The Evolving Human Brain
EVOLUTION AND THE BRAIN It has long been appreciated that there is something about the human brain that makes it unique amongst other primates and mammals in general. Dr. Greg Downey and Dr. Daniel Lende explore how and why the human brain has evolved the way that it has in Chapter 4 of The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology. The authors are well-qualified to provide an overview on this topic as both have a wealth of publications in this area, as well as being leaders in the development of the field of Neuroanthropology. SIZE MATTERS What makes a human brain unique? Is it simply the sheer size of it? Well, no. Anyone who has visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York City can clearly see that the enormous blue whale hanging from the ceiling has a... read more ❯
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Cognition, learning, and evolution in human and non-human primates Primate Social Cognition, Human Evolution, and Niche Construction The old image of a human evolving from an ape by gradually getting more upright is a common way to portray the concept of evolution, even though the imagery portrays a slightly incorrect concept: humans did not evolve “from apes,” modern day humans and modern day non-human primates evolved from a common ancestor. While this distinction may seem semantic, it’s important to note because the study of modern non-human primates is not quite exactly the same as peering back into our own evolutionary history. It can, however, still offer incredible insights into the overall evolution of our species, especially when it comes to cognition and learning, and offers clues as to how our species’ brain evolved the way it did. That is, studying cognition across the Primate order... read more ❯
Learning to cook: both fun and vital
I have enjoyed cooking since I was little watching my mom cook as I stood by on a step stool. Cooking and baking allow me to take seemingly random ingredients, form them together, and make something (usually) tasty. It has always been exciting to me to find new recipes and make them while adding my own touches. Cooking allows me to be expressive and creative while also serving a vital purpose, which is to feed myself. I began taking an interesting in cooking because I enjoyed being in the kitchen with my mom. As I grew older and more capable, I was expected to be able to contribute to making meals for the family. It became important to me to learn to cook properly so that I could make meals my family would enjoy eating. Cooking brought me joy and eating yummy food was always a plus. I have been involved with... read more ❯
A Teenager Who Knits?
Hello, my name is Megan Hill and I am an aspiring biological anthropologist who has found herself enrolled in this one of a kind course at the best university in the South (Roll Tide). Two major parts of my childhood are the prime influences for the topic of this post today. The first one is that while I was growing up, my mom and I would stay up late watching true crime shows such as forensic files, snapped, and cold case files. These shows had a major impact on how I saw the world and ended up shaping the kind of person that I would be. No I don't mean that I'm a psycho who's obsessed with death or anything like that. I mean that I wasn't easily scared or grossed out by blood or the mere idea of death. I saw the field of forensics and homicide investigation as... read more ❯
Art and Neuroscience, or Two Halves Tied
Hi, I’m Kat, and I spend a lot of time thinking about art and sociocognitive theory. I’ve been painting and drawing since I was very, very small. It used to be one of the first things people learned about me, but now it’s one of the last. I see art as intrinsically tied to science, which may be why I took so much of both in college. To me, understanding one helps you understand the other. I like making things that make people feel things. To me, the art in itself is the transmission of feeling the object elicits. Synapses firing gracefully, elevated, as your eyes cross the surface of the painting, studying the peaks and waves. The things I tend to make are a combination of elegant and visceral. I think about why we're driven to create things with little purpose except decoration, and perhaps narration. And why I,... read more ❯
Get Comfortable being Uncomfortable
Hi, I'm Lauren and I'm always trying to push my own limits. I'm a senior working towards a B.S. in Psychology with minors in music and philosophy with a mind and brain concentration. My whole life is dedicated to making myself uncomfortable, because that's how we grow as people. In high school, I was really shy and awkward and trying to blend in as much as possible. Really nothing special and really ok with it. But one day my band director (the whole shy and awkward thing definitely lends itself to being a band nerd, trust me) bestowed on... read more ❯
Flowing Down Mountains
I grew up in Durango, Colorado, and completed my bachelor's degree in Boulder, CO, and master's degree in Fort Collins, CO. Snow and mountains are in my blood. My parents joke that I've been skiing since I was three months old, when my dad would ski with me tucked into the front of his jacket. Alpine skiing, telemark skiing, and backcountry skiing have been some of my main hobbies throughout my life. Some of the reasons for this include community, being in nature, and enjoyable exercise, but the main reason that I enjoy skiing is because it puts me in a state of "flow." The concept of flow, pioneered by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is a state in which an individual is focused and fully absorbed in some task, generally one that is both challenging and rewarding (2014). Organized by Tinbergen's four questions, there are a number of reasons why behaviors leading... read more ❯
Playing With Play-Doh: The Reemergence of a Childhood Pastime
Hello, my name is Abbie, and I'm a senior at UA. I'm majoring in Biology and Spanish with a minor in Anthropology. My hobbies tend to lean more towards the arts: playing flute, painting, drawing, and perhaps the least popular amongst our age group, sculpting with Play-Doh. Commonly thought of as an easy arts and crafts activity for young children, using play-doh has quickly become a valuable hobby as I’ve grown older. Opposite to most, I seem to have grown into this habit instead of abandoning it with age. I find that it has stress-relieving and relaxing properties and provides a creative outlet to relieve any frustrations or anxieties. This particular hobby had a fairly uneventful beginning. Walking through a Target store one day, I walked by a display of Play-Doh and spontaneously decided to purchase a few tubs, recalling how... read more ❯
Monika Wanis - Why I like extreme sports!
Hi! My name is Monika Wanis, I am a second year Biocultural Medical anthropology graduate student. I am originally from Cairo, Egypt but have lived in Columbus, Ohio for the past 20 years. I attended The Ohio State University for my undergraduate degree in Anthropology, Psychology, Integrative Medicine and Neuroscience. I speak Arabic, English, Spanish, and Russian. I am also currently a TA for 2 sections of Cultural Anthropology. My favorite hobby is doing any extreme sport. I went skydiving on August 27th of this year for the second time for my birthday! According to Tinbergen's 4 Questions Why, here is why I like extreme sports: Proximate Causes Mechanism - Physiologically, extreme sports often involve behaviors that increase your heart rate and produce a surge in hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. These... read more ❯
Red or Green?
I was born and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It’s hard to pick out what I miss most about this gorgeous little city nestled in the desert. Perhaps it’s the overwhelming friendliness--the way that people aren’t afraid to joke and laugh with total strangers. Maybe it’s the 350 days of sunshine a year and the blissful ability to perceive the 70's as brisk weather. Or, it might just be that little green pepper, the one that tastes like pure happiness and instantly transports me back home--Hatch green chile. I am about to make a claim that will sound utterly ridiculous to most people and completely mundane to any New Mexican: My favorite hobby is tracking down and consuming Hatch green chile. [caption id="attachment_724" align="alignright"... read more ❯