Reviewed here are some of Science’s podcasts and a focus on some of those aspects that I thought were most relevant to psychiatry (although the evolutionary discussions have more tenuous links there is an emerging field of evolutionary psychiatry which is beginning to take shape). The 5.6.9 podcast includes a discussion of the evolution of altruism in terms of selection at the group level. There is also a look at some possible intentional deception by monkeys to obtain food. The monkeys in question act as guards warning the other monkeys when predators are near. This behaviour was covered in the book Mean Genes (reviewed here) and this study takes the story further and in another direction which involves some of these monkey guards possibly using deceit to obtain food from the other monkeys. Perhaps this is an evolutionary trade-off for the risky work they are expected to perform. In the 12.6.9 podcast there is a brief discussion of an Orang-Utan laughing together with a clip. The researchers were looking to compare this with human laughter to see how laughter had evolved. Primates apparently enjoy being tickled and the researchers visited zoos to tickle primates! Gorillas and Bonobos laughter was more similar to humans with exhaling during laughter. They estimate laughing began 10-16 million years ago. I found this interesting clip on YouTube which I found quite remarkable – the Gibbon looks as though it is having fun (although i’m not so sure about the poor dog)
In the 19.6.9 podcast there is supporting evidence for the involvement of Merkel cells in light touch and a discussion of what would happen if we didn’t have these types of cells. In the 26.6.9 podcast there is a discussion of an open access digital brain library featuring the brain of the famous patient H.M who underwent a temporal lobectomy for intractable epilepsy. The 3.7.9 podcast there is a discussion of an essay on the origins of the nervous system. There is a look at some of the rudimentary features of the nervous system that are evident in the most primitive species including ion channels and proteins found at the neural synapse. Genomic analysis is producing information which can be used to estimate the period of origin of the nervous system. In the 10.7.9 podcast there is a look at how palaeoartists recreate human ancestors and how calorie restriction increases lifespan in primates.
There is a related Origins Blog here – looking at evolution
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