The anterior cingulate cortex is the seat of judgment

The ACC is the part of the brain we use to pick a narrative (AKA an explanatory theory, a paradigm) and stick to it:

The present study explored whether the role of ACC in cost-benefit decisions extends beyond climbing by testing its role in ramp climbing as well as two novel cost-benefit decision tasks, one involving the physical effort of lifting weights and the other the emotional cost of overcoming fear (i.e., “courage”). As expected, rats with extensive ACC lesions tested on a ramp-climbing task were less likely to choose a high-reward/high-effort arm than sham controls. However, during the first few trials, lesioned rats were as likely as controls to initially turn into the high-reward arm (HRA) but far less likely to actually climb the barrier, suggesting that the role of the ACC is not in deciding which course of action to pursue, but rather in maintaining a course of action in the face of countervailing forces.

Not all effort is equal: the role of the anterior cingulate cortex in different forms of effort-reward decisions.

The ACC is not responsible for learning theories or creating new ones, it only chooses whether to believe them. (This is key to understanding why genius is preceded by despair and negative affectivity. This is more groundwork for that post.)

I’ve recently talked about how explanatory power alone lends weight to a theory. This is something we understand on a fundamental level and apply in our daily lives, even if the reigning ideology holds that intuition has no place in scientific inquiry (which is the 180-degree opposite of the truth).

The exercise of the faculties of discernment and intuition both have feelings of weight. Hence the consistent iconography for all forms of judgment:

My best explanation of discernment is here. As for intuition, here’s the explanation I gave Owl:

I’m not really sure how I choose which things “feel” correct and which don’t. When an idea appears in my mind, it is always accompanied by such a feeling at the outset, and the details are filled in during an exposition period. Usually my conscious mind adjusts the certainty value down as I think about it over time, but only by about 20% tops.

Example, I had the thought yesterday that school grade history should be used to identify psychoticism. Might have already thought of that, or even written about it. Basic idea is that psychotics will have an abnormal distribution, particularly in math (the most g-loaded and apparently the most reliant on external teaching). “When you control for intelligence (partial it out) then it would seem that Maths shows the biggest effect of schooling, the biggest of the small shared variance effects. English shows very small differential effects of schooling or family.”

Basically confirms the intuition. You can teach a kid to read and lead him to books, but you can’t make him practice reading. Further, most people don’t like math for its own sake, but they pass the class if they can. Except psychotics do not respond well to external motivation, so they only pass the classes they feel like passing. Hence very strange grade distribution here.

Okay, that was the idea. [Ed: End of example.]

When the first seed popped into my head, I figured 90% certainty that “this is a good idea”. Now I’m thinking maybe 70%, conservatively.

I guess I don’t experience much difference between exposition of a “seed” and extracting the meaning from dreams. Except that the latter requires conscious effort. That might be a reason to distrust it- it has the same feeling, so we weight it the same. But maybe that’s a poor heuristic. My dreams are at least partially related to the stuff I believe though. Usually the dream is, itself, some sort of exposition of something I already think about.

Example for this: I recently had a dream where my extended family was at my grandma’s house. I noticed water beginning to pool in the center of the floor from rain outside. Then the floor fell through. I took charge during the initial period of shock, made sure my nuclear family was okay (kids first), then extended family. This combined the selfish gene idea and my self-conception as someone who is very good in these sorts of situations. This was about a month ago. The only thing I disagree with now were a couple of my half-remembered methods.

[Ed: Responding to the question “Any instances of dreams in which entirely new ideas were implanted in your brain?”] A couple but very rare, lemme try to remember.
Loosely, (Not really an idea, just an experience.) (That one has huge caveats: 1) It was a daydream, 2) It was from watching myself have the daydream, not the content of the daydream.)

Figure maybe twice that number of ideas for the whole year. [Ed: Very few compared to six per day while awake.]


About Aeoli Pera

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12 Responses to The anterior cingulate cortex is the seat of judgment

  1. Edenist whackjob says:

    Would you say that KrauserPUA is a megalomaniac (

    He strikes me as a guy with a big ego, who’s so smart that he realizes this, while not being conscientious enough to try and get rid of it. Eg he’s written a lot of stuff about how use your ego. Like gaming yourself.


    • Edenist whackjob says:

      Incidentally, I am kind of stuck in a thought loop, where I know that Krauser is right (the ego is very useful), but that stoicism and objectivity is the higher maximum. But stoicism and objectivity don’t get you that corner office.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        The answer to that is this:

        Want to use ego to barrel through pain, or escape from pain.

        Risk being blind fool if use ego.

        Solution: must find a different way to move. The key is that there is too little movement, the system needs more energy to get unstuck. Too little yang blitzkrieg, too much yin stagnant pond.

      • The Eyes of the Owl says:

        The ego, like any other source of power, puts a ceiling on what you can achieve even as it pulls you up off of the floor. The optimal strategy is to use it when you need it and dispense with it otherwise, but of course, that is far, far easier said then done, especially if you happen to find great success with ego-based tactics to achieve your goals.

    • Edenist whackjob says:

      I wonder if Krauser is Eden-pilled. He’s certainly racist enough to support something like that, but he probably thinks we’re a bunch of kooks.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        It’s possible that we are a bunch of kooks. I simply believe (right now) the opposite is more likely. We at least seem to be on better ground than the flat earthers.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Bro, I just said I wasn’t using that category anymore xD. What was once “megalomaniac” is now just an edenic type of narcissist created by dopamine saturation.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      To answer the question though…I’m not familiar with him particularly, but high IQ and narcissism both seem to be a common refrain in the PUAsphere. So it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he were.

  2. Edenist whackjob says:

    Check your spam filter, garlic sauce man.

  3. Pingback: Negative affectivity: The anterior cingulate cortex is the key to unlocking genius | Aeoli Pera

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