Two phylogenetic specializations in the human brain.

Bibliographic Collection: 
MOCA Reference, APE
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Allman, John; Hakeem, Atiya; Watson, Karli
Year of Publication: 2002
Journal: Neuroscientist
Volume: 8
Issue: 4
Pagination: 335-46
Date Published: 2002 Aug
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1073-8584
Keywords: Adaptation, Psychological, Animals, Frontal Lobe, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Intelligence, Motivation, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Phylogeny

In this study, two anatomical specializations of the brain in apes and humans are considered. One of these is a whole cortical area located in the frontal polar cortex (Brodmann's area 10), and the other is a morphologically distinctive cell type, the spindle neuron of the anterior cingulate cortex. The authors suggest that the spindle cells may relay to other parts of the brain--especially to area 10, the outcome of processing within the anterior cingulate cortex. This relay conveys the motivation to act. It particularly concerns the recognition of having committed an error that leads to the initiation of adaptive responses to these adverse events so as to reduce error commission. This capacity is related to the development of self-control as an individual matures and gains social insight. Although the anterior cingulate deals with the individual's immediate response to changing conditions, area 10 is involved in the retrieval of memories from the individual's past experience and the capacity to plan adaptive responses. The authors suggest that these neurobehavioral specializations are crucial aspects of intelligence as defined as the capacity to make adaptive responses to changing conditions. The authors further hypothesize that these specializations facilitated the evolution of the unique capacity for the intergenerational transfer of the food and information characteristic of human extended families.

Alternate Journal: Neuroscientist