What Makes the Human Mind Unique?
The human brain's ability to recall the past, plan for the future, reason abstractly and navigate complex social relationships makes it far superior to other species'. But how did that happen?
What's the Latest Development?
New research has shed light onto the mystery of our own minds. Specifically, why the human mind is so superior to those of even monkeys and chimps, our closest animal relatives. A team of German scientists has extracted brain cells, post mortem, from people, chimps and monkeys of many ages, looking to see which genes were active when they were alive. By examining the RNA of the prefrontal and cerebellar cortices, scientists found that different gene combinations helped determine different brain abilities in each species.
What's the Big Idea?
The human mind is unique in its ability to recall the past, plan for the future, reason abstractly and navigate complex social relationships. But why has the physical evolution of Homo sapiens resulted in such convincing mental superiority? To summarize, human beings have "suites of genes that probably cause their brains to be 'plastic' and thus receptive to change far longer (to the age of about five) than is true for chimps or monkeys (whose brains are plastic for less than a year after birth)."
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Sigmund Freud, circa 1921. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
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