Human bonding and mother instinct

 

As ScienceDaily reported (ScienceDaily) based on a study published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ) the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in human bonding, using the brain’s reward system to form human relationships, such as mother and child relationship, in both animal and human models.

The significance of the results according to the authors: Early life bonding in humans has critical long-term implications for health, productivity, and well-being in the society. Nonetheless, neural mechanisms of bonding are typically studied in rodents, and no study,  to this date, has  examined the neurochemistry of human social affiliation. This study utilizes a state-of-the-art technology to demonstrate that human maternal bonding is associated with striatal dopamine function and the recruitment of a cortico–striatal–amygdala brain network that supports affiliation. The simultaneous probing of neurochemical responses and whole-brain network function in mothers watching their infants provides a unique observation into an “affiliating brain.” These results advance the mechanistic understanding of human social bonding and promote basic and clinical research in social neuroscience, development, and psychopathology.

 

On the other  hand, the interpretations of this result (and of similar studies before) regarding the meaning of our lives may not be favourable. This study can be a blow for those who believe that our human relationships and actions are governed by our souls and not by biochemical processes of our body. Moreover, these processes are based on physical laws of nature and were shaped by a multi-billion-year evolution here on the Earth. Consequently, someone may logically draw a conclusion that our human relationships, such as mother-and-child bond,  may not form the basis of the meaning of our individual lives as a mechanical and chemical reaction we have no decision about. Some may even incorrectly jump to the result that our lives are meaningless in general – we are just robots programmed to feel by chemicals.

Even if the above logic is mathematically correct, the conclusion may not be valid. Science demands proof. Many fantastic and well thought through hypothesis have failed in experiments. So even a proper logic does not mean that the conclusions are true and reflect reality.

Moreover, such pessimistic thoughts are partially just resulting from our disappointment and fear that we have no  soul (we are not immortal), and that there are  scientific explanations and background for our existence and behaviour. This disappointment makes us jump to incorrect conclusions because the above logic is not watertight. It’s as if death would retrospectively eliminate our current existence as well, or as if our atoms and chemicals are not part of ourselves. The true problems, illustrated herein by questions are three-fold:

  • Do the facts that we have no soul and we have to die in the future automatically mean that there is no meaning of our life today, and that the current meaning of our lives will automatically cease to exist with our death?
  • Do the facts that our body is made of atoms and elementary particles, and there are laws governing the behaviour of such atoms and molecules, automatically mean that “we” actually do not exist and we don’t have any freedom to make decisions?
  • Will our feelings and affections, which are being produced by physical, biochemical and evolutionary processes, reduce their value and usefulness to  us, our society, or humanity?

You can see that the seemingly logical first conclusions from the result of the above recent research are far from obvious. Later, we may return to this questions and topics in another blog.

 

Oxigen loss – long term consequences

1024px-extinction_intensity-svgWarming oceans may have long-term effects on our own future potential as recent and historical processes show.

 

The current decline in the oxygen level of the oceans resulting from global warming is not just alarming in itself. The subsequent reduction of the biomass in the oceans may also easily result in a significant nutrient gap, and the slow recovery of the nutrition was exactly the factor behind the very slow recovery of the ocean’s biodiversity during the worst known mass extinction 250 million years ago.

Why is it relevant to the meanings of life? Because we can permanently harm our long-term potential to survive and develop. The global warming is not just a temporary problem or something we can remedy in mere few thousands year. We may destroy our capability to reach our aims and fulfil our hopes as a race – the very opposite of the meaning of our life.

Causes behind the slow recovery after the worst mass extinction

Arctic gives clues on worst mass extinction of life

 

Similar processes today

Environmental science: Oceans lose oxygen

 

After posting, related article:

Jurassic drop in ocean oxygen lasted a million years