Evolutionary Psychology -- Class Blog


At various points in the class, you will be responsible for adding a post to our class blog, below.
I will notify you in-class, and via email, when blog posts are due.

Unless otherwise instructed, for your posts, search the web to find something relevant to our topic for that week,
an article or web page that is both educational and would likely be of interest to your classmates.
You may not repeat a blog post already used by someone else -- e.g., you cannot use an article
of web site link that someone else has already used.

Keep this web browser window open (but don't login or click the "Edit"
button yet). Also open a window with your word processing software
on your computer (e.g., Word for Windows). Write your blog post using
your own computer word processor. When you are finished, log in to Wikispaces (above).
click "Edit," and click "Floating Toolbar" above.

Copy and paste post your post below, and then log off. Try to do so quickly in case other classmates
are waiting to login to copy their post too.

Create a title for your post, and include the web link (make it an active link by clicking
the first chain icon above). Bold the title of your post.

Here is a sample blog post:

Finger length correlated to bullying.
I found this article, Science fingers natural bullies,
published by The Sunday Times, Britain. It reports on research that
suggests that "Childen whose ring fingers are much longer than their index fingers are
more likely to be hyperactive and bullying," and relates this to prenatal testosterone
level. I found the article very interesting -- that you could learn something about
someone's (likely) personality simply by looking at their finger length. But, I then
wondered why finger length would be influenced by prenatal testosterone levels...
(more discussion...). -- Student ID: 4872, 9/14/2007

As noted above, be sure to add the last 4 digits of your student ID (or, if you wish
you can use your name if anonymity isn't important to you). Add the date as well.

Copy and paste your new post to the top of our blog (not to the bottom).

Very important: after you paste your post, you must click on the "Save" button,
or your post will be lost, and you will not get credit.

In addition, if you wish, you can also discuss and respond to the posts of others.

The day the bog post is due, please print a hardcopy of it, and turn it in to me
during class. You will receive up to 5 points for each blog post.

We may review and discuss the most interesting blog posts in class. The authors of
those selected posts will get an additional 2 points.

Add your post here at the top, and, when you re done, remember
to scroll to the top of the page and click on "Save."

Early Humans Didn’t Run?
I found this article on ScienceDaily.com. Evidence that early human beings were not able to run due to the lack of an Achilles tendon is discussed in this article. Bill Sellers of the University of Manchester ran a study on this topic. If we didn’t have an Achilles tendon, much like modern Chimps and Gorillas, then our ability to run at an effective pace would have been compromised. Research suggests that we may have used efficient bipedal walking instead of Chimp-like walking. Sellers said it is important we find out when we began running in our evolutionary history – we will then have more insight into our origin and how our ancestors found food. It seems that efficient running may have played a role in the move from a largely herbivorous diet to the much more familiar hunting activities associated with later humans. Running would have been necessary for humans to hunt and move after animals. 10/3/07 Student ID:1824

In Birds, Expecting to Mate Leads to Higher Fertilization Rates
This article discusses both the concept of conditioning and reproductive success in certain animals. The reseracer hypothesized that if two male birds are competing for the same female bird, the one who was conditioned to a stimulus (in this case a particular surrounding and environment) would be the one who would be reproductively successful. Using two different chambers, scientists placed male quails in each one for thirty minutes every day for five days. One chamber was white, with tile floors in an isolated area. The other was green, placed on the floor and a noisy area. There was only one chamber, however, in which the males were given access to a female quail. On the day of the test, one male was placed in the chamber which did not have the female in it for the past five days, while the other was placed in the chamber where he was given access to the female. Each quail was given the opportunity to mate with female quails—one in the green chamber, the other in the white. The quail that was conditioned to expect the female to be in his chamber was reproductively successful, while the other was not. This article was fascinating as it highlighted to important concepts we have discussed in class, but applied them in completely different contexts.
Student 7615

The Evolution of Jealousy
In Christine Harris’ article, (http://proquest.umi.com/pqdwebdid=526248321&Fmt=3&clientId=7693&RQT=309&VName=PQD&cfc=1), she discusses the difference between male and female experiences in regards to sexual jealousy. Research has found that jealousy is predominant in cultures that view highly of sex only during marriage. There is a specific set of brain circuits that guides our emotional reactions when it feels threatened in sexual relationships. Men are innately jealous over a mate’s sexual infidelity while women are innately predisposed to jealousy when it comes to a mate’s emotional infidelity. This is due to the fact that males are uncertain about their paternity. Women, however, do not have this issue. Self report studies show the reliability of this theory. Younger heterosexual college students were asked which type of infidelity is more upsetting. As suspected, 70 % of women claimed emotional infidelity to be more upsetting while 40-60% of men claim that sexual infidelity is worse. Harris discovered that there is a difference in cognitive judgment rather than a hard-wired circuit in the brain. For example, if a stranger flirts with your spouse and your spouse reacts as if they enjoyed it, then jealousy becomes aroused within you. Student ID: 8186, 10/2/07

Scientists Study Galapagos Hawk Genetics

I found this article at www.sciencedaily.com, and it describes how a group of US Biologists studied DNA sequences of parasites of the Galapagos Hawk to determine how populations of these hawks may have colonized the islands. The researchers focused on genes from (3) species of feather lice that were restricted to the Galapagos Hawk. They also sequenced the same genes in the hawk to compare levels of genetic variation across related species. They concluded that since the parasite’s DNA was more variable than hosts, then “the parasite’s family tree revealed how four of the hawk’s eight populations were related to one another,” and that the hawk colonized all eight islands. I found this article interesting because there are still scientific discoveries being made in the same geographical area where Darwin conducted his breakthrough studies for the book On the Origin of Species. Student ID #2647, 10/4/07.

Early Hominid Sexual Dimorphism and Humans Today*
In the article “Equality for the sexes in human evolution? Early hominid sexual dimorphism and implications for mating systems and social behavior” we see that ever since Darwin published The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871, there has been a vigorous debate about the meaning of sexual dimorphism for various physical traits in numerous animal species including primates and humans. Insights into dimorphism in the three million year old Australopithecus afarensis, has the potential to provide valuable insight into the social behavior and organization in later and present-day humans. In most species, the body mass of males it bigger than the body mass of females. Yet today, humans tend to display relatively limited sexual dimorphism. By using models derived from studying living non-human primates and humans, researchers have found that primates that exhibit low levels of sexual dimorphism tend to express minimal male-to-male competition, whereas more dimorphic species tend to express relatively high levels of competition. Male chimpanzees, for example express aggressive behavior toward one another, but they tolerate each other, live in groups, and are collaborative. Male baboons, on the other hand, (who show greater dimorphism) are highly intolerant of one another and aggressively compete for female mating partners. Although we are unable to observe the actual behaviors of our ancestors, it is still possible to look at the behavior of living species and gain valuable perspective on the behavior of the extinct species. By looking at something like sexual dimorphism, it has become more apparent that our early human ancestors may have been more human-like in their basic social behavior than we once thought. Continued research in this field will only serve to bring us closer to understanding the evolution of human social organization in the remote past. 10/7/07. I.D. #1451

I unearthed a fun little article entitled
Social Amnesia in Mice Lacking the Oxytocin Gene, which is regarding knockout mutations, discussed in Chapter 3 of Alcock. I found it interesting how a single inactive gene in an individual’s genome can drastically effect development. The article goes into detail about how mice lacking the Oxt gene have difficulty remembering social encounters with other mice, etc.
And if you’re still not satisfied, and hunger for more animal behavior blog, I implore you to take a look at this video about a rabbit that seems to be less than reproductively successful. While said rabbit has reached sexual maturity, he apparently lacks traits that allow him to reproduce enough to ensure the passing on of his genes. Enjoy.

