BIO 358 Lecture 15: BIO 358 Topic 15

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Topic 15: The Human Mind/Brain: Cultural information in a purposeful, moral world 1
Key Terms:
1. Neuron:
a. Cell body
b. Axon
c. Dendrite
2. Geon: The meaningless subunits into which perceived objects are broken down by our perceptual
apparatus. A crescent and a cylinder are each geons, for example. They can be assembled into larger
composite units that, in turn, are treated as meaningful or functional objects. A crescent and cylinder can be
combined to make a coffee cup or a beer mug, say. This process creates a nested, hierarchical structure for
the perception of objects and all of reality. This structure of perception is strikingly analogous to the structure
of human speech, suggesting that they have a common evolutionary origin (Chapter 9).
3. Nested combinatoriality: See Chapter 14 Key Terms.
4. Universal Darwinism: This is a very general and important claim about the universe. It states that all
complex adaptive order in the universe results from Darwinian selection, that is, Darwinian processes. We
know this is true of the complex order of organisms. However, there is good reason to believe that it applies to
other things thinking and ideas, for example. This theoretical postulate it is not yet an established theory
appears to be profoundly illuminating about otherwise inscrutable processes.
5. Immune system:
a. Antigen
b. Antibody
6. Culturally transmitted information: See Chapter 13 Key Terms
Key Concept Question: In the TOPIC 15 lecture and in Chapter 10 in Death from a Distance we learned that
minds process immense amounts of information by exploiting the vast capacity provided by hierarchically
nested combinatorial organization of synapses. Moreover, this capacity is deployed to create PROXIMATE
psychological devices that cause us to behave AS IF we understood the ULTIMATE adaptive logic of our
behavior. However, the question still remains as to exactly how minds work. The strategy employed by the
immune system to produce antibodies against specific antigens suggests a very attractive hypothesis for some
kinds of creative mental processes. Which of the following best describes this hypothesis?
a. Creative mental processes result from selection acting on ancestral genetic design information that
specifically anticipates the exact novel problems we currently encounter.
b. Creative mental processes result from active shaping of individual cognitive information structures on the
basis of incoming sensory information.
c. Creative mental processes result the direct transformation of incoming sensory information into mirror-
image cognitive structures that inherently control reaction to that information.
d. Creative mental processes result from selection among competing cognitive information structures arising
from random assembly of their constituent components.
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Notes:
1) What orld is the hua rai adapted to uderstad?
a) Human uniqueness
i) Our access to inexpensive threat coercive management of conflicts of interest brain
expansion, emergence of cooperation, sexuality, language
b) Biological redesign for brain expansion requires ecological dominance, altriciality, human village
c) Only reason for brain expansion to evolve in the first place is because we have access to massive
amounts of culturally transmitted information
d) Proximate ethical psychology?
e) Phylogenetically, we predict
i) Unique human intelligence should emerge
at the same time and place
ii) Cognitive revolution = social revolution
(1) How did our minds evolve in response
to this social revolution and to all the
information it gave us?
f) The mind
i) Design information
(1) Information controls phenotype selection acts on phenotype selects genotype
ii) Minds are designed to store and process cognitive information
2) Brais ostrut reality
a) Brain constructs a movie running in your head and it uses data coming in to adjust the content of the
movie
i) Eyes are data collection widgets—it’s the oie that rus i your head
ii) Being awakedata dependent vivid dreaming
b) Interrogating the mind
i) Black triangle image (pacman)
(1) Brain is taking fragmentary information and representing the best guess about what the world
looks like
ii) Video on optical illusion
(1) Brain is constructing what we see ad ot really seeig hat’s out there
(2) Pink and green dots
(a) Hoeer there is o gree, just the asee of pik ad e just thik it’s gree
(3) Our isual syste is ot desiged to see the orld, ut to take hat’s ostat i the orld,
hold it constant, and look for change
c) Mind is building a movie of the world that runs in our heads
i) The movie is designed by evolution by natural selection
(1) Goal of the movie is to help us as vehicles to transmit our design information
(2) When natural selection builds our mind:
(a) Creates a mind that looks at the self as important aka ego
3) Some features of brains are relatively straightforward
a) Brain
i) Mostly 2-D array that is packing into our brain
ii) Monotonous structure
(1) Repetitive
(2) Store information combinatorial
(a) Written language, spoken language, DNA are all combinatorial
(3) Nervous system stores info in a 3-D way, but same basic thing
iii) Repetitive same way that a circuit board and DVD is repetitive
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Document Summary

Topic 15: the human mind/brain: cultural information in a purposeful, moral world 1. Key terms: neuron, cell body, axon, dendrite, geon: the meaningless subunits into which perceived objects are broken down by our perceptual apparatus. A crescent and a cylinder are each geons, for example. They can be assembled into larger composite units that, in turn, are treated as meaningful or functional objects. A crescent and cylinder can be combined to make a coffee cup or a beer mug, say. This process creates a nested, hierarchical structure for the perception of objects and all of reality. It states that all complex adaptive order in the universe results from darwinian selection, that is, darwinian processes. We know this is true of the complex order of organisms. However, there is good reason to believe that it applies to other things thinking and ideas, for example.

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