I See Psychology… Everywhere

Paul Allen’s New 3-D Brain Map

This is pretty impressive. Paul Allen (the almost-richest-man-in-the-world Gates collaborator) has launched an amazing new 3-D brain map that can give you information about the brain based on a specific gene that you enter. It’s based on scans of a mouse brain, but the researchers are confident that we’ll enhance our understanding of the human brain through their work.

via BoingBoing


27 September 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Evolutionary Psychology, Physiological | Leave a comment

Evolutionary Psychology and Music

survival.jpgFascinating article in the Boston Globe about the debate over why music has endured for so long as an important part of culture. I don’t know enough about the issues to have a position, but there are some compelling arguments about just why music is so central to our species.

Hat tip: Edward Pollack

20 September 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Evolutionary Psychology, Social | Leave a comment

Social Psychology in Bacteria

I recently heard a fascinating story on NPR of what one might call the social psychology of bacteria.  As Dr. Bonnie Bassler has demonstrated, bacteria seem to wait until they exist in a critical mass to do what they do.  Whether it’s to emit color, damage host cells, or whatever, they seem to recognize (on some level anyway) that they are pretty impotent individually, but in groups, they can have a pretty major impact on their world.

As lagniappe, Dr. Bassler’s comments about her life and lab illustrate a number of other principles, such as the impostor phenomenon, similarity and attraction, and a pessimistic explanatory style.  For example, she says that her students are similar to her in that when they find an exciting result, their immediate response is to wonder what they’ve done wrong.  Such impressive work; have a listen!

19 September 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Research, Social | Leave a comment

Newborn Monkeys Imitate Human Facial Expressions

Interesting article on the early-learned imitations that monkeys have been exhibiting.

via BoingBoing

6 September 2006 Posted by | Comparative | Leave a comment

Evolution’s Rainbow and Homosexual Animals

Evolution's RainbowThis book, Evolution’s Rainbow, by Joan Roughgarden of Stanford, documents homosexual activity among non-human animals. Of course it’s a little controversial, but some persuasive arguments.

4 August 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Stereotyping, Prejudice, & Discrimination | Leave a comment

Chimp Plays Ms. Pac Man

Here‘s a YouTube video of a chimp playing Ms. Pac Man. How much of its behavior is strictly operant conditioning, vs. a more cognitive response?

via Neatorama

4 August 2006 Posted by | Comparative, Learning | Leave a comment