'Why' humans have big brains

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Allo V Psycho
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'Why' humans have big brains

Post by Allo V Psycho » Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:39 pm

From the Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... -is-so-big

Seems fairly good, though (nit pick) I think I would have called it 'HOW humans have big brains'. I vaguely feel that 'Why' should have a component of evolutionary benefit. Sure, a single gene change would have given you a physically bigger brain, but then the question is, why does that give you an evolutionary benefit.

My current understanding is that 'big brains' may have evolved several times in the hominid families, so it isn't a case of a 'hopeful monster'.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.10 ... evolution.

Of course it turns out to be a Hox gene, but I was pleased to see it interacts with TGF beta, with which I had a ten-year affair back in the day.

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dyqik
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Re: 'Why' humans have big brains

Post by dyqik » Thu Mar 25, 2021 12:39 am

If humans didn't have big brains, they wouldn't be able to consider the question of why humans have big brains...

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Tessa K
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Re: 'Why' humans have big brains

Post by Tessa K » Sat Mar 27, 2021 10:06 am

The title is a bit misleading and should be 'Humans have loads of neurons'. It's not the size, it's what you do with what you've got...
Mathematical modelling of the process showed that the difference in cell proliferation happens so early in brain development, that it ultimately leads to a near doubling in the number of neurons
The article starts off sounding like it's about size but, as this sentence quite a way in shows, it's about the neurons. Corvids have tiny brains but can do all sorts of things other birds of similar size can't.

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Woodchopper
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Re: 'Why' humans have big brains

Post by Woodchopper » Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:56 am

Tessa K wrote:
Sat Mar 27, 2021 10:06 am
The title is a bit misleading and should be 'Humans have loads of neurons'. It's not the size, it's what you do with what you've got...
Mathematical modelling of the process showed that the difference in cell proliferation happens so early in brain development, that it ultimately leads to a near doubling in the number of neurons
The article starts off sounding like it's about size but, as this sentence quite a way in shows, it's about the neurons. Corvids have tiny brains but can do all sorts of things other birds of similar size can't.
Yes, Corvids have lots of small and tightly packed neurons. Absolute brain size isn’t nearly as important as neuron quantity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685590/

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Tessa K
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Re: 'Why' humans have big brains

Post by Tessa K » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:15 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:56 am
Tessa K wrote:
Sat Mar 27, 2021 10:06 am
The title is a bit misleading and should be 'Humans have loads of neurons'. It's not the size, it's what you do with what you've got...
Mathematical modelling of the process showed that the difference in cell proliferation happens so early in brain development, that it ultimately leads to a near doubling in the number of neurons
The article starts off sounding like it's about size but, as this sentence quite a way in shows, it's about the neurons. Corvids have tiny brains but can do all sorts of things other birds of similar size can't.
Yes, Corvids have lots of small and tightly packed neurons. Absolute brain size isn’t nearly as important as neuron quantity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685590/
Eg Alex the grey parrot:
corvid and psittacid birds have very small and densely packed pallial neurons and relatively many neurons, which, despite very small brain volumes, might explain their high intelligence. The evolution of a syntactical and grammatical language in humans most probably has served as an additional intelligence amplifier, which may have happened in songbirds and psittacids in a convergent manner.

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