Anthropology Colloquia Series: Dr. Karthik Panchanathan


Start Date: Feb 15, 2018 - 03:30pm

Location: Hibben 105

The Evolution of Sensitive Periods in a Model of Incremental Development

Karthik Panchanathan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Missouri

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 | 3:30-4:30 | Hibben 105


Sensitive periods, in which experience shapes phenotypic development to a larger extent than other periods, are widespread in nature. Despite a recent focus on neural-physiological explanation, few formal models have examined the evolutionary selection pressures that result in developmental mechanisms that produce sensitive periods. I’ll present an evolutionary model of development I’ve been working on with colleagues. We model development as a specialization process during which individuals incrementally adapt to local environmental conditions, while receiving a constant stream of cost-free, imperfect cues to the environmental state. We compute optimal developmental programmes across a range of ecological conditions and use these programs to simulate developmental trajectories and obtain distributions of mature phenotypes. I’ll discuss both the modeling framework and some of the results of the model.