Dr Mark Changizi is a theoretical cognitive scientist with a PhD in Maths, who became a CognoScience Professor at RPI in New York. He then created his own lab and started a research industry to fund his work.
He focuses on the evolutionary principles underlining why we are the way we are. Why we have evolved to do the kinds of things we do or have the body structures that we have.
During his intriguing podcast with Russell Thackeray, Mark looks at how we have harnessed our evolutionary brain and asks the following three questions:
Why do we see in color? Human color vision evolved to give us greater insights into the mental states and health of other people. People who can see color changes in skin have an advantage over their color-blind counterparts; they can see when people are blushing with embarrassment, purple-faced with exertion or the reddening of rashes. Mark’s research reveals that the cones in our eyes that allow us to see color are exquisitely designed exactly for seeing color changes in the skin.
Why does reading come so naturally to us? We can read faster than we can hear, which is odd, considering that reading is relatively recent, and we’ve evolved to process speech for millions of years. Mark’s research reveals that language has been carefully designed to tap in to elements of the visual processing center that have evolved for tens of millions of years.
How has music mimicked nature? Mark shows that music itself is based on natural sounds. Music—seemingly one of the most human of inventions—is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time.