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The Burgeoning Family Tree of Monkey Men and Women

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The Burgeoning Family Tree of Monkey Men and Women

THE NAKED APE: Exploring the science and cultural evolution of human psychology, behavior, cognition, language, memory, intelligence, emotion, and consciousness. (Uh, did I miss anything?)

Location: #science
Members: 56
Latest Activity: on Thursday

Welcome to THE NAKED APE

Those who’ve know me for some time know that I have a moderately strong interest in human consciousness and psychology. Although mind and body cannot exist without one another – and indeed they shape one another – it does seem that the very core of the human experience of ‘self’ exists in the brain alone.

We all know that much of the functioning and maintenance of our body is controlled covertly by the brain or by biological systems that work beneath our threshold of awareness. We do not consciously decide to sweat, or digest our food, or replace our cells.

And yet, in spite of the fact that we know this, we still cling to the illusion that the functioning of our thoughts, our decisions, our perceptions, our preferences, our memories, and our reasoning are under our direct, conscious control.

But neuroscience and psychology are now showing us that this simply is not the case—that the processes of mind and awareness function just as covertly as our biological systems.

That fascinates me!

How is it that the mind – that place of concealment – is also the one place in which awareness itself is known to exist?

The truth is that we don’t know ourselves as well as we’d like to believe. We don’t control our decisions, our perceptions, our motivations, or our memories as well as we think we do.

THE NAKED APE was created to explore these important topics. I welcome any post on human psychology, behavior, cognition, perception, language, memory, intelligence, emotion, and consciousness.

 

Discussion Forum

DNA Testing

Started by Chris. Last reply by Stephen Apr 2. 44 Replies

How Not to Think About Scrotum's

Started by Doone. Last reply by Chris Nov 17, 2017. 3 Replies

Our Orgastic Future

Started by Doone. Last reply by Neal Jun 18, 2013. 3 Replies

E.O. Wilson: Tribalism, Groupism, Globalism

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by A Former Member Jun 4, 2013. 7 Replies

Gestalt psychology

Started by A Former Member May 11, 2013. 0 Replies

On the usefulness of illusions

Started by Michel May 6, 2013. 0 Replies

How Whites Think About Race

Started by Neal. Last reply by Adriana Mar 20, 2013. 13 Replies

How to scare someone who knows no fear

Started by Adriana. Last reply by Adriana Feb 6, 2013. 6 Replies

10 Amazing Things People's Brains Have Done

Started by Michel. Last reply by Marianne Jan 19, 2013. 2 Replies

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Comment by Doone on April 25, 2011 at 6:51am

REMEMBER TO SLEEP; SLEEP TO REMEMBER

by George Wilkinson

In the broadest sense, sleep is defined as a period of inactivity and loss of awareness. Most humans sleepThe_sleeping_dog7–8 h per night, and if we are deprived of sleep, our cognitive performance, metabolism and health suffer. Sleep clearly contributes to several important physiological functions. Hypotheses for sleep benefits include overall rest and healing; cellular metabolism or replenishment; and brain-specific functions such as synaptic adjustments important for memory. Specifically, scientists believe our brains require sleep to process what we experienced during the day. However, the specific relationship between sleep hygiene and memory function remains controversial.

In recent years, seminal insights into the control and genetics of sleep have come from studies in flies, fish, and worms. Genetic screens have identified mutations that affect sleep across species, pointing to an evolutionarily conserved regulation of sleep. Moreover, a number of laboratories have identified sleep-dependent changes in gene expression, including in genes involved in learning and memory consolidation. A recent article in the open-access journal PLoS One explores the possible connection between memory and sleep in the regulation of one such gene, brain-type Fatty acid binding protein 7 (Fabp7), in sleep and long-term memory formation in flies. 

Continue reading "Remember to sleep; sleep to remember"

Comment by Doone on April 24, 2011 at 5:18pm

WHAT NEUROSCIENCE CANNOT TELL US ABOUT OURSELVES

Raymond Tallis in New Atlantis:

There has been much breathless talk of late about all the varied mysteries of human existence that have been or soon will be solved by neuroscience. As a clinical neuroscientist, I could easily expatiate on the wonders of a discipline that I believe has a better claim than mathematics to being Queen of the Sciences. For a start, it is a science in which many other sciences converge: physics, biology, chemistry, biophysics, biochemistry, pharmacology, and psychology, among others. In addition, its object of study is the one material object that, of all the material objects in the universe, bears most closely on our lives: the brain, and more generally, the nervous system. So let us begin by giving all proper respect to what neuroscience can tell us about ourselves: it reveals some of the most important conditions that are necessary for behavior and awareness.

