Tag Archives | Nature vs. Nurture

Animal Study Suggests That Ancestral Fears Cause Brain Changes

Skibbereen_by_James_Mahony,_1847Is it possible that you fear something for no other reason beyond that your grandfather feared it as well?

Via BBC:

A new study published in Nature Neuroscience has shown that rats taught to fear a certain smell could pass that fear onto their offspring.

Marcus Pembrey, emeritus professor of paediatric genetics, says it has implications for our understanding of the “nature versus nurture” debate.

Prof Pembrey told the Today programme “sperm can carry information about the ancestral environment or experiences, in this case the conditioning shocks of the grandfather.”

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Racism May Not Be “Natural” (But Being an Asshole Is)

From "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Brain scans have shown that when people see faces of other races, their amygdalas light up like home security systems.  Some tout this as evidence of hardwired racial bias, evolved to keep the oddly colored “other” out of home territory.  But as Robert Wright points out in this recent article, there would be few opportunities for interracial conflict in our geographically dispersed evolutionary past.  The “other” would primarily be distinguished by different visual cues such as tribal emblems, because hostile neighboring tribes would generally be of the same race.

More recent brain scan experiments done on children show that, like menstrual cramps and unstoppable boners, neurological race rage doesn’t kick in until after puberty.  While the question of “nature vs. nurture” is still open, this suggests that cultural forces are at work.

Wright’s line of reasoning is pretty solid when he says, “[T]hough we’re not naturally racist, we’re naturally ‘groupist.’”

Via The Atlantic:

There’s never been good reason to believe that human beings are naturally racist.… Read the rest

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