Love, Cynthia (Student ID: 5430) 10/3/07

Animal Monogamy
I was able to find an article relating to monogamous creatures in the animal kingdom. Monogamy among the animal kingdom is very rare. The importance of having multiple partners is to be able to pass on their genes to the following generations by having many offspring. The article speaks about how it is beneficial to both male and female species. The male is able to pass down his own genes to his offspring in order to keep them from dying out. The female is able to go around and pick out the best genes in order to ensure her offspring will have higher chances of survival. The article also mentions the existence of social monogamy vs. genetic monogamy. Social monogamy would be the raising of the children together as opposed to genetic monogamy which is being sexually faithful to one partner. Social monogamy is far more common than genetic monogamy among animals. Overall it is believed by researchers that monogamy begun when the offspring of some species had better chances of survival when raised by a monogamous pair, hence that may be why humans are for the most part monogamous. This raises the question of whether monogamy, something we as humans find to be morally right, is actually unnatural. - Student ID: 5413, 10/4/2007

Animal Imprinting
The article that I found, called “Darling! You’ve sailed back to me”, gives an entertaining example of the process of ‘imprinting’ in animals. The author discusses the story of the swan from Germany, named Black Petra, that has become “fixated with the plastic swan-shaped pedalo (boat)” that she first came into contact with when she landed in the Aasee lake. Everyone believed she would only stay consumed with the boat for a short amount of time, however they were wrong. Scientists soon realized that the swan had bonded with the boat because she was biologically imprinted to do so. Birds naturally latch on to the very first thing that they see after birth, and for Black Petra, that was the plastic swan boat. It was interesting to see that imprinting is such a biologically powerful influence that it could have the unbelievable effect of a live animal becoming deeply attached to an inanimate object. – Student ID: 0084, 10/03/07

The article I read was called: Genes Exert Powerful Effect on Sexual Behavior. This work was found in Science Daily. It discusses the discovery of a single gene in female fruit flies that, when manipulated, causes male behavior. Through the process of several genetic manipulations, special "male-only" proteins were produced in females. In a physical sense, females did no resemble males but did so behaviorally. The gene that was manipulated was called the "fruitless" gene which is present in both male and females. The astonishing scientific revelation from this find was that a single gene, which was expressed in just a very small number of cells, controlled "surprisingly" complex behavior. This is especially shocking as there are 13,000 genes in its complete genome. This study suggests that there is a strong biological basis for sexual behavior and orientation. Human beings share several genes with fruitflies so this research may set the stage for future projects involving us. All research was conducted at Oregon State University- Student Id:5426

Positive correlation found between testosterone levels and begging behavior in the pied flycatcher.
I found this article entitled Nestling testosterone controls begging behaviour in the pied flycatcher on science direct (journal database) which involves a recent study done on the pied flycatcher, Ficedula Hypoleuca. The study tested to see if testosterone levels affect the begging behavior seen in nestling pied flycatchers. The nestlings were given an oral dose of testosterone. Then begging behavior was then measured by observing the duration of the begging display in each bird and the length of each begging “stretch”. The study found that “an oral dose of T [testosterone] elevated circulating T levels and increased begging behaviour in nestling pied flycatchers at 7 days post-hatching”. I found this article to be very interesting because it clearly demonstrates how hormone levels can have a profound effect on an animal’s behavior. I also found it interesting that previously malnourished young may respond more strongly in their begging behavior to increased testosterone levels than well-fed young. It may be interesting to see if hormone levels have a similar effect on other species that show this begging behavior. Student Id: 6497. Posted: 10/4/2007.

Go Ahead and Throw up, It’s Good for You
This article, http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/00/6.8.00/morning_sickness.html,__ addresses the issue of morning sickness in mothers-to-be. The article explains how the effect of morning sickness is “Mother Nature’s way of protecting mothers and fetuses from food-borne illness and also shielding the fetus from chemicals that can deform fetal organs…” The article further explains why many pregnant women develop “an aversion to meats, as well as certain vegetables and caffeinated beverages…” Furthermore, the aversion to and avoidance of certain foods also peaks during the first trimester for many pregnant women. The most-observed aversion was to meats, fish, poultry and eggs -- the foods that were more likely to carry harmful microorganisms and parasites before the advent of modern refrigeration and food-handling processes. Strong-tasting vegetables, as well as alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, also are disliked by many women. 10-3-08 (0184)

Can people have a mixture of risk taking qualities?
This article I found about risk taking is particularly interesting because it suggests that humans may not be able to be divided into the two groups of risk-taking people and risk-avoiding people but that in fact not all risk is created equal and people show a mixture of both risky and non-risky behaviors. Daniel Kruger, a research scientist at the U-M School of Public Health conducted a survey which identified several different areas of risk: competition with other individuals; competition with other groups; mating and allocating resources for mate attraction; environmental risks (chasing a bear or skydiving); and fertility risks. The survey showed that men are significantly riskier than women overall (Kruger believes this is because in the ancestral environment men competed for social status and resources in order to attract mates). Also, Kruger found that risks which threatened a person’s fertility were the least likely risk for a person to take and were rated as being an unattractive quality in a potential mate. Overall, I think this survey has tremendous validity in our lives today. Especially when you think about the kinds of risks you are willing to take and which ones you aren’t. Someone may very well take a small risk but they may be far less willing to take a risk which might get them fired or make them unattractive to a mate. I think this is a great example of how our society is still built around adaptations that helped humans in the ancestral environment and to a point still help us today. SID 2166 10/3/2007

Scans reveal how we suppress traumatic memories

13, July 2007
I found this article on www.NewScientist.com, which discusses a few studies on suppressing traumatic memories and how they are tied to our emotions. In the studies, participants were asked to associate particular faces with particular traumatic images. Some of the participants were asked to remember--others to forget--the associations. In the final trial, participants who were asked to forget the associations were unable to do so 53% of the time. Where as participants who were asked to remember did so 71% of the time. During these activities, the fMRI’s of the participants showed increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, illustrating activity in complex thought. The fMRI’s also showed decreased activity in the visual cortex, where images are usually processed. In addition, they showed decreased activity in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory formation and retrieval, as well as in the amygdala, which deals with emotions. This suggests that as participants were trying to forget the associations, the memory retrieval and emotions were decreasing simultaneously. SD ID: 2156

Animations Displaying Universal Facial Expressions
Six Universal Facial Expressions The Article I found of interest is entitled “Modeling Six Universal Emotions” and is a discussion of facial expressions that can be recognized by anyone across the world. The six emotions that the author tested were disgust, sadness, happiness, fear, anger, and surprise. Even though the writing on the page is extremely minimal, I found that the various animations are extremely interesting. I was able to pinpoint exactly which emotion was which without looking at their titles. Even a crude representation of the human facial expressions such as the QuickTime videos present on this site is enough for an individual to recognize the various facial expressions. The authors also continue by explaining which muscles are needed to form the various universal facial expressions. In class we discussed a couple of universal facial expressions, but this web site is a more complete list of them. It is also interesting that, as the author points out, 4 out of the 6 facial expressions are correlated with negative emotions. Perhaps our ancestors spent more time expressing negative facial expressions than positive ones as these are 66% of the most easily recognized facial expressions. ID# 6115 October 3, 2007

Social Networking, the Internet, and Evolutionary Psychology
In the article titled "How social can we get: What evolutionary psychology tells us about social networking" (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20642550/), the author speaks of Robin Dunbar and how primitive primate language of grooming eventually evolved into how we communicate over the internet. Dunbar believes that grooming was an early form of gossiping, and language evolved as a faster way to gossip, instead of the traditional explanation of being a way for males to communicate hunting strategies. Gossiping was very important then to make sure that the group knew who was in charge, who was mating with whom, and what the general happenings of the day were. Social networking is not only enjoyable, but also necessary to keep the community in check. The internet is the new form of communication in today's world, with Facebook and Myspace connecting everyone to just about anything they want to know about other people. Because gossip is so primitive, we are unconsciously drawn to it just as we are drawn to sweets and fats. Web based social networking fills our communication needs on a personal level as an, "incredibly efficient gossip engine, with an unprecedented ability to establish the precise nature of relationships (limited profiles and privacy settings provide plenty of signals as to who's close and who is closer)." Communication and gossip are we thrive on, and the internet helps us get our fix. ID# 6237 10/3/07

Risk taking behavior shows adaptive purposes, especially in males
Science Daily Journal I found this article on the Science Daily website. This article discusses risk-taking behaviors and suggests the common held believes about risk taking behavior may be false. It was originally thought that those who took risks are generally categorized as risk-seekers and those who do not take risks are generally categorized as risk-avoiders. Recent research suggests that people can be both risk-seeking and risk-avoiding depending on the type of risk that is involved. The research shows that this may be an adaptation from are ancestors from thousands of years ago. The research also indicates that males are far more like to take risks than females. The types of risks that were discussed in the article included risks related to social status and risks related to fertility. The research shows that people, especially men, are far more likely to take risks that are associated with social status than risks that are associated with fertility. The article suggests that by engaging in social risks, males are more likely to secure a mate and further increase their status in the group. But by taking fertility risks, there is just a threat to evolution and the dissemination of ones genes into future generations. Student Id: 6770

