If you think that the human brain has been the way it is since the beginning of time, you couldn’t be more wrong. It is known that humans have a very large brain, in relation to body size. If compared to other mammals, we have over twice the size which is normal considering a brain-to-body size ratio. The human brain is evolving.
Scientists have observed that the human brain has increased three-fold over what it was 2 million years ago, and although it doesn’t mean much, take note that the smartest mammals in the animal kingdom also do have a large brain-to-body size ratio. The dolphin, the chimpanzee, the elephant – all have a larger than average brain. The trend does support this. Larger brains support more complicated cognitive tasks. But what does that mean in terms of intellect? Although very intelligent, these mammals are still not comparable to us in terms of brain functionality.
Although it is not possible to pinpoint what made the brain evolve the way it did, it evolved in four ways that makes us huge leaps ahead of other mammals. First, the brain became more centralized in structure – from a loose network of nerves to a spinal column with a complex brain with sections resting on top. Second, the brain developed a large concentration of neurons and sensory organs, at a centralized location which optimized transmission time of information back to it. Third, the human brain exponentially increased the elements that composed it – the size, the number, and the variety. And lastly, plasticity increased in the brain, allowing the brain to modify itself from experience allowing the development of memories and learning of skills.
The adaptations that the brain was forced to make for the human being to survive is amazing, especially when you marvel about how a masterpiece like this can be created from just random occurrences. Yes, it is simply amazing how a few happenings that set in to motion a few freak mutations led to the exponential growth of the human race. It’s also scary to ponder about the future in ways that the brain is still evolving, and with the uncertain randomness possibly just around a corner that can force the brain to catapult forward again – whatever it is, it’ll be amazing.