Category Archives: Anthropology

CARTA: Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind

745The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) brings together top researchers from around the world to explore and explain the origins of the human phenomenon. This fall at the Salk Institute, they gathered to discuss, Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind. 

The phrase “Theory of Mind” (ToM) has historically referred to the ability to impute mental states to oneself and others, but has been used in a variety of ways during the 35 years since the original Premack and Woodruff paper (1978). The analysis of ToM has been the subject of many papers in developmental psychology and in anthropogeny, the latter focusing on differences in mental performance between humans versus other mammals and birds. Because precise definition is necessary for rigorous scientific analysis, the first talk will focus on what ToM is. The rest of the talks will cover the Ontogeny of Human ToM, relevant information on other mammals and birds, and the neuronal correlates and mechanisms of human ToM performance.

Excerpt from CARTA 

25934The symposium begins with the topic of human brain development: What is Theory of Mind?, Emergence of Theory of Mind in Human Babies, and The Social Brain in Adolescence. Ralph Adolphs, professor of psychology and neuroscience and professor of biology at Caltech, offers his working definition of Theory of Mind. Next, with a little help from a clip of  cult classic The Princess Bride, Jessica Sommerville of the University of Washington delves into the topic of Emergence of Theory of Mind in Human Babies. Lastly, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of University College London goes over the hilariously awkward topic of The Social Brain in Adolescence.

25935In the next hour the focus shifts to animals; “Mind Reading” in Chimpanzees, Comparing Apes and Dogs, and Reflections of Dolphin and Elephant Minds. Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University shares his extensive research on chimpanzees, including videos and a live demonstration of their “language.” He is followed by Comparing Apes and Dogs with Juliane Kaminski of the UK University of Portsmouth. Diana Reiss of Hunter College, CUNY wraps up the talk on other species with Reflections of Dolphin and Elephant Minds.

25936The symposium concludes by taking a closer look into our brains with, What Makes Humans Different?, Brain Imaging Studies, and Mirror Neurons and More. Elizabeth Spelke, professor of psychology at Harvard University argues that human’s combinatorial minds make us different from other species. Followed by fellow Harvard professor, Jason Mitchell, and his research on Brain Imaging Studies. Michael Arbib of the University of Southern California ends the day on the notion that Mirror Neurons and More give us the ability to “put oneself in the other’s shoes.”

Airing on UCTV April 2014; CARTA will host Birth to Grandmotherhood: Childrearing in Human Evolution at UC San Diego.

Head to www.ucsd.tv/carta for a full list of CARTA programs.

Join the conversation @UCTelevision, @salkinstitute, #CARTA

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Behaviorally Modern Humans: Interbreeding with Archaic Humans

There are many theories as to how humans evolved to who we are today.

Fossils tell us that there once existed many human-like species, such as the Neanderthals, that had similar yet archaic skull shapes. Some people believe that there was just one ancestor of our modern species who evolved into the species we are today — but that straightforward trajectory seems too simple to be evolutionarily possible. Another theory suggests that there were many variations of our ancestors, but whose lineages did not persist as ours did. Eventually, modern humans replaced those sub-human species — but not before our ancestors interbred with them to create the variations of humans we have today.

In this episode of the latest CARTA series, Behaviorally Modern Humans: The Origins of Us, Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum of London takes us through his analysis of the fossil record to present his theory on how humans and our ancestors evolved and dominated the globe. Then, Michael Hammer from the University of Arizona discusses the possibility of interbreeding of human subspecies to create the species known as modern humans. Followed by Richard “Ed” Green of UC Santa Cruz who also talks about the possibility of interbreeding, but with species even outside of Africa.

Watch “Behaviorally Modern Humans: Interbreeding with Archaic Humans” to see what you really know about your family history.

Don’t miss other episodes in this new series!

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New Series! Behaviorally Modern Humans: The Origin of Us

This latest CARTA series, Behaviorally Modern Humans, the Origin of Us, explores the questions of when, where and how humans evolved into the modern species we are today and what set us apart from the other human species on the planet that we replaced.

This first episode in the series, African Climate of the Last 400,000 Years, East African Archaeological Evidence, and South African Archaeological Evidence examines the latest evidence from multiple disciplines to answer these questions about our origins.

First, Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution introduces an analysis of the climate in which our ancient ancestors lived 400,000 years ago in Africa. His talk is followed by Alison S. Brooks of George Washington University and the Smithsonian Institution, who discusses what archaeological evidence can tell us about our past in East Africa. Then, Lyn Wadley from University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg discusses what clues are hidden in the archaeological finds of South Africa.

See what you might learn about your history and stay tuned for more episodes in this series!

Discover more anthropology videos from UCTV.

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The Psychology of War Criminals

What does it mean to be evil?

When considering the evil events in history, the Holocaust remains one of the most notorious.

Dr. Joel Dimsdale, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, began his work 40 years ago studying survivors of Nazi concentration camps, uncovering strategies of coping that helped these victims survive. However, after a visit from a Nuremberg executioner, Dimsdale began to study the perpetrators of these crimes instead.

In “The Anatomy of Malice: Rorschach Results from Nuremberg War Criminals,” Dimsdale searches for the answers to questions like: How could the Nazi’s do what they did? Were they criminally insane? Psychopaths? Suffering from delusions, or some other mental disorder?

In this presentation, part of the Holocaust Living History Workshop, Dimsdale examines archival data of Rorschach ink blot tests administered at the Nuremberg trial in an attempt to uncover those answers.

Watch other programs on history and the Holocaust on UCTV.

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Presidential Predictions

The presidential election is over, but there is still a lot to be learned from the votes.

A panel of experts comprised by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies analyzes President Obama’s re-election and what it can tell us about the President’s second term.

Was this election a demand for Obama’s return or was it merely a rejection of Republican candidate Mitt Romney? Obama won with a smaller majority then he did in his first election. Is this a reflection of the president’s leadership in his first term? Can we expect changes in his policy?

Find out the answers and more in “Four More Years: Obama’s Re-Election and the Prospects for a Second Term: 32nd Annual Review of the Presidency.”

Check out these videos about national issues and politics to learn more.

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