What Drove the Evolution of the Human Brain?

At his Gaurdian(UK) blog, Neurophilosophy, writer Mo Costandi discusses new research that explores how the human brain evolved, and why it is significantly different in size, among other features, than the brains of our predecessors. From the post:

One of the things that makes our species unique is our exceptionally large brain relative to body size. Brain size more than tripled during the course of human evolution, and this size increase was accompanied by a significant reorganization of the cerebral cortex, the prominent convoluted structure responsible for complex mental functions, which accounts for something like 85% of total brain volume.

What evolutionary forces drove this dramatic increase in brain size? Many theories have been put forward over the years, a popular one being that our ancestors' brains expanded to accommodate the faculty of language. A fossilized skull fragment belonging to a human ancestor that lived several million years ago provides yet more clues. A new analysis of the skull suggests that human brain evolution may have been shaped by changes in the female reproductive system that occurred when our ancestors stood upright. 

Read the entire post at Neurophilosophy

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Posted on June 1, 2012 .