Episode 47 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Principles of Brain Evolution by Georg F. Striedter. My goal is to highlight the main ideas of this complicated and often controversial subject. Understanding the principles of brain evolution is an important element in our multidisciplinary attempt to understand how our brains make us who we are.
Show Notes and Links:
- homologues: characteristics with shared ancestry.
- neurocladistics: a rigorous method for classifying neural structures based on their ancestry.
- small-world network: a mathematical graph where most nodes connect to nearby nodes but almost any two can be connect in relatively small number of steps (the famous six-degrees of separation).
- Boskop man: an extinct hominid that is thought to have had a larger brain than modern humans.
People and scientists discussed:
- Carl Sagan: author of The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence.
- Richard Owen: contemporary of Darwin who introduced the term homologue.
- Ludwig Edinger: the founder of modern neuroanatomy, he thought that the forebrain of vertebrates had evolved by the addition of novel structures.
- Willi Hennig: introduced cladistics in 1950.
- Glen Northcutt: application of cladistics to neural connections (neurocladistics).
- Johnston, J. B. 1923. "Further Contributions of the study of the evolution of the forebrain." Journal of Comparative Neurology 36: 143-192. He challenged the idea that brains evolve by the successive addition of novel parts..
- Episode 48 will be a follow-up interview with Dr. Gary Lynch, co-author of Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence.
- Check out Episode 22 of Books and Ideas to hear more about my adventures at this year's Dragon*Con. Click to find links to audio and video from Dragon*Con 2008.
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