Example of Darwinian evolution in non-genetic system
1. Provide an example of Darwinian evolution in a non-genetic system. Explain how the three conditions required for evolution are met in your example.
2. Multicellular organisms (select all that apply):
a) Always have germline
b) Typically reproduce asexually
c) Only include animals
d) Always have sensory organs
e) Are unable to photosynthesize
f) Share a common ancestor with bacteria
3. Action potentials (select all that apply) (3):
a) Travel between different neurons
b) Travel within a neuron
c) Are produced by ion currents across the membrane
d) Only fire when stimulus reaches a threshold
e) Result in neurotransmitter release
f) Can be observed outside the cerebral cortex
4. Which of these transitions are not examples of emergence:
a) Polyps forming a colony that shares food between zooids
b) An NYU student acquiring a salad for lunch
c) Cells forming a multicellular organism
d) Activity of many individual neurons producing consciousness
e) Human ancestors walking on two legs
f) Words forming sentences
g) A deer growing antlers
h) A multitude of transmitted ideas forming culture
5. From a biological standpoint, what defines the male and female sexes?
6. What are blastula and gastrula, and what is the difference between them? A drawing might help.
8. What was the first group of animals to colonize terrestrial habitats? Name at least three evolutionary advantages that helped them achieve their success.
9. Explain the advantages of bones, and how they influenced the evolutionary strategies of vertebrates.
10. Synapsids dominated the terrestrial fauna in the late Paleozoic, and again in the Cenozoic era. Explain what happened to this group of vertebrates in the intervening period and how the events that took place during this time shaped the modern group of mammals.
11. Choose the incorrect statement or statements:
a) The reward system acts independently of the cortex
b) The cortex aims to minimize uncertainty
c) Dopamine release reduces attention
d) Only reptiles have a midbrain
e) Dopamine is constantly released at a low level
f) Rewards for repeated positive experiences diminish over time
12. The angle of acute vision for a fixed eye is about 2º, which corresponds roughly to the width of a thumb on an outstretched hand. Nevertheless, people are able to perform tasks that require quickly visualizing large spaces, like playing basketball. How do they do it?
13. The human brain (mark all that apply):
a) seeks out stimuli that trigger dopamine release
b) aims to reconcile sensory information with an internal model of the world
c) retains some degree of synaptic plasticity in adulthood
d) has a unique set of synapses in each individual
e) has evolutionary adaptions for linguistic function
f) is the largest brain in the world
14. Explain how genes that are not useful to a particular organism can still be evolutionarily successful. Provide examples.
15. Besides communicating with sounds, what forms of communication do non-humans use? List at least three, with at least one example each.
16. Explain as generally as possible what human language is. What, in your opinion, makes it similar to other forms of communication seen in nature, and what makes it unique? Does language define thought or does thought define language? Discuss various views on the subject, but you can earn extra points by using specific examples and original ideas.
17. Imagine that all of the world’s languages were suddenly forgotten. Given such dire circumstances, speculate about the future prospects of human language in general. Tip: consider the history of the Nicaraguan sign language.
18. Discuss the differences in symptoms between Broca’s and Wernicke’s aphasias. How did the scientific understanding of the functions of Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in the human brain change over the years?
19. Describe the experiments that demonstrate “split consciousness” in split-brain patients. What can be concluded about the relationship between language and consciousness based on these experiments?
20. Freestyle! This is a bonus question. Write anything you want about any part of the course that you enjoyed. Original and/or well-articulated thoughts and ideas will be rewarded with extra points. Your answers also help me keep track of your interests and improve the course in the future.