Evolution, Mind & Behavior Program HomePage


Evolution, Mind, and Behavior Conference at UCSB

Winter Quarter 2002


Joint UCLA-UCSB Conferences held quarterly by

UCSB’s Evolution, Mind, and Behavior Program (EMB)  and

UCLA’s Human Nature and Society Program (HNAS)


Saturday 2 February 2002

Location: Flying A Studio, University Center (UCEN), UCSB

(see directions below)


  9:30  AM  Breakfast buffet opens

10:30  AM  First talk: William Rice, Intersexual Evolutionary Conflict

12:00  PM  Lunch provided.

  1:30  PM  Second talk:  Marco Iacoboni, Understanding Others: The neural mechanisms of imitation

  3:00  PM  Coffee break

  3:30  PM  Third talk:  Donald Symons, Warrior Lovers: Erotic fiction, evolution, and female sexuality

  5:30  PM Adjourn for no-host dinner, Ming Dynasty (see below)




William Rice    Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, UCSB  rice@lifesci.ucsb.edu

Intersexual Evolutionary Conflict


Abstract. Two phenomena are described that may strongly influence adaptation and coevolution of the sexes. The first is intersexual Interlocus Contest Evolution (ICE). ICE is a Red Queen process that is manifest at the level of interacting genes within the gene pool of the same species, rather than the traditional Red Queen that concerns interacting species within a community. Intersexual ICE encompasses antagonistic coevolution between alleles at different loci that code for phenotypes that mediate contests between the sexes in the context of reproduction. Data from recent experiments in my laboratory motivate the hypothesis that intersexual ICE plays a central role in the evolution of reproductive isolation during the speciation process. The second phenomena influencing adaptation and coevolution of the sexes is sexually antagonistic genes, i.e., loci that are segregating for alleles that are advantageous to one sex during ontogeny but disadvantageous to the other sex. Because the sexes are constrained to share a common gene pool, and since most genes are not gender-limited, the common occurrence of sexually antagonistic alleles would substantially interfere with the adaptive evolution of each sex. A theoretical rationale for widespread polymorphism of sexually antagonist genes is developed. New experiments are described that a) cloned entire haploid genomes, b) express these full sets of genes in both males and females , and then c) measured sex-specific life-time fitness. These experiments indicate that sexually antagonistic genes are common in the genome and contribute substantially to the standing variance in fitness.




Lunch, Flying A Studio




Marco Iacoboni   UCLA Brain Mapping Center  iacoboni@loni.ucla.edu

Understanding Others: The neural mechanisms of imitation


Abstract. Imitation is essential to social learning and cultural transmission. To copy an action that is already present in their motor repertoire, individuals need a system that matches the observed action onto the internal motor representation of that action. Using fMRI, we recently demonstrated that some frontoparietal areas of the human brain are endowed with such a ‘mirror’ mechanism. One of these areas is Broca’s area, a critical language area in the human brain. To test whether the activation of Broca's area during imitation is essential to the imitative process or simply epiphenomenal, we used TMS to produce a transient 'lesion' in Broca's area. The results support the notion that Broca's area is essential to imitation.

To learn a new action by observation, however, an additional mechanism allowing the observers to compare the visual description of an action made by others with the predicted sensory consequences of the same action made by them is needed. Recent fMRI evidence suggests that in the superior temporal sulcus (STS), a higher order visual area, there is a sector that has all the requisites for being the region where interactions occur between the observed actions and the sensory copies of actions made by imitator.

        The frontoparietal mirror regions and STS are all perisylvian regions, at least in a broad sense. Imaging data on warping of chimpanzee brains onto human brains indicate that the largest expansion between the two species is indeed perisylvian. Taken together, these findings suggest an evolutionary sequence from action understanding to imitation to language.

        Finally, I will discuss fMRI data suggesting that we understand the emotions, the intentions, and even the social relations of other people by using a non-inferential neural mechanism of ‘mirroring’. That is, observing the emotions, the intentions and the interpersonal relations of others triggers the same neural activity associated with our emotions, intentions and interpersonal relations.




Blood sugar break




Donald Symons    UCSB Anthropology   symons@sscf.ucsb.edu

Warrior Lovers: Erotic fiction, evolution, and female sexuality


Abstract. (1) Every coherent theory of human action implies the existence of universal human psychological mechanisms. (2) As nothing comes from nothing, every theory of human action thus implies the existence of a past causal process that produced those mechanisms and past environments in which this production occurred. (3) The only known causal process capable of producing functional organic mechanisms is evolution by natural selection. (4) Hence, every theory of human action necessarily implies the existence of universal psychological mechanisms that were shaped in ancestral human populations by natural selection. Therefore, when evolutionary psychologists propose hypotheses about human nature that include, as part of their formulation, assumptions or hypotheses about past selection pressures and ancestral human environments they are not being more speculative than other students of human behavior but, rather, more explicit. (5) Human affairs, behavior, history and culture – including even such temporally and spatially bounded practices as Chinese foot-binding – are, in the final analysis, the products of human psychology.

        The real question, it seems to me, is not whether the above claims are true, but, rather, whether they are trivial, heuristically-useless obviosities or powerful guides to research. I will argue the case for the latter. Analyses of specific "cultural" practices can illuminate universal human psychology, and vice versa. In particular, I will try to show how the study of a relatively minor genre of women’s erotica called "slash fiction"* – a kind of romance fiction, often very sexually graphic, in which both of the lovers are men – illuminates women’s evolved sexual psychology.




Self-funded dinner at Ming Dynasty

(Ming Dynasty 805-968-1308, 290 Storke Road, at the intersection of Storke and Hollister in Goleta. In the unlikely event you are coming from 101, take Storke exit North of UCSB).


Cosponsored by the UCSB Center for Evolutionary Psychology and the UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture. This event is organized as a working seminar for faculty and graduate students. For more information, please contact Leda Cosmides or John Tooby or call 805-893-8720.


UCLA and UCSB will hold a Saturday conference once a quarter, alternating between the two campuses. This one, the second, will be in the UCSB University Center, Flying A Studio (ground floor). 


Map of the UCSB campus (University Center is at coordinate F3)

There may be car pools coming from UCLA; ask Alan Fiske and Clark Barrett.



Take 101 North toward Santa Barbara. There is a double exit (Patterson; then 217 UCSB / Airport). Take the 217 UCSB exit. Follow the signs to campus (when road forks, take the left fork)

When you come into UCSB from 217, there is a UCSB gate & kiosk. Stop there to get a campus map. Turn left onto Lagoon Road (ocean on your left), then RIGHT onto Ucen road, and park in one of the lots.



Parking is free on Saturdays EXCEPT for spaces that are marked "Enforced 24 hours". The closest lot is #3 (but this has a number of illegal spaces, so be careful). Other close lots are #7, 9, and 4.  See map for lot location.