brainThe work of scientists is not often poetry. But they do reveal patterns that are profound.

“A corollary of our hypothesis is that hormonal effects on the brains of offspring may vary with the time of conception. The activity of the pineal gland changes seasonally with alterations in day length. As a general rule, during the dark winter months the pineal becomes active and suppresses both ovaries and testes, whereas in the summer it is inactive and sex hormone levels are higher. For this reason many animals bear young in the spring, an advantageous situation since temperature and food supplies are more suitable for survival. An example of such seasonal modulation of hormonal effects on the brain is observed in the HVc nucleus of the singing bird (Nottebohm 1981). This description of pineal physiology is, however, somewhat oversimplified. An animal’s sensitivity to light may vary through the year. Gonadal hormones may thus become activated in the spring, but as a result of loss of sensitivity to light over the summer hormone levels may diminish as fall approaches. Despite these facts, day length is a powerful influence. Thus, steers increase their weight more rapidly in the winter when artificial light is supplied to lengthen the day. This light-enhanced growth of muscle mass does not take place if the bull is castrated, suggesting that the effect of light is mediated through a rise in testosterone effect (Tucker and Ringer 1982)…..If pineal effects on sex hormone levels are important, then the birth months of lefthanders, and of those with learning disorders, might not be uniform throughout the year, since fetuses conceived at different seasons might be subjected to very different hormonal environments. These effects should differ in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and at the equator, although other factors, such as variations in the ethnic composition of populations, would also have to be considered. Data are still very sparse. Badian (1983) found that in males born in each of the six months beginning in September, the rate of nonrighthandedness was higher than that found in any of the other six months, but no clear trend was observed for female births.” (Geschwind & Galaburda 1987: 116-7, Cerebral Lateralization)

Noting the observations of Geschwind and Galaburda in 1987, I am struck by how many of their insights apply to the possible origins of autism. Consider the emergence of autism among Somali Minnesotans. (Click here to note the autism-inducing implications of equatorial populations migrating to extreme Northern climates, taking into consideration Geschwin and Galaburda’s hypothesis.)

Many of the studies inspired by their work did not take into consideration the difference between familial left-handers and those who became left-handed as a result of trauma. Results of those studies were usually inconclusive. I sometimes wonder how often it is that cerebral palsy and autism have identical etiologies, only different parts of the brain were traumatized. Researchers conducting studies involving left-handedness who do not remove those individuals that have been traumatized study two different etiologies, muddying results.

It seems to me that administering Marian Annett’s dexterity/speed peg tests would efficiently separate those untraumatized genetic lefties from those that had experienced early, hostile environments. (Natural lefties often evidence facility with both hands.)

“The earliest civilizations of the world–in China, Tibet, Egypt, the Near East, and Europe–were, in all probability, matristic” Goddess civilizations. “Since agriculture was developed by women, the Neolithic period created optimum conditions for the survival of matrilineal, endogamous systems inherited from Paleolithic times. During the early agricultural period women reached the apex of their influence in farming, arts and crafts, and social functions. The metrical with collectivist principles continued. There is no evidence in all Old Europe of a patriarchal chieftainate of the Indo-European type. There are no male royal tombs and no residences in magarons on hill forts. The burial rites and settlement patterns reflect a matrilineal structure, whereas the distribution of wealth in graves speaks for an economic egalitarianism.” (Gimbutas, Marija (1991) The Civilization of the Goddess. Harper: S. F. P. 432)

There are two major currents contemporary theorists are not noticing, forces influencing the direction that society evolves and its individuals adjust to. Handedness is not arbitrary. Those that are random-handed (commonly called left-handed) are the old matristic or matrifocal neurological types common perhaps 100,000 years ago, and they were still exerting influence in terms of social structure as recently as early recorded history. Second, when Geschwin and Galaburda note the influence of features of the environment, such as light, on handedness, they are observing one of the ways that an individual’s neurology and resulting social structure is modified. Sexual selection proclivities also have enormous influence on these maturational trajectories, revealing left-handers as matrifocal in origin.

Understanding social structure and the relationships between matrifocal and patrifocal frames as they drive human evolution provides insight on the origin of conditions characterized by maturational delay. Understanding the neuropsychological origins of these conditions and the many related psychological and oncological disorders offers awareness of how the nature of societal transformation integrates into the neuropsychological, psychological and physiological profile of the individual.

Much comes down to how and whom we pick as partners. And then, how we live our life. Perhaps the poets should be writing about evolution. Perhaps they are.

Proceed to author’s FREE book download on this subject (The book is called Evolution, Autism and Social Change). 10 minute introductory video here.

on 12/7/09 in Evolution, featured | No Comments | Read More

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