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Bruce Hood: The domesticated brain: How the social environment turned us into children


The human brain increased in size over the course of our evolution in response to increasing social complexity. At the end of the last ice age around 20,000 years ago, it began to shrink – why? In this lecture, Bruce will introduce the concept of domestication and how this may have contributed to the significant change in our brain and behaviour.

This is a public talk delivered by Professor Bruce Hood, Professor of Developmental Psychology in Society in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (UK) and the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He has written three books for the general public, “SuperSense” (HarperOne, 2009) about the natural origins of supernatural beliefs which has been published in 12 countries, “The Self Illusion” (Constable & Robinson 2012) about the fallacy that we are coherent, integrated individuals but rather a constructed narrative largely influenced by those around us and “The Domesticated Brain”(Pelican, 2014) an evolutionary account for the rise in pro-sociality and lengthening of human childhood. Professor Hood has appeared in a number of TV science documentaries and in 2011 I delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures which were broadcast on the BBC to over 4 million viewers. You can see the lectures as well as behind-the-scenes at the Ri Channel. He is also the founder of the world’s largest expert speaker database which I launched in 2015 and continues to grow at a rapid pace.

[Video and text source: Bristol Neuroscience YouTube channel]