Oct. 26; Proximate and Ultimate Causation

Why do people like candy?

Because it tastes good! Most people have a taste for sugar. Well, why do we like sugar? Physiologically we can answer that question by looking at the receptors to the brain. The neurological path tells us that this tastes good. This is a mechanistic reasoning.

These questions can be answered proximatly, the here and now, or ultimate, evolutionary history. The proximate analysis deals with how genetic-developmental mechanisms inflluence the assembly of an animal and its internal components. Proximate analysis also deal with neuronal-hormonal mechanisms which develop within an animals lifetime that control animal behavior. The ultimate analysis deals with evolutionary history of a species and their adaptive values.

The Ultimate Analysis

The selection and adaptation of a species will determine the cause for certain behaviors such as manogamy. In Praririe voles, the evolution history shows that their decendants were first polygynous, but their manogamy developed overtime. This could probably be due to female sparceness.

The Proximate Analysis

At the proximate level we look at the hormonal-nervous system mechanisms. In Praririe voles, bonding of vasopressin with receptors triggers chemical activies that affect neural pathways. This provides the males with positive rewards. The rewards cause males to stay near one female. It is a proximate cause for manogamy.

The Proximate Mechanisms

The mechanisms of proximate causes include neurophysiology and genetic activity. The key sensory, environmental, inputs must cause some gene activity and produce changes in biochemistry. The biochemistry alters neurophysiological mechisms that lead to learning.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Learning?

The disadvantage of having to learn a skill is that it takes a lot of time and energy. This lengthen the time it takes to be ready to do the actions this skill requires. The time, energy, and neuromechanisms used for learning means you can’t use those things for other activities.

The advantages of having to learn a skill are vast. These advantages inclue being able to match the skill to the social environment.

Nature vs. Nurture

The development of and organism is an interactive process. The genes and environment is continually interacting throughout the lifespan of the organism that cause changes. The genetic information interacts with changing internal and external environments. The genes are either turned off or on by signals. These signals are internal, cellulcar, chemical or external environmental stimuli. The interactions alter the assembly of the organism, its neural network, as well as other aspects of its physiological or anatomical systems.




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