Department of Anthropology
University of Notre Dame
Evolution, Behavior, and the Encultured Brain
Monday, February 8, 2010
Science I 149, 5:00 PM
Many modern behaviors, among them addiction, are insufficiently illuminated by modern evolutionary theory. Optimality analyses, universal algorithms, and past-present discordances often struggle to explain behaviors that are truly pathological and that are fundamentally shaped by modern technologies and sociocultural environments. In this talk I will first discuss how a return to basic evolutionary concepts, such as adaptation and phylogeny, yields empirical purchase on behavioral problems. I will then outline how neuroanthropology, which brings together emerging understandings of neuroplasticity with biocultural approaches in anthropology, can work synergistically with evolutionary analyses. By combining behavioral biology with sociocultural and humanistic research, neuroanthropology can address modern environments, the impact of technology, and other core explanatory factors to produce robust explanations for a wide range of human behaviors and capacities.
Daniel Lende, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. He is co-founder of Neuroanthropology.net and a leader in evolutionary approaches to addiction.