Some interesting research has come up in the past few months regarding the little known Von Economo Neurons (VENs). These big, fat neurons have long stood out from the rest, but recent news seems to indicate they help build the rich inner life of self and form the basis for social relationships.
Sounds a little sad, I know, to boil things as grand as love and hate down to a stringy little neuron, but there it is.
The thing I found most interesting about VENs is that only in highly social animals (e.g. humans) are they exclusively found in the scent and taste regions of the brain. Ever wonder why smells seem to evoke such powerful emotions? The VEN did it. And also explains why we take each other for dinner dates after meeting online. Food and smell. Social. Makes sense to me.
Ultimately VENs seem to have evolved into “big” neurons as a way of signalling through the brain faster, which leads to one very interesting conclusion about how consciousnesses could have evolved. Since big brains require a lot of energy to run, it is crucial to run as efficiently as possible. Therefore a lot of “how are we feeling and doing” feedback is required. Eventually, the constant updating of “how am I feeling” could have given rise to the ego, as in the “I”.
So the question is: How are YOU feeling?