Monkeys And Humans Share Many Brain Similarities, But Not All

A new study from Oxford University researchers suggests a surprising degree of similarity in the organization of brain regions that control language and complex thought processes in humans and monkeys, as well as key differences. The team’s finding demonstrate valuable insights into the evolutionary processes that established the link between humans and other primates and what made humans distinctly different.
“We tend to think that being able to plan into the future, be flexible in our approach and learn from others are things that are particularly impressive about humans. We’ve identified an area of the brain that appears to be uniquely human and is likely to have something to do with these cognitive powers,” said Professor Matthew Rushworth of Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology.
The research team performed MRI scans of 25 adult volunteers — 14 women and 11 men — to identify key components in the ventrolateral frontal cortex area of the human brain. Scientists have known for more than 150 years that the ventrolateral region is important to cognitive processes such as language, cognitive flexibility and decision making.
“It has been argued that to develop these abilities, humans had to evolve a completely new neural apparatus; however others have suggested precursors to these specialized brain systems might have existed in other primates,” explained Dr. Franz-Xaver Neubert, also of the University of Oxford.
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Monkeys And Humans Share Many Brain Similarities, But Not All

A new study from Oxford University researchers suggests a surprising degree of similarity in the organization of brain regions that control language and complex thought processes in humans and monkeys, as well as key differences. The team’s finding demonstrate valuable insights into the evolutionary processes that established the link between humans and other primates and what made humans distinctly different.

“We tend to think that being able to plan into the future, be flexible in our approach and learn from others are things that are particularly impressive about humans. We’ve identified an area of the brain that appears to be uniquely human and is likely to have something to do with these cognitive powers,” said Professor Matthew Rushworth of Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology.

The research team performed MRI scans of 25 adult volunteers — 14 women and 11 men — to identify key components in the ventrolateral frontal cortex area of the human brain. Scientists have known for more than 150 years that the ventrolateral region is important to cognitive processes such as language, cognitive flexibility and decision making.

“It has been argued that to develop these abilities, humans had to evolve a completely new neural apparatus; however others have suggested precursors to these specialized brain systems might have existed in other primates,” explained Dr. Franz-Xaver Neubert, also of the University of Oxford.

[read more]

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