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The Family Tree of the Naked Ape

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The Family Tree of the Naked Ape

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 Saturday

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

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. Last reply by Chris May 6, 2013. 1 Reply

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

Paul Bloom: The Psychology of Everything

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by Michel Jan 2, 2013. 6 Replies

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Comment by Doone on July 21, 2011 at 2:14pm

GOD DIDN'T MAKE MAN; MAN MADE GODS

J. Anderson Thomson and Claire Aukofer in the Los Angeles Times:

63282129In recent years scientists specializing in the mind have begun to unravel religion's "DNA." They have produced robust theories, backed by empirical evidence (including "imaging" studies of the brain at work), that support the conclusion that it was humans who created God, not the other way around. And the better we understand the science, the closer we can come to "no heaven … no hell … and no religion too."

Like our physiological DNA, the psychological mechanisms behind faith evolved over the eons through natural selection. They helped our ancestors work effectively in small groups and survive and reproduce, traits developed long before recorded history, from foundations deep in our mammalian, primate and African hunter-gatherer past.

For example, we are born with a powerful need for attachment, identified as long ago as the 1940s by psychiatrist John Bowlby and expanded on by psychologist Mary Ainsworth. Individual survival was enhanced by protectors, beginning with our mothers. Attachment is reinforced physiologically through brain chemistry, and we evolved and retain neural networks completely dedicated to it. We easily expand that inborn need for protectors to authority figures of any sort, including religious leaders and, more saliently, gods. God becomes a super parent, able to protect us and care for us even when our more corporeal support systems disappear, through death or distance.

Scientists have so far identified about 20 hard-wired, evolved "adaptations" as the building blocks of religion.

More here.

 

Comment by Doone on July 20, 2011 at 1:57pm

THE SCIENCE OF SEXISM: PRIMATE BEHAVIOR AND THE CULTURE OF SEXUAL COERCION

Eric Michael Johnson in Scientific American:

According to statistics compiled by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission there were 12,772 workplace sexual harassment cases in 2010 (including all forms of sexual coercion in the work place, and representing a fraction of the number that actually occurred) and 84% of these cases were brought by women. Employers have gotten increasingly serious about cracking down on such abuses but during the last decade they were still held liable to the tune of $540 million. What is going on here? Could this kind of gender inequality be an intrinsic feature of human nature that we’re stuck with or is it simply a failure to create an environment that prevents such behaviors from reoccurring?

Primatologists and evolutionary biologists have taken this question seriously and have developed some surprising conclusions that could inform our approach to this issue. Unlike Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer’s book A Natural History of Rape, a thesis that was criticized by scholars both in biology and gender studies, other evolutionary researchers have developed a much more balanced analysis. One example is from the recent edited volume Sexual Coercion in Primates and Humans by Martin Muller and Richard Wrangham.

More here.

Comment by Doone on July 20, 2011 at 1:55pm

Beauty Is In The Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex Of The Beholder

Ed Yong summarizes a new study that links beauty to a specific region of the brain. In response, Jonah Lehrer asks why beauty exists:

I see beauty as a form of curiosity that exists in response to sensation, and not justinformation. It’s what happens when we see something and, even though we can’t explain why, want to see more.

But here’s the interesting bit: the hook of beauty, like the hook of curiosity, is a response to an incompleteness. It’s what happens when we sense something missing, when there’s a unresolved gap, when a pattern is almost there, but not quite.

I’m thinking here of that wise Leonard Cohen line: “There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.” Well, a beautiful thing has been cracked in just the right way.

Photo of former English rugby star Ben Cohen from his own website.

Comment by Doone on July 19, 2011 at 9:39am

ONE BIG YAWN: BOREDOM IS NOT JUST A STATE OF MIND

From The Guardian:

It may not be the most heart-pounding news of the moment, but boredom is coming back into fashion. Not boredom in the sense of lying around blank-faced in a brown study, a practice which in my experience has never really gone out of style, but boredom as a subject (rather than a product) of academic study. In recent years several scholarly books have reanimated a topic that had fallen into analytical torpor, the latest being Boredom: A Lively History by Peter Toohey, an Australian professor of classics who now lives and works in Canada – a country, alas, that bears an unfortunate reputation for being boring.

What is boredom? Is it a mood, an emotion, an affliction, a form of social protection, a gateway to the essence of the self, the human condition, or a modern affectation? These are questions that have concerned philosophers and thinkers dating back to the Enlightenment, not least because boredom occupies territory that overlaps with capital letter concepts like Being and Time. I can't pretend that my own interest in the matter has always been quite so elevated. Mostly when I think about boredom it is out of base self-interest, as a state that I'm very keen to avoid. Ever since I was a child, I have held an extreme aversion to situations that have the potential to be boring.

More here.

Original here http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/07/one-big-yawn-bored...
Comment by Doone on July 18, 2011 at 9:09am

ALL THINGS CHANGE; NOTHING IS EXTINGUISHED

by George Wilkinson

The Motion Aftereffect illusion, or Waterfall illusion, occurs when prolonged viewing of motion in oneChoushi-waterfalldirection makes a subsequently viewed stationary item appear to move in the opposite direction. An example is seen in this short video. The viewer fixates on a stationary blue point near a pattern moving toward the top of the screen. When the pattern is replaced with a fixed photograph of a waterfall, the water appears to flow toward the bottom. We see motion because our visual system adapted to the upward motion of the first stimulus, and that adaptation carries over for a few seconds affecting our perception of the stationary image.

This illusion is thought to reflect adaptation of neurons in the visual cortex responsible for detecting motion. In this model, overall motion perception results from a comparison of the relative firing patterns among neurons sensitive to diverse specific directions of motion. A stationary scene results in balanced outputs for all directions. In the classical Motion Aftereffect illusion, prolonged stimulation with one direction of motion leads to decreased output by the neurons sensitive to that direction of motion. When the stimulus is removed, output from that set of neurons remains lowered. But because the output from the other motion-sensitive neurons is higher by comparison, the resultant imbalance creates the perception of motion opposite to the original moving stimulus.

Althoug classical studies of the Motion Aftereffect illusion used a conditioning stimulus lasting several seconds, it is known that neuronal adaptation can occur much more quickly-- on a timescale of milliseconds. Could perceptual adaptation be observed at brief timescales, relevant to the timescales in which neurons adapt? A recent study from the lab of Duje Tadin finds that the Motion aftereffect illusion can be observed even after very brief exposure to a moving stimulus. Subjects shown a video of a pattern that is moving for only 1/40 of a second (25 milliseconds) – so short that they can’t consciously distinguish its direction of motion – will then perceive motion in the opposite direction of the briefly presented background motion when viewing a stationary object. The implication of their results is that the cortical processes involved in the Motion Aftereffect illusion could affect our perception virtually every time we view motion. The work of this lab and others suggest that there may be more than one brain region, and more than one neuronal circuit, contributing to this class of illusion.

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/07/all-things-change-...
Comment by Sydni Moser on July 8, 2011 at 7:44am

Comment by Michel on July 5, 2011 at 10:28pm
Comment by Adriana on July 4, 2011 at 5:16pm
I love optical illusions, Michel. That was a cool one.
Comment by Michel on July 4, 2011 at 12:34pm
The Reliable Mind:
Comment by A Former Member on July 3, 2011 at 9:09pm

Why Did the Absence of the Corpus Callosum in Kim Peek's Brain Increase His Memory Capacity?

 

Read the brief excerpt here.

 
 
 

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