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Lecture 9

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PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

Lecture 9: 2013/02/05 Questions of the day: 1) Has the human brain evolved specifically to be able to process complex social information? Yes 2) Do other social animals show evidence of evolved capacities reflective of a predominantly social brain? True for primates or sometimes social animals (dogs, cats, etc.) 3) Is human aggression inevitable or can it be modified by culture? Culture can modify aggression Sources for the lecture - Cheney & Seyfarth (2007) - Baboon metaphysics: The evolution of a social mind Why is the human brain so large? - 7x larger than mammal our size - Particular brain area that is enlarged (frontal cortex, complex thought and perception) - Functional brain scans show that when we are thinking of people and relationship, frontal cortex is highly activated. - Default activity (when we are in rest, not doing any tasks) of human brain is thinking about relationship - Processes and works with social information better than any other information - Other primates; brain size, frontal cortex and group size.  Larger the group, more social information to analyze, and this requires larger frontal cortex Examples of the social mind - Random thoughts while at the YMCA.  Always tracking other people - Developmental indicators  Infants orient toward human speech and faces  3 year olds’ knowledge  6 year olds’ knowledge  Prof’s daughter didn’t like going summer camp. When her friend asked whether Sophie liked the camp, she overcame social challenge without lying by asking her friend how it was. - Goleman’s observations in social intelligence (2007)  Default activity  Speed of processing and judgments Why primates have larger brains? - “Primates may be pushed into larger groups thanks to predator s or to patchy sources of food like fruit trees. As their numbers grow, natural selection may favor social intelligence. The primates form long- term alliances with each other and compete with rivals. They begin to keep track of a larger and larger social network.” - A boost in social intelligence can lead to an evolutionary edge for primates - Three things you have to consider with evolution and traits  Traits that allow you to survive (traits that increase the chance of survive will be selected)  Traits that increase your chance of mating, reproducing, and taking care will be selected  Traits that allow you to take care of kin (passing the genes) Baboon Metaphysics - Their conclusion, based on many painstaking experiments, is that baboons’ minds are specialized for social interaction, for understanding the structure of their complex society and for navigating their way within it The everyday social life of baboon - Size of troop  About 80-90 baboon - Kinship – matrilineal and ranked  Passed on through female baboon  Inherit your rank/status to child - Hierarchies – alpha males  Male baboons have to leave the troop once they become teenager, and there will be other baboon entering the troop. This period of time is stressful. When young adult baboon enters the troop, they will try to establish their rank. Among the males, rank is very transitory. Males have to fight it out for alpha status  Typically, alpha baboon hold their rank for only 8 months  If there are 9 males, they all have ranks (2 , 3 , etc.)  Males have to fight for their rank/status - Transient relationships  Alpha baboon has opportunity to mate whatever female baboons that are available. Mostly, young, not carrying a child, not lactating.  If new baboon comes to the troop and becomes alpha males, they want to find partners to mate with. However, if all the female baboons have children or are pregnant, alpha male sometimes kill young children so that mother will stop lactating or tacking care.  Therefore, at this period, they have high stress hormone level for the whole troop. But more high stress hormone level for mothers of young children.  Mothers of young children try to be friend with some of the older male baboon for protection. - Social support  Larger the network (relationship), the healthier we are  Measure social support of baboons by mutual grooming with their kin  Lower their stress level, builds alliances, builds connection - Communication  Production of sounds  Sounds have meaning (threat, after intercourse, etc.)  Comprehension of sounds  Interpret the series of sounds  Put the meaning of all sounds together and figure out their situation The dangers - Rainy season, very dangerous - Most lethal predator is baboon (new coming) because of infanticide Data collection - Demographic events (birth, death, mating) - Systematic observed social behavior - Collection of vocalizations: single sounds  Greeting grunts  Threat grunt and response cream  Females sexual “whoop”  Males competitive “wahoo” cry - Collection of feces  Neurochemical markers for stress hormone (corticosol, testosterone) - Video observation of behavior in response to playback experiments  Social network/ rank/  Set up situation where they can play recording and make baboons think it is other baboon. And observe the behavior. Playback experiments to test baboons’ social knowledge - Kinship - Hierarchy - Transitional relationships - Coping with loss Describe mother-baby experiments - 3-4 female baboons are staying together and separated from their children - Play the distressed sound of one of their infants - Instantly, other baboons look at the one whose baby is. All 4 know that “This is her kid.” The mother of child will get up and get to their children. - Baboons not only recognize their own kids, they also know which kids go with which mom Threat grunt experiment - “This simple reaction says a lot about what is going in the baboon’s mind. That the animal can construe A dominates B, and B dominates A, means it must be able to break a stream of sounds down into separate elements, recognize the meaning of each, and combine the meanings into a sentence-like thought.” - Have the recording of threat grunt and submissive grunt of all of the male baboons - They find baboon who is sitting on his own. They play threat grunt (of 5 th rank baboon) and the th response submissive grunt (of 7 rank baboon) - The baboon does not care because higher rank baboon threats the lower rank baboon. This is just the way it works. th rd - This time they play threat grunt (of 5 rank baboon) and response submissive grunt (of 3 rank baboon). - The baboon noticed that something is wrong - They recognize different grunt (threat or submissive) and have careful understanding of the ranks Mating whoop experiments (Transitional relationship) - The purpose of the experiment is not to ruin Royal’s day but to understand what goes on in a baboon’s mi
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