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“How does natural selection shape development?”

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Diane Pearce.

Fused together, evolutionary and developmental sciences generate predictions about the design of developmental mechanisms, including what traits are likely at different life stages, patterns of ontogenetic change, and emerging phenotypic variation. In this talk, I will present recent modelling showing that natural selection can result in mechanisms that produce sensitive periods in development. Such modelling may illuminate the roles of previous life experiences and chronological age in shaping plasticity (its retention and decline) across the life span. In addition, I will present recent empirical work examining whether human reasoning abilities become fine-tuned to locally important information. Specifically, I will compare people who developed in safe vs. harsh environments (i.e., violent neighbourhoods) on a transitive inference task involving both social dominance relations and chronological age relations, where the former are thought to be more fitness-relevant in harsh environments.

This talk is part of the Madingley Lunchtime Seminars series.

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