ART & ORGANISM 2020
TUESDAY March 3, 2020
Last week, Feb 25, these were IDEAS THAT STOOD OUT FOR YOU (from end-of-class check-in’s):
- Relative “awakeness” of dreams
- Mental disorders with no genetic or experiential influence?
- Does any part of our experience get “tossed”
- Brain exercise?
- Different kind of sweat
- Congenital traits relative to fetal testosterone exposure
- Birth order effects
- Ritual formation in athletes
- Autonomic reflexes
- Male / female sex differences affect what they find attractive in partners
- Natural selection versus sexual selection
- Developmental brain function effects on specific skills, is there a window?
REMINDER: NO CLASS MEETING MARCH 10.
REVISIT “BIAS”: you may recall a few weeks ago, speaking of bias, I mentioned the famous WEIRD study (“The weirdest people in the world?” Henrich et al. 2010: Click HERE). But NOW, look at this: (shared by Phil Regal on 1 March 2020: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/how-knowledge-about-different-cultures-is-shaking-the-foundations-of-psychology (The A&O webnotes on BIAS)
Of course biologists want to know more about how gender and gender preferences are formed during development — at another level, however (our A&O multi-level approach) how does GENDER affect perception?
More about THE BRAIN as CAUSE and CONSEQUENCE, REALITY and METAPHOR
The awesome—perhaps inconceivable complexity of the human brain
It is a nexus[i] and it serves in ART & ORGANISM as an anchor for discussions about how structure can serve function and Levels of Organization.
“A first step in understanding mind–brain mechanisms is to characterize what is known about the structure of the brain and its organizing principles. The brain is a complex temporally and spatially multiscale structure that gives rise to elaborate molecular, cellular, and neuronal phenomena  that together form the physical and biological basis of cognition. Furthermore, the structure within any given scale is organized into modules – for example anatomically or functionally defined cortical regions – that form the basis of cognitive functions that are optimally adaptable to perturbations in the external environment.” (Bassett & Gazzaniga 2011)[ii]
PLEIOTROPIC GENES, POLYGENIC TRAITS
One gene has multiple effects on traits;
each trait is affected by multiple genes.
- During development, relative influence of genes and environment –in our brain model, development begins about 2 weeks after conception and continues into young adulthood 20 years later. During the prenatal months it is largely under genetic control (although clearly the environment can play a role, such as in malnutrition (e.g., folic acid) or the presence of toxins (e.g., alcohol). BUT, much of brain development that occurs postnatally is experience-dependent and defined by gene– environment interactions.”[iii] https://neilgreenberg.com/ao-connections-in-the-brain/
- In their relative susceptibility to environmental influences, genetic programs are more-or-less “closed” (not easily influenced), while those that are more susceptible to their environments are “open.” (Mayr)
COMPETITION BETWEEN NEURONS (SfN image of the week)
LEFT BRAIN/RIGHT BRAIN
- Opened up topic with Jill Taylor’s experience (“My Stroke of Insight”) A mature woman’s loss of cerebral laterality, uniquely observable.
- Loss of laterality compensated if early enough (congenital) (A teenager is found to have been born with no left cerebral hemisphere. Click Here)
STRESS and SIGNALS
- CHRONIC STRESS: sustained, dominated by adrenal glucocorticoid hormones
- ACUTE STRESS: brief: rapid response dominated by adrenaline
- AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM:
(1) controls most reflexes that manifest coping behavior from maintenance of homeostasis through emergencies (fight/flight)
(2) controls signals associated with internal (embodied cognition) and external communications (ritualized signals)
REVIEW of CORE TENETS of NATURAL SELECTION and RITUALIZATION:
- Overproduction [individuals tend to produce as many offspring as possible]
- Stability [population size seems to remain stable from generation to generation in stable environments]
- Limited resources [there is not enough for everyone]
- Struggle for existence inferred
- Variability [offspring manifest varying traits]
- Heritability [traits are to some extent inherited]
- Differential survival (=Natural selection) inferred [some traits allow their bearers to produce more offspring than other individuals = be more fit]
- Evolution – Over many generations lead to changes in the frequencies of genes and thus the traits they code for (=evolution)
NOW, exemplary of the often circuitous paths of evolutionary change. AND for us as scientists interested in the communicative function of art.
The manner in which FRAGMENTS OF MOTOR PATTERNS and AUTONOMIC REFLEXES can be retasked (or dominated by) other functions are “RITUALIZED” are of particular interest
[i] A NEXUS is the most important place in a collection of connections . It comes from the Latin “nectere” (“to bind”), the same Latin root that gave rise to “connect.”
[ii] Danielle S. Bassett and Michael S. Gazzaniga (2011) Understanding complexity in the human brain. Trends Cogn Sci. 2011 May ; 15(5): 200–209. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2011.03.006.
[iv] Process philosophy — “also ontology of becoming, processism, or philosophy of organism identifies metaphysical reality with change. In opposition to the classical model of change as illusory (as argued by Parmenides) or accidental (as argued by Aristotle), process philosophy regards change as the cornerstone of reality—the cornerstone of being thought of as becoming.”