How real can reality be

According to the philosophical term, reality is a set of existing objects and phenomena (physical reality) that are concrete, definite and definable, outside of subjective perception. And where is man's place in his reality?

09:00 | 19 ноември 2021
Обновен: 11:19 | 19 ноември 2021

By Antonina Kardasheva, PhD, DSc

The human brain is the most complex structure in the universe, made up of 180 billion nerve cells, 50 billion of which are designed to process the information we perceive from reality. How do these nerve cells help us perceive reality, define and interpret it, and how do they relate to our behavior?

Assessments of reality are the mirror image of what we see, feel, think and become visible through the manifestations of human behavior. It is a well-known saying that the more the environment changes, the more actively personality and behavior are influenced.

Back in 1936, the American psychologist Kurt Levin derived a revolutionary equation that changed the way we consider human behavior. According to him, human behavior is a function of its individuality and environment:

B = f (P, E)

B is the behavior, P is the character of the person, and E is the environment. Before this equation was derived, most researchers believed that our actions and habits were the result only of the type of person, but not of the environment and the conditions in which we live.

Human behavior is a projection of the work of an extremely important physiological organ - the brain, and it coordinates the human psyche. For many years, studying the human brain, many scientists were interested in its relationship to human behavior.

The structure of our brain, working together with the endocrine glands and the nervous system, controls emotions, sensations, thoughts, actions, memory, imagination, behavior of our whole personality. Every mental process is based on a combination of nerve impulses and hormonal secretion. If they do not occur synchronously, then they cause not only physiological but also mental problems, disrupting our feelings, thinking and behavior, and hence our social interactions. The strong influence of many factors from the external environment affects the ability of the human brain and nervous system to perceive, analyze, synthesize information, interpret it and generally create a reflected image of reality.

Assessments of reality are the mirror image of what we see, feel, think and become visible through the manifestations of behavior. It is a well-known saying that the more the environment changes, the more actively personality and behavior are influenced.

Assessments of reality are summary information which is performed in the associative areas of the cerebral cortex. It is extremely important for focusing on environmental change and for building skills to anticipate what is most likely to follow. Many studies prove that if environmental factors are manipulated, limited, modified, then the fastest change will be registered through people's behavior and their ability to adapt.

According to many experts, patients with damaged parietal lobes often suffer from ignoring space and they do not notice that part of space which is opposite to the trauma of the brain and change their behavior. Similar space-ignoring effects were reported for some patients with drug-induced brain intoxication, vaccination, heroin, or medication dependence. It is important to emphasize that the knowledge and research of such deviations in the associative zone of healthy people is little studied and it can lead humanity to results that will e.g. clarify what are the lasting effects on the brain and behavior from chemicals that people are vaccinated, treated or abused on a daily basis to cope with the changing environment around us.

The biochemical balance is disturbed as a reflection of various influences (artificial or accident) in the associative parts of the brain, and this gives rise to pathology in behavior.

Hallucinatory perceptions, thinking disorders and memory processes are observed. What reality do you think the intoxicated brain reflects?

Understanding our biological boundaries (natural or artificially manipulated) and our ability to perceive reality in which we live in a special way gives us some idea of ​​the boundaries of our behavior. It can be normal (socially accepted behavioral reactions) and abnormal (deviant). If our senses and brains can process only part of the information from the outside world, and with the help of cognitive filters and bias, then quite often the behavior will be outside the socially accepted norms. Fortunately, our biological capacity still helps us adapt to the dynamics and unique changes of human life, despite the imposed limitations of the environment.

Claiming that the brain does not experience anything from the outside world that was not been "inserted" into it by the senses leads to the thesis that after perceptions most strongly affect the processing of information from the outside world, sensations or sensory reactions. Through them we build an idea of ​​how to adapt and what behavior to implement. The sensory threshold is different for each person and is activated by different stimuli. There is a lot of evidence that people's absolute thresholds are influenced by how we feel, whether we are tired, curious, interested, bored. Sensor thresholds are not a fixed value, they depend on various factors - pollution, stress, pandemics, hunger, thirst, violence, chemical pollution, etc.

The long-term influence of certain stable factors is the reason for building sensory adaptation in humans. According to the American psychologist Harry Helson, sensory adaptation is useful because by weakening the sensitivity to a stimulus, it directs attention to a new type of stimulus and thus helps a person notice changes in the environment and adapt. According to the theory of the level of adaptation, sensitivity does not depend on the intensity of the current stimulus. Helson argues that sensitivity is influenced by a person's past experience. The role of sensory receptors is extremely strong because it also explains part of our behavior for adaptation to various stimuli coming from the environment.

The sciences of neuropsychology, social psychology, and behavioral psychology seek clear arguments and reasons for using simulations, experiments, and experiments to explain the effects on human behavior and to bring perspectives for its regulation. If the experiments on the behavior of rodents and animals are numerous, those on humans are still looking for argumentation.