What neuroscience does not do, however, is provide a satisfactory account of the conditions that are sufficient for behavior and awareness. Its descriptions of what these phenomena are and of how they arise are incomplete in several crucial respects, as we will see. The pervasive yet mistaken idea that neuroscience does fully account for awareness and behavior is neuroscientism, an exercise in science-based faith. While to live a human life requires having a brain in some kind of working order, it does not follow from this fact that to live a human life is to be a brain in some kind of working order. This confusion between necessary and sufficient conditions lies behind the encroachment of “neuroscientistic” discourse on academic work in the humanities, and the present epidemic of such neuro-prefixed pseudo-disciplines as neuroaesthetics, neuroeconomics, neurosociology, neuropolitics, neurotheology, neurophilosophy, and so on.

The failure to distinguish consciousness from neural activity corrodes our self-understanding in two significant ways. If we are just our brains, and our brains are just evolved organs designed to optimize our odds of survival — or, more precisely, to maximize the replicative potential of the genetic material for which we are the vehicle — then we are merely beasts like any other, equally beholden as apes and centipedes to biological drives. Similarly, if we are just our brains, and our brains are just material objects, then we, and our lives, are merely way stations in the great causal net that is the universe, stretching from the Big Bang to the Big Crunch.

Comment by Doone on April 23, 2011 at 3:23pm
Comment by Doone on April 23, 2011 at 11:46am

DEAR HUMANS, WE WANT YOUR BRAINS. –NEUROSCIENTISTS

From Discover:

Brain-use-e1303497750661The UC San Diego Brain Observatory would like your brain, please. Especially if you can provide a detailed life history—or, best-case scenario, have already had your biography written—and are just a little strange in the head. Can’t feel fear? Can’t form memories? Can’t smell? These are traits of the people the Observatory already has on its rosters (they have 20 brains and 7 still-living donors), but director Jacopo Annese of UCSD is looking to recruit 1,000 more prospective donors this year. Apparently one brain he’d love to get his custom-made brain-slicing machinery on is Donald Trump’s: The guy’s had an unusual life, he explains to Bloomberg News, and with more than 15 books and a reality show to his name, he is nothing if not well-documented.

More here.

Comment by Doone on April 23, 2011 at 11:32am

Why Apes Don't Need Accutane

Jesse Bering explains:

Although increasingly glaborous (hairless) skin evolved for adaptive purposes—it may have enabled our ancestors to keep cool, for example, while traveling across the hot savanna—the sure-footed pace at which genes for depilated flesh were selected posed some cosmetic problems. Kellett and Gilbert observe that the evolution of our sebaceous glands, which were accustomed to dealing with hair-covered flesh, lagged behind this change in our appearance. As a consequence, all that oily and waxy sebum, normally committed to lubricating fur, hadn't much fur to lubricate. So the sebum started to build up and clog our pores instead.

Comment by Doone on April 22, 2011 at 6:50pm

he Psychological Roots Of Birtherism

David P. Redlawsk explains it:

The reality is that “facts” are unlikely to mean much to those who believe in their gut that Obama is not American. Political psychologists call this “motivated reasoning.” It goes something like this: I dislike someone; I learn something positive that should make me feel better about him; instead, I dislike him as much or even more. This is clearly irrational, but our feelings about people are complicated, and we tend to hold on to them even in the face of contradictory information. This is not unique to those who dislike Obama.

We are all somewhat impervious to new information, preferring the beliefs in which we are already invested. We often ignore new contradictory information, actively argue against it or discount its source, all in an effort to maintain existing evaluations. Reasoning away contradictions this way is psychologically easier than revising our feelings. In this sense, our emotions color how we perceive “facts.”

They do; and it's important always to keep this in mind. But there remains something called fact, rather than "fact", and empiricism is our only real recourse in public debate. That's why producing a birth certificate is dispositive. It should end the discussion. I might add that merely asking a presidential candidate to produce such a certificate does not seem illegitimate to me. It may be maddening or unfair. But that's the price of public life. And the sign of a mature politician is his or her ability to see that and allow the ethic of transparency trump the humiliation of exposure. Obama easily passed this test.

