the terms needs, motives, and goals somewhat loosely. Our view of motivational systems follows that of evolutionary theorists such as Plutchik (1980) and Scott (1980), with connections to the views of the original evolutionary psychologists such as William James (1890) and McDougall (1908) and to Carver and Scheier’s (1998) cybernetic view. On that view, any motivational system includes (a) a template for recognizing a particular class of relevant environmental threats or opportunities, (b) inner motivational/ physiological states designed to mobilize relevant resources, (c) cognitive decision rules designed to analyze trade-offs inherent in various prepotent responses, and (d) a set of responses designed to respond to threats or opportunities represented by the environmental inputs (i.e., to achieve adaptive goals).

To elaborate, and link with the ABCD model of psychology, desire/motivation forms a big sub-domain of psychology,m but motivation.desire can itself be broken into 1)Affective components (a template for recognizing a particular class of relevant environmental threats or opportunities) 2) Behavioral components ( a set of responses designed to respond to threats or opportunities represented by the environmental inputs) 3) Cognitive components (cognitive decision rules designed to analyze trade-offs inherent in various prepotent responses) and 4) Desire / motivation proper ( inner motivational/ physiological states designed to mobilize relevant resources).

The motivational system itself can be analyzed at different levels of analysis-Proximate reasons for a behavior and ultimate reasons for a behavior. The different levels of analysis include  evolutionary (ultimate), developmental, situational (proximate) and phenomenological.  These concern with the biological context, the ecological context , the cultural context and the personological context respective;y in which a (human) being functions.

Kenrcik et al consider the evolutionary ,  developmental and proximate mechanisms and level of analysis and use that to refine the Maslow’s ladder and that makes sense and is more or less inline with the eight stage model.

They also refer to Deci and Ryan and their intrinsic motives and I like to think of deci and Ryan motives as well as addition to that by Daniel pink as follows: 1) autonomy (from genes) 2)  mastery (over environment) 3) Belongingness (to culture) and 4) Purpose ( of self) – these intrinsic drives again related to biology, environment, culture and phenomenology.  Only the last level of analysis need make a reference to consciousness; all prior levels are/may be non-conscious.  I believe the lack of phenomenological level of analysis is limiting and perhaps the reason they miss the eight and highest motive.

The authors, apart from adding new motives of mate attraction. mate retention and parenting, also stress the point that these are overlapping/ can be activated simultaneously and do not necessarily follow developmental stages.

The original article itself is accompanied by commentaries and Kenrick himself maintains a blog and has written a  couple of blog posts related to this, so there are no excuses for not reading up more on this.

Douglas T. Kenrick,, Vladas Griskevicius,, Steven L. Neuberg, & Mark Schaller (2010). Renovating the Pyramid of Needs
Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundations Perspectives on Psychological science DOI: 10.1177/1745691610369469

Enhanced by Zemanta

Life History theory and eight stage evo-devo model

Hoverflies (Simosyrphus grandicornis) mating i...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve touched upon life history theory earlier, in an oblique fashion, while discussing evolutionary perspectives on personality.

Life History theory posits that an individual’s life efforts can be subsumed under two headings- somatic life efforts
and reproductive life efforts. The latter relates to selection due to being able to successfully replicate one-self; the former relates to the ability of an organism to survive and thus act as a vehicle for genes that can be replicated at a later date.  To elaborate more on the life history theory I quote:

Life History Theory is a mid-level theory from evolutionary biology that describes the strategic allocation of bioenergetic and material resources among different components of fitness (e.g., calories and nutrients devoted to growth vs. reproduction). Somatic Effort anchors one end of the first dimension of this trade-off whereas Reproductive Effort anchors the other. Somatic Effort refers to resources devoted to continued survival of the individual organism whereas Reproductive Effort refers to resources devoted to production of new organisms as vehicles for survival of the individual’s genes. The second dimension of this trade-oV further partitions Reproductive Effort. Mating Effort anchors one end of this continuum whereas Parental Effort and Nepotistic Effort jointly anchor the other. Mating Effort refers to resources devoted to obtaining and retaining sexual partners whereas Parental/Nepotistic Effort refers to resources devoted to enhancing the survival of existing offspring and other genetic relatives. Thus, a life-history strategy allocates an individual’s bioenergetic and material resources among the competing demands of survival and reproduction.

I break the somatic effort into five different functions:

  1. Survival– each organism needs to survive and maintain its body integrity
  2. Growth – each organism needs to consume energy and grow
  3. Maintenance– each organism needs to maintain the body it accumulates as a result of previous efforts
  4. Development– there is developmental unfolding and stages where different needs are met at different times
  5. Differentiation/specialization– the organism makes efforts to create an environmental niche for itself

I agree with the authors that reproductive effort can be broken into 3 parts:

  1. Mating effort effort to find and retain a mate.
  2. Parental effort– efforts devoted to nurture offspring
  3. Nepotistic efforts– efforts devoted to helping close genetic kins.

The first three stages/efforts are related to energy balance while the next two are timing related. Finally the final three are efforts proper, thus completing the eight stage model.

