Collective consciousness and the social brain

Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (s 10-11):264-276 (2008)
This paper discusses supportive neurological and social evidence for 'collective consciousness', here understood as a shared sense of being together with others in a single or unified experience. Mirror neurons in the premotor and posterior parietal cortices respond to the intentions as well as the actions of other individuals. There are also mirror neurons in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortices which have been implicated in empathy. Many authors have considered the likely role of such mirror systems in the development of uniquely human aspects of sociality including language. Though not without criticism, Menant has made the case that mirror-neuron assisted exchanges aided the original advent of self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. Combining these ideas with social mirror theory it is not difficult to imagine the creation of similar dynamical patterns in the emotional and even cognitive neuronal activity of individuals in human groups, creating a feeling in which the participating members experience a unified sense of consciousness. Such instances pose a kind of 'binding problem' in which participating individuals exhibit a degree of 'entanglement'.
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