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1 Evolution Gaia Scerif Room 426, Ext. 67926 Office Hours: Thurs 12-2.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Evolution Gaia Scerif Room 426, Ext. 67926 Office Hours: Thurs 12-2."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Evolution Gaia Scerif Room 426, Ext Office Hours: Thurs 12-2

2 2 Outline Whystudy non-human animals?Why study non-human animals? Natural selection and evolutionNatural selection and evolution Brief history of human evolutionBrief history of human evolution Evolution of the human brainEvolution of the human brain Evolution of human behaviourEvolution of human behaviour

3 3 Non-human models: Insights from Comparative Neuroanatomy Similarities across species in brain structure and function allow the use of animal models to understand brain – behaviour relations Understanding mechanisms Models of neurological disorders Study of phylogeny (evolution) of the brain Particular species have advantages

4 4 Evolution by Natural Selection Darwinian theory: the characteristics of an organism have precise functions (e.g., camouflage) These are selected for (become more prevalent) if they allow the organism to survive and reproduce more successfully

5 5 Mechanisms of Natural Selection environment and genes Bases in environment and genes (more next week!) Accidental mutations ( = changes in genetics information) can alter mutants’ characteristics / behaviour Some have selective advantage

6 6 Human evolution: Timescale

7 7 Human evolution: Existing relatives

8 8 Human evolution: Timescale Evolution of Homo sapiens

9 9 Human Brain Evolution 1. increases in overall brain volume / body size ratio (Encephalization Quotient) … but size is not all 2. changes in neocortex size compared to other non-human animals (including other primates) 3. slow maturational processes (“neoteny”)

10 10 What makes us “uniquely human”? Theory of mind? Linguistic abilities? Culture? How did these evolve? Evolution of human behaviour

11 11 Cast your vote on: What makes us “uniquely human”? Theory of mind? Linguistic abilities? Culture? Other? Reasons? Next week: potential neural factors! “The Evolution Ballot”

12 12 What evolutionary pressures may have selected for uniquely human skills? Evolution of Cognitive Domains

13 13 Summary Whystudy non-human animals?Why study non-human animals? Insights into human brain and behaviour Natural selection and evolution:Natural selection and evolution: Darwinian theory Brief history of human evolutionBrief history of human evolution Evolution of the human brainEvolution of the human brain Evolution of human behaviourEvolution of human behaviour

14 14 Next Week: Genetics and Cognition Can genetic variability account for uniquely human cognitive processes?


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