The life history theory says that one has limited energy, time and efforts and needs to invest these limited resources wisely- between current and future reproduction; between quantity and quality of offspring; and between self and offspring.

Let me elaborate.

Current and future reproductive trade-offs can be conceptualized as a giant trade-off between somatic effort and reproductive effort. If I reproduce now, I do not invest in my growth, maintenance, survival etc and thus have lowered future chances of being able to survive and reproduce.  On the other hand if I do not reproduce now, I can invest the excess energy in somatic efforts- granting me future reproductive benefits, but incurring the opportunity cost of not reproducing now.

Quality and quantity of offspring trade-off can be conceptualized as how best to allocate resources, once I have decided to reproduce,  amongst a litter- the size of litter (no. of offsprings), the size of individual baby at birth and the quality or survivability of offspring at birth. All these are orthogonal to each other and involve trade-offs.

The final traditional trade-off is between self and offspring- the parent-offspring conflict. Given that I am reproducing some  offsprings now, what resources should I invest in them now,  such that my future reproductive costs are not sky-high and I can survive and reproduce later and invest in later offsprings too.  Here the two sexes have different incentives when a baby is gestating- for mother later offsprings will also be hers; for father later offsprings may not be his; thus father wants the baby to consume as many resources now as possible; while mother wants to spread resources more evenly- the genomic imprinting conflict theory.

Here it is instructive to pause and note the cost of reproductive (to mother)-

  1. future survival (death in childbirth – for mammals important)
  2. future energy capture (pregnancy, lactation and nursing resulting in less  loco mobility and foraging)
  3. future reproduction (lowered fecundity as a result of prior child birth)

The avid reader will note that the three trade-offs refrred to above relate to the three stages of reproductiuve effort – mating (now/future), parenting (one/many child) and nepotism (future related babies/unrelated babies)

There do exist of course tradeoff between somatic and reproductive efforts and it has been shown time and gain that they are inversely related; however more interesting is the fact that somatic efforts themselves are multi-dimensional; thus forgoing reproduction may not simply lead to longer lifespan; it may just result in more growth and heavier bodies.

Also important to note the concept of r and K strategies.

Let us now look at some of the life history variables and again present them is a stage fashion, with special focus on r-K strategy and how these have antagonistic and opposite effects on variables under consideration:

  1. Mortality rate (survival)- low in r , high in K
  2. Body size (growth) -low in r, high in K
  3. Metabolic activity related lifespan (maintenance)- low in r , high in K
  4. Age of sexual maturity (developmental) – early in r, later in K
  5. Age of first reproduction (differentiation/specialization)- early in r, later in K
  6. duration of gestation/pregnancy (mating) – lesser in r, greater in K
  7. no. and size of offspring in a litter (parenting)- more number and lesser size in r, smaller no. and bigger size in K
  8. no. of reproductive events (nepotism)- semelparous or one reproductive event only in many r; iteraparous or multiple reproductive events in most K

Another way of parsing the data is to link these to developmental and evolutionary tasks and personality traits, as I had done earlier:

  1. Foes: Survival
  2. Food: Growth
  3. Friends: Maintenance
  4. Maturity: Development
  5. Mate selection: specialization/differentiations (displays of creativity etc)
  6. Mate retention: mating long term for future reproductive benefits
  7. Parenting: parental efforts for ensuring well being of offsprings
  8. Nepotism /altruism: favoring kin/ non-kin to ensure inclusive fitness

The last three are generally referred to as dilemmas of parental investment- balancing reproduction, well being of offsprings and inclusive fitness via nepotism with somatic or self fitness.

Its also instructive to note that many ecological variables affect the somatic as well as reproductive effort distribution (the r and K strategy are under ecological constraints to an extent).

For ex, changes in ecology like Mortality hazard (foe related) , food availability (food related) , density of con-specifics (friends related) , shortage of food during critical developmental window( maturity related) or differential habitats leading to different genetic variants (niche related) all lead to changes in these life history variables sometime affecting growth, sometimes reproduction, sometime lifespan etc etc. For eg caloric restriction may lead to increased lifespan etc etc

The above life history analysis was applied to organisms, but the same can be extended to brains and neurons-the following processes are involved in neuronal life history (neural Darwinism)

  1. Neuronal survival
  2. Neuronal growth
  3. Neuronal maintenance
  4. Neuronal developmental and
  5. Neuronal specialization/differentiation.

In all of the above neurotropins or growth factors are instrumental and drive these processes. Whether or not this applies to neuronal level, but to organism level life history theory makes a lot of sense. What do you make of it and its fit with the 8 stage evolutionary theory?

Graf, M., Cellerino, A., & Englert, C. (2010). Gender Separation Increases Somatic Growth in Females but Does Not Affect Lifespan in Nothobranchius furzeri PLoS ONE, 5 (8) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011958
FIGUEREDO, A., VASQUEZ, G., BRUMBACH, B., SCHNEIDER, S., SEFCEK, J., TAL, I., HILL, D., WENNER, C., & JACOBS, W. (2006). Consilience and Life History Theory: From genes to brain to reproductive strategy Developmental Review, 26 (2), 243-275 DOI: 10.1016/j.dr.2006.02.002

Enhanced by Zemanta