Friday, 29 March 2013

Brain Size Didn't Drive Evolution, Research Suggests

Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 26 March 2013 Time: 08:01 PM ET

Brain organization, not overall size, may be the key evolutionary difference between primate brains, and the key to what gives humans their smarts, new research suggests.

In the study, researchers looked at 17 species that span 40 million years of evolutionary time, finding changes in the relative size of specific brain regions, rather than changes in brain size, accounted for three-quarters of brain evolution over that time. The study, published today (March 26) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, also revealed that massive increases in the brain's prefrontal cortex played a critical role in great ape evolution.
"For the first time, we can really identify what is so special about great ape brain organization," said study co-author Jeroen Smaers, an evolutionary biologist at the University College London.

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