Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The UA College of Science "Mind and Brain" lecture series that's been filling up Centennial Hall continues this evening with "The Making of a Mind," presented by LouAnn Gerken, a professor of psychology.
Here's a brief description:
We're all born with a brain, but when does our brain begin to construct a model of the world — a mind? Research now suggests that infants not only absorb a remarkable amount of information about the physical and social world, they also use this information much like scientists to make guesses about the structure of that world. By creating tentative models of different aspects of the world based on very small amounts of data, infants use their developing models to predict the behavior of objects, people and the world around them.
More info on the Mind and Brain series can be found here.
The above video is from the third lecture in the series, by Anna Dornhaus, an assistant professor of
ecology and evolutionary biology. It's fascinating stuff. A brief description:
What does anybody need a brain for? Brains are energetically expensive to make and to use, and susceptible to making mistakes. Accordingly, not learning, i.e. sticking to an innate or random strategy, is often the best thing to do. Still, humans and other animals display sophisticated learning and cognition. Recent research shows that each animal has specific learning abilities and lacks others according to its environment and evolutionary history. Understanding what different brains are used for can help us understand why they evolved.