Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to tell if someone has the Endogenous personality type - autonomy, motivation and intelligence

The Endogenous Personality refers to someone who is inner-orientated: inner-directed, inner-driven, inner-motivated; one who uses inner modes of thinking, inner evaluations; one who is to a high degree autonomous, self-sufficient; one who is relatively indifferent to social pressures, influences and inducements.

The suggestion is that this personality complex is associated with genuine creativity and - in rare instances, with creative genius.

But how can you tell if someone has the Endogenous personality type, rather than just being socially-impaired for some reason?


1. Motivation

The Endogenous person has a strong inner motivation. He does not avoid groups and social responsibilities simply from lack of interest, because he wants to do nothing; but because hewants to 'do his own thing', because he is powerfully interested in some thing, driven to do something. His mind is often full with plans and aims and aspirations.

These may or may come come to fruition - some people with an Endogenous personality are late-developers, and may superficially seem to be adrift, or to change direction too frequently to become successful; but they are actually trying to find their subject, trying to find their destiny.

For example Francis Crick started and gave-up two PhDs, and worked on naval research before he found what he 'should' have been doing in his mid-thirties, and co-discovered the structure of DNA.


2. Intelligence

The Endogenous personality has high intelligence. This may be apparent through good exam results in a 'g'-loaded evaluation - but may require formal intelligence testing to detect, if the individual has either suffered from poor or absent education, or else has lacks the conscientiousness to apply himself to studies.

High intelligence is a sign of having an overall efficient, fast-processing brain - with (as Geoffrey Miller has pointed-out) a minimal load of deleterious mutations, and indicates that the individual's lack of interest in social or sexual matters is not simply part of having a damaged brain, but a matter of having developmentally a differently-and-inner-orientated focus.

The idea is that the Endogenous personality evolved indirectly to benefit the reproductive success of a group - so the Endogenous personality type should not be regarded as a pathology or a defect state, but as being evolutionarily optimized for creative innovation and problem-solving; therefore he would be expected to have the necessary enhanced abilities for this purpose.


So, the Endogenous personality may be recognized not just by their relative autonomy - that is, their lack of need for social validation and consequent uninterest in social and sexual matters -  but also by their high intelligence and positive motivation to do (or to find) ... whatever it is that they are equipped by their nature to do.

In sum, the Endogenous personality is (at minimum) a triad of autonomous self-sufficiency, inner-motivation and intelligence.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A critique of functional brain imaging (1995)

This is extracted from an un-published essay I wrote in 1995 named A manifesto for research in cognitive neuropsychiatry, with additional commentary from 1996.

I have corrected a few phrases and added a few sub-heading, but made no substantive changes.

19 years later, I can only observe "I was right".


A Critique of Functional Brain Imaging, 1995
by Bruce G Charlton
School of Psychology, Newcastle University, England 

Structure-Function correlations
One of the most fruitful constraints in biology has been the assumption of correlations between structure and function. This assumption is valid only when structure is examined at the appropriate level; and may be obscured by inter-subject differences in developmental history, age, coincident disease etc. Furthermore, the necessary scale of analysis to reveal an association is not always obvious.

Nonetheless, a useful degree of functional localization has been described for many neuroanatomical scales in the brain ranging from the basic divisions between primitive fore-, mid-, and hind-brain to the tendency of individual cells to respond to specific classes of visual information (Zeki, 1993).

The existence of structure-function correlations is not surprising given an understanding of natural selection. Newly-evolved functions usually require appropriately-modified structures: so that a cognitive adaptation usually needs a specifically constructed neural circuitry to perform novel computations.

And because natural selection must produce a reproductive advantage for each evolutionary change (Dawkins, 1987) , this limits evolution to an incremental, stepwise modification of the parameters of existing neural circuitry. Redesigning the brain from scratch is not an option, and ‘rewiring’ of the brain is therefore piecemeal and additive, rather than radical and substitutive.  

Hence the neocortex has evolved many additional stages of complexity to its hierarchy of processing throughout evolutionary history. New structural/ functional specializations have typically been accommodated by lateral expansion of the surface of the cortex (Barton & Dunbar, 1997). Each distinct intermediate cognitive process tends to be functionally localized to a cortical area; the integrity of which area is necessary for performance of a particular class of inferential reasoning tasks; and disruption to which area is sufficient to impair performance of this class of tasks.  

The proper purpose of functional brain imaging
The purpose of imaging in cognitive research is therefore to fractionate function by displaying the location and sequence of activation in he brain structures which are necessary for performance of specific stages in cognitive processing (Jacobs & Carr, 1995). A method is therefore required that discriminates neural activity at an adequately precise level of both spatial and temporal resolution (Kosslyn, 1994).

