ATC Event 002

Origins of The Human Imagination Plant-Human Coevolution

Imagination makes us human. Certainly it’s at the heart of all art. Yet we rarely stop to consider where the imagination came from. If evolution endows nature’s creatures with traits that aid in survival and reproduction, what may she have intended when she created the imagination? And from a physiological perspective, how may the imagination have come about.

Please join us as renowned ethnopharmacologist Dr. Dennis McKenna discusses how our ancestors’ interactions with plants over millions of years may have laid the foundation for imagination.

The biochemical co-evolutionary relationship between plants and insects are well-studied. The same principles apply to co-evolution with herbivores which includes humans. Interactions between plant chemical compounds and our complex neural machinery, which can trigger synesthesia- the nexus where sound, vision and symbol come together-may have been the stimulus for the cognitive evolution of the mind. Many have experienced these effects in the form of the psychedelic experience, but their impact on our culture predates the 60’s by several million years. In fact, plants may have given us the ability to understand meaning and abstractions, therefore laid the foundation for language. And with language came the ability to share ideas across continents and centuries, which reacted the very foundation for culture.