We recently published a new issue of the Charité NeuroScience (CNS) Newsletter, bringing you the latest on Evolution and the Brain.
Tale as old as time, or indeed even older? In this issue, we ponder an entropic force which has shaped the cognition, creativity, imagination, language, and logic of Homo sapiens and all species alike.
Evolution has plainly left its touch on many pieces of our lives, from the hand we use to grab our morning coffee (p. 20) to the little voice in our head who keeps us from committing crimes (p. 30). To gain more clarity on present brains, we look to the sea, the birthplace of nervous systems (p. 10), then turn back to examine the remarkable intelligence of the ‘many-brained’ blob-like superorganism Physarum polycephalum (p. 14), or “simple” fungi networks (p. 12). But what is truly advantageous about an organ so complicated and energetically expensive as the brain? One theory from Dr. Robin Dunbar, the Social Brain Hypothesis, might be receiving new life (p. 24). Social behavior plainly shapes evolution in another way: extravagant courtships and sexual selection (p. 18). Then why, indeed, does the loner cephalopod necessitate a similarly expensive brain (p. 20)? A multitude of theories abound (p. 6), but in many ways, we aren’t so different from the birds singing to potential mates, cephalopods in the deep, or indeed even from the dogs and cats living in our own homes (p. 16). However many of these organisms live more fleeting lives than those of our ever-increasing lifespans. Indeed, one must look closer at the individual life, at the influence of traumas (p. 26) and the slow march of age creeping in our very cells (p. 32). As technology and pandemics place unique evolutionary pressures on us (p. 36), what will become of Homo sapiens? Can we expect, as in some great works of science fiction (p. 34), to give way to some new transhuman species: Homo novus? Only time will tell.
Volume 15, Issue 03
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