Questions tagged [evolution]

For questions about the interaction of biological (or artificial) evolution and the cognitive agents that are influenced by it.

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94
votes
6answers
30k views

Why do humans have sex in private?

Human couples usually have sex in private, hidden not only from predators, but also - other humans. It is unlike behavior of most species, including our relatives: bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas. ...
26
votes
3answers
5k views

Is the Neanderthal Theory of Autistic brain a reasonable scientific theory?

I've recently learned about The Neanderthal Theory, that explains autistic (and especially Asperger's) brain functioning as the effect of genetical similarity with Neanderthals. The author gives a ...
26
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2answers
8k views

How is intelligence correlated to beauty?

Recently, I read several interesting questions on the web about the relationship between IQ and general intelligence and physiological symmetry. But more importantly, what explains the correlation? Or ...
23
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4answers
4k views

Why is the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard so intolerable?

I am curious as to what current research shows regarding why scraping noises such as fingernails on a chalkboard, a knife/fork scraping against a plate, metal grinding against metal or stone etc are ...
23
votes
1answer
551 views

Development of social cognition as an alternative to the obstetrical dilemma

Human infants are strange in that they are born more helpless than the infants of other great apes. They are born with about 25-30% of their brain developed, compared to the 40-50% of other great apes....
21
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2answers
3k views

Why does neuroplasticity decrease in adults?

Although adult brains are malleable and even undergo limited neuorgenesis, the extent of the neuroplasticiy is much lower than in children. This is most obvious in language acquisition, and recovery ...
20
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1answer
673 views

Evolutionary game theory in the cognitive sciences

Game theory models something very relevant to psychologists (in particular social psychologists): conflict and cooperation between decision-makers. Unfortunately, classical game theory demands that ...
16
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3answers
12k views

Body Language: Why do we give each other the grumpy/frowning fake smile?

I've recently become aware of this - I kinda knew I was always doing it, but just now it got me self conscious and thinking about it: When crossing paths with a stranger, you are supposed to be ...
16
votes
1answer
880 views

Cultural brain hypothesis and gene-culture co-evolution

Recently, Joseph Henrich of UBC has been promoting his cultural brain hypothesis. The goal is to explain a selection pressure behind the development of the human brain and general intelligence. The ...
15
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2answers
1k views

What can we learn from the neural networks of C.elegans to understand human brains?

Recently I am reading some works about Caenorhabditis Elegans. A C.elegans has 302 neurons and we already know the function and connection of every one of their neurons so that we can exactly ...
15
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2answers
6k views

Why do humans prefer symmetrical arrangement of objects?

Most of the times, we associate symmetry with beauty. The symmetry may be in architectural/interior design for instance. Why would this be so ?
14
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1answer
1k views

What are biological primary mathematical skills?

In doing a bit of background reading for this question I came across a section in the book Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind on page 602 stating: There are no sex-related differences ...
14
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1answer
2k views

Why do humans like being touched?

Why do people like to be touched so much, why would it make sense from a evolutionary perspective. I know people enjoy hugs and company of opposite sex, but even people from the same sex hug and ...
13
votes
3answers
858 views

What is the status of evolutionary psychology in academia today?

Having an interest in human psychology (but no formal training) I decided to take Coursera's Introduction to Psychology as a Science. Here's a snippet from an introductory lecture (it requires signup,...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

What makes someone attractive psychologically?

What makes a person particularly attractive to another person, specifically the opposite sex? Why would the brain evolve this trait to target specific genes (that make someone look pretty), and ...
12
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4answers
945 views

Why do humans cry?

People cry when they experience intense emotions. Crying seems to occur most frequently in intense episodes of sadness and fear, but sometimes also happens when people are very happy or angry. What is ...
11
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4answers
7k views

Why do humans need emotions?

If the emotions' only purpose is to stimulate certain behavior, why can't this task just as effectively, or even more effectively be done by the reasoning part of the brain? Are emotions really ...
11
votes
4answers
406 views

Can experience alter one's preferences for beauty?

My friend (a woman) is convinced that all men who find those posters of "women scantily clad in their bathing suits or thongs and big breasts (often fake)" attractive are simply brainwashed by society....
11
votes
1answer
381 views

Why are most people right handed?

How did right handedness win over left handedness in numbers? Is it only a coincidence that there are more right handed people than left handed ones? Or, has some effect in nature explicitly made ...
11
votes
1answer
144 views

How similar are human brains within the same haplogroup?

I've read about neuroscience and listen to talks like this one Juan Enriquez: Will our kids be a different species, I'm starting to realize that humans are not all the same, and are instead quite ...
10
votes
5answers
912 views

Does an exceptional working memory inhibit intelligence?

According to the Fox News article "Chimps Smarter Than Humans in Memory Test" chimps were able to significantly outperform humans in a simple working memory task. I quote one part of the article in ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Non coitus sexual activity and the brain

Most animals will only engage in sexual activity that can result in reproduction. There are some exceptions; Bonobos, for instance, engage in a lot of sexual activity that does not involve coitus. ...
10
votes
1answer
216 views

How does evolution help in Minsky's theory of a resourceful mind?

I've read Minsky's book The Emotion Machine, where he explains how the mind can be seen as a set of resources interacting and self-interacting based on several levels of change. The explanation is in ...
9
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3answers
2k views

what is the reptile brain?

As a Carl Sagan fan, I remember (in Cosmos TV shoe) "territoriality, aggression and ritual" are products of the reptile brain while higher-level stuff like loyalty, planning for future are mammalian, ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Is an avoidance of incest/inbreeding learned or instinctive?

