Biology Is Social All the Way to the Core


 

Social psychology studies social interactions, including their origins and their effects on the individual. It focuses on the relationship between the mental structures within the individual and the social structures which that individual encounters and interacts with, and how that shapes the individual and the wider social landscape. One of the keys to understanding this relationship dynamic is in looking at the multiple flows on influence back and forth that define the overall nature of the entire relationship system. This complex relational dance brings up the intersection of multiple influences from which our experience and behaviors emerge. This same principle is now beginning to be understood on a biological level as we see the influence of various organisms on each other over time can shape our experience, our individual developmental paths and our evolution. A long history of just such a relationship dynamic can be witnessed by examining certain gut microbes that are thought to have been around humans since before humans were humans. They currently play powerful roles in steering the early development of our intestines, in training our immune systems to negotiate the “shark” infested waters they will have to contend with over a lifetime, and possibly affecting our moods and behaviors, including social behaviors, in many other ways.

So tightly tied together is this biological social dance that there is now genetic evidence that certain bacteria split into distinct strains at about the same times as their hosts split into distinct species, demonstrating the influence of organisms on each other in the evolutionary development story.

From a certain perspective, what we think of as human is composed of a parliament of biological bodies that together form a relationship system that defines who and what we are as “individuals” through a vast and intertwined collection of interdependent influences, and what could be more social than that?

For a more refined glimpse at a segment of the social relationship between gut microbes and humans, click here. From the article:

“Some of the bacteria in our guts were passed down over millions of years, since before we were human, suggesting that evolution plays a larger role than previously known in people’s intestinal-microbe makeup… our gut microbes, which we could get from many sources in the environment, have actually been co-evolving inside us for such a long time…  scientists found genetic evidence that the bacteria split into distinct strains at about the same times as their hosts were splitting into distinct species… One… happened about 15.6 million years ago as the gorilla lineage diverged from the other hominids. The other… about 5.3 million years ago as the human lineage separated from the lineage leading to chimps and bonobos.

Again Read more on this at: http://phys.org/news/2016-07-bacteria-human-gut.html

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