Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Gregarious Brain (Julie)

"The Gregarious Brain"
by David Dobbs
New York Times, July 8, 2007

Wow, this is a really interesting article about Williams syndrome, social evolution, and social interactions. Williams syndrome is a genetic deletion that lead to cognitive deficits such as a lower IQ and a vague concept of space. But the most notable results are an "exuberant gregariousness and near-normal language skills." The article provides interesting examples of people with Williams.

Williams syndrome may give some insight into how humans are social beings. The author presents the Machiavellian-intelligence or social-brain theory which states that "we rise from a lineage in which both individual and group success hinge on balancing the need to work with others with the need to hold our own — or better — amid the nested groups and subgroups we are part of." In this theory, 15 to 20 million years ago, primates needed to migrate to new areas in order to obtain food. As a result, primates became larger and lived in larger groups. Living in groups then required cooperation and social balance.

The article is from the magazine section so it is a bit longer than most NY Times articles, but it is definitely worth the read! Hope your summer is going well!


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