Archive for the 'Notes' Category


Journal of Anatomy Bruner et al 2014

Journal of Anatomy Best Paper Prize 2014”  to Bruner E., Rangel de Lázaro G., de la Cuétara JM., Martín-Loeches M., Colom R. & Jacobs HIL. 2014. ‘Midsagittal brain variation and MRI shape analysis of the precuneus in adult individuals’,  Journal of Anatomy, Volume 224, Issue 4, April 2014, pp 367-376,  as the most outstanding article published during 2014! The prize is awarded by the Anatomical Society. Thanks!!!



Humanchimp_2015Since the earliest hypotheses on human evolution there is major issue on continuity vs discontinuity. Charles Darwin suggested that only a matter of degree separates human and non-human species, also in the cognitive sense. From the opposite side, many biologists (mostly those involved in molecular sciences) are constantly looking for unique features, single changes that can switch the light on. The fact that there is still no agreement or evidence giving definitive support to any of the two perspectives may suggest that the debate is simply oriented toward an unfruitful direction. If there is still no good answer, maybe it is because there is a bad question. Is a faster car faster just because it supports higher speed or because it is differently designed? Both. What about evolutionary “shifts” based on the same processes? Are they a continuous or a discontinuous phenomenon? Both. Brain evolution is particularly sensitive to the continuity vs discontinuity debate. Is there a real biological frontier between continuity and discontinuity? It looks like a fractal loop and any change is, after all, a discontinuity in something. In paleontology, continuity is often a matter of appearance concerning the homogeneity of the fossil record, which gives a partial and largely incomplete view of the variation. Paleontology is furthermore based on a specific biological component – morphology – which may not necessarily have a linear correspondence with the underlying evolutionary processes. What if continuity and discontinuity are just in our head, in our eyes, in the form we perceive reality, in the form we analyze reality? We need fixed categories to decompose the scene and then recompose it by searching for relationships. Maybe this necessity is a limit, or maybe it is an advantage. But we think through categories. Evolution does not.

The Skull Box

The Skull BoxThe Skull Box is a new blog for students working and collaborating in different research lines at my paleoneurology lab. Posts published there will present comments, information, and resources on functional craniology, cranial evolution, neuroanatomy, brain evolution, and morphometrics, bridging human biology, anthropology, paleontology, neuroscience, and medicine. The blog has three main aims. First, it is a source of information for topics associated with human brain and skull evolution. Second, it helps to promote blogging in human evolution and anthropology, fields in which many web resources are still undervalued. Third, it is useful to train students in writing and communicating science. All these three targets are essential for our research fields, and whatever minor advance in any of these directions is a success. Have a look at the blog!

Brain Maps

brainmaps.orgBrain Maps is a huge on-line database of brain sections at extreme high resolution. Physical and digital sliced brains are available to download and to explore at macroanatomical and cellular levels. Brain atlases are interactive, and images are available for research and for teaching, with applications and annotations, in two and three dimensions. This is an amazing resource!

Science and Research

A “scientist” is someone devoted to studying theory (concepts and principles), method (approaching problems and perspectives), and techniques (tools). A “researcher” is someone who dedicates say 5% of the time to all these things, and the rest of the day to personal and institutional relationships, local and global politics, management, administration, funding, mass media and communication, leadering, self-promotion, logistics, and representation. The qualities to be a fine scientist and the qualities to be a fine researcher are not the same. The targets and the needs are not necessarily the same. Most of all, the knowledge and expertise they develop along their careers, year by year, will not be the same.  And … you? Are you a good scientist, or a good researcher?

Extended memory card

Recent cognitive theories like those on extended mind, embodiment, or brain-artefact interface, stress the relevance of the outer environment in transforming a “brain” into a “mind”. The brain needs information stored beyond its anatomical 1500 cubic centimetres to complete the network that generates cognition. Objects may be necessary to store additional and supplementary data, or even to induce processes. This may sound like metaphysics, but think for example about photographs. Without recorded images most of our memories quickly fade away, or are deeply distorted. And our mind is strongly rooted in memories. Many memories do exist just because there are photos able to regenerate those emotions, situations, and relationships. Sometimes we don’t have the memory of the situation at all, but just the memory of the photo of that situation. Images are a strict example of an external cognitive device. No doubt, language has been the result of an incredible evolutionary change. Nonetheless, I wonder if we are giving too much importance to speech. If our mind is really “extended”, drawing and writing could have been the real cognitive revolution, definitely setting the pace of our cognitive boost.

A challenge for archaeology and cultural neuroscience (Lambros Malafouris)
An Embodied Interaction Book Review (Seth Fox)

Phillip V. Tobias

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  • Fall 2017 CCA Course Offerings
    The Center for Cognitive Archaeology is offering three exciting classes this semester: Neurocognition of Art, Cognitive Evolution, and Neandertal Cognition. Follow the link below for detailed information.

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  • Hominin biomechanics
      Hominin biomechanics Virtual anatomy and inner structural morphology, from head to toe A tribute to Laurent Puymerail Comptes Rendus Palevol 16 (2017) [ScienceDirect]  

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  • Researchers develop non-invasive deep brain stimulation method
    Researchers at MIT have developed a new method of electrically stimulating deep brain tissues without opening the skullSince 1997, more than 100,000 Parkinson’s Disease patients have been treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical technique that involves the implantation of ultra-thin wire electrodes. The implanted device, sometimes referred to as […]


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