Evolution and humans: brain plasticity ; learning to read (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 07, 2018, 14:56 (43 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: You wrote that “our brains had to be designed with plasticity in anticipation of the requirement the addition of language would bring.” The example under discussion was the new brain connections established through reading and writing (not the anatomical changes required for oral language, which we have already discussed in detail elsewhere). Once more: It is not the argument for design that is under discussion, but the argument that the brain changes described in the article were “developed” in anticipation of the new concept and not in response to it.

DAVID: Without the ability to apply plasticity, the brain would not have rearranged its connections to handle reading and writing. Plasticity existed in advance, and therefore was in place for any anticipated need.

dhw: If the brain was not plastic, it would not be able to form new connections. That has never been in dispute, because it is blindingly obvious. But the fact that reading and writing require new connections does not explain the 45,000-year gap between oral language and written language, as you claimed, and the article does not illustrate “anticipation of the requirements the addition of language” in the form of writing and reading would bring, because it shows how the brain changes in response to needs, not in anticipation of them. However, if all you wanted to prove was that the brain cannot make any changes unless it has plasticity, then there is no disagreement.

It just shows we have a brain like no other brain.


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