Brain evolution involves changes in size and morphology, but also changes in the capacity to be changed. Plasticity refers to the range of phenotypic variation allowed within a given genetic structure. Environment is a major factor influencing the phenotypic expression, and we humans have a special additional environmental component called “culture”. The ecological, cultural, and social niches, shape each others, with dynamics which are far from being understood. Aida Gómez-Robles and colleagues have now published a morphological analysis of human and chimp brain, taking into consideration heritability. In both species cranial capacity is highly heritable, more for humans than for chimps. Also the general dimensions of the main brain areas show in both species an apparent genetic component. The situation is different when dealing with sulcal morphology, which are still heritable for chimps but not that much for humans. This means that brain morphology in chimps has a stricter genetic program, while humans are more sensitive to non-genetic factors and individual responses. Environmental influences are supposed to be the key, mostly when considering the altricial condition and heterochronic changes associated with the human brain growth and development. In a recent review on the evolution of visuospatial integration with Atsushi Iriki we focused on the necessity to understand to what extent brain changes associated with human evolution are due to genetic, epigenetic or environmental factors. We pointed to the sensitivity of the brain to be “trained” through feedbacks between biology and culture as a crucial variable targeted by selection. This new study stresses further the possibility that selection can act on the capacity to change, more than on the change itself.
apes Atapuerca Australopithecus brain-artefact interface brain atlas brain biology braincase brain size brain thermoregulation CENIEH Cercopithecoids chimpanzee China cognitive archaeology corpus callosum cortical folding cortical surface cranial thickness diploic channels eLearning embodiment encephalization endocranial ontogeny endocranial volume evo-devo extended mind fossil endocasts Frederick Coolidge frontal bone frontal lobes functional craniology geometric morphometrics hemispheric asymmetries Holocene Homo erectus human ethology human genus intraparietal sulcus Konrad Lorenz Institute language Le Moustier macaque Malu Cave mammals metopic suture Mezmaiskaya modern humans myopia Neandertals occipital lobes orbits paleoneurology Pan paniscus Pan troglodytes parietal bone parietal lobes petalia Philipp Gunz Phillip Tobias photography precuneus primate brain sexual dimorphism shape analysis Simon Neubauer social primatology species concept subparietal sulcus sulcal patterns sulci symbolic thinking Taung child University of Colorado University of Liverpool visuospatial integration
- How big brains evolved could be revealed by new mathematical modelhttp://www.psypost.org/2017/03/big-brains-evolved-revealed-new-mathematical-model-48198
- DECODING MIMBRES PAINTINGThis extended abstract represents a summary introduction to a work in progress, which will culminate in a publication and exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2018. It briefly outlines our discoveries and interpretations, which will be more fully presented, referenced and discussed in the forthcoming catalog. This presentation is available f […]
- Brain Volume DatabaseThe Internet Brain Volume Database (IBVD) is an online collection of neuroimaging data funded as a part of the international initiative, the Human Brain Project. The IBVD provides access data for both individual and among-group comparisons that allow total volume comparisons with parallelization of the brain into hemispheres, specific lobes or grey matter vo […]
- The Effect of Diet Changes and The Selection of European Fatty Acid DesaturasesUC Berkeley Integrative Biologist, Rasmus Nielsen and his colleagues, published a fascinating study in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution looking at …Continue reading →
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- How to become a super memorizer – and what it does to your brainNew research shows that we can train our brains to become memory champions To many of us, having to memorize a long list of items feels like a chore. But for others, it is more like a sport. Every year, hundreds of these ‘memory athletes’ compete with one another in the World Memory Championships, memorising hundreds of words, numbers, or other pieces of inf […]
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