For example, a team of ethologists studied how a group of cats' past experiences affected their perception. They have previously controlled visual stimulation in the period of their early development. The effect of deprivation and neural changes in laboratory tests prove that limiting the conditions under which kittens develop changes their neural development – i. e. they respond to limited and controlled stimuli. This result proves that the visual experience of kittens determines how well they will orient themselves in the environment or will show deviant behavior.

Significant neuron disorders were found in chimpanzees raised in the dark during their first 16 months of life. Placed in a lighted environment after 16 months, they turned their heads in the direction of the light, but otherwise behaved as if completely blind. In other studies, chimpanzees and cats were raised with translucent glasses on their eyes. The tested animals were accustomed to seeing the world through a blurry, matte filter, and later could not track moving objects and distinguish shapes. Similar conclusions were reached by other researchers who conducted experiments with children who had to wear a bandage on one eye after surgery for removing a visual defect. It turns out that despite the restored vision, later they have reduced visual acuity of the closed eye and abnormal behavior.

The effects of the influence of different factors on the mental processes and behavior of people can be different. If people begin to perceive the world through limited or distorted images, beliefs, effects of influence, exchanged proportions and with limitations, will they be able to adapt to the actual reality? Psychologists have been asking this question since 1897, when George Stratton conducted his early research on perception in the reorganization of space. A little later, the American ethologist John Calhoun carried out a long project known as "Universe 25". The hypothesis of the experiment is to prove that as the population of laboratory mice grows in a confined space, they develop distinctly abnormal patterns of behavior that can even lead to the extinction of the population.

Dr. Calhoun and his team created an experimental environment of 1,000 square meters, which could theoretically be inhabited by about 3,000 white mice. The conditions in which rodents lived were ideal. There was enough food and water for everyone, there were no natural enemies to hinder the development of the population, infectious diseases were also minimized. All conditions resembled the "ideal world - paradise" for this species of rodents. The "Universe 25" experiment was one of the few in the history of science that was expected to predict and explain the future of human society. The results proved that after 315 days their reproduction began to decrease significantly and many social and behavioral pathologies were reported. When the number of rodents reached 600, a hierarchy was formed between them and then different groups of rodents appeared which had the characteristics of different social roles of people - "wretches," “beautiful","aggressive".

"The consequences of the behavioral pathology we observed were most obvious among the females," wrote John Calhoun. "Many of them could not bear the pregnancy until the end of the term or, if they succeeded, did not survive the birth of the young. The number of those who did not fulfill their maternal duties after a successful birth was even higher. Among males, behavioral disorders ranged from sexual deviations to cannibalism and from frantic overactivity to pathological withdrawal, from which these individuals emerged to injure, drink, and move only when other members of the community were asleep. Each of the populations in the experiment was divided into several groups, in each of which the sex ratio was drastically changed.

After further research, various scientists showed that the results obtained from Dr. Calhoun's experiments were due not so much to the large number of individuals living in a confined space, but to the excessive social tension caused by their coexistence, social isolation from different groups, the level of social anxiety from rapidly changing behaviors and social roles.

The topic of abnormality with humans is associated with the problem of the other. This is a psychological and socio-psychological problem known in psychiatry and has always existed in human history. The problem of the other at the individual level stems from the difficulty of accepting the other who is different from you. In the words of the psychopathologist Prof. Georgi Popov "to accept what is not you". The problem of accepting the other is reflected on the attitude of people individually and society as a whole.

The parallel of this experiment with human behavior has been much debated for almost 60 years. Almost everywhere in the developed world, where disease and hunger are under control, local demography has a negative grows or a decreasing positive one. The conclusions point to the fact that when an environment is manipulated in a controlled way, many factors are involved and they affect brain stimulation, perceptions, adaptation and all mental processes, the most dynamic system that changes uncontrollably is the behavioral system. It varies dynamically from normal to abnormal.

The age of digitalization in which we live is unique in terms of technological progress. The contribution of the digital world to the improvement of life and our intellectual level is indisputable, but there is also much evidence of reduced physiological, mental health and behavioral abnormalities.

The development of electronic communication, the processes transiting from globalization to individualism, the migration processes, the pandemic conditions in which we live, prove very convincingly the thesis of antisocial behavior due to the impact of the hypersocial environment.

The transition from prosocial to antisocial behavior is already a lasting trend. Depression was declared a disease of the 21st century. Loneliness is becoming a chronic condition for more and more people. Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed medications. Did the age of "behavioral collapse" come, in Calhoun's words?

Technological development does not only broaden our knowledge of the Universe but it shows us challenging opportunities. In the future, it may be possible to simulate entire universes in a controlled way, such as the growing Theta Universe.

But if this is possible, how can we be sure how real our reality is?