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Title: Human paleoneurology and the evolution of the parietal cortex
Authors: Bruner, Emiliano
Keywords: Brain evolution;Hominids;Parietal lobes;Precuneus;Visuospatial integration
Issue Date: Aug-2018
Publisher: Karger Publishers
Citation: Brain, Behaviour and Evolution, 2018, 91 (3), 136-147
Abstract: Paleoneurology deals with the study of brain anatomy in fossil species, as inferred from the morphology of their endocranial features. When compared with other living and extinct hominids, Homo sapiens is characterized by larger parietal bones and, according to the paleoneurological evidence, also by larger parietal lobes. The dorsal elements of the posterior parietal cortex (superior parietal lobules, precuneus, and intraparietal sulcus) may be involved in these morphological changes. This parietal expansion was also associated with an increase in the corresponding vascular networks, and possibly with increased heat loads. Only H. sapiens has a specific early ontogenetic stage in which brain form achieves such globular appearance. In adult modern humans, the precuneus displays remarkable variation, being largely responsible for the longitudinal parietal size. The precuneus is also much more expanded in modern humans than in chimpanzees. Parietal expansion is not influenced by brain size in fossil hominids or living primates. Therefore, our larger parietal cortex must be interpreted as a derived feature. Spatial models suggest that the dorsal and anterior areas of the precuneus might be involved in these derived morphological variations. These areas are crucial for visuospatial integration, and are sensitive to both genetic and environmental influences. This article reviews almost 20 years of my collaborations on human parietal lobe evolution, integrating functional craniology, paleoneurology, and evolutionary neuroanatomy.
ISSN: 0006-8977
DOI: 10.1159/000488889
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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