Consciousness is considered the main element that distinguishes us from animals. However, studies of its connection to the evolution of the human species are extremely rare. Theories of consciousness have for the most part been developed from philosophy, religion or cognitive sciences. Fundamental questions about it thus remain unanswered. This is particularly the case of the moment from which consciousness evolved and the animal species that could have it.
Attention Schema Theory (AST) now sheds light on these questions.
Observe living species
A lot of information circulates in the brain and its processing goes through complex mechanisms. Signals are selected with precision. AST theory assumes that the evolution of consciousness has been gradual in many species.
Even before the development of the central brain, neurons competed with each other. Everyone was trying to outdo the others. The neurons that won the competition were the ones with more intense signals, which influenced behavior. This process selectively enhanced the signal, allowing the nervous system to function as it does today.
To understand when the selective improvement of the signal began its evolution, it would suffice to observe certain animal species.
The evolution of consciousness is also considered to be related to the centralized controller of attention which is an area of the brain known as the tectum. This coordinates the whole of the sense and the manifest attention. All vertebrates have this peculiarity, unlike invertebrates. The tectum manages, among other things, the receptors of the nose, ears and eyes. Moreover, it is able to keep track of all the items checked. This makes planning and preaching possible.
The evolution of consciousness according to the AST
Genetic analyzes and fossil studies have suggested that vertebrates first evolved around 500 million years ago. Central attentional control and the tectum might have emerged at the same time.
Secret attention, on the other hand, has a physical basis visible in the microscopic details of neurons, signals and synapses. The brain ignores these details.
So, the attention scheme is quite vague. It would have evolved according to a model specific to secret attention. When the basic mechanism developed, he adopted it to shape attentional states. This made it possible to set up the social prediction.
The brain would therefore attribute consciousness to itself.
I am a news journalist with over 15 years of experience in the field. I specialize in covering world news and events. I have written for major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters. I also have experience working with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.