James Arthur Lecture: The Emergence of Emotionally Modern Minds

Thursday, May 23, 2024

A woman walking, holding her infant in the air, on a bright day. Dakota Corbin/Unsplash
Why do humans take such an interest in what other humans think—and what other humans think about them?

Why are we eager to cooperate and share from an early age?

Such prosocial emotions laid the groundwork for bipedal apes in the line leading to the genus Homo to develop unprecedented levels of cooperation and food-sharing. But to get there, our ancestors must have already been more other-regarding, in this sense already “emotionally modern.” 

In this 93rd James Arthur Lecture, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, evolutionary anthropologist and primatologist and author of Father Time: A Natural History of Men and Babies, will highlight the role infancy played in the evolution of big brains and our distinctively human prefrontal cortex, drawing on new information from behavioral ecology, developmental psychology, and social neuroscience.