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Highbrow Highjinks Come to an End 31

nickynicky9doors writes "The Sidney Morning Herald has an article debunking the long standing theory of our specie's dominance based on a proportionally greater development of the frontal lobe. MRI scanning suggest... 'proportionately, there is no major difference in the relative size of the frontal cortex among humans and their closest relatives.'"
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Highbrow Highjinks Come to an End

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  • Great Stuff.

    So, does that mean our limbic system is similar to our animal friends?

    No wonder...


  • by cybrpnk ( 94636 ) on Monday February 18, 2002 @04:43PM (#3028278)
    The key to consciousness is in the ORGANIZATION of the neurons in the "proportionally sized" area of interest. When they show us micrographs that indicate the wiring is identical between men and other apes, then maybe I'll change my mind, but not before. You have some people (hulking linebackers) with big heads and brains (literally) and others (petite cheerleaders) with small heads and brains - but they both are equally intelligent humans (sort of...)
  • I would like to bring something else to everyones attention that seems relevant; a study done in England. During the 1960s doctors gave shunts to some patients with "water on the brain." These poor people didn't have much hope for a quality life as others do. When researchers went back to see how these children were doing in the 1980s, they found, astonishingly, that they had IQ's of around 120 and were all able to finish university. After further investigation it was found that only a very small portion of their brains were functioning (a small bit in the cerebellum I believe). I am sorry to say I don't remember who did this study, but I hope someone who reads this will and post more details. I am sure I have gotten some details wrong, so please don't flame me. I just remember this as very interesting since it seemed to be a radicaly change from the way we see the brain.
  • Language (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crow ( 16139 ) on Monday February 18, 2002 @04:51PM (#3028332) Homepage Journal
    I've heard it suggested that what makes us different is the use of language. I think the theory goes that our species existed for a long time with little sign of intelligence. Then language was developed, and everything changed almost overnight. Key factors include not just the brain capacity for language, but the vocal capacity for language. Or so goes the theory.

    I've heard of them teaching other primates to use sign language, and the results are fascinating.

    So perhaps we aren't that much smarter than other primates, and hence, people studying brain mechanisms won't find the differences they're looking for.
    • Re:Language (Score:2, Funny)

      by Nf1nk ( 443791 )
      I forget his name, but there was a 19th century french philospher who said that the apes remained mute to avoid being put to work.

      does this show that he was right?

    • Re:Language (Score:3, Informative)

      by wrt2 ( 150916 )
      Actually, the experiments with teaching sign language to chimpanzees and gorillas demonstrated that human language acqusition and use are different from other primates. People are specialized to learn language; a child will learn spoken language barring severe neurological damage or neglect. (Interestingly, deaf babies have been observed babble-signing with their hands.) Further, children not only acquire pronunciation and vocabulary, but are able to fit them into syntactical grammatical frameworks of arbitrary complexity. Chimpanzees can sign "give drink fruit," but cannot tell a story. "Smarter," though, is a different issue. Chimpanzees and bonobos are brilliant at being chimpanzees and bonobos. Assuming that we don't end life on our planet, we might just be brilliant at being us.
    • If you will compare the Bible and the Quran for their information on the Genesis of Humanity you will find that proto-man existed prior to man taking up the Trust of Stewardship. At that point proto-man was *evolved* to know the difference between good and evil, a side effect of eating of the fruit(badly translated as apple) of knowledge was the loss of bliss (ignorance is bliss). A second side effect was that woman would give birth in pain (due to the enlarged head at birth). There are three differences then between present man and proto-man. 1) increased early development of the brain, 2) directed development of society and probably most important 3) "Praise be to God who has taught man what he knew not, Taught man by the pen." (I may have quoted the Quran incorrectly there but you can find it.)