Scientists find Limit on Mutations per Genome
In the article, “Beyond a ‘Speed Limit’ on Mutations, Species Risk Extinction” , scientists from Harvard have found the maximum amount of molecular evolution in organisms to be 6 mutations per genome, per generation. Any more mutations would cause instability in the proteins of the organism. Past research never completely bridged the gap between the reproductive fitness of organisms and the molecular properties of the proteins encoded by their genomes. Now, scientists can predict evolutionary fitness of an organism by the composition of the proteins in its DNA. Mutations push these essential proteins to becomes slightly less or slightly more stable. Too many mutations that develop highly unstable proteins can cause the organism to lose function and die. An example of this is found in the limit of mutations a virus can make. This allows more complex organisms’ immune systems to build antibodies against the simpler viruses and bacteria. These simpler genomes like viruses can afford to mutate more often because they do not have DNA correction software, as do more complex organisms, like humans, which have to evolve more slowly. This results in a direct link between evolutionary security and adaptive flexibility: humans are complex and have DNA correction software to guard against too many mutations, which in turn slows the rate of evolution. Student ID: 2871 October 3, 2007

Evolutionary Explanations
This journal article, http://0-ccr.sagepub.com.linus.lmu.edu/cgi/reprint/41/2/123, discusses the large impact of hunter gatherer societies on current social development. Evolutionary social science and evolutionary psychology both focus on human adaptations to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. While some human characteristics can be clearly derived from our history with interacting with the environment, other forces prove to be harder to explain. This article assumes four necessities in order to account for human social behavior produced by modern environments: modern societies owe their character to an interaction between previous adaptations and current ecologies and environmental impacts. 2.) Individuals can affect societies from the top-down or from the bottom-up. 3.) Some parts of culture are unique but societies must experience some common mechanisms that can account for similarities between societies separated oceans. 4.) Social contexts can modify and change psychological development. In American society, the media drives us to be powerful, successful and beautiful and growing up in this society will create unique behavior. Our innate instincts still exists but today you can become powerful without being the strongest or fastest individual. Natural selection is no longer occurring because everyone is reproducing as often as they please(in most places in the world). Scientific study has a hard time predicting the outcome of our current behavior but it is clear that our culture is having huge impacts on our children and the interaction between those impacts and our instinctual drives will greatly affect how our communities grow and develop. Student ID: 5268 October 3, 2007

South Pacific Evolution mystery
This article, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,995584-1,00.html explains how researchers and scientists had discovered a type of human like species 3ft. tall living in the caves of Flores located in a remote island in the South Pacific. The findings were not modern humans due to the brow size and jaw distinction. They’re brain sizes were also considerably smaller. They weren’t exactly a variety of Homo sapiens and the belief that only Neanderthals, who died out around 30,000 years ago were the only close human species coexisting with our own species at the time, can be questioned. It seems that there is another evolutionary branch or “twig.” Based on fossil dating, the youngest of the species was 13,000 years old. They were curious to how the believed to be descendents of Homo erectus became smaller. But through evolution, there is an explanation, “known to biologists as the Island Rule: when isolated on small islands in the absence of big predators, large mammals tend to evolve toward smaller sizes. That's because they don't need to fight off attackers and because smaller individuals can get by better on limited resources.” While this shrinkage occurs more often in elephants or deer, it was “unheard of in higher primates.” "It shows that hominids are following the same evolutionary and ecological rules as other mammals.” Scientists are still astonished to find that hominid evolution was occurring on an island while modern humans and possibly Neanderthals were roaming around elsewhere around the world at the same time. What’s also astonishing is that these species most likely used some sort of tools and fire as well. A question also can be brought up is how they got on the island in the first place.
Student ID: 0294 October 2, 2007

Power of Attraction
In this article, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070917112220.htm ,
published by the APA, American Psychological Association. This article talks about research done on heterosexual men and women and how quick they are to react to attractive people. It is no doubt that single people would respond quickly to attractive members of the opposite sex. What I found most interesting was the fact that committed men or women would respond mostly to members of the same sex. "If we're jealous and worried about our partner cheating on us, attention gets quickly and automatically stuck on attractive people of our own sex because they are our competitors." This makes sense in that our jealousy is only to help guard our mate. Other such presumptions as to why it takes a while to shift focus away from attractive people are that, “Men tend to worry more about other men being more dominant, funny or charismatic than they are. But when it comes to concerns about infidelity, men are very attentive to highly attractive guys because presumably their wives or girlfriends may be too." 9329 (10-2-07)

Neanderthals trekked to Siberia
The article from Reuters ( http://www.reuters.com/article /scienceNews/idUSN0127154220071 001?sp=true) reports on the discovery that Neanderthals trekked all the way into Siberia. Research found by the Max Planck Institute discovered that the Neanderthals spread 1,250 miles further east than scientists hat previously believed. This was found using genetic testing from fragmentary bones in Siberia. This is important because it proves that "their geographic range was even bigger than previously thought, which makes their disappearance all the more mysterious". Perhaps by studying how the Neanderthals became extinct we could be provided with insight as to why a relative with just as large of a brain and as well as bigger musculature went extinct, and we did not.
Student ID: 0706 October 2, 2007

Why Do We Kiss?
This article, A Kiss Is Still a Kiss -- Or Is It? shares the results of a study done on why humans kiss and how it may be adaptive. It also discusses the sex differences in the importance and type of kissing. The study was done at the University of Albany in New York. A sample of 1,041 students participated in the study. The results show that kissing is found in most cultures around the world and it may be an adaptive behavior. Gordan G. Gallup Jr., one of the authors of the study, says that during a kiss, chemicals are exchanged which reveal information that may cue humans of genetic incompatibility. He says it is an “evolved courtship ritual.” Also, researchers found that kissing is much more important for females when it has to do with sexual behaviors. Females are less likely to have sex without first kissing their partner. Males do not place as much emphasis on kissing as a neccesity before having sex. It is concluded that kissing is an evolved behavior which helps in assessing a mate, keeping a relationship bonded, and also functions to arouse sexual activity.
Student ID: 5193 October 2, 2007

Physical and mental cleaning
I found an interesting article called People Really Do Wash Away Sins on the psychological effects of cleanliness especially in terms of washing away disgust, both moral and physical on livescience.com. In spiritual rituals it is common to find ceremonies used to cleanse the soul by cleansing the physical body. Recently researchers have found that there are “overlaps in the brain in the regions stimulated by moral disgust and physical disgust, the kind you get to potentially bad food or other things you'd evolve to want to avoid”. Showering and cleaning your body can really have an impact on your psychological state. Living in a very clean environment has recently proven to facilitate more ethical behavior. If you purify your body, apparently, more than in a sense, will you be cleansing your conciousness. Student ID: 2177; 10/02/07

Fish Diet Linked To Evolution, Ten Million Year Old Chipped Teeth Show
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070929105007.htm found on ScienceDaily.com, proclaims that the wear and tear on our teeth can be an evolutionarily dependent measure and how an animal feeds can help to determine its evolution over thousands of years. This represents the way that our diets can impact how we develop over time. This brings up the points that we have discussed in class so far, about our tendencies to like foods that are sweet, salty, and fatty because we did not have these types of foods available to us in our past. But, if fish have the possibility to retain the same amount of liking of foods as they evolve over thousands of years, why are we so attracted to newer and different foods? What type of impact does feeding have on our evolution? What does that say about our future generations and how they will develop according to our current diets? This article is scientifically important in that it helps to affirm Darwin’s theory of natural selection and how important food selection and patterns help in our evolution over time, which we have been studying in our last chapters on the role of natural selection and the impact of Darwin’s theories. Student ID: 6488; 10/02/07

Baby Talk is Universal
I found this article "Baby Talk Crosses Cultural Line" at the NY Times online. Researches recorded English speaking mothers as if they were talking to a baby and also as if they were talking to an adult. Then they played the recordings to adults in the Shuar village of Ecuador. They found that the Shuar were much more likely to understand meaning without knowing the English language when listening to the baby talk. Apparently this is the first cross-cultural demonstration that meaning can be recognized in a foreign language. More to the point, it suggests that baby talk is something universal to humans. We may already have guessed this just by assumption or seeing baby talk in foreign movies. The relevance of this is that there must be some sort of inherent structure for baby talk, and an evolutionary purpose. Perhaps it is simply that by emphasizing what we say, we make ourselves easier to understand for children--whereas adults are capable of discerning subtle facial cues, sarcasm, and tone to determine meaning. Additionally, this study has positive implications for the theory of a language acquisition device that Steven Pinker talks about in his book. Student ID: 4683. October 1, 2007.

