The 57th Annual Faculty Research Lecture

November 28, 2012

Leda Cosmides and John Tooby

Climbing Down Inside the Human Operating System:
Exploring the Evolved Programs that Run our Species
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 / Free
4:30 PM Reception
5:30 PM Lecture
Corwin Pavilion
UC Santa Barbara

Your personal computer or smartphone is equipped with specialized applications (like iTunes or Word) designed to carry out particular functions. We know what their designs are because programmers wrote their code. Your brain is also a computational system, but humans did not choose or write the applications built in to it. Natural selection, acting on our foraging ancestors, did. This recognition is the key that now allows researchers to map the evolved architecture of the human mind, including motivational programs, emotion programs, and reasoning programs. We will outline some of our research into the interlocking designs of several evolved programs specialized for cooperation, bargaining, and altruism, and discuss their relevance to economics, anthropology, and human life.

Leda Cosmides and John Tooby are best known for their work in pioneering the new field of evolutionary psychology. This field weaves together evolutionary biology, cognitive science, human evolution, hunter gatherer studies, neuroscience, and psychology, into a new approach to discovering the mechanisms of the human mind and brain. In this view, by understanding the adaptive problems our hunter-gatherer ancestors faced during their evolution, researchers can uncover the detailed functional designs of the reasoning systems, emotions, and motivations that evolution produced. Cosmides and Tooby are professors of psychology and anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where they co-direct the Center for Evolutionary Psychology. They were educated at Harvard and did their postdoctoral work at Stanford. Awards for their research include the NIH Director's Pioneer Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Behavioral Science Research, the American Psychological Association's Early Career Award; a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, and a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship. John Tooby has served as president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

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