Noise Matters: The Evolution of Communication

R. Haven Wiley
Harvard University Press (2015)


General Introduction

Part I Noise and Ways to Reduce It

Chapter 1 Noise introduced

Noise as errors by receivers / Signals as the medium of information

Chapter 2 Producing acoustic signals in noise

Concentrated energy / Producing sound / Human voice / Avian song

Chapter 3 Receiving acoustic signals in noise

Transducing sound / Sound waves in time and in frequency / Digital analysis of waves / Cochlea as spectrum analyzers / Comparison of birds and mammals

Chapter 4 Transmission of acoustic signals

A pioneering study / Attenuation / Sound shadows / Turbulence / Boundaries / Forests as concert halls / Reverberation / Other modalities

Chapter 5 Adaptations to environments for communication

Signal space / Ranging the source of sound / Cocktail-party effect / Acoustic Adaptation Hypothesis

Chapter 6 Reducing noise, enhancing performance

Contrast / Contrast between species' signals / Contrast between individuals' signals / Contrast in visual signals / Redundancy / Predictability / Ritualization of signals / Receiver psychology

Part II Evolution of Signalers and Receivers

Chapter 7 Signals, receivers, and noise

What is a signal? / What is a receiver? / What is noise? / A threshold as a criterion for response / Signals and receivers in many contexts / Can communication be optimized? / Interaction in development: genes influence, not determine / Evolution by natural selection / Optimizing by natural selection

Chapter 8 Optimal receivers and signalers

Performance of receivers / Utility of a threshold / Receivers in contrasting situations / Preliminary reflections on communication in noise / Performance of receivers depends on signalers / Costs of exaggeration / Benefits of signaling / Optimal signalers / Coordination of signaling and receiving / Multiple participants / Fundamental problem of noisy communication

Chapter 9 Payoffs for participants

Ten parameters (four of them payoffs) / Choosing a mate / Vigilance for danger / Mimicry / Assessment and negotiation / Diversity in patterns of payoffs / Measured benefits for receivers / Measured costs for receivers and signalers

Chapter 10 Joint optima in noisy communication

Interdependence of receiver and signaler / Formulating noise / Formulating exaggeration in signals / Formulating other parameters / Calculating a receiver's optimal performance / A receiver's adaptive landscape / A signaler's adaptive landscape / A receiver's and signaler's joint optimum / The course of evolution / Comparisons of mate choice and vigilance

Chapter 11 Evaluation and extension

Math and reality / Mimicry and camouflage as signal detection / Signaler-receiver equilibrium in the evolution of mimicry / Previous mathematical analyses of camouflage and mimicry / Empirical studies of the evolution of Batesian mimicry / Where do we stand now? / Noise is inescapable / Honesty is the norm

Part III Altered Perspectives

Chapter 12 Honesty in communication

"Handicaps" and honesty / Females' costs / Persistence of preferences / "Handicaps" are just costs

Chapter 13 Sexual selection and communication

Complementary theories / Evolution of exaggeration / Two mechanisms for the evolution of exaggeration / "Fisherian" evolution / Indirect mate choice / Exaggerated signals

Chapter 14 Cooperation by communication

Recognition in complex societies / Recognition in noise / Recognition of rivals / Recognition in cooperation / Kin selection promotes cooperation

Chapter 15 Complex societies

Complex cooperation / Kin selection and cooperative breeding / Succession to breeding status / Queuing for advantageous social positions / Complex recognition in the service of cooperation / Cooperation with inequality / Social groups as superorganisms / Cooperation in noise

Chapter 16 Molecular signals

Noise in an organism's body / Immune responses as signal detection / More molecular trade-offs in signaling

Part IV Far Horizons

Chapter 17 Human communication

Is human communication peculiar? / Is thinking communication? / Does language evolve by natural selection? / Noise and imperfection

Chapter 18 Truth in language

The human imperative / Translation / Problems of consilience

Chapter 19 Subjectivity

Split awareness / Other minds / Mechanism with freedom / Science and art for everyone

Chapter 20 Verification

Consilience / Solipsism rescued / Science / Natural selection redux / Interactive development redux / A lesson

General Conclusion

Bibliographic Notes