LIFESCI 3C03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: The Selfish Gene, Ethology, Negative Feedback

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Ecology Selfish Gene Reading Chapter 4
The Gene Machine
Gene machines: animals
- Animal behaviour is fast relative to plants
- Movements animals make are reversible and repeatable
Different body parts of animals can be represented as automotive parts:
- Muscles are engines that use up energy to allow movement
- Bones are levers
- Tendons are cords
- Hinges are joints
The brain is the center for communication
- Neurons provide a method of communication
- Axons carry signals between neurons
- Nerves are bundles of axons
- The brain is similar to a computer because both:
Generate complex patterns of output after analysis of input
Reference to stored information
- The brain controls and coordinates muscle contractions, which contributes to survival
- Sensory organs allow communication between stimuli of the environment and the brain
to allow appropriate movement to occur and only under the right circumstances
Purpose machine: behaves as if it had a conscious purpose
- Equipped with a measuring device to measure the discrepancy between the current
state of things and the desired state
- Larger discrepancies lead to harder working machine
Negative feedback system
- Goal of a machine: that state to which it tends to return
- Mahies ay see as though they hae a desire to aoplish a task (e.g. a missile
searching out its target)
- A programmer creating a computer that is able to play chess is similar to a feather
teaching his son to play.
The basic rules of the game and possibly some hints are outlined in terms of
mathematical equations, rather than verbally, but the introduction still remains
basic
When playing chess, both the child and the computer act on their own
The programmer sets up the computer with the instructions and then leaves it to
its own devices to play
Genes control the behaviour of survival machines indirectly, in the same way the computer
programmer does
- Instructions are built in and cannot be modified once put in place
- Influence is indirect due to time lag
Genes work by controlling protein synthesis, which is a slow process
Behaviour is fast
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