PSYCH 112 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Enculturation, Bipedalism, Heredity

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21 Oct 2015
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Chapter 1 Notes
1. Our species’ unique degree of behavioral flexibility is made possible by a new kind of
mind
2. The human mind is itself the product of two interacting streams of heredity: one
biological—leading to an enlarged, reorganized, and hyper-energized brain
3. The human mind is itself the product of two interacting streams of heredity: one cultural
—leading to rapid adjustment to local material and social conditions via enculturation
Human advantages
- Bipedalism
oEnergetically efficient
- The hand
oPower grip (fingers and palm) AND precision grip (thumb and fingers)
- The mind
oBiggest advantage
o“the information-processing abilities of the human nervous system in its
environments”
Behavioral flexibility (flexibility we have in the ways in which we
approach goals) (is a computational phenomenon) allows us to advance
into a “cognitive niche”
Cognitive niche: we create a conceptual model of what
manipulations are necessary to achieve a goal in a situation
“surprise attacks”
Information
- exists in the physical world
- not a thing, but an arrangement
- “any difference that makes a difference”
- arrangement is the ultimate basis for the mind
Four properties of information
1. “Information is communicated by the contrast between what the signal is and what it
might have been but is not.”
2. “For a system to work by information processing, there has to be a signal and a receiver,
and—critically—the receiver must vary its behavior depending on the signal.”
3. “Because information is a relational property, it requires a certain level of organization,
and this organization can only be produced or maintained by the investment of energy”
4. “The kinds of information we will encounter are invariably layered, with one kind of
information being used to create subsequent kinds of information.”
a. Print info creates word info which creates text info
Hereditary information
- DNA
oCreates genotypic info to code for an organism’s phenotype
oConsists of A or T or G or C
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