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Chapter 2

Biopsychology Chapter 2.docx

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Chapter 2: Evolution, Genetics, and Experience Thinking about the biology of behaviour: from dichotomies of interactions Zeitgeist: the general intellectual climate of our climate Cartesian dualism: the idea that the human brain and the mind are separate entities Is it inherited or is it learned? Nature vs. Nurture Most psychologists are committed to the nurture part of n v. n John B. Watson, the father of behaviourism, states that there is no real evidence of the behavioural traits This started experimental psychology taking root in North America But in Europe, this was around when ethology emerged: the study of animal behaviour in nature European ethology focused on instinctive behaviours, unlike North American ethology. This emphasised the role of nature in behavioural development Nature vs. Nurture (physiological -or -psychological) criticisms: Many demonstrations show that even the most complex psychological changes can be produced by damage to, or stimulation of, the brain The man who fell out of bed: Oliver Sacks is a patient suffering from asomatognosia (a deficiency in the awareness of parts of ones own body) Usually consists of the left side of the body due to damage to the right parietal lobe Some nonhuman species, particularly primate species, have abilities that were thought to be confined to the human mind. The case of chimps in mirrors: G. G. Gallups research on self-awareness in chimpanzees shows that chimps show self-awareness. Neural development Neurons become active long before they are fully developed The subsequent course of their development (if they survive, number of connections, etc.) depends greatly on their activity, much of which is triggered by external experience Experience continuously modifies genetic expression Behaviour is a product of three factors: 1. Genetic endowment (a product of evolution) 2. Experience 3. Perception of the current situation Part 1: Human Evolution Darwins theory of evolution: Not the first to propose that we evolve (undergo gradual orderly change), but first with lots of supporting evidence. 3 main kinds of arguments: 1. Documented evolution of fossil records through progressively more recent geological layers 2. Described striking structural similarities among living species, suggesting that we evolved from a common ancestor 3. Pointed out the changes in animal and plants over selective breeding Most importantly, he observed and tracked the evolution of finches on the Galapagos Islands Natural selection- the heritable traits that are associated with high rates of survival and reproduction are the most likely to be passed on to future generations Fitness- the ability of an organism to survive and contribute its genes to the next generation Scientific theory- an explanation that provides the best current account of some phenomenon based on the available evidence Social Dominance The males of many species establish a stable hierarchy of social dominance through combative encounters with other males This is important so that the dominant males are the ones that pass down their genes to contribute to a stronger offspring than the lower-ranking males would produce Courtship Display Thought to promote the evolution of new species Species: a group of organisms that is reproductively isolated from other organisms A new species can be formed by geographic isolation But, a species can also form via a behavioural barrier, such as differing courtship displays Course of Human Evolution Evolution of Vertebrates Complex multi-cellular water-dwelling organisms appeared 600 million years (my) ago (mya) About 150my later, chordates evolved Chordate- animals with dorsal nerve cells (large nerves that run along the centre of the back, or dorsum) 25my later, chordates with spinal bones to protect their dorsal nerve cords evolved, called vertebrates First, there were only primitive bony fish, then 7 classes of vertebrates: 3 classes of fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals Amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders) 410mya fish ventured out of water 400mya fins and gills evolved into legs and lungs to make the first amphibians Amphibians must stay in water during larval form; only adults can survive on land Reptiles (lizards, snakes, turtles) 300mya the first reptiles evolved from amphibians First vertebrates to lay shell-covered eggs and be covered in dry scales Can live its whole life out of water, but spend the first stage of life in a watery environment Scales help reduce water loss to allow terrestrial life Mammals 180mya, in the height of the dinosaurs, mammals evolved The females feed their young with mammary glands and eventually stopped laying eggs to nurture the young in a water environment within the body There are 20 orders of mammals, we belong to the primate order Primates Apes (gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees) Evolved from a line of Old-World monkeys Have long arms, grasping hind feet specialised for arborea
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