February 26 2018

BEC Seminar Series The Evolutionary Origins of PTSD and Moral Injury: Evidence from a Small Scale Society.

The Evolutionary Origins of PTSD and Moral Injury: Evidence from a Small Scale Society.

Matthew Zefferman
Arizona State University

Combat veterans in western industrialized societies can develop a collection of symptoms classified as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The origins of PTSD are a mystery. Some posit that it has deep evolutionary roots as a mechanism for avoiding and responding to harm. Others posit that it is socially constructed and perhaps unique to industrialized societies. I propose, with a gene-culture co-evolutionary theory of combat stress, that both perspectives are partially right and incomplete. This theory explains additional puzzling aspects of combat stress, such as the origins of "moral injury." I support this new theory with evidence from ethnographic research and interviews with Turkana warriors from northern Kenya.

Monday, February 26, 2018
12:00-1:30 pm
Haines Hall 352, UCLA

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February 27 2018

The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA

Evolutionary Pathways to Statehood: Old Theories and New Data
Speaker: Peter Turchin, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology, University of Connecticut; External Professor, Complexity Science Hub, Vienna, Austria
Faculty Host: Aaron Blaisdell, Professor of Psychology, UCLA
Over the past 10,000 years, human societies evolved from small egalitarian groups, integrated by face-to-face interactions, to huge, anonymous societies of millions, characterized by wealth and power differentials, division of labor, governance structures, and information systems. One aspect of this “major evolutionary transition” that excites intense debate is the origins and evolution of the state as a politically centralized territorial polity with internally specialized administrative organization. Different theories proposed by early theorists and contemporary social scientists make different predictions about causal processes driving the rise of state-level social organization.

In this talk Peter Turchin will use the global history databank Seshat to empirically test predictions of several theories. He will present results of a dynamical regression analysis that estimates how the evolution of specialized governance structures was affected by such factors as social scale, including population and territorial expansion; social stratification; provision of public goods; and information systems.


Turchin is an evolutionary anthropologist working in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics. His research interests lie at the intersection of social and cultural evolution, historical macrosociology, economic history and cliometrics, mathematical modeling of longterm social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.

Light refreshments will be served.


If you would like to meet with Professor Turchin, please contact Professor Aaron Blaisdell at blaisdell@psych.ucla.edu

Charles E. Young Research Library Main Conference Room 11360
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
3:00pm-4:40pm
Reservations are requested to Marschak RSVP


February 28 2018

ISG: Embodiment & Social Inequalities in Health: When the Social Environment Meets Biological Functioning

Cyrille Delpierre
“Embodiment & Social Inequalities in Health: When the Social Environment Meets Biological Functioning”

The existence of a social gradient in health, i.e. a graduated relationship between socioeconomic position (SEP)) and health, is well documented for chronic diseases. A major difficulty is to explicit how social determinants including physical, chemical or psycho-behavioural exposures are interlinked over time from childhood to influence subsequent health. Highlighting these causal chains helps to explain how the social environment becomes biological and how it can alter biological functioning to promote the development of diseases in the long term. Analysing the role of social determinants of health through their potential biological effects, including the growing field of epigenetics effects, is an innovative approach in the understanding of social gradient in health. The presentation will expose this new approach of embodiment of social environment and how the study of the social to biological transition rises important issues in terms of social justice and health policies.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
3314 Life Sciences Building


February 28 2018

MCDB Seminar: Growing with the flow: Plant patterning through auxin transport

Growing with the flow: Plant patterning through auxin transport

Devin O'Connor
Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge University

Plant multicellularity evolved independently and is subject to unique constraints. Plant cells are physically constrained by cell walls, by cytoplasmic connections that are maintained after cell division, and by the inability to simply move in response to environmental stimuli. Against these constraints plants have evolved a distributed mechanism of developmental patterning based on the active transport of a signaling molecule, the hormone auxin. While auxin can passively enter plant cells, triggering a vast array of developmental responses, it cannot easily exit without active transport. Thus active auxin efflux mediated by the membrane-localized and polarized PIN proteins provides directionality to auxin movement. In developing tissues polarized PIN proteins create auxin concentration maxima that act as organizing foci for development. PINs also mediate bulk transport throughout the mature tissues which facilitates long-range communication between the growing parts of the plant. Because auxin feeds back to control its own transport by regulating the polarization, abundance and activity of PIN proteins, the transport system has self-organizing properties. Much like water flowing across a landscape can create a myriad of emergent patterns, from narrow canyons to broad deltas, so too can minor variations in the auxin transport system result in diverse and adaptive patterning outputs. I will describe how my lab uses comparative genetics, imaging and computer modeling to understand the nature of auxin transport mediated patterning.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
12:00 pm
Boyer 159


March 1 2018

From Proteas to Aloes: Exploring the Remarkable South African Flora With UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden Director Phil Rundel

Exploring the Remarkable South African Flora: With UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden Director Phil Rundel

Botanists and plant collectors going back more than a century have given almost reverent recognition to the unique and spectacular flora of the Cape Region of South Africa. Not only is this the most diverse flora in the world for its size, but it is remarkable for such botanical wonders as the beautiful proteas and their relatives, succulents from towering aloes to tiny mesembs, hundreds of species of ericas, rare cycads, awesome wildflower shows, and the largest assemblage of bulb plants to be found anywhere on earth. This remarkable plant life is diÿcult to describe in words but come see an introduction based on four decades of research in South Africa. This event is free, but space is limited.



