PhD Evolutionary Educational Psychology | Thursday, 28 November 2013 | Blog

Where is my mind?

Was one of the questions we considered during this afternoon’s session.

For what it’s worth, I think that it depends on the nature of the task you’re attending to, for instance, your brain and body; my brian and body; embedded in our environment – and what that environment affords – might meaningfully be called a ‘mind’ for the duration of that particular task. Anderson’s calls this kind of mind a ‘task-specific synergy’.

We’ve spent the last two weeks discussing, among many other things, this paper by Ritter et al.


The paper raised a number of important questions, cheif among them;

But aren’t cognitive responses to ‘neutral’ stimuli always modulated culturally?

Not unsurprisingly, I went back to Anderson’s work on neural reuse, and in particular one of the commentaries (Immordino-Yang et al.)  on his 2010 BBS paper (275-276).


The riffing continues…

Our Place, Our Priorities: Photography at The Pathways Centre | Weeks 51,52 & 53 | 14112013, 21112013 & 28112013


A couple of weeks ago Andy bought a journal to archive some of the working prints we’ve produced, so today we started to categorize the images (more soon). The previous two weeks were spent reviewing and editing images Andy had taken in Gainsborough (below) and Birmingham. 



(Image: Andrew Wingell)

During our discussions, we talked about how we anthropomorphize the made environment…

Ritual Significance | The Collection, Lincoln | 17112013

I bumped into Kate Genever (Poly-Technic) on the High Street in Lincoln on Friday, she asked if I would share with her some of the research that Ashley, Josh and I are using to inform our work.





I can never say no to Kate!

Ritual Significance | The Collection, Lincoln | 14112013

We now have the budget – modest but sufficient – and the dates – February to April 2015 – for our Ritual Significance | Art through an Evolutionary Lens exhibition.

Today we decided that our curatorial approach will be informed by Niko Tinbergen’s four questions.

Ontogeny: How does this behaviour develop over the course of an individual’s life?

When did you start to make art?

Phylogeny: When in the history of that species did the capacity to produce this behaviour evolve?

When did we start to make art?

Proximate: What are the events preceding the behaviour that contribute to its occurrence?

How do we make art?

Ultimate: What are the effects of performing the behaviour on reproductive success and thus, why has natural selection retained the ability to perform that behaviour.

Why do we make art?

Or, to paraphrase Herbert Spencer;

What is the purpose of art?

We will also be asking questions like:

What can art be?

What may it become?

(With thanks to Daniel Nettle’s Evolution and Genetics for Psychology for the framing of these entry-level ‘questions’)

Our plan is to devote each wall of the gallery to one of Tinbergen’s questions (yes, the gallery has the standard issue number of walls!), and to have an ‘active’ artist facilitator in residence (Joshua Lockwood) in the centre of the space; creating, thinking, reading and talking with visitors about the value of attempting to understand art, and life, through an evolutionary lens.

Present: Joshua Lockwood, Ashley Gallant and David McAleavey.

Location: Angel Coffee House


PhD Evolutionary Educational Psychology | Monday, 11 November 2013 | Blog

Sarah (Amsler) and I have been riffing on evolutionary approaches to social science since we met in autumn 2011; I continue to find the process tremendously exciting. During October, we began meeting regularly in The Angel Coffee House to discuss our ideas on one another’s texts/offerings. I will be using this blog to share the research that is informing my contribution to our work/play.

Michael L Anderson’s work on neural reuse, especially his paper on Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition, has often been in play.

As has the work of evolutionary minded theorists like Eva Jablonka…

Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They trace four “dimensions” in evolution—four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic (or non-DNA cellular transmission of traits), behavioral, and symbolic (transmission through language and other forms of symbolic communication). These systems, they argue, can all provide variations on which natural selection can act. Evolution in Four Dimensions offers a richer, more complex view of evolution than the gene-based, one-dimensional view held by many today. The new synthesis advanced by Jablonka and Lamb makes clear that induced and acquired changes also play a role in evolution.

After discussing each of the four inheritance systems in detail, Jablonka and Lamb “put Humpty Dumpty together again” by showing how all of these systems interact. They consider how each may have originated and guided evolutionary history and they discuss the social and philosophical implications of the four-dimensional view of evolution. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors engage the contrarieties of the fictional (and skeptical) “I.M.,” or Ifcha Mistabra—Aramaic for “the opposite conjecture”—refining their arguments against I.M.’s vigorous counterarguments. The lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski’s lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors’ points.

(Text: VideoLectures.Net Single Lectures Series – Eva Jablonka)

Our Place, Our Priorities: Photography at The Pathways Centre | Weeks 46,47 & 50 | 24102013, 31102013 & 07112013


Louise and Andy

More processing and editing (top right is Andy’s first display print – Tennyson). The first four display prints have – finally – been installed at The Pathways Centre (images to follow), and the next three are in the safe hands of Dom and Dan at the minilab. Andy has finished processing all of his work from the Sleaford to Lincoln walk he took a few weekends ago, and we’re now in the process of deciding which of these will be the next images to be printed for display… 

PS Sorry Andy, I’ve just noticed that you’re blinking in this photograph.