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Evolution granted the human mind unique neural networks

Wim Vanduffel, a neurology professor at Harvard University Medical School, and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (in Flanders, Belgium), have published an interesting new study examining how the human brain differs from the brain of Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).

According to the study authors, it was hypothesized that humans have different functional cortical networks than monkey brains, as a product of evolution.  However, most research thus far has focused on similar activity between monkey and human brains.

The new study uses a burgeoning brain imaging technique -- fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) -- to detect activity in the brain as evidenced by bloodflow changes.  Monkeys were found to have one unique network active during movie watching, while humans had two other unique networks.

Rhesus macaque
Rhesus macaque monkey [Image Source: Mark Snelson]

Describes Professor Vanduffel:

We did functional brain scans in humans and rhesus monkeys at rest and while watching a movie to compare both the place and the function of cortical brain networks. Even at rest, the brain is very active. Different brain areas that are active simultaneously during rest form so-called 'resting state' networks. For the most part, these resting state networks in humans and monkeys are surprisingly similar, but we found two networks unique to humans and one unique network in the monkey.

When watching a movie, the cortex processes an enormous amount of visual and auditory information. The human-specific resting state networks react to this stimulation in a totally different way than any part of the monkey brain. This means that they also have a different function than any of the resting state networks found in the monkey. In other words, brain structures that are unique in humans are anatomically absent in the monkey and there no other brain structures in the monkey that have an analogous function. Our unique brain areas are primarily located high at the back and at the front of the cortex and are probably related to specific human cognitive abilities, such as human-specific intelligence.

Humans and Rhesus monkeys are thought to have diverged on the evolutionary tree around 25 million years ago.

The new study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.  Dante Mantini, a researcher at KU Leuven and D'Annunzio University in Chianti, Italy was listed as the first author.

Sources: KU Leuven, The Journal of Neuroscience



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RE: Meh
By mmarianbv on 2/26/2013 2:54:33 AM , Rating: 3
billions years to get a working cell, and 1-2 millions for only humans to evolve. rest of the reign stays pretty much the same. (in term of intelligence)
that seems legit.
not saying that evolution is wrong, but there are some mighty blind spots there.


RE: Meh
By TheSlamma on 2/26/2013 10:34:54 AM , Rating: 2
Well just fill it in with a wizard that casts spells or something


RE: Meh
By ppardee on 2/26/2013 3:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
Oh please! Get real, Slamma. If people weren't intelligent yet, where did the wizard come from? Are you going to say he went back in time to cast the spell? Sounds like a paradox to me!


RE: Meh
By kerpwnt on 2/27/2013 3:03:23 AM , Rating: 2
The time traveling wizard is definitely a paradox.

Everybody knows it was a guy with white hair and fiery loins that existed before energy and matter existed.


RE: Meh
By ppardee on 2/27/2013 5:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
White hair and fiery loins? Bill Clinton?

Either way, you need an original mover. The 'new new' physics math says its possible, based on the rules of the universe, for all of the energy and matter in the universe to spontaneously come into being, but where did the universe come from? It all sounds like a bunch of malarkey to me.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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