Language is a unique feature of human beings. In addition to having the ability to use language, humans can conjecture about language consciously and even create realistic constructed languages from scratch. In How the brain got language, Michael A. Arbib, whose work has been influential in shaping the field of computational neuroscience, addresses the title question by exploring the multimodality of language and the Mirror System Hypothesis.
Arbib, a pioneering scientist who links computer science and neuroscience, argues in this volume that an interdisciplinary approach is needed to solve the problem of language evolution as it is “a puzzle of many pieces” (p. 4). He proposes an approach to the question of language evolution that differs from that of other linguists. He hypothesizes that language perception and production emerged from brain mechanisms that evolved to mediate practical non-communicative actions. This stands in contrast to the “speech-only” view of language evolution held by many scholars who consider the evolution from monkey vocalizations to human speech to be “purely in the vocal-auditory domain, without any role for gesture” (p. 179). He specifically argues for the importance of manual gestures for the evolution of the language-ready brain; these processes equipped early Homo Sapiens with the brain mechanisms that allow modern humans to learn languages.
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Book Review: Listen, Here is a Story: Ethnographic Life Narratives from Aka and Ngandu Women of the Congo Basin
When you look in the news for the Central African Republic you encounter stories about rebels, terror, civil war, murder, and bloodshed. But what are the other aspects of life in the region that no news agency covers? A journey to the center of the African rainforest reveals what happens and has been happening for many years to the region’s inhabitants. In Listen, Here is a Story, Bonnie L. Hewlett deals with the different aspects of women’s lives of the Aka foragers and Ngandu farmers in this region of the Central African Republic, specifically, and reveals the social, political, cultural, and ideological dimensions in life of these people, generally. There are few studies exploring the subjective experiences of women in small-scale societies, and this volume is one of them.
If Martin Brasier didn’t want to pick science as his occupation, certainly he should have chosen to be a novelist, instead! Professor Martin Brasier who is a palaeobiologist at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, in his book Secret Chambers: The Inside Story of Cells and Complex Life, takes us on a journey “to understand the complexity of the complex modern cell, and of the quest to rescue its hidden history from deep within the fossil record” (p. VI). Overall, in this book we learn about the formation and evolution of symbiosis between cells and the importance of symbiosis over the course of evolutionary history.
Pazhoohi, F. (2014). Secret Chambers: The Insider Story of Cells and Complex Life Ethnobiology Letters, 5 DOI: 10.14237/ebl.5.2014.237
Mankind has always been interested in the way people perceive the world and this has become one of its main concerns reflected in the fact that early explanations for visual perception date back to ancient Greece.
Studies of visual perception were pursued merely in the field of philosophy until the 20th century, when psychologists, and thereafter neuroscientists, formulated their contributions to this topic. But what are the recent theories and findings regarding visual experience and, what have been the recent developments in related fields such as the psychology and philosophy of visual perception? Visual Experience: Sensation, Cognition, and Constancy deals with important questions about visual perception that concern the philosophers and psychologists of our era, with a focus on the phenomenal appearances of size and color.
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Pazhoohi, F. (2014). Visual Experience: Sensation, Cognition and Constancy Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 10 (1), 204-207 DOI: 10.5964/ejop.v10i1.731
Both attractiveness judgements and mate preferences vary considerably cross-culturally. We investigated whether men’s preference for femininity in women’s faces varies between 28 countries with diverse health conditions by analysing responses of 1972 heterosexual participants. Although men in all countries preferred feminized over masculinized female faces, we found substantial differences between countries in the magnitude of men’s preferences. Using an average femininity preference for each country, we found men’s facial femininity preferences correlated positively with the health of the nation, which explained 50.4% of the variation among countries. The weakest preferences for femininity were found in Nepal and strongest in Japan. As high femininity in women is associated with lower success in competition for resources and lower dominance, it is possible that in harsher environments, men prefer cues to resource holding potential over high fecundity.
Marcinkowska UM, Kozlov MV, Cai H, Contreras-Garduño J, Dixson BJ, Oana GA, Kaminski G, Li NP, Lyons MT, Onyishi IE, Prasai K, Pazhoohi F, Prokop P, Rosales Cardozo SL, Sydney N, Yong JC, & Rantala MJ (2014). Cross-cultural variation in men’s preference for sexual dimorphism in women’s faces. Biology letters, 10 (4) PMID: 24789138