Evolution Has Given Humans Unique Brain Structures?

Ape skeletons

Our ancestors evolutionarily split from those of rhesus monkeys about 25 million years ago. Since then, brain areas have been added, have disappeared or have changed in function. This raises the question, ‘Has evolution given humans unique brain structures?’.

Scientists have entertained the idea before but conclusive evidence was lacking. By combining different research methods, we now have a first piece of evidence that could prove that humans have unique cortical brain networks.

Professor Vanduffel explains.

“We did functional brain scans in humans and rhesus monkeys at rest and while watching a movie to compare both the place and the function of cortical brain networks,” according to Vanduffel. “Even at rest, the brain is very active. Different brain areas that are active simultaneously during rest form so-called ‘resting state’ networks. For the most part, these resting state networks in humans and monkeys are surprisingly similar, but we found two networks unique to humans and one unique network in the monkey.”

Vanduffel continues: “When watching a movie, the cortex processes an enormous amount of visual and auditory information. The human-specific resting state networks react to this stimulation in a totally different way than any part of the monkey brain. This means that they also have a different function than any of the resting state networks found in the monkey.”

According to Vanduffel, “In other words, brain structures that are unique in humans are anatomically absent in the monkey and there no other brain structures in the monkey that have an analogous function. Our unique brain areas are primarily located high at the back and at the front of the cortex and are probably related to specific human cognitive abilities, such as human-specific intelligence.”

The study used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans to visualise brain activity. fMRI scans map functional activity in the brain by detecting changes in blood flow. The oxygen content and the amount of blood in a given brain area vary according to a particular task, thus allowing activity to be tracked.

Albany Tribune

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30 Comments

  1. Joe Sloan

    Tripe. Pseudo-science for the sake of an article. Poor journalism and unworthy of being called “news”.

    Reply
    1. Marko Uremovic

      I agree. They are comparing humans watching TV in a language to monkeys watch television which is just noise to them. Really the humans who can understand what is going on seem to have more brain activity??? what a shocker! I’m sure the monkeys just look at it for a sec, notice that its complete garbage, n zone out.

      Reply
    2. DCI

      On what basis do you reject the elements of the article?

      Reply
  2. rho

    Humans are descendants of Adam and Eve. Some humans who were evil and disobeyed the commandments of God and persisted in evil DEVOLVED to becoming monkeys. The process was DEVOLUTION, not evolution. Some scientists in their ignorance and confusion got it backwards. That shows the necessity of God- consciousness and good morality, good and compassionate character, truth and the sincere search for truth and patience and the need and necessity to follow God’s laws and commandments.

    Reply
    1. rcf

      Seriously? This is precisely why we’re screwed as a species. All of this supposed forebrain power, and you choose faith in a contradictory piece of text written by humans, and probably for the explicit purpose of control, over the best and most sophisticated means we have to take empirically observed evidence and make sense of it.

      Reply
    2. Fred

      Yes – but everyonce in awhile a monkey comes along that means business and then when they realize what they have done they re-evolve. I’ve actually seen it and believe there are several in the thread as I type – in fact I may be replying to one.

      One thing for sure. He loves us all the same. And his little creatures too. So let’s get along and stop causing him pain.

      Reply
    3. Steven

      Show your evidence rho. What your pastor told you does not count btw.

      Reply
  3. Alan

    Is this really any proof that it was “evolution” that did this? Sounds like it’s a theory, not a fact. The only fact is that there is a difference. The proof of how it happened is quite questionable.

    Reply
  4. Donald W.

    It is extremely hard to believe that their are fools out there who swallow this garbage. It is kind of like they have absolutely no understanding of chemistry in that it would be an absolutely impossibility that man is from an ape. Not to mention the statistical probability problems with the above article. This is not an article of science but of a derange fanatical misguided religious pseudoscience.

    Reply
  5. David

    This is science? They observe brain functions in monkeys and people while watching movies to determine that there is a difference in brain design and then claim we evolved differently? I may not be a trained scientist but this is bunk. Of course humans have unique brains, we are uniquely designed. Someone please tell the emperor that he has no clothes. Thanks

    Reply
  6. Greg

    Though it’s taught as fact, Evolution is only a theory, and honest science doesn’t support it….

    Reply
  7. Ben Johnson

    If we evolved from monkeys then why are we still not evolving from monkeys….Why is it so hard to except that their are animals and there are humans…Even if you don’t believe in God why do we have to be evolving from animals…Maybe a human turned into an animal….and we’re going backwards….This is how stupid you sound…This is where billions of our tax dollars are going for this research…This ranks up there with research for cancer…there is no answer because there doesn’t need to be…all there has to happen is for the money for this research to keep coming in…you see when you sit day after day in the lab and you do this research and then you leave feeling that you are doing some good…then you relize you haven’t done anything worth using…and our country is not any better for it….sad

    Reply
    1. Matt

      Really? Evolution happens over millions of years… you can’t see it. Become more knowledgeable on a subject before you open your mouth next time. Your comment is the most ridiculous comment I’ve heard.

      Reply
    2. Jeff

      Are you kidding me? Humans ARE animals. There is no difference between humans and animals because humans ARE animals. I don’t understand why people even question that FACT. I think this is an interesting article. My only question is what kind of video was being played? Was there language involved? Perhaps that is the reason for the different brain functions? Humans can recognize that another human is speaking, while the monkey can’t perhaps?

