Human Evolution Mirrored in Brain Development

For a glimpse at how the human brain has evolved since we last shared an ancestor with primates, just observe the development of a brain from infancy through its first few decades.

The expansion, organization, and folding of the human cerebral cortex is a wondrously complex orchestration of genes that displays the very stages it took to get our brains to their current forms. In a study published July 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neurobiologist David Van Essen of Washington University in St. Louis compared brain scans of infant and adult humans, then took the results and mapped them against similar scans of macaque monkey brains to show the parallels between brain development and evolution since we parted ways with our primate ancestors.

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Noah Hutton

Noah Hutton is a film director and curator, and was named a 2015 Salzburg Global Fellow in Neuroscience and Art.

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