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature Deciphered
I found this article, Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature, in Psychology Today. This article written by Alan S. Miller Ph. D., and Satoshi Kanazawa Ph. D., takes a look at frequent misconceptions about the Human Nature, applying evolutionary psychology and other genres of psychology to arrive at to the foundation of issue at hand; the reasoning behind the behavior. For example, "Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman's breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman's age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive." The article touches on nine other social cliché offering a psychological reason for their occurrence. Student ID: 3353. October 1, 2007.

Darwin's God
This article,Darwin's God describes anthropologist Scott Atran’s search for why it is that we all as humans seem to believe in something bigger than ourselves, something otherworldly and “beyond the reach of or understanding of science. Whether atheist or religious, this seems to be the case. Atran seeks to explain this phenomenon in terms of how it might have solved survival struggles or reproduction. Did religious belief solve any of these problems? This article mentions one of our text book authors, Richard Dawkins as believing that religious belief is just an “evolutionary accident.” There is agreement among people studying in this field that religious belief is an “outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history,” (it uses up a ton of our “physical and mental resources”)but it is argued whether it truly was/adaptive or just a byproduct of evolution. No answer is able to be given but it gets you thinking about wha the true reason for why it is we all seem to have some sort of belief in a higher power. Did God put it there or did it develop in order to help us survive? Student ID: 4560 10/3/07

Homosexuality: Alternative Male Strategy
Student ID: 7715
The article I found was, [[http://Homosexuality: Alternative Male Strategy|“Interaction of Birth Order, Handedness, and Sexual Orientation in the Kinsey Interview Data”]] by Bogaert, Crosthwait, and Blanchard. The previous research cited in the introduction, and in the results of the study, both identified handedness (right-handed or non-right-handed) as a characteristic that is determined during an individual’s prenatal development. The study also showed that the fraternal birth order, or the number of older brothers, also affected prenatal development. The study proposed that both fraternal birth order and handedness are linked interactively in their relation to men’s homosexuality, and the results confirmed such an interaction. The conclusions drawn from this interaction revealed that male sexual orientation is also determined during the critical periods of prenatal development, and that handedness moderates the relationship between older brothers and sexual orientation. Specifically, the results showed that older brothers increased the odds of homosexuality in right-handers only; while older brothers did not affect the odds of homosexuality among non-right-handers.


BLOG POSTS, Fall 2006

Add your post here at the top, and, when you re done, remember
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The article, Scent of Family Guides Girls' Maturation was found on seedmagazine.com. it suggestes that we as humans are detured from incest in an evolutionary way. we already now that inbreeding can lead to genetic mutations, birth defects, and disease because of the partent similar genes. However, research at Pennsylvania State Univeristy has also attributes the effect to pheromones that evolved to prevent inbreeding. in other words the constant smell of dad delays puberty. After asking nearly 2,000 college aged women about the makeup of their families, they found that in families with no father in the household, daughters started menstration significantly earlier. Robert Matchock, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University says, "We are not saying that if daughters mature early with the biological father present, inbreeding will inevitably result. Rather, over millions of years of primate evolution, females who did delay sexual maturation might be at a slight advantage because any offspring that they produced would have a reduced chance of having deleterious recessive mutations." He also suggests that the power of the pheromone to stymie inbreeding extends to a control of sexual desire. to support his pheromone thesis Matchock says that past studies on other species have shown that young, female prairie dogs are less likely to go into heat if their fathers live with their family groups. Similarly, female tamarins exhibit more sexual behavior when they are removed from their natal group. November 20, 2006. 5048.

I found the article "Family May Provide Evolution Clue" on cnn.com. Scientists have been studying a family in Turkey, in which half of the siblings walk on all fours. Four sisters and one brother might yield clues about why our ancestors made the transition from walking on four legs to two. Although many agree that these adolescents were born with some form of brain damage, scientists are divided on what caused them to revert to quadrupedalism (walking on all fours). Professor Nicholas Humphrey rejects the idea that there is a "gene" for bipedalism, or upright walking. He argues that our transition to walking on two feet must have been a complex process that involved many changes to the skeleton and to the human genetic make-up. However, a group of German researchers say that a genetic abnormality does seem to be involved, at least in this case. Although researchers have yet to agree on what exactly has contributed to this family's condition, I found the arguments made by all sides interesting in collaboration with our lectures and with my own inferences about our direct ties to our ancestors. November 20, 2006. 5479

Athletic Engineering: The Immediate Effects of Genetic Engineering can be seen in this article on CNN by Rea Blakey. She investigates the very real consequences of genetic engineering. We assume that genetic engineering is related mostly to pregnancy and preferences in children; however, this article shows how genetic engineering can infiltrate many more aspects of life. Recently, it has been shown that more and more athletes are beginning to latch onto genetic engineering to put themselves above and beyond the competition. in professional and olympic level sports, techniques originally used in animal research, are being used to enhance the strength of muscles, speed up the rate of healing, and enhance athletic performance. All of this together poses a huge problem in that it is increasingly difficult for doctors and the Anti-Doping Angency to identify athletes who have benefitted from genetic engineering techniques. Officials and coaches are worried that innability to discriminate between clean and modified athletes will forever change the game of atletics altogether. And if this is occurring right now in sports, if we are already designing athletes, how much longer before we are actually desinging our children? 11/20/2006 #5410.

Grandmother Effect: The article Guppies have Menopause, Too discusses a new finding that brings into question why guppies need to have menopause when they do not look after their young. The grandmother effect hypothesis states that females go through menopause to end their reproductive period so they can help raise their offspring and relatives. Humans are the only animal that exhibit this type of behavior though after menopause. Most fish after their reproductive period have no reason to live. So, guppies going through menopause is an interesting finding because this species does not look after their young after reproduction. So why do they go through menopause? David Reznick, a biologist from UC Riverside, and colleagues have hypothesized that the post-reproductive period for guppies is not controlled by natural selection because reproduction is done. Reznick wonders how these findings will correlate to reasons for human female menopause, something we will have to research in the future. (#1210 11-20-06)

Older Female Fish Prefer imperfect Males. Everyone knows that both humans and animals are more attracted to symmetrical faces and bodies than asymmetrical ones. This is because symmetry is a sign of good genes and also of good health. With age most animals become more asymmetrical. This is one reason why that as males get older they prefer females of signifacantly younger age. A recent study done by a professor at the University of Ohio has found that a species that with age may actually prefer asymmetrical mates. it is called a Swordtail Fish. The study had female Swordtail Fish swim with both young symmetrical and older asymmetrical males. The females actually prefered the older asymmetrical fish. These findings are contradictory to almost all that have come before it and are therefore very significant. (#3896 11-19-06)

Colic Screening Tests: I found this artcile on BBC news Weeding out bad parents that poses a very interesting theory as to why babies are colic. Instead of taking an infant-evolutionary theory, they actually look at it from the parent's persepective. According to research conducted at George Washington University, colic is shown to be an evolutionary adaptation designed to weed out people unsuited for parenting. Surveys administered to parents of babies with colic were asked to rate the severity of colic in their baby on a scale of 1 to 10. The more severe their ratings, the less likely they were to have a second child. Additionally, parents who experienced colic in their first child were only 37% likely to go on to have another child. parents who had a colic free first child were 57% more liekyl to have a second child. Researchers speculate that parents who rated the colic more severely found it much more difficult to cope and this impatience was significanltly related to wether or not they chose to have a second child. So it seems, that colic could potentially be an evolutionary strategy for weeding out people from the parenting gene pool. Since the cause of colic is still unknown, this theory offers and unique and interesting spin on why this occurs in babies. 11/18/2006 #5410

The Looking Mirror: The article Opposites Attract? Not in Real Life by Natalie Angier discusses a study/survey that asks men and women the type of characteristics/physical traits they look for in potential mates. While many studies, and even people, have thought "opposites attract," it’s really the similarities that people look for. Angier has a great interest in understanding "why people would have rules that essentially seek someone who is like [themselves] on many of the things [they] value." To her, they'll "end up with a compatible mate, and less conflict in the relationship, and a better chance of a long-term bond and successful child rearing." For example, wealthy men tend to look more so for high status women, over the more attractive women. With the study, the researchers were emphasizing two similarities: "between one's self-perception and one's preferences in a long-term partner, and between men and women in their reliance on the mirror-image method of mate mapping." Student ID: 1935; 11/12/06

