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

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 25, 2017, 23:23 (329 days ago) @ David Turell

More commentary on t he illiterate study and brain changes:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/for-the-illiterate-adult-learning-to-...

"We expected to replicate previous findings that changes are limited to the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, which is known to adapt quickly to new challenges. We found the expected changes in the cortex but we also observed that the learning process leads to a reorganization that extends to deep brain structures in the thalamus and the brainstem. The relatively young phenomenon of human literacy therefore changes brain regions that are very old in evolutionary terms and already core parts of mice and other mammalian brains. (my bold)

"More precisely, we found that a part of the brainstem known as the superior colliculus, and the pulvinar, located in the thalamus, adapt the timing of their activity patterns to those of the visual cortex. These deep structures in the thalamus and brainstem help our visual cortex to filter important information from the flood of visual input even before we consciously perceive it. Interestingly, it seems that the more the signal timings between the two brain regions are aligned, the better the reading capabilities. It appears that these brain systems  increasingly fine-tune their communication as learners become more and more proficient in reading."

Comment: Obviously I consider this a very important bit of evidence in deciding whether enlargement first and use second is the correct interpretation. Note my bolded area which indicates a very old evolutionary part of the brain is brought into play for a new use. The brain's ability to re-coordinate its connections is part of its plasticity. The neurologic abilities are there for the finding. Enlargement first!


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