      All animals have language(we are just to stupid to accept that it may be nonverbal, read the book the horse whisperer), though not so developed, many animals use tools (most grow them themselves, long tongues, claws ...) but few have directed development and the pen. The pen allows our knowledge to be passed on in time and space. Civilization as we know it would have been greatly limited without the pen. Any given person would be little more than an animal without the benefits from them. Religious development and the pen are necessary conditions for the development of society past a certain point.

      Most people misunderstand the stories. The atomic(indivisible matter) theory came from Democratus but his teachings on the four phases of matter got dummied down to earth(solid), water(liquid), air(gas) and fire(plasma) (most common examples). You can only imagine what happened to the teachings of (indivisible man) "adam" when it got dummied down to the concepts available then. Note the similarity to "atom" and "adam" in spelling. When man gets divided from God he becomes animal. Religion (re- again, ligio- to bind) is about making man whole again by binding himself back to God (willfully). Like an atom, a human is not stable until its parts (spin, charge ...) are balanced and functioning as willed by God. And society will be just as unstable when unbalanced and not functioning as willed by God.

      That's the difference between fully developed humans and animals. We are (at our best) wisdom(light e=mc^2) made clay (a mix of solid, liquid, gas and ions) and the pen allows us to do the same, metaphorically speaking.

      • Where do I begin?

        First, the size of a baby's head has little to do with how uncomfortable labor is--other parts of the body do that just fine. The skull, in fact, is not fully fused, so a baby's head is noticeably distorted for 24-48 hours after going through what I like to call the "Play-doh fun factory of life." You can spot Caesarean babies precisely because their heads are bulbous and not funny mush-shapes. Also, many other animals (especially mammals) evince what appears to be extreme discomfort during labor; it's not limited to humans.

        Second, many societies are advanced, in the sense that they form stable social units with laws and traditions, without the aid of writing. True, technological society as we know it wouldn't exist, but to say that people are "little more than animals" without the benefits of writing is ignorant and absurd.

        Third, "atom" and "adam" come from different languages. Atomos means "small" in Greek; adam means "person" in Hebrew. The similarity in English transliteration means nothing. It certainly doesn't mean that we have a "spin" and a "charge" in any meaningful, macro-level sense, that has to be aligned or balanced as willed by anyone.

        Finally, you shouldn't call just any means of communication "language." Even chimps who have been taught sign language lack the ability to put together elaborate sentences, and just because horses respond well to soothing whispers doesn't mean their comprehension of "language" meets even the bottom rung of sophistication for human speech.

        I don't quite know if you're trying to sway people to your religious beliefs with this post, but if you are, you need to present them with a little more clarity of mind.

  • Firstly it's spelt "Sydney". The Olympics were only held there. We thought you might have noticed.

    Secondly, the so-called 'dominance' of our species is really self-evident in the way it's just our species that rapes the planet.

    Dominance shouldn't be about the size of anything. It's what you do with it that counts. E.g. Look at what the dolphins are doing with their brains. Nothing much really. Just living and getting by.

    Who's the more intelligent?

    merkac - (side references to Doug Adams)

    • Secondly, the so-called 'dominance' of our species is really self-evident in the way it's just our species that rapes the planet.

      Elephants and goats can do a great job of destroying an ecosystem.

  • Sidney ? (Score:2, Funny)

    by ChrisGuest ( 556510 )
    what kind of cortex development, caused this typo.
    • For the record: First I apologise for the typo; by way of apology I lived in Sidney, Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada for a few years so the spelling mistake is not without some associational excuse.

      "...what kind of cortex development, caused this typo."
      Geographical I guess.

  • Is this for real? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ramb ( 256851 )
    I was just trying to find this paper in Nature Neuroscience (as referenced in the article) and all that's returned is...

    No documents matched the query.
    Search query:Author: Semendeferi
    Your search yielded no results. You may refine this query or perform a new query

    It's not in Nature either. The newest paper I can find is: Am J Phys Anthropol 2001 Mar;114(3):224-41 which is only area 10 and is hardly new enough to be "news for nerds". Anybody have the correct cite?

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982