Posts Tagged 'brain thermoregulation'

Functional craniology

Bruner et al (Front Neuroanat 2014)Chet Sherwood and Suzana Herculano-Houzel are editing a Frontiers volume entitled “The Human Brain’s Place in Nature: Evolution of Large Brains”, cross listed between Frontiers in Neuroanatomy and Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. There you can find review and research papers dealing with pros and cons of evolving large brains. Our article presents issues in functional craniology, with topics joining evolution and medicine. The article begins with an introduction to functional craniology and brain-braincase structural relationships. Features associated with sutures and brain spatial organization are interesting in evolutionary neuroanatomy and in surgery as well. Brain thermoregulation is a major factor in both fields, and modelling can help to test the influence of brain form changes in heat dissipation patterns. Changes in the frontal lobes proportions and position during human evolution are discussed as a probable background for visual impairment, in particular myopia, because of spatial conflicts between brain and orbits. The dilation of the parietal areas in modern humans and the complexity of the deep parietal elements are then integrated with information on neurodegenerative processes, in particular Alzheimer’s disease, in an evo-neuro perspective. Evolutionary neuroanatomy and medicine share information, tools, methods, and samples, being interested in the same characters and processes for different reasons and different targets. Functional craniology is the bridge we use to integrate these fields.

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Thermomaps

After our first paper introducing thermal maps on endocasts (Am J Hum Biol 2011), now we present some ideas to quantify and compare thermal dissipation patterns (Am J Hum Biol 2012). Although brain thermoregulation is not only a matter of size and shape, we can anyway evaluate the influence of geometry on heat distribution. Such morphological correlate can provide some information on brain physiology in fossils. Size is probably the main factor influencing thermal management. Nonetheless, local differences associated with changes in proportions or spatial organization can be relevant.


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