The Smell of Love. Scientists investigating the attractiveness of the opposite sex have found that, when it comes to long term relationships, the scent of a partner is just as important as looks. The researchers at the Universtiy of St. Andrews did a study and found that both women and men tend to use both odor and visual signals when considering a partner for a committed relationship. This finding was not as consistent when they asked to consider a brief affair or casual relationship. Both pheromones and sexually dimorphic (masculine or feminine) facial characteristics convey common information about the quality of signals of potential partners, and that these signals influence attraction. While both men and women may release many of the same pheromones, they, like facial characteristics, can be classified as being either typically masculine or feminine. Student ID: 4929, 11/12/06

Sexual Tendencies. Jeanna Bryner takes a look at a study done by researchers in the UK on sexual behavioral choices based on social pressure. Researchers found that there were seven distinct sexual behaviors found in teenage and young adults that were based on evolutionary beliefs about mate choice. Ideas like assessing potential partners based on physical cleanliness and appearance can lead young adults to make risky decisions about using a condom while having sex. Gender stereotypes and reputations have lead to many risky behaviors. With the emergence of HIV and AIDS awareness in the 1990's people were scared into being careful with sex but things have started to turn back. Researchers are looking into how our evolutionary behaviors are leaving us open to a world of hurt sexually. Student ID: 1210 11/10/06

Why Men Like Big Breasts. Millions of women desire bigger breasts and undergo breast augmentation, yet exactly what function do big breasts serve? Although the answer lacks empirical support, evolutionary psychologist Nikolas Lloyd proposes that early ancestral women, like our primate cousins, were flat-chested except during lactation when breasts became enlarged. Males looked to mate with flat-chested women, being that women are least fertile during lactation. The first seemingly 'mutated' permanent-breasted women would be most undesirable by aggressive males. "Only if these first women, with their prototype encumbrances, were at least adequate examples of baby-producing machines, would evolution have favoured men who found such upholstery appealing." In other words, men who had sex with permanent breasted women were able to pass on more genes, while those who found breasts appalling simply died out. Although this explains why virtually all men like large breasts, Lloyd also calls this adaptation a paradox, in that breasts conceal ovulation and provide access to affairs. While a woman may secretely expose herself to a man with desirable genes, her loyal mate may still provide to her and her child. Although this is just a theory, it suggests possible adaptive benefits for both males and females, in contrast with the "big butt" theory. Maybe breasts did not merely evolve for the pleasure of males. Student ID: 5389, 11/10/06

Animal Language. Maybe Chimps dont have the ability to talk to us like previously thought. Lots of research has been done on language in other animals. Because chimps are a close relative of ours we thought that they would have a high ability to at least communicate, if not verbally, with humans. The article talks about how much of the research confirming these findings may actually be false. Many may just be assumptions made by eager and biased researchers. It may be that the chimps arent learning sign language, but that they have learned to manipulate their hands in order to please their teacher and thus gain a reward. Much of the evidence that chimps are communicating is opinion and up for interpretation. So it may be that chimps really have no ability to communicate like we thought they did, we just want them to be able to. (#3896, 10-29-06)

Rats Parallel Human Infants. The article Rats show they have an ear for language, was published in the San Diego Union Tribune. According to a rat study conducted in Spain, neuroscientists propose that rats have the ability to learn language. Two rat groups were exposed to either Dutch or Japanese, by hearing rhythms of the language without using real words. Researchers then presented the rats with both Dutch and Japanese real-word sentences, and rats were only rewarded with food if they pressed a lever after hearing their particular language. Rats were then given 4 sentences in the wrong language, followed by the right language. In response to their learned language, "the rats recognized the characteristic rhythm and pressed the lever correctly", even with "a sentence they had never heard before." Findings suggest the existence of a language acquisition device in rats, based on their ability to construct language rules and understand new sentences. Rats better understood language that was presented by the same researcher, in the same pitch. Infants, like rats, also learn language through emphasized rhythm and speech signal. Although this research does not mean that rats have the potential to comprehend human speech, it suggests a similar origin in the initial ability to detect language. Student ID: 5389, 10/29/06

Gay Men Read Maps Like Women. This article from the NewScientist, by Shaoni Bhattacharya, presents a new study that suggests that gay men employ the same strategies for navigating as women using landmarks to find their way around. However, they also use the strategies typically used by straight men, such as using compass directions and distances. In contrast, gay women read maps just like just like straight women. The study looked at 80 heterosexual and homosexual men and women. The study claimed that "gay men adopt male and female strategies. Therefore their brains are a sexual mosaic." The study went on to focus on how "men, particularly, excel at spatial navigation." This study gave insight into the origins of route learning strategies, and the organization of cognitive abilities in general. Gay men show a "robust cross-sex shift" in the study. Gay men recalled more landmarks than straight men, as well as using typically male orientation strategies. The results support the notion that males' and females' cognitive abilites may be organized in different ways, and highlight the importance of accounting for sex specific patterns of behavior. Lesbians show little difference in their cognitive abilties compared with straight women. The difference between gay men and lesbian women might hint at differences in development. Student ID: 4929, 10/29/06

The Rise of Civilization and the Evolution of Personality. This article asserts that the brain has developed alongside our human society. Learning to live together physically has forced mankind to realize and accept a shared mental world as well. Researchers have reviewed various writings about our culture, including some of our mental adaptations that have developed along the way. Societal development has, in fact, affected our mental development just as our mental development has simultaneously affected the progress of our society. 5479. October 29, 2006.

Sex & Sensibility - Sex Differences and Gender Wars. This article by Cathy Young discusses numerous ways in which sex differences exist. She begins her article by discussing a unique study done by British scientists who were studying girls with Tuner's Syndrome. These girls have one X chromosome instead of two, and because of this act alot like boys. They also have different personality characteristics such as being insensitive and socially inept. Young then goes on to talk about how recently feminist have even embraced gender differences and the stereotypical values like cooperation, nurturance, and pacifism. She also examines the social world of both boys and girls and comes to the conclusion that the social world of boys is hierarchical and concerned with power, while that of girls is egalitarian and concerned with intimacy. Another faucet she examined was conflict. She states that there is evidence in dealing with conflict girls are somewhat more concerned with maintaining relationships and boys with asserting control. Men are more competitive and women are more cooperative. Student ID: 9060, 10/29/06

Sizing up: The article Evolution of Personality Fits with Biology, Theology by Raymond Neubauer begins with discussing how the size of brains and the number of genes have lead to an increase of information about knowledge of life and other material that each species adapt in order to survive. According to Neubauer, "this has led to more complex, flexible behavior, more elaborate communication and enduring relationships between members of species," which in turn he described as evolution of personality. He also mentions how life has become more homeostatic through time, where we are becoming better adapted for the world around us and we can expand our environment. As each species accumulates information from the many neurons in the brain, they behave and act accordingly to help their species survive. Neubauer uses many examples (like how dolphins will come to the aid of an injured one even though they do not have the same genes) to help explain how the brain (i.e. the size) is connected to the choice of helping the same species. Overall, how we are (our personality) reflects the decisions, based on neural configurations, that our ancestors made. Student ID #1935, Oct. 29th, 2006

Can a language evolve from nothing? This interesting arcticle from Live Science about ABSL. Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language is used by both deaf and non-deaf members of the village of Al-Sayyid. The Bedouin are nomadic people who roam the Israel's Negev Desert, the Al-Sayyid have approximately 3500 members. Currect researchers from UC San Diego have had the opportunity to examine this very perplexing new language which has only been in existence for seventy years or roughly three generations. What really interests the researchers is that the language shows no influence from Israeli sign language or other Arabic languages from around the area. It has a very original subject-object-verb sentence structure which is very different then the subject-verb-object structure exhibited by most languages. So where exactly did this language take its cues from when being created? That is still to be figured out but this supports what is already excepted by linguists, that word order is one of the very first features of language. Student ID: 1210, 10/26/06

How we sound around the world. I found this interesting webstite on BBC.com Voices that lets you record your voice, and enter in your demographic info so that you can see how you sound different from other people around the world (mostly in the UK). There are so many fascinating parts to this interactive website: you can record your own voice, listen to other people's coversations, create word maps, distinguish between accents, test your knowledge of regional dialect, look at the development of language over the centuries, etc. There are also links to other articles that investigate how language is learned, what methods are more succesful in learning language, and the history of why and how a language developed. Granted most of the information is applicable only to the UK, there are parts of the website that look at world trends. Thought this might be a fun hands on approach to understanding language. Student ID: 5410, 10/19/2006.

