Consciousness/Evolution – Excelsior Writers | excelsiorwriters.com
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I have attached the Book for the entire course. I will advise of the chapters as below.
Chapters for week one
- Evolutionary Theories in Psychology The Nature-Nurture Question
- Epigenetics in Psychology
- The Nervous System
- The Brain
1) Let’s think about consciousness and the mind-brain problem (also called the mind-body problem):how are our conscious mind and physical brain related?Most neuroscientists believe that self-awareness and consciousness can be explained by the workings of the brain.One line of evidence that supports the role of the brain in consciousness are experiments with split-brain patients, which are described in “A Brain Divided” subsection in the NOBA “The Brain” chapter.You can see this for yourself in this Youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZnyQewsB_Y&feature=related(all links are optional reading/viewing).If you have the time, you may enjoy watching Dr. David Eagleman discuss the relationship of consciousness and the brain in this PopTech presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWBtT-Gl4vQ.
- Please provide your thoughts to the following the questions:Do you think it’s valid to assume that the brain is the basis for consciousness?Why do you think that the brain can explain consciousness?Or, do you think that consciousness has to be something beyond the physical brain?
- If the brain produces consciousness, then changes in the brain should result in changes in consciousness.The split brain patient experiments are just one example of this.What are some other examples that you can think of?On the other hand, how could our “mind” (thought, decisions, etc.) change our brain?
- Could consciousness require activity of a specific brain area, and if so which one?Some researchers think the insula (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/06/health/psychology/06brain.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1299007425-+Zp9RR4x3FvqyAopFE+jxQ) is an important area for consciousness, whereas others believe it is the integration of brain activity http://bmcneurosci.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2202-5-42that is important.
- What might coma http://www-users.med.cornell.edu/~jdvicto/pdfs/owscly09.pdf tell us about consciousness?(Don’t believe everything you see in movies, they’re not always scientifically accurate.)
Let’s think about evolution and the brain.Do bigger brains mean smarter animals?Not necessarily!Brain size has a lot to do with sensation and motor control of large bodies.Intelligence is related more to the amount of cortex within the brain, than to overall brain size.The cortex is a thin layer (about 3 mm thick) at the top of the cerebral hemispheres, and is folded and convoluted with many grooves (sulci and fissures) and ridges (gyri).See a summary of animal brain size here at “Neuroscience for Kids” http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/brainsize.html
Think about why the human cortex became larger through natural selection, but also consider how the world we live in today is quite different than that of our human ancestors.What we will evolve into is an open question that is compounded by technological influences, as discussed in this article. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7103668/ns/technology_and_science-science/
Please provide an answer the following discussion question (don’t worry, you can have fun speculating here – there is no “right” answer):
Today’s world is very different from that of ancient man.Given this new environment we live in, what might be one or two physical or psychological adaptations that might occur in humans, based on our experiences, environment, and needed skills to succeed in today’s world?In your answer, think about the role of natural selection, adaptation, survival, and sexual selection, and other concepts from the NOBA “Evolutionary Theories in Psychology” chapter.
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