Such an imaging technology could potentially demonstrate both the modularity of intermediate level processes, and the number of steps of cognitive processing within each of these pathways.

Functional imaging might then constrain theories of cognitive functioning, yielding a template of the number of modules, the number of discrete processing steps within modules and the nature of the temporal inter-relationship between these processes.

Brain imaging would, in a sense, provide a flow diagram comprising ‘boxes’ with ‘arrows’ between them: it would remain for cognitive psychology to fill the boxes by defining the nature of processing at each locus.

Inadequate spatial and temporal resolution of functional brain imaging
It is uncertain exactly what level of spatial resolution is required of an imaging technique to accomplish such fractionation, because the necessary size of neural structures needed for intermediate processing is not yet properly established (probably, the more complex the computational task, the larger the necessary size of neural circuitry).

However, many specialized cortical areas are some millimetres in diameter, so a resolution of at least tenths of a millimetre would seem to be necessary.

And temporal recording of neural activity would need millisecond resolution in order to discriminate the steps of neural activation involved in cognitive processing.

Unfortunately, none of the currently available techniques for functional imaging of the brain are able to provide the minimum necessary structural and functional discrimination of neural activation.

Magneto-encephalography (MEG) can so far attain this temporal resolution only for restricted cortical regions, and in situations where (probably) thousands of orientated neurons are operating synchronously (Naatanen et al, 1994).

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has low spatial resolution and very low temporal resolution, and visualizes blood flow changes – which are a crude, and probably unreliable, proxy measure of neural activation (Posner & Raichle, 1994).

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) probably has adequate spatial resolution, but cannot form images rapidly enough to resolve cognitive processes; and also uses proxy measures of neural activity (Kosslyn, 1994).

PET and fMRI should, therefore, be considered as yielding proxy measures of brain anatomy averaged over time, rather than revealing sequences of neural activity corresponding to cognitive function.

Electroencephalography (EEG), by contrast, can demonstrate brain activation events in real-time; but even in its modern ‘high resolution’ form, the technique provides only a very blurred, two-dimensional structural image with a centimetre level of spatial resolution (Gevins at al, 1995).

Functional Brain Imaging - an enumeration of misleading artefacts
The present practice of disregarding the systematic limitations of existing functional imaging, and using techniques such as PET to explore cognitive functioning, is a dubious practice.

The intrinsic tendency of low-resolution techniques of imaging to mislead is exacerbated by the practice of constructing images using ‘subtraction’ techniques, averaging of repeated trials, and the pooling of patients in (often diagnostic) group studies (Posner & Raichle, 1994). Presumably, investigators believe (but without evidence or testing the assumption) that such procedures simply remove ‘noise’ and thereby enhance precision and sensitivity.

However, given the complexity and dynamic, non-repeating nature of brain states, it is almost certain that investigators are pooling systematically-different instances. A comparison of single case, real time data from MEG with averaged images from groups reveals highly significant averaging effects with time and across groups (personal communication, Andreas A Ioannides, 6. 12. 95).

Despite the proliferation of high status publications in the field of functional brain imaging; it therefore remains entirely possible that the results reported so far represent little more than an enumeration of artefacts.


  • Excerpt from note added in 1996:
[Functional brain] imaging has not ‘yet’ contributed anything of significance to the understanding of human psychology – despite the billions of pounds pent on it and the numbers of papers published into journals.

And I mean nothing at all.

Under the hype, the published work is merely fourth-rate, stamp-collecting, pre-science; pumped-up to high prestige by the cost of the technology and the attractiveness of its pictures.

  • Further note added today, 18 years later:
Nothing to add to, or subtract from, the above. Functional brain imaging was a successful scam for extracting funding; a quarter century  of which contributed nothing substantive to science, and grossly misallocated prestige away from real science and into an assortment of deluded and dishonest careerist confidence tricksters.


Barton R& Dunbar R. (1997). Evolution of the social brain. In RW Byrne, A Whiten (Editors) Machiavellian Intelligence II. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.

Dawkins R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Longmans: London.

Gevins A et al. (1995). Mapping brain function with modern high-resolution electroencephalography. Trends in Neurosciences (TINS). 18: 429-436.

Kosslyn SM. (1994). Image and Brain. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.

Naatanen R et al. (1994). Magnetoencephalography in studies of human cognitive brain function. Trends in Neurosciences (TINS). 17: 389-395.

Posner MI. (1994). Images of Mind. Scientific American Library: New York.

