Feb 26, 2020
Welcome to our first full-length episode! The guest for our inaugural interview is Dr. Andrew Barron, a neuroethologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. (In case you’re wondering what a neuroethologist is, don’t’ worry, we get to that.)
Andrew specializes in honey bees. He studies their minute brains, their natural behaviors, and their remarkable cognitive abilities. We probably don’t have to tell you that bees are cool. Humans have been fascinated with them for centuries. But one thing that makes Andrews’s work especially cool is how it sheds light on questions that are bigger than bees—questions about how minds work, about how brains support conscious experience, about learning and memory, and a lot else. As you may have heard, bees have seen better days—like so much else in our natural world, they’re starting to show signs of stress. We talk about that, too.
Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoy the conversation.
A transcript of this interview can be found here.
Notes and links
12:11 – A paper by Bjorn Merker about the role of the midbrain in supporting conscious awareness.
26:30 – A connectome is a map of neural connections.
33:55 – Thomas Nagel’s classic paper, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’
38:30 – Bees are able to navigate using polarized light.
54:05 – A recent paper that summarizes our understanding of cephalopod brains.
54:40 – The word “sessile” means fixed in one place, like a barnacle.
Dr. Barron’s end-of-show recommendations:
Honeybee Democracy (2010), by Thomas D. Seeley
The Wisdom of the Hive (1996), by Thomas D. Seeley
The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul (2019), by Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka
Other Minds (2017), by Peter Godfrey-Smith
The best way to keep up with Dr. Barron’s research:
Many Minds is a project of the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI) (https://www.diverseintelligencessummer.com/), which is made possible by a generous grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to UCLA. It is hosted by Kensy Cooperrider, with creative support from DISI Directors Erica Cartmill and Jacob Foster, and Associate Director Hilda Loury. Our artwork is by Ben Oldroyd (https://www.mayhilldesigns.co.uk/). Our transcripts are created by Sarah Dopierala (https://sarahdopierala.wordpress.com/).
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