Sunday, 14 February 2016

Monkey skull study suggests brain evolved in spurts

February 9, 2016 by Bob Yirka 

Credit: Leandro Aristide, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1514473113

(—A small team of researchers from Brazil and Argentina has found via skull analysis and modeling that a kind of new-world monkey appears to have undergone changes in individual parts of its brain during evolutionary periods which led to advances in cognitive development. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their study and results and why they believe what they found might apply to humans as well.

For many years, researchers believed that superior intelligence in humans was attributable to our brain size—that the large size of our brain relative to the size of the rest of our body was what set us apart. But subsequent studies found that other animals had ratios that were even more pronounced than ours, suggest thing it must be something else. In this new study, the researchers propose that it was changes to the size of certain parts of the brain that led to increases in cognitive abilities, and that it happened in spurts.

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