Is the natural avoidance of incest something that is learned or is the human brain programmed by instinct to have a negative response to incest? This of course would have an evolutionary advantage and ...
9
votes
1answer
122 views

How is epigenetic memory expressed in neurons?

Epigenetic memory is seen as the most evolutionarily plausible way of learning from experiences and gaining instinctual knowledge accross generations, as established by the answer to one of my ...
8
votes
1answer
446 views

Why baby animals seem "cute" to us?

I understand why babies seem cute to us from an evolutionary point of view: They need our protection and love to grow, so it's beneficial for them to look good for us, or at least their parents, since ...
7
votes
2answers
674 views

Is procrastination greater when skill is low and rewards offer low status boost and does this lead to efficient task allocation in groups?

I am very interested in procrastination, because it is such a clear sign of lack of motivation. I have a hypothesis about why we procrastinate, which I would like to get tested by you. The assumption ...
7
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1answer
2k views

Where does instinctual knowledge come from?

From Wikipedia: Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The example that I find is the easiest to touch upon is the ...
7
votes
1answer
774 views

Is there a (evolutionary) purpose of self-pity?

I stumbled across the quote from Charlie Munger; Generally speaking, envy, resentment, revenge and self-pity are disastrous modes of thought, self-pity gets pretty close to paranoia, and paranoia ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What causes gender differences in responses to farting?

Background: By casual observation, I have noticed that males tend to react differently to the sound of a fart. It seems that men are more likely to laugh whereas women are more likely to show signs of ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Neurotransmitters appearance in the evolutionary process

Recently I disagreed with the assumption, that lots of neurotransmitters came within recent 10,000 years of Homo Sapiens evolution. Judging from the available information sources, there is possibility ...
5
votes
2answers
82 views

Cerebellum question

Sorry if this sounds at all like pretentious armchair theorizing(it basically is), but I have a question which I can't really figure out how to search. So, given the resemblance of the cerebellum to ...
5
votes
1answer
494 views

Desire to climb from evolutionary perspective?

When I go near a hill or dune, I feel desire to climb there and have a wider look on the surroundings. I know a lot of people who love mountains and want to climb higher and higher, but never have ...
5
votes
1answer
174 views

Can new emotions be created or discovered?

Related: Are there emotions that only some people can feel? Is there any known observed or theoretical process by which new emotions could be observed or discovered? Although one may argue over the ...
5
votes
1answer
93 views

Counterfactual thinking and the origin of language

I want to apologize in advance for my dearth of knowledge concerning cognitive science research and history, I'm an AI student. I've been reading up on cognitive science/linguistics literature mostly ...
5
votes
0answers
71 views

Is it conceivable that even basic human behavior is genetically determinined only to a very limited extent?

I'm wondering whether even basic human behavior (beyond what appears to be directly wired into our nervous systems, like swallowing and face-related mirror neurons) are indeed facilitated by ...
5
votes
0answers
48 views

Evolution of laughter

In one of his books (cannot recall title now) Konrad Lorentz (ethology study) describes the phenomenon of the appearance of a friendly smile as a spontaneous inversion of a warning grin. He does not ...
5
votes
0answers
147 views

How are sexual cues known by the brain?

Sexual cues have been well established in evolutionary psychology as indicators of genetic compatibility/useful genes. How does the human brain know that a cue is an indicator of a useful trait in ...
5
votes
0answers
187 views

Theories of Hunter/Gatherers in the 21st Century [closed]

Are there any theories or schools of thought that assume most humans still act as if they are still hunters/gatherers? Hunter/gatherer societies of today would still prefer to sit around and talk ...
5
votes
0answers
140 views

What evolutionary process(es) are thought to have enabled humans to experience dreams?

As some theories suggest, most, if not all, biological features in organisms exist due to environmental factors that trigger the organism's eventual adaptation to these factors for survival purposes. ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

Why are some people attracted to people of other races?

Is it true that we were evolved to dislike people of other races genetically? If so, why are some people attracted to people of races other than their own?
4
votes
0answers
1k views

Is "hate towards weakness/inferiority" a general and innate human characteristic?

It is obvious that human beings on many occasions consider others to be inferior, whether this relates to specific individuals, or to groups. However, it also seems to me that humans very often feel ...
4
votes
0answers
106 views

When did neurotransmitters derived from monoamines first appear in evolutionary history? [closed]

When did neurotransmitters derived from monoamines first appear in evolutionary history? What are main the points in evolution for monoamines based on the neurotransmitter system ? Edition I'm ...
4
votes
0answers
98 views

Why do we seem to have an internal drive to use different expressions(mostly when writing)? [closed]

How come we have so many words/phrases that share the same meaning? I suppose the most obvious answer to this would be that through communication between people with accent/language A and B, new ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Do people like those who are similar to them and why?

Questions Is it true that people 'like' those who are similar to them? Why is it so? Is there an evolutionary explanation?
3
votes
3answers
428 views

How did the unique features of human intelligence evolve?

I have been debating the following topic with a friend. She argues that humans do not descend from chimpanzees or orang-utans, because if we did, such animals would share the same cognitive thinking ...
3
votes
1answer
897 views

Why did humans develop the "sense of humour"? [closed]

Speaking from the point of view of evolutionary psychology, is there any research that demonstrates why a 'sense of humor' may be a part of our mental mechanisms? Does research show that it is a way ...
3
votes
1answer
251 views

What explains the relative importance of physical versus mental features in human mate selection?

I assume that it is the brain that has put human beings at the top of the food chain (Biped and opposable thumbs aside). Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest suggest that the best specimens of ...
3
votes
1answer
725 views

Why are children afraid of the dark?

Why are children afraid of the dark, in particular more afraid than adults? Is it an evolutionary mechanism? What causes this?