The neuroevolutionary sources of mind
The bipolar affective structures of brain emotional processes – namely negative and positive affects – provide ideal ways to make scientific progress on the “hard problem” of primal consciousness: wherever in subcortical brain regions one applies highly localized electrical deep brain stimulation, and obtains coherent emotional behaviors, animals treat these brain arousals as ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments’ using various simple learning tasks. Humans also consistently report experienced affective changes during such artificial brain arousals. Such evidence suggests the first glimmers of consciousness in BrainMind evolution arose in medial brainstem regions. These hedonic effects, of subcortical origin, are here deemed gold standards for the existence of evolved affective qualia in animal and human brains, perhaps the first evolutionary substrates of mind, critical for the emergence of cognitive consciousness.