A LITTLE WAY-BACK STORY

Three of the most basic elements of our interaction in the the world our childhood were numbers — not one-two-three but “this one” and “this one” and “that one ,” “play” trying things out as well as terrain, carrying something someplaceplace or just going places. When we begin to experiment with trade, we are discovering that the value of things change when they are moved to other places. This is the great force of empires that move resources from capture to marketing. But we’ve all witnessed the pleasure it gives a toddler to carry things across the room and put them in the lap of someone else. Pretty soon they come to take their toy back and carry it to someone else. Some dogs do that, but mostly humans.

At some point, play overtook and drew into itself numbers. Now gambling had begun and would influence behavior for ever afterward.

Dopamine, the neurotransmitter the brain releases during enjoyable activities such as eating, sex and drugs, is also released during situations where the reward is uncertain. In fact dopamine release increases particularly during the moments leading up to a potential reward. This anticipation effect might explain why dopamine release parallels an individual’s levels of gambling “high” and the severity of his or her gambling addiction. It likely also plays a role in reinforcing the risk-taking behavior seen in gambling.

https://theconversation.com/designed-to-deceive-how-gambling-distorts-reality-and-hooks-your-brain-91052

These mechanisms developed the human brain and shaped its decision-making, but also was shaped itself and developed into hunting where it was a perfect match: the suspense, the reward. the emotional trip. We use the same mechanisms for following a story.

Closely related to hunting, except for the killing part, is sex and making a match. We have always assumed that one kind of hominin matched up with another one of the same kind, but now the thinking is that there were in early days a lot of kind of hominins that were’t separated into species yet. If they had been travelers or had come from some other place over the hill, they might be intriguing enough to be attractive. Animal instinct would be able to carry on the next part.

The process would have worked as follows: Many Homo groups lived during a period known as the Middle Pleistocene, about 789,000 to 130,000 years ago, and were too closely related to have been distinct species. These groups would have occasionally mated with each other while traveling through Africa, Asia and Europe. A variety of skeletal variations on a human theme emerged among far-flung communities. Human anatomy and DNA today include remnants of that complex networking legacy, proponents of this scenario say.

It’s not clear precisely how often or when during this period groups may have mixed and mingled. But in this framework, no clear genetic or physical dividing line separated Middle Pleistocene folks usually classed as H. sapiens from Neandertals, Denisovans and other ancient Homo populations.

Dopamine, the neurotransmitter the brain releases during enjoyable activities such as eating, sex and drugs, is also released during situations where the reward is uncertain. In fact dopamine release increases particularly during the moments leading up to a potential reward. This anticipation effect might explain why dopamine release parallels an individual’s levels of gambling “high” and the severity of his or her gambling addiction. It likely also plays a role in reinforcing the risk-taking behavior seen in gambling.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/human-evolution-mating-2021-research

What happened next probably responded to the ecology — source of food, shelter, whether it was best to be in a troupe or tribe or to be as a pair or perhaps to alternate according to what is best for babies. Perhaps the nucleus is the birth of progeny, but the group doesn’t always base on fertility. Wolves, for instance, have one-one-affinities that morph as time goes on and they age differently or meet different fates. This is as true of humans as it is through many versions of animal species.

Our pair, one neandertal and one homo, will as a generation stream knowledge, begin to create and accumulate culture, which they can pass down through stories and songs. And so does human civilization begin, still wanted to carry things around to trade them because they are more valuable in a different place, still wanting to gamble because of loving the possibility, the arousal of the risk, and the triumphant win, if it happens, particularly because it is shared with the others. Even the dog will be happy.

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Mary Strachan Scriver

Born in Portland when all was calm just before WWII. Educated formally at NU and U of Chicago Div School. Clergy for ten years. Always happy on high prairie.