Cortical Expansion

26 Aug

So I stumbled across this abstract and picture a little while ago. Both come from similar patterns of cortical expansion during human development and evolution, a paper published at Yale earlier this year. The title basically sums up the idea, though I think some of the finer suggestions of why this happens are pretty neat.

Hill et al. notice that the newer portions of our brains (mainly, the giant cortex, which is responsible for our ‘higher’/more ‘human’ brain function, and is the most recent to be ‘tacked on’ as in Dr. Linden’s model) tend to develop considerably after birth, whereas the basic units responsible for survival–not so unique to humans–are already developed by the time we exit the womb. It’s interesting to think about how much is left to be shaped by our experience–and it seems that the equipment and allowance of extensive experience-based molding is a large chunk of what sets us apart.

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