Please RSVP at: UCLA Botanical Garden

Thursday, March 1, 2018
5:00pm
La Kretz Garden Pavillion


March 5 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Primates, Plasticity and (Un)predictability: A Pragmatic View of Social Evolution

Primates, Plasticity and (Un)predictability: A Pragmatic View of Social Evolution

Louise Barrett
University of Lethbridge

Primates are known for their large brains, behavioural flexibility and cognitive complexity. These, in turn, are argued to have been selected for by the complexity of the social environment. The interesting thing is that no one quite knows what social and cognitive complexity actually are, and our attempts at conceptualising primate social life are often anthropocentric and “logomorphic”. Here, using both empirical data from vervet monkeys and baboons, along with recent work in radical enactivism and embodied cognitive science, I discuss ways in which we can think about plasticity, complexity and social life in ways that do justice to evolutionary continuity, but don’t require primates and other animals to just be hairier, less talkative versions of ourselves. This in turn has implications for how we think about our own evolution, and what we talk about when we talk about “minds”.

Monday, March 5, 2018
12:00-1:30pm
Haines Hall 352, UCLA

For more information, please visit BEC


March 12 2018

BEC Seminar Series: Tight or Loose: A Fractal Pattern of Human Difference

Tight or Loose: A Fractal Pattern of Human Difference

Michele Gelfand
University of Maryland

Over the past century, we have explored the solar system, split the atom, and wired the Earth, but somehow, despite all of our technical prowess, we have struggled to understand something far more important: our own cultural differences. Observing the wide variety of cultural permutations, people assumed for centuries that there were as many explanations for these permutations and rifts as there were examples of them. But what my research has uncovered is that many cultural differences reflect a simple, but often invisible distinction: The strength of social norms. Tight cultures have strong social norms and little tolerance for deviance, while loose cultures have weak social norms and are highly permissive. The tightness or looseness of social norms turns out to be a Rosetta Stone for human groups. Using field, experimental, computational, and neuroscience methods, I’ve found similar patterns of difference across nations, states, organizations, and social class. Tight-loose is also a global fault line: many of the conflicts we encounter spring from the structural stress of tight-loose tension. By unmasking culture to reveal tight-loose dynamics, we can see fresh patterns in history, illuminate some of today’s most puzzling trends and events, and see our own behavior in a new light. At a time of intense political conflict and rapid social change, this template shows us that there is indeed a method to the madness, and that moderation – not tight or loose extremes – has never been more needed.

Monday, March 12, 2018
12:00-1:30pm
Haines Hall 352, UCLA

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March 14 2018

ISG: Nutrition, Biochemistry and the Unity of Life, 19001950

Thibaut Serviant-Fine
“Nutrition, biochemistry and the unity of life, 1900-1950”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
3314 Life Sciences Building


April 2 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Simine Vazire
University of California, Davis

April 2, 2018

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April 9 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Amy Boddy
University of California,

Santa Barbara

April 9, 2018

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April 16 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Zoe Liberman
University of California, Santa Barbara

April 16, 2018

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April 23 2018

BEC Seminar Series: The Brain is Social by Default

Matthew Lieberman
University of California, Los Angeles

April 23, 2018

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April 30 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Julie Miller
Univeristy of California, Los Angeles

April 30, 2018

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May 7 2018

BEC Seminar Series: The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ethno-Linguistic Reasoning

Cristina Moya
University of California, Davis

The evolution and ontogeny of ethno-linguistic reasoning Abstract: While many social species are group living, linguistically or symbolically marked social groups, characterized by large repertoires of shared cultural norms and behaviours, are uniquely human. However, the evolutionary relevance and psychological underpinnings of such ethnic groups remains debated. In this talk, I will examine the possibility that the way humans learn about ethno-linguistic boundaries reveal the structure of adaptations for reasoning about these. I report on psychological and ethnographic research from the Quechua-Aymara border in the Peruvian altiplano, and cross-cultural comparative work that speak to these questions. Results reveal 1) the importance of distinguishing between functionally independent intergroup phenomena such as stereotyping and cooperation, 2) that children are prone to develop believe that linguistic boundaries are important and fixed, and 3) that cultural evolutionary processes are likely more important than genetically evolved biases in determining the form of ethnic boundaries. Further implications for models of human social evolution will be discussed.

May 7, 2018

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May 14 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Amy Non
University of California, San Diego

May 14, 2018

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May 21 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

P.J. Lamberson
University of California, Los Angeles

May 21, 2018

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June 4 2018

BEC Seminar Series: TBA

Jim Sidanius
Harvard University

June 4, 2018

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