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The Evolution of Learning

I was perusing NYT and found this great article on the evolution of learning.  I found it very interesting with relation to Dr. Grobstein's Biology 202 course last spring for several of my webpapers.


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Proust was a Neuroscientist: True Efforts towards a Third Culture or Just a Pretty Narrative?

“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?”-- C. P. Snow

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Proust and Long-Term Memory

Jonah Lehrer, in Proust was a Neuroscientist, suggests that Marcel Proust, in his
writing, predicted the, “instability and inaccuracy of [long-term] memory…” [1]. Before
the dawn of the 21st century, neuroscience suggested that memory, valuable pieces of
information, were archived in a structure in the brain, such as the lateral and basal nuclei
of the amygdala.  In 2000, research on rats with fear conditioning and a protein inhibitor
showed that the act of remembrance (reactivation) in fact changed the molecular
underpinnings of the memory by making the memory ‘labile’ once again [2].  Therefore,
new protein synthesis at the synapse was needed to ‘reconsolidate’ the information to

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The Evolutionary Development of the Neocortex and its Implications for Evolutionary Cognition

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is understandable for one to overlook the privileged cognitive abilities that he or she bears as a human being in comparison to other species.  In particular, humans, as mammals and apes, are seen as cognitively more advanced than other life forms, such as reptiles, mollusks, and microbes because they can process the greatest amount of information of their social and physical surroundings.
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