Evolution and humans: big brain size or use (Evolution)

by dhw, Friday, May 12, 2017, 13:39 (775 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Clearly, then, the regions controlling the beak and mouth complexified in response to a functional need. How does this support the theory that the brain grew larger before there was a functional need instead of the need driving the enlargement?
DAVID: You are challenging the conclusion of the study authors?

The article itself is very disjointed, but there is nothing in it to prove that functional need did not drive enlargement. It is the editor who says the “score” has been settled. Here is the authors’ conclusion (which also jumps around):


QUOTE: When it comes to humans, "it's always been controversial how we got to be who we are," DeVoogd said. Since supporting a big brain requires great demands on energy and oxygen, some researchers speculate that changes in the diets of early humans, including the ability to find and cook high-quality food, helped facilitate overall human brain growth by supplying the needed calories and protein.
Others speculate that living socially protected early humans and created evolutionary pressures for developing language, DeVoogd said.

Some say this and some say that. If these statements are connected, I take them to mean that a new diet enlarged the brain which then produced language, or the need for language enlarged the brain, which then required a change in diet. The score is far from settled.

DAVID's comment: Size first seems to be correct, with increased specialized function later. It has always been thought that the control of fire and cooking helped with the necessary energy supply to support a calorie-eating brain like ours. Now the big question. What drove the enlargement of the human brain from 400 cc. to 1,200 cc.? Nothing from natural challenges we can see.
dhw: I suggest the drive for improvement. Here is another big question for you: if you believe the enlarged brain preceded function, i.e. was the cause of the enhanced consciousness that has led to the great gulf between us and our fellow animals, how can you support dualism, the essence of which is that the immaterial mind uses the material brain, as opposed to being the product of the brain?

DAVID: You are forgetting that I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness. The brain must be of a certain size and complexity before it experiences full consciousness.

Of course I am not forgetting your view. That is my point. A receiver does not produce. Dualism argues that consciousness is not the product of the brain, which is why you are able to believe that your consciousness can survive the death of your brain (as seems to be confirmed by NDE experiences). This can only mean that the brain develops in response to consciousness, not the other way round. I am not taking sides here. I am pointing out what seems to me an inconsistency in your beliefs.


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