Psychology - background reading list
What did memory evolve to do?
I’m often asked by new or prospective Psychology students (or their parents) if I can recommend some interest-based reading to extend their understanding or prepare for a degree. Here are a few options, all of which are chosen to be interesting, easy to read, and very relevant to studying Psychology or related disciplines.
They vary a lot in their style and authorship (some by researchers, other by journalists and the like), and I certainly don’t endorse everything that they say, but they are all interesting, well-written, and collectively would give a useful overview of the subject. In alphabetical order…
Memory in education - a mission statement
Humans have evolved over the course of millions of years. Since we last shared a common ancestors with chimpanzees more than 6 million years ago (White et al, 2009), a number of hominin species have evolved - most, of course, have died out (as recently as 100,000 years ago, 4-5 homo species existed concurrently).
For most of this time, our ancestors and near relatives probably lived in grasslands environments, hunting and gathering. This environment has shaped...
The social brain hypothesis
I believe that memory is very important in education. This might seem obvious - of course children and students need to remember things. Perhaps it also seems threatening - reducing education to mere passive memorisation?
I don’t think so.
Improving how we use memory is not threatening, in my view, because remembering is essential regardless of your view of how teaching should be done, or what the syllabus should consist of. Whether…
What caused human brains – and those of other apes – to grow so large? One theory is that it resulted from the complexity of our environment – the day to day problems that our ancestors would have encountered in foraging and survival: Where are the fruit trees? Which ones did I pick from yesterday?
Another idea – the social brain hypothesis – is that the complexity of our social groups require a big brain to keep track of, especially when the group is large – a bigger group means more relationships to remember...