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

by David Turell @, Friday, May 12, 2017, 00:39 (2600 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The debate is whether the brain grew big first and developed function or did the need for function drive the enlargement:

QUOTE: "Which came first, overall bigger brains or larger brain regions that control specialized behaviors? Neuroscientists have debated this question for decades, but a new Cornell University study settles the score.
"The study reports that though vertebrate brains differ in size, composition and abilities, evolution of overall brain size accounts for most of these differences, with larger brains leading to greater capabilities.
"The study of 58 species of songbirds also found that once a species evolved a larger brain, brain regions that control the beak and mouth, and the area for song, developed additional complex neural networks.

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?

You are challenging the conclusion of the study authors?

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?

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.

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