Into the Minds of Serial Killers. The article, Into the Minds of Serial Killers, found on Cherwell.org, highlights the book by forensic psychiatrist, Helena Morrison. After interviewing 80 serial killers she discussed wether it is nature or nurture that leads a killer to kill. Morrison is firmly on the side of nature, arguing that abuse, abandonment, and neglegence (nurture) are not reason enough. She believes that the killer’s addiction to killing stems from a genetic anomaly. More specifically, that there is a fault in the hypothalamus – the section of the brain that regulates emotions and moods. She also draws attention to role played by chemicals in the body, such asoxytocin and vasopressin, which instigate emotions. The idea that evil behaviour stems from nature, some kind of chemical imbalance, appeals because it sets such people apart from the rest of us. Morrison doesn’t know exactly what it is inside the brain that drives serial killers, but she believes that with the advances in medical testing we one day will. This is the reason that she keeps the brain of notorious killer John Wayne Gacy (who killed 33 young men and buried them under his house) in her basement, in the hope that it will prove useful in future medical research (creepy!). Student ID:5048, 10/17/06

Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture. This article, Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture, found in the AllPsych Journal, discusses whether or not homosexuality is a result of nature: a person's environment and surroundings, or of his bilogy and genetics. The APA released a public statement that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. It stated that "homosexuality is neither a mental illness nor a mental depravity." In support of the nature side is an experiment by Swaab. This experiment found that a portion of the hypothalamus of the brain was structurally different from a homosexual male to a heterosexual male. The hypothalamus being the portion of the brain directly related to sexual drive and function. The Superior Heterozygote theory is also in support of the nature side of the argument. It states that the actual expression of homosexuality is the result of homozygosity for recessive (non-expressed but present) genes. On the other side of the debate are the social theorists. These theorists believe such things as childhood play patterns, early peer interactions and relations, and the differences in parental behavior toward male and female children are the result of homosexuality. The Parental Manipulation theory states that one or both parents are able to neuter and control offspring to promote their evolutionary fitness, ensuring the passage of genes into the next generation. The article concludes by saying that no one theory or experiment leads to a definitive answer. Sexual orientation is most likely a complex interaction between environmental, cognitive, and anatomical factors, shaping the individual at an early age. Student ID: 4929, 10/15/06

ADHD: Playtime and Social Learning. I found this article, The importance of not being earnest on BBC Online. This article describes a relationship between the rise of ADHD and the reduction of playtime in schools. Neuroscience research proposes that the frontal lobes of children with ADHD are approximately 5% smaller than average. Research on animal emotions have tested the effects of shrinking frontal lobes on rats, and results indicate that reducing this brain area affects the regulation of conscious thoughts. Rats were less able to control their basic impulses, and were more playful as a result. This article also proposes a relationship between play and laughter, as being mechanisms for which humans learn to be sociable. Laughter “is one of the first reciprocal interactions between mother and baby,” which can be “equivalent to an animal call or a bird song.” In the context of ADHD, affected children have problems forming social relationships, and lack the social interaction that is fundamental to the learning process. Maladaptive social learning fuses emotional consequences, in that children with ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem and rejection by their peers. Student ID: 5389, 10/15/06

"EQ vs. IQ". This article on CNN EQ better than IQ? suggests that while our culture is extremely IQ driven, a secret weapon may be lurking in the dark. EQ, or emotional Itelligence, is a person's ability to form optimal relationships with one self and others. More often than not, EQ is being used as a more reliable predictor of life success than IQ. Interestingly, the higher the itellectual barriers for entry into occupational positions, the higher the impact Emotional Intelligence has on your success. Emotional Intelligence consists of five competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills. While IQ is developed from birth and is relatively static, EQ can be learned and modified at any age, and actually increases as we get older. So, if you're worried about being successful in life, in your career, what grad shool you're applying to...it may be more beneficial to nurture your self-awareness by improving your relationships with others and keeping a daily journal of your feelings and emotion levels than cracking open a book. Good news for us students! 10/15/06, #5410.

The Baldwin Effect. This article, Social Learning and the Baldwin Effect explains what the Baldwin effect is and why it is so important. the theory is that a biological trait becomes innate after it is learned. With time the learned trait actually becomes innate and no longer needs to be learned, it is now an instict. This would would go along with Darwin's theory of evolution and survival of the fittest. A trait that helps a species survive would become a part of the species. But there is a lot of opposition to this theory, some believe that there is no way that a genome can be affected by learning. But the Baldwin effect adds some sort of higher power selection, to an otherwise random process of natural selection, allowing the mind a bigger role in survival. (#3896 10-15-06)

Negative Affects of College Lifestyle on Learning. The article, The Perils of Higher Ed by Steven Kotler, examines the ways that college life can be detrimental to cognition and learning. Kotler states, "New studies show that the undergrads urges to eat, drink and be merry have devastating effects on learning and memory. It turns out that the exact place we go to get an education may in fact be one of the worst possible environments in which to retain anything we've learned." The article looks at issues such as lack of sleep in college students due to all night cramfest negatively affects memory. Sleep is crucial to declarative memory and procedural memory and memory requires a full eight hours of sleep; however the average college student only gets 6.8 hours a night. Previous studies have found that if someone goes without sleep for 24 hours after acquiring a new skill, a week later they will have lost it completely. So college students who pull all-nighters for exams might do fine on their test but may not remember any of the material in the future. Another aspect that Kotler addressed was eating habits of college students. He states, "Students who fuel their studies with fast food have something more serious than the freshman 15 to worry about: they may be literally eating themselves stupid." He looks at results of a study and found that trans-fat eaters had fewer proteins critical to healthy neurological function. Lastly he examined how overindulgence of alcohol may have long-term effects, using previous studies to examine nerve brain cell birth and growth. Student ID: 9060, 10/14/06

Chimps Aren’t Chumps: Chimpanzees are human’s closest relatives. Since chimpanzees and humans share much of the same genes, scientists are always studying and trying to find new similarities that both groups share. In the article Chimps Share Human Learning Trait written by Bill Hendrick of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, scientists found that chimpanzees learn about solutions or new skills by mimicking what the previous chimpanzee did, a technique that only humans (and now chimpanzees) can do. Chimpanzees, then, pass on to the next generation what they learned. To help explain this, Victoria Horner, a primate behaviorist, did an experiment with chimpanzees where they had to find fruit in a box. Once the first chimpanzee was able to find how to get the fruit out, he taught the next one. She found that this recurred with each new chimpanzee learning by watching what the previous one did. "What this means, Horner said, is that chimps possess one of the critical skills necessary to create and maintain cultural differences between groups, and that their behaviors become traditions." Chimpanzees exhibit "generational learning behaviors" similar to that of humans. (October 14th, 2006: ID #1935)

Singing like the birds. In the article Humans are birdbrained when learning new speech, Study hints researchers compare human vocal learnings to those of the hummingbird. Three types of birds, humans, bats, whales and dolphins all possess the ability to learn and imitate new sounds. Other species like dogs, cats, and bears can all make sounds but are incapable of learning sounds later in life and of imitating other animals. Instead they are born with the hardwire needed to create the sounds their ancestors made. When looking into hummingbird's vocal abilities researchers found that a certain gene, FoxP2, became very active when the hummingbird's were learning new sounds. Erich Jarvis, one of the researchers, believes that even though humans and birds are in two very different branches of species that what they learn from a bird's vocal abilities might be translated to humans. Most scientists look at primates when trying to learn about human evolution but no other primate has vocal learning abilities like humans do. So examining the hummingbird's FoxP2 gene might give us a chance to understand human speech and language. Researchers say the next step is to breed hummingbirds without the FoxP2 gene and see what effect that has on vocal learning. From there crossing disciplines is the next step for researchers. Student ID: 1210, 10/12/06

Learn from Dogs: Sniffing a Good Mate. The article The Smell of Love, found on Psychology Today Online, proposes that smelling one's mate can determine compatibility. This article challenges historical beliefs that smell played a diminishing role in primates. This position asserted that "monkeys, apes, and humans represent ascending steps from four-legged sniffing beasts to sight-oriented bipeds." Upon the discovery of the Vomeronasal Organ (VNO) inside the human nose, researchers found VNO receptor cells to fire rapidly when exposed to certain emotion-provoking substances. Further research postulates that angrosterone produced in the apocrine glands secrete smells that affect interpersonal interaction. More recent findings, however, find that females prefere the scent of mates with different MCH codes, Major Histocompatibility Complex, than their own. MHC codes are DNA segments that detect and fight-off specific pathogens, and the more variable the MHC, the more advantageous for offspring survival. A recent theory proposes that body odor serves as an immune by-product in which likeability signals gene variation, while smell intensity can indicat disease and warn females of conditions such as Schizophrenia and Diabetes. Whether or not consciously sniffing a mate for compatibility would work, this article describes the adaptive function of human sensation and perception, highlighting the often-underestimated function of smell. Student ID: 5389, 10/11/06.

