Thursday, February 2, 2012
Study Reveals Possible New Key to Human Evolution
For the first five years of life, human cognition slowly comes to fruition, receiving and storing information and experience from the environment and enabling humans to advance beyond the capabilities of their primate cousins, according to a study published online in Genome Research. An international team of researchers have identified extended synaptic development in the prefrontal cortex of the human brain that sheds new light on the evolution of human cognition and suggests another reason why the human family diverged from other primates 4-6 million years ago.
"Why can we absorb environmental information during infancy and childhood and develop intellectual skills that chimpanzees cannot?" asks study author Dr. Philipp Khaitovich of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "What makes the human brain so special?"
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