Monday, June 23, 2008

Video: Zimmer on the evolution of mind

Carl Zimmer is my second-favorite science journalist (after the incomparable Malcolm Gladwell) and embedded below (or click here) is an excellent talk he gave recently about the evolution of mind. While Zimmer doesn't really deal with human brain evolution directly, he does put it into a fascinating broader phylogenetic context. (Running time: 01:04:14; note: annoyingly, the audio breaks for about two minutes after ~00:13:00).

A quibble: Zimmer at one point implies that nerve cells are necessary for intelligence while explaining why bacteria don't learn. While it's true that bacteria don't learn (as far as I know), there was a remarkable report recently that amoebae learn. (Being eukaryotes, they're obviously far more complicated than bacteria, but they're still orders of magnitude less complex that C. elegans, Zimmer's example of a simple creature that can learn).

Some of the studies Zimmer refers to: "The Hidden Structure of Overimitation" (pdf) by Lyons et. al.; "Great ape DNA sequences reveal a reduced diversity and an expansion in humans" (pdf) by Kaessmann et. al. and "Evolution in the Social Brain" by Dunbar et. al.

(Hat tip: Neurophilosophy)

No comments:

Post a Comment