Comment by A Former Member on April 22, 2011 at 5:55pm
These two MP3s are excerpts from two different lectures by Robert Sapolsky. Listen to what he says about what what kind of cultures promote violence, and the correlation between abortion and a lack of violence. Interesting stuff.

06%20Lecture%2021-%20Hormones%20and%20Aggression.mp3

10%20Lecture%2022-%20Early%20Experience%20and%20Aggression.mp3
Comment by Doone on April 21, 2011 at 9:09pm

ARIEL CASTS OUT CALIBAN

The concept of the 'killer-ape' offers a pessimistic reflection of humanity and its genesis, but the latest research shows that a primate species whose success is based on mutual aid and pleasure, not violence, is a better model for human origins.

Eric Michael Johnson in Times Higher Education:

THE_cover_210411
In 1607, after being held captive by the Portuguese in West Africa's Congo Basin for nearly 18 years, the English sailor Andrew Battell returned home with lurid tales of "ape monsters". The larger of the two creatures Battell described, according to the edited volume later published by travel writer Samuel Purchas,Purchas His Pilgrimes, "is in all proportion like a man", but "more like a giant in stature...and has a man's face, hollow-eyed, with long haire upon his browes". These marauding beasts "goe many together, and kill many (villagers)...they are so strong, that ten men cannot hold one of them". Battell's narrative, much of which was received second hand and sure to be highly imaginative, was nevertheless one of Western society's earliest introductions to our evolutionary cousins, the great apes.

Simia quam similis turpissima bestia nobis ("How similar the ape, this ugliest of beasts, is to ourselves"). What the Roman poet Ennius presented in the 2nd century BC was a refrain that could be heard repeatedly during the subsequent two millennia whenever Europeans encountered this being that so threatened the line separating human and animal. The common depiction of non-human primates in the West as representations of sin and the Devil, wickedness, frivolity, impulsivity and violence would ultimately say more about our own discomfort at being reminded of similar qualities in ourselves than their nature.

But it is the depiction of the ape as monster that is even more revealing.

More here.

Comment by Doone on April 21, 2011 at 4:38pm

Evolution may explain why baby comes early

The Pith: In this post I review a paper which covers the evolutionary dimension of human childbirth. Specifically, the traits and tendencies peculiar to our species, the genes which may underpin those traits and tendencies, and how that may relate to broader public health considerations.

Human babies are special. Unlike the offspring of organisms such as lizards or snakes human babies are exceedingly helpless, and exhibit an incredible amount of neoteny in relation to adults. This is true to some extent for all mammals, but obviously there’s still a difference between a newborn foal and a newborn human. One presumes that the closest analogs to human babies are those of our closest relatives, the “Great Apes.” And certainly the young of chimpanzees exhibit the same element of “cuteness” which is appealing to human adults. Still there is a difference of degree here. As a childophobic friend observed human infants resemble “larvae.” The ultimate and proximate reason for this relative underdevelopment of human newborns is usually attributed to our huge brains, which run up against the limiting factor of the pelvic opening of women. If a human baby developed for much longer through extended gestation then the mortality rates of their mothers during childbirth would rise. Therefore natural selection operated in the direction it could: shortening gestation times. You might say that in some ways then the human newborn is an extra-uterine fetus.

Comment by Doone on April 21, 2011 at 4:36pm

By Joseph Milton of Nature magazine

 

A key feature of human childbirth, long thought to be unique to Homo sapiens--the arrival of the baby facing backwards relative to its mother--has been observed in our closest living relatives, chimpanzees.

 

The discovery, reported April 19 in Biology Letters, calls into question the argument that backwards-facing babies were an important factor in the evolution of midwifery in humans. Rather than searching for assistance when they go into labour, pregnant chimps seek solitude.

 

"It's clear from our observations that chimp babies are born facing backwards, but they give birth alone," says lead author Satoshi Hirata, a behavioural biologist at the Great Ape Research Institute of Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories in Tamano, Japan. "So the reverse orientation is clearly not a necessary condition for the evolution of midwifery."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chimps-give-birth-...
 
 
 

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