The cognitive neuroscience of human uniqueness
Until recently, neuroscientists have lacked powerfulmeans for studying the human brain, and so have relied on studiesof nonhuman species for understanding human brain organization.Moreover, the Darwin~Huxley claim that the human mind andbrain, while highly developed, are qualitatively similar to those ofother species encouraged the concentration of research in a veryfew “model" nonhuman species. Several recent developments challenge the traditional model-animal research paradigm andprovide the foundations of a new neuroscience. First, evolutionary biologists now understand that living species cannot be arrayed along asingle, unbroken sequence of phylogenetic development: speciescan differ qualitatively. Second, neuroscientists are documentingremarkable variations in the organization of cerebral cortex andother brain regions across mammals. Third, new noninvasivemethods from histology, neuroimaging and genomics are makingthe human brain accessible for direct, detailed study as neverbefore. Finally, these same methods are being used to directlycompare humans to other species (including chimpanzees, thespecies most closely related to humans), providing the foundationsof a new and richly detailed account of how the human brain bothresembles and differs from that of other species.
EDITOR: Gazzaniga, Michael S.