University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Biological Anthropology Seminar Series > Brains growing on the tree of life. A phylogenetic approach to brain structure & function

Brains growing on the tree of life. A phylogenetic approach to brain structure & function

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Recent developments in comparative methods are providing unprecedented insights into how traits evolved through time. I apply these methods to the mammalian brain, with a particular focus on primates. The results overturn many of the things we thought to be true about brain evolution, providing a more complex and nuanced picture in which different kinds of structural change occurred at different times in response to different selection pressures. The complexity of the patterns of brain evolution give the lie to single-factor hypotheses and in particular undermine attempts to explain cognitive evolution as the product of selection on ‘general intelligence’ and executive control. Instead, the results suggest that the brains of different species support specialized forms of embodied cognition closely associated with their sensory-motor adaptations.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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