Zeki S. (1993). A Vision of the Brain. Blackwell: Oxford.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Endogenous personality - its definition, paradox and evolutionary roots in group selection

Endogenous = Inner-generated, arising from within (in contrast to be externally-caused or 'Exogenous')

The Endogenous Personality is a term I have devised for the type of personality characteristic of a genius: the personality of one who is inner-orientated: inner-directed, inner-driven, inner-motivated; one who uses inner modes of thinking, inner evaluations; one who is to a high degree autonomous, self-sufficient; one who is relatively indifferent to social pressures, influences and inducements.

The Endogenous personality is always rare and exceptional, and much more often a man than a woman (but there certainly are women with the Endogenous personality).

The contrast is with the Exogenous personality - who are most people. These are orientated toward the environment, particularly the social environment; people who want more than anything else social (including sexual) status, success; people who perceptions are directed outwards - and who try to align their behaviour with group norms.


The Paradox

The Paradox of the Endogenous personality is that despite their relative indifference to socio-sexual imperatives; they are (in evolutionary terms) evolved to serve the group.

The Paradox is that only an inner-orientated personality can be sufficiently independent of the social consensus so as to be able to change the social consensus - when that is needed.


Group selection of the Endogenous personality.

In effect, and on average, the Endogenous personality sacrifices their own differential reproductive success (including their inclusive fitness, the reproductive success of their closer kin), to favour the reproductive success of the group.

The group are - in broad terms - an extended family; and the growth of the group may indeed favour the kin of the Endogenous personality - but this expansion would not necessarily benefit close kin more than remote relations - and the close kin typically have to bear the costs of supporting the Endogenous personality.

The function of the Endogenous personality is to solve problems which arise from group conflict.

Group conflict includes situations in which the individual is dependent on the group, and when the group is under extreme pressure from the 'environment'. A situation in which only the group as a group (and not individual - extended - families), can survive a harsh environment.

The environment includes both natural and social environments. Natural environmental pressure could be extreme temperatures (hot or cold), marked seasonality of food availability, predation from large animals... Social environmental pressure could include group versus group conflicts ('warfare') driven by factors like competition for land or other finite resources.


The Endogenous personality offers the possibility (but there is no guarantee) of a 'breakthrough' - a novel solution to a potentially-fatal social problem - e.g. the prospect of annihilation by the environment or another group unless there is a breakthrough; some new technology, some unifying art or religion, some way of extracting more resources per unit area, some new weapon or defense...

The proper social role of the Endogenous personality is not as leader (indeed, the Endogenous personality should be excluded from leadership); but a type of intuitive/ inspired 'adviser' of rulers.

Adviser-of-rulers is a term which should be taken to include various types of prophet, shaman, genius, wizard, hermit, and holy fool - the Socrates of the early Platonic dialogues is an historical example as is Diogenes the Cynic and the Fools for Christ who rebuked and shamed the Tsars; Merlin the Wizard is a legendary example; Gandalf the Grey is a 'fictional' example.

These are extremes; but the description Endogenous personality and of an 'inner orientation' also applies to most historical examples of creative genius.


The Endogenous personality - therefore - does not (as most Men) seek primarily for social, sexual or economic success; instead the Endogenous personality wants to live by his inner imperatives.

The way it is supposed-to-work, the 'deal', the 'social contract'; is that the Endogenous personality, by his non-social orientation, is working for the benefit of society.

His 'reward' is simply to be allowed, or - better - actively enabled, to have the minimal necessary sustenance, psychological support (principally being 'left alone' and not harassed or molested; but ideally sustained by his family, spouse, patron or the like)... the be somehow provided-with the time and space and wherewithal to do his work and communicate the outcome.

For the endogenous personality, this is its own reward.


In return, the Endogenous personality should not expect (although he might, by chance, get) social esteem, wealth, sexual success... Often he may need to be highly solitary, ascetic, celibate. He should not seek, and should try not to accept, leadership positions, or administrative responsibilities.  


One final thing remains to be said. The Endogenous personality can be regarded as the psychological environment which allows, and perhaps encourages, visitation by genius.

But - if the genius-visited person becomes corrupted by status, power, sex, dishonesty etc; then this creates an environment hostile to the continued occupancy of genius; and usually the genius will leave.

History is littered with examples of those who were visited by genius, for a while; only for them to betray that genius. And then the genius departs, to leave an ex-genius, an apostate genius, a spoilt genius - who might become a malign and antisocial influence.


Teen genius is mentor-orientated rather than peer-orientated; befriending parents and teachers and authors - rather than having same-age friends

That's it, really...