Monday, February 7, 2011

The evolution of the human brain: Dr. Julie Wade

This coming Sunday we are very pleased to present Dr. Julie Wade speaking on the Evolution of the human brain. She wrote the following:

"The field of biology was revolutionized by Charles Darwin who helped us understand how living organisms have evolved over millions of years and are still evolving today. His theory of natural selection described descent with modification which was driven by environmental pressures. His work has become the central underlying paradigm in the field because he provided so much data to support his theory. This theory first published in 1859 has yet to be refuted by scientists and has been made even stronger by more recent research involving DNA.

Studies of the evolution of the brain and behavior are difficult because we cannot study either internal soft tissues or behavior using fossils. These studies are based on investigations of contemporary organisms that are closely related to their fossilized ancestors. Fossilized skulls are used to extrapolate brain sizes at a given point in evolutionary time but are relatively hard to find.

In his book “The Accidental Mind—How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God”, neuroscientist DJ Linden does an excellent job of describing the serendipitous evolution of our brains that has given us our humanity. He dismisses the fact that the brain is a paragon of design by describing it as inelegant and inefficient, and he points out that if it were built today by modern engineers, it would look and function very differently from its current design. My presentation will be based on his book which describes how our earliest ancestors have contributed to and laid the foundation for our twenty-first century brains and much of our behavior."

Dr. Julie Wade is a retired Biology Professor and Pre-Professional Health Advisor who taught at Pennsylvania State University (3 yrs) and Milligan College (24 years). She taught a wide variety of courses including comparative anatomy, animal physiology, human anatomy and physiology, cell and molecular biology, endocrinology, histology, and research seminar.

Please join us, Sunday at 9:45. It will be a delightful time. And as usual, excellent and loving childcare is provided.

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