      Reply
    3. rcf

      Why? Because the evidence, as we’ve collected it, suggests that humans and monkeys and apes come from a common ancestor. The evidence does not suggest that monkeys evolved from humans.

      The more important question is this: why do people feel they are qualified to make non-sensical statements about a topic they’ve never bothered to investigate to a degree that would leave them even minimally competent in terms of knowledge?

      Reply
  8. Rabyag

    We aren’t still evolving from monkeys because that is not how it works. Bury your head in the sand if you want, but we evolved from a common ancestor that no longer exists. Monkeys didn’t magically turn into humans, just like Mary didn’t magically get pregnant. It happened behind the dumpster at Chik Fil A.

    Reply
  9. Challa

    The science of evolution has no truth in it except it will continue to be a source of subsistence for those who are involved in the field. I am proud that I have not evolved from a monkey

    Reply
  10. Joe

    This is kind of a weak article. Where was this study published. Of course our brains are different.

    Reply
  11. joe long

    I’d like to refer all those who wrote and refuted evolution to read ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ by Richard Dawkins.

    We did not evolve from monkey, contrary to what has been claimed in church. We are not ‘special’ and it is arrogant and ridiculous to think so. We evolved from an ancestor common to both the monkey and us (the dolphin) and we have gone on over many years on a divergent path through the process of evolution and survival of the fittest. Many, many events contributed to who we are as another species of animal.
    The earth is several billion years old (it wasn’t created in seven days and humanity did not start with Adam and Eve – that’s pure hype). There are remnants and fossils that provide evidence to the contrary.
    This article is not earth shaking to me but it does point out the disparity between our relatives and ourselves.
    Religion preys on the uneducated, the bewildered and the poor. It has been a hype and a sham since the time some enterprising ‘cave man’ came up with the scam. Follow it through. Start with the book I mentioned at the beginning of this commentary.

    Reply
  12. Chris

    What’s with all the creationist trolls on this page?

    Reply
  13. RG

    Wow. Some rube in Albany was so desperately bored (or metaphysically frightened) that (s)he had to create 6 bogus accounts to write brainless, intellectually flaccid gibberish in response to this article.

    Reply
  14. Namey 2

    Ahh yes the anti-science crowd; as always trolling the science articles and obstructing the progress of man. If we left science to the religous folks the world would still be flat, the sun would revolve around the earth, and we would rely on faith healing.

    Reply
  15. Jack

    From some of the anwers it is obvious that many posters need to evolve and then join the human race.

    Reply
  16. Steve

    How humans came to be is far more complex than our limited science can explain. All I know is that we are unique among God’s creations. The only creatures worthy of being called his children. After that what else matters.

    Reply
  17. Craig

    LOL… given the comments attached to this article ‘devolution’ may in fact be a distinct possibility.

    Seriously though, the study is interesting in that it shows us that our unique brain functions are NOT a direct branch from or primitive fore-fathers, and that we have subsequently acquired our human intelligence seemingly out of the ether… so where and how did we get so smart? That is what makes this research so interesting…

    Reply
  18. jordan

    This really shouldn’t be news…. But not for the reason any of the above seem to think so?

    Reply
  19. Jay Mackin

    Religion, the Old Testament? Are you kidding me? Religion is probably the most ignorant human construct ever created, responsible for killing off some of the greatest minds, quaffing scientific, medical and other discoveries, stopping brilliant evolution nearly completely and in the name of “God”. Man I cannot stand stupid, ignorant people….. It is absolutely terrifying how many there are.

    Reply
  20. Chris

    I’m with the previous six posters. Like them, i didn’t read the study not am i aware of the expansive amount of peer reviewed research done by thousands of people much more learned than me that supports evolution. What possible use could knowing how the human brain functions serve? Every piece of small knowledge when combined won’t amount to a hill of beans, because my head is so far up my own ass all that i need to do to research brain function is to eat a microscope.

    Reply
  21. itstartssoverysmall

    There are approx. 300-370 genes in our structure that directly regulatate a hand full of special chemical compounds in our brains that give us the very special senses and insight that gives rise to your consiousness it is these minute less than 3% diffirence with all other mammals and primates that take you a human far beyond the animal kingdom in our intellect. These genes are inserted sideways into our genetic structure which means IT IS NOT A PART OF EVOLUTION it could only get that way (buy best estimates 225000 yrs ago) by 2 means Bacterial or direct genetic manipulation. If it was bacterial then why is ther no other specices that comes close to us and the domination and imagintive destruction of our enviroment. We evolved from decendeant of an ape like hominid and then 220000 years ago SOMETHING HAPPENED that unleashed the power of our imagination and we learned to talk. God is an alien

    Reply
  22. Yabba Dabba Doo

    Oh my my my… It appears the anti-science crowd had a jolly good time stomping through here today… Although the anti-science crowd wants nothing less than to blame and ridicule those who voice a different point of view, let me begin by saying that the anti-science crowd must sense their own irremediable inferiority. That’s why the anti-science crowd is so desperate to commit confrontational, in-your-face acts of dimwittery; it’s the only way for them to distinguish themselves from the herd.

    Reply

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