The Instinct of Birth was an article that talked about the long lost
instinct of birth. In our society their are so many classes and expectations to how child birth is supposed to take place, that we have actually covered up our natural instinct. instincts are something that everyone is born with, and they are monumental in our survival. Like the instinct of a baby cring to get help from their parents. The articlt argues that we have a birthing instinct and dont actually need all the fancy classes and doctors offices that we are expected to use today. the article told a story of a young girl who had a very strong birthing instinct. she came to a midwife and started bossing everone around about where she wanted them. She just stood on the bed and gave birth without pain or discomfort. It was much more peaceful and natural than the hysterics of many other childbirths. The article was from the "Childbirths Solutions" website (10/8/06 ID# 3896)

The Human Side of Colour Blindness. The article "The Human Side of Colour Blindness," by Joseph G. O'Neil, explains how total color blindness, where everything looks black and white, is very rare. Normal vision does not mean you see all colors equally. The article also talked about how the average population is most sensitive to green. This is perhaps an evolved trait from all of the green we have seen in plants, grass, and trees over hundreds of thousands of years. Our eyes have evolved to be most sensitive to the colors most readily apparent to our ancestors wandering outside in the plains, hunting game, and gathering nuts and berries. It was also discussed how unlike other disabilites, people with color blindness sometimes find themselves in demand for certain roles in life. For example with hunting. Many people due to their color blindness were the first to capture the deer in a hunting party. That means his family is going to eat first before all others, and his descendants are most likely to survive, thus preserving the genetic data that passes on color blindness. What we see in our vision is not only dictated by the actual light coming into our eyes, but by the knowledge in our heads. Our color vision is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution under the light of our sun. Student ID: 4929, 10/8/06

Real Rhapsody in Blue. This article by Anne Underwood expands on the perceptual phnomenon of synesthetics. While those who are synesthetes are considered to have "cross wiring in their brain," there are also many links between synesthesia and creativity. The article highlights a survey by Grossenbacher, head of the Consciousness Laboratory at Naropa University of Boulder, Colo. His survey showed that out of 84 synesthetes, 26 were professional artists, writters or musicians, and 44 were serious amateurs. For them synesthesia is part of what ends up being a more expressive lifestyle. She describes artist painitng what they see when they hear music, and having a mix of the senses manifest itself into a creative drive that only those who are synesthetic can expeience. I found this article paritcularly interesting because my friends and I who are dancers have always said "we're what music looks like," and this made me wonder if there might be a link between synesthesia and choreography. Student ID: 5048, 10/8/06

Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes. This article by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Edward M. Hubbard examines the phenomenon of people with synestesia and how understanding synestesia may provide valuable clues to understanding the organization and functions of the human brain. For people with synestesia, "They experience the ordinary world in extraordinary ways and seem to inhabit a mysterious no man's land between fantasy and reality. For them the senses - touch, taste, hearing, vision, and smell - get mixed up instead of remaining separate." To determine whether synesthesia is a perceptual experience, psychologists use a test called pop-out or segregation. The article then goes on to explain how experiments favor the idea that synesthetes are experiencing the result of some kind of cross wiring in the brain. The article also shows evidence that the condition of synesthesia is seven times as common in creative people possibly because they have the ability to think metaphorically and their brains are set up to make links between seemingly unrelated domains. Overall, a very interesting read. Student ID: 9060, 10/8/06

The article "What Makes Us Human", found on CNN.com, summarizes the cover story of this week's edition of TIME magazine. I was fascinated to learn that molecular geneticist Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, Germany and his team have nearly finished sequencing the entire Neanderthal genome. They plan to line up three seperate genomes: modern human, chimpanzee, and Neanderthal, in an effort to see what it is that makes us so unique - even in comparison to our nearest evolutionary cousins. The questions prompting these scientists to explore such a topic reminded me of our discussion of qualia in class last week. Essentially, they are attempting to find a genetic answer to the mystery that is qualia. The research of these scientists is fascinating, and will be interesting to watch unfold in the coming weeks as they finish the Neanderthal genome. Along with finding what makes humans so much more advanced than our relatives, they are also searching for what makes us more susceptible to diseases such as AIDS and Malaria. 5479 October 8, 2006.

Mary's Room: Support for the Existence of Qualia. I found that a number of searches turned up
"Mary's Room", curious about what it might be, I found that this theory Mary's Roomoffers and great explanation of and insight to Qualia. The Mary's Room argument is also known as the Knowledge Argument, made against Phsyicalism. Phsyicalism states that because everything we experience is only phsyical, there is no possibility for a subjective experience. On the other hand, the Knowledge Argument offers Mary's Room as a kind of thought experiment to support the existence of Qualia. In a nutshell, Mary's Room proposes that Mary lives in a black and white room and can only watch TV on a black and white screen. In essence, Mary has no interaction with color sensation at all. Mary learns everything she can about what color is, gaining an immense understanding of human color vision and the properties of color. It is such a deep, complete understanding of color, that we cannot fathom this knowledge. Moreover, the Knowledge Argument suggests that once Mary ventures out into the color world, she will have a color experience in which she learns something new about color that could not be understood through the scientific explanation of it. This subjective learning experience is known as Qualia. Supporters of the Knowledge Argument insist that it is impossible to learn through science what it is like to actually see in color. There is still much to be said about both sides of the Qualia argument, but I thought this was an interesting introduction. 10/7/2006, #5410

Blue Skies Looking at Me. Continuing off the pervious article (why we see red), I was interested in finding why we perceive the sky to be blue. In the article
Why Skies Are Blue and Not Purple, we know that the "blue light in the sun's rays bends more than red light. But this extra bending, or scattering, applies just as much to violet light, so it is reasonable to ask why the sky isn't purple." Glenn Smith, an engineer professor, wrote an article in addressing this matter. He wanted to "put the physics of light together with the physiology of human vision." He also talks about the different color combinations that allow us to see certain colors, which then briefly explains the reasoning behind why we see blue instead of purple. October 6, 2006: 1935.

The Explanation of Red. This doesn't really explain the color red, I'm sorry if I got your hopes up but hopefully I pulled your attention. The article Rare but Real: People who feel, taste, and hear color provides interesting information about people with synesthesia. It is an interesting condition that associates different aspects of life with color. At the end of class we were discussing why the color red is red and not green and why we perceive like we do. This "ability" can possible help lead researchers to understanding the nueral networks in the brain that give red all it's properties and why we call it red. Some researchers believe that when we are newborns because the brain connections are malleable, several nueral networks can intermingle. As we mature this disappears and the networks interact like we witness in all adults. Why this happens no one knows. What is interesting is why this condition is not more abundant in the population; more research will tell us the costs and benefits of it. Oct. 5: 1210
Dirty Diapers.
I found My Baby doesn't smell as bad as yours; The placticity of disgust in the journal of Evolution and Human Behavior.Similar to the video we watched in class, this article talked about disgust and how it actually is an adaptation meant to keep us healthy. It is meant to keep us disease free. Feces in particular are something that disgusts all people. This article takes that disgust to a whole new level by discussing a mother’s reaction to her own baby’s feces smell. In the first study the mothers completed a self report questionnaire telling their reactions to changing the dirty diaper if their own baby and the dirty diaper of another woman’s baby. The second study actual had the mothers smell samples of their own baby’s feces and of another baby’s feces. Both studies showed that the mother’s considered their own baby’s feces as less disgusting than another baby’s. (STUDENT 5598, 10/8/06)














Why "eating your vegtables" can be unsavory. The article "Bitter Consequences" reviews the evidence on
toxins in vegtables... an interesting read, FYI. -- Dr. Mills, 9/27/06.

