Tag Archives: comparative

The Worms!

Larry SternSurprise! I’m back already!

APA Monitor has published a great little piece by Larry Stern of Collin College (TX) about James McConnell of U. Michigan and his various attempts to show that memories are encoded by specific molecules in the brain. McConnell tried to demonstrate this by conditioning planaria  (flatworms) to respond to stimuli, and then feeding the trained worms’ nervous systems to other worms, in the hopes that the training would be expressed by the naive worms. In the end, the theory did not stand up, but for a long while there were enough positive results that it was not clear whether or not McConnell had found the elusive key to how memories are stored in the brain.

Stern writes:

The story of “McCannibal and his Mau Mau” hypothesis has become part of the folklore of psychology…. But folklore tends to caricature people and events and is lousy history….  McConnell’s planarian studies spawned a 15-year episode that tells us much about the workings of science when it is confronted — as it always is — with claims that depart in significant ways from prevailing views. Continue reading The Worms!

New Issue of History of Psychology

The latest issue of the journal History of Psychology has just hit the wire. It contains three new research articles.

The first is by noted U. Florida historian of comparative psychology, Donald Dewsbury. The article is entitled, “Samuel Fernberger’s rejected doctoral dissertation: A neglected resource for the history of ape research in America.” Fernberger is perhaps best known (at least to me) as the author of two brief histories of the American Psychological Association, one from 1932 and another from 1943.) Continue reading New Issue of History of Psychology

Drunken Monkeys?

This item belongs more properly to the history of the psyche, than to the history of psychology. Nevertheless, it is amusing. From an article in yesterday’s New York Times:

A large variety of creatures consume alcohol in the wild, ranging from bumble-bees to elephants. Hooch finds its way into their diets via the fermenting fruit, sap and nectar of various plants, and many exhibit signs of inebriation after they’ve enjoyed a good feed. Their weakness for the substance au naturel is understandable: ethanol is a rich food, with 75 percent more calories than refined sugar, and its distinctive aroma makes it easy to locate. This natural thirst has been exploited by man since the dawn of history. Aristotle noted that wild monkeys Continue reading Drunken Monkeys?