How Behavior Reflects Evolution and the Brain
Discussion topic: Two questions arise from this week’s reading: How did behavior evolve? How are functions assigned to parts of the brain?
The evolution of behavior makes it hard to tie cause to effect. When the same behavior appears not only throughout a species but in some form in related species, we look for an evolutionary path to its development. The discovery of a genetic influence on the behavior and evidence that it is adaptive tends to confirm our suspicions. Yet genes do not directly cause behavior. As you read, think about how genes are connected to behavior.
Consider, too, that neurons acquire their function in behavior through their connections with other neurons. Behavior does not emerge from all neurons equally, but is often localized to specific brain regions. What does it mean to say that a behavior is “localized” or “hard-wired”?
Discussion 1 – How Behavior Reflects Evolution and the Brain
Step 1: Read https://psmag.com/social-justice/the-social-life-of-genes-64616 and https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/gene-environment-interaction/
Step 2: Address the following questions in discussion in one paragraph for each of the question items:
1. Much of our behavior is typical of the species yet individually different, even unique. Choose a specific form of one behavior, such as blinking, eating, or speaking, that probably evolved biologically but varies in different people. Suggest an explanation for its constancy in the species and its variability among individuals.
NOTE: You’ll have an easier time with tiny behaviors: a startle reflex, urination, or breathing. Feel free to take on larger traits like problem-solving and mate selection if you wish.
2. When we say that behavior is inherited, we mean that the behavior is influenced by our genes. How do our genes and the environment interact to guide behavior?