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PSYC 3530 (13)
Guy Proulx (13)

2. Origins of the Human Brain and Behavior.pdf

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York University
PSYC 3530
Guy Proulx

2. Origins of the Human Brain and Behavior Monday, September 9, 20133:14 PM Species Comparison • Human language may derive from more-primitive forms of communication used by human ancestors • Kanzi, like all of us humans, belongs to the primate order, a group of animal families that includes lemurs, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes, all having diverged from a common ancestor • Cladogram-- a graph that shows the relative time of origin of various closely related groups ○ • In the past 5 million to 8 million years, hominids, our humanlike ancestors, diverged from this ancestral ape lineage by acquiring characteristics that distinguished them from other apes • Genes are the functional units that control the transmission and expression of traits from one generation to the next • Three primary lines of research drive neuropsychological investigations with animals: ○ (1) understanding basic brain mechanisms  The differences in the structure of the eye and the nervous system in different animal species are the products of slight alterations, called mutations, in genes such as Pax and in the way in which the products of those genes interact with the products of other genes ○ (2) designing animal models of human neurological disorders  The second goal of comparative research is to design animal models of human neurological disorders so that research about the disorders can take place on animal subjects ○ (3) describing the phylogenetic (evolutionary) development of the brain  Experiments with rats, cats, rhesus monkeys, and other mammals permit inferences about how the environment in which each species lived shaped its evolution, brain, and behavior  Because mammalian species are related, commonalities tell us what humans inherited in common with other mammals and, especially, with the species in our own primate lineage  Differences in the brains and behaviors of different species are sources of insight into how species and individual differences arose • To conduct comparative investigations from a phylogenetic perspective, researchers choose species that constitute what William Hodos and C.B.G. Campbell term a quasi-evolutionary sequence, a hypothetical sequence of animals that represent consecutive stages in evolutionary history Human Origins • Our knowledge about human origins began in 1859 with Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection • The evolution of humans from an ape ancestor to Homo sapiens is not linear; The hominid family tree is a bush: for most of its history, many family members were alive at the same time • The three general lines of research through which scientists attempt to reconstruct the story of human evolution are archeological, biochemical and genetic, and behavioral • Neanderthals probably communicated by using language and held religious beliefs • The relatedness of different species can also be determined by comparing their deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the genetic material in the nucleus of the cell • As progress in describing the genome, the full set of genes of a species, improves, an ideal description of human evolution would include information on what genetic modifications led to the evolution of modern humans • Investigators agree that four gener
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