Somewhere between single-celled organisms and human beings, brains evolved. Just why and how is still shrouded in mystery. Continue reading
She’s checking out your on-line profile.
“I am a scientist who enjoys bird watching and canoeing.”
“Interesting!” she thinks.
Then she scrolls to the next profile; also a scientist:
“I enjoy white water kayaking, and I study alligators in the wild.”
She passes on you with your canoe, and in eager anticipation sends the kayaker an electronic “wink.”
This, according to a study by psychologist John Petraitis, is what most women will do, but why?
In nature, we find many examples of animals that favor mates with a certain set of features. In some cases, such sexual selection leads to impressive changes to the morphology of animals through the course of evolution, such as the enormous and colorful tail of peacocks, deployed during courtship. When choosing a partner for reproduction, animals are facing an important dilemma. On the one hand, some of the characteristics of their potential mate may truly indicate the quality of their genes – they may somehow correlate with how good of an offspring can be expected from mating with them. Continue reading
Before I started doing research on social interactions, I worked on the control of locomotor movements and respiration in an aquatic animal, the lamprey. One of the questions that always intrigued me is how the nervous system of this animal controls steering movements, how it makes lampreys turn left or right. It may appear like a trivial problem: to go left, they just have to orient the body slightly to the left and continue performing the propulsive movements. But it is not as simple. The problem comes when you realize that the muscles involved in steering are the very muscles involved in straightforward locomotion – and some of them might be busy when the animal decides to turn. Continue reading
(Minor spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen The LEGO Movie)
It is always interesting when an academic debate in philosophy coincides with the release of a blockbuster movie on the same issue. In the last couple of months, a series of texts and comments on free will and moral responsibility were published by some prominent psychologists and philosophers, including Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Paul Bloom, Jerry Coyne, as well as Tamler Sommers and David Pizarro. Meanwhile The LEGO Movie, a clever allegorical metaphor on freedom and creativity, generated 69 million dollars within its first opening weekend in cinemas. Continue reading
NEURO.tv starts the season with an amazing discussion with Katherine L. Bryant about the visual cortex in primates and the anatomical differences found between the brains of different primates. Continue reading
In this episode, we look at the extraordinary evolutionary history of the genes related to the synapse which were present even before the evolution of neurons. Our guest is Kenneth S. Kosik from UCSB. Continue reading