Why Some Like It Hot. The article "Some Like It Hot: Spices Are Nature's Meds, Scientists Says" expands on what we have learned about the uses of spices in different regions of the world. Hot climates host bacteria that are more diverse and faster growing than colder climates. Spices that come from plants have secondary compounds that prevent macro and microorganisims from attacking them. It is believed that regions with hotter climates have adapted over time to the use of more spices to preserve their food, which is more likely to spoil.Scientist Paul Sherman and his colleagues compared recipes for more than 4,000 meat dishes and 1,000 vegetarian dishes among 36 countries, and proved that countries with the warmest climate have the spiciest food. Meats in particular tend to have the most spices due to their lack of defences against pathogens and parasites. This article could support the antimicrobial hypothesis that humans have a specialized evolved adaptation for the uses of spices as well as the cultural transmission, either way it is interesting to see how a taste for spices served a vital evolutionary purpose: keeping our ancestors alive. Student ID: 5048, 9/27/06

Sex Differences in Morality Rate. The article, "Ecology and Evolution: Sex Differences in Morality Rate", asks the important question of why men typically die earlier than women in Westernized societies? The article proposes that male biased morality may be caused in part by a greater susceptibility of males to infection by parasites, which is the potential result of male to male competiton to secure mates and territory. The article further goes on to explain that in species where males die younger than females, the males suffer a much higher rate of parasitism. The article also compares castrated and "intact" men, showing that castrated men outlive "intact" men by up tp fifteen years. However, sex differences in susceptibility to parasitism may not reflect "maleness." It was found that in species where females are larger than their male counterparts, it is the females that suffer the greater burden of parasitism. The article concludes with offering the next step in research. It suggests that research should continue to try to uncover more about the precise physiological mechanism that lead to the unusually hish susceptibility of large mammals to parasitic diseases. Student ID: 4929, 9/26/06.

Beautiful couples produce more baby girls. This article, Beautiful people tend to have girls__ , was published in The Sunday Times, Britain. The article supports sexual selection theories that family status predicts future reproductive success in males, only it brings a new twist on females. In order to attract the high-status males that promise security to their offspring, beauty forms as a sexual adaptation for females. New research, however, suggests that attractive parents are 26% more likely to have a daughter than a son as their first child. According to this study, "beautiful parents have more daughters than ugly parents, because physical attractiveness is heritable and because daughters benefit from attractiveness more than sons." Using celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as an example, the article describes the birth of their first-born daughter as witness to the theory. Although the research sounds groundbreaking, it fails to explain how high-status families benefit more from a beautiful daughter than a boy who provides almost direct gene preservation. Assuming this theory is not a flux, is it possible that beauty could serve as a future deterrent in gene preservation? Student ID: 5389, 9/24/06.

Is evolution coddling human growth? The article "Adolescence Came Late in Human Evolution, Studies Show, has been investigating the growth of the human species over evolution. New findings show that only recently have the human species taken so long to go through adolescence and "grow up." By measuring the enamel growth on the teeth of prehistoric species researchers feel that that the growth time of humans is slowing down as evolution goes on. The enamel growth rate of australopiths and early species of the Homo genus are similar to modern apes not to human. Researchers are not sure why the growth rate of humans has slowed down but it can be hypothesized that early human species were forced to grow up quicker because of the rough environment. As creatures evolve and the protection of one's genes became more important parents have come become more protective of their offspring. There is still years of research left on this subject. Sept. 24 Student Id:(1210)

Sex as a Means of Natural Cleansing.
This article, "Why We Have Sex: It's Cleansing. Act Evolved As a New Way to Purge Harmful Mutations, New Model Shows", sheds a new light to our class discussion of why humans continue to rely on sexual reproduction rather than asexual reproduction. The author, Ker Than, relays the findings that Ricardo Azevedo of the University of Houston published in the March issue of the journal "Nature". He investigated the 'mutualistic determinism hypothesis', which states that sexual reproduction allows organisms to combine many harmful mutations into single individuals. These individuals will be considerably less healthy and die sooner, allowing the extermination of many mutations at once from the gene pool. This hypothesis relies on the understanding of 'negative epistasis', the idea that several mutations together are more harmful than single mutations. Through experimentation with digital organisms, Azevedo has asserted that sexual reproduction is a means of natural cleansing that would not be possible through asexual reproduction. Sept. 24 (5479)
Snakes, Primates, and Evolution. This article Fear of Snakes Drove Pre-Human Evolution discusses a new radial theory that suggests a fear snakes among early mammals triggered the development of improved vision and large brains in primates. This idea proposed by Lynn Isbell states that early mammals had to develop ways to protect themselves against snakes. Particular primate traits developed because of the need to protect themselves. Among these traits were a better sense of detecting color, detail, and moment. And most importantly the ability to see in 3D which is essential for detecting threats at close range. Fossil and DNA evidence suggests that snakes were around when the first mammals evolved and therefore would be the first predators that mammals encounted. I found this article very interesting because it introduced a new approach to human evolution, and maybe even can explain why fear of snakes is such a common fear among humans. Student ID: 9060, 9/23/06

Modern Humans are the Odd Man Out. I found the article Humans Strange, Neanderthals Normal at MSNBC.com. It talks about recent research done comparing the features of modern humans to those of Neanderthals. It has been believed that modern humans are more normal than neanderthals to the rest of our species. But the recent research has found that it is actually modern humans that have more divergent features than neanderthals, twice as many in fact. So it may be us that are further from the "norm" of the species. Modern humans are the only one in our family tree not to have brow ridges, we are also the only ones to have shortened faces, and reduced internal nasal cavities. ( # 3896 September 23, 2006)

Neanderthal vs. Modern Humans: A theory of extinction. This article Neanderthals as survivors? offers a few interesting theories as to how Neanderthals may have become extinct. The article offers speculation that Neanderthals actually lived 2,000 years longer than any previous records have stated, and that perhaps this puts Neanderthals on a timeline which coincides with the early beginnings of modern humans. Interestingly, the theory states that a potential reason for Neanderthals' extinction was pathogenic. With the emergence of modern humans came modern pathogens that Neanderthals could not fight off. The author also explains that the 2,000 year extension throws climate into the mix, claiming any climate change, even a slight one, could have been too much for the remaining Neanderthals to survive and adapt to. Still a lot of controversy whether Neanderthals and modern humans ever crossed paths, but carbon dating of fires left in caves by Neanderthals may be able to settle that controversy. Student ID: 5410, 9/21/2006

Our Ancestry Finally Found?
I found this article Oldest Skeleton of 'Ape-Man' Child Found in the News section of Aol. It was written by Malcom Writter on September 20th. The Article dicusses bones found recently of what could be the skeleton of one of our ancesters. "The remains found in Africa are 3.3 million years old, making this the oldest known skeleton of such a youthful human ancestor." The scientiest are trying to determine based on the skeleton whether this particular Ape-Man was able to both walk and climb in trees. So far it seems that the skeleton has the legs of a human, but the upper body of an Ape. I thought this article was very interesting especially because it is happening right now. Student ID: 5598, 9/21/2006

What is there to fear? Well, whattya got? The article Phobias and Fear Factors talks about how evolution plays a big role in determining why we have fears, and for some of us, phobias. Fears are our defense mechanisms that trace back to our early ancestors. The author, Rich Maloof, was making points about how fears are located in our DNA and how even "evolution is still trying to catch up." Even the mass media and entertainment industries are playing off people’s fears and phobias. Since these feelings can be linked to such a long ancestral line, it comes as no surprise that we are all afraid of something, consciously or subconsciously. Student ID: 1935, 9/23/2006

In Chapter 3 of our Evolutionary Psychology text, there are several different hypothesis of how our ancestors survived, such as the gathering hypothesis or the scavenger hypothesis. Can we assume that our ancestors survived by the use of all of these hypothesis, depending on how tough times were, not just one or a combination of some? 10/9/07 Student ID: 5045

Fear and Loathing in the Human Brain -Dr. Andy Calder
I found this article on the BBC website, http://www.open2.net/humanmind/article_faces.htm
. It gives a brief history of our growing understanding of human emotions and follows it up to the current theory that individual emotional experiences may be served by completely separate brain systems. For example, through research, psychologists have been able to discover that the amygdala plays a major role in recognizing expressions of fear. It is also essential for learning new things to be frightened of in a procedure known as fear conditioning. This article also sheds light on the insula, which involves human recognition and signals of disgust. A patient known as NK with damage to this portion of his brain demonstrated defective disgust recognition. Calder’s findings ultimately lead him to suggest that “the human brain contains partially separate, but interconnected neural systems coding fear and disgust." -Christina Vrooman - 01 October 2007