Human brains are shrinking

HumanBrainShrinkingThe human brain is 10 percent smaller than that of our ancient ancestors—from 1,500 cubic centimeters (CC) a few thousand years ago, to 1,350 CC today, irrespective of race and gender.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, our brains have been slowly shrinking for 10,000 years, and though theories about the reasons abound, there is little understanding or agreement why.

The study was conducted by a team of Chinese researchers who examined more than 500 endocasts from the past 7,000 years.

Endocasts are moulds of brains created from imprints on the inside of the skull.

Scientists have debated for years whether a smaller brain means less intelligence. Some believe that, like modern computers, the modern human brain is simply more compact and efficient, a theory suggested by Duke University anthropologist Brian Hare.

Others have argued that our ancestors had a larger visual cortex because excellent vision was necessary for survival.

However, studies show that the ENTIRE brain is getting smaller, not just the visual cortex region. The one possible exception is the frontal lobe, which seems to be slightly increasing.

The frontal lobe is the area of the brain responsible for speaking, comprehending the speech of others, reading and writing, which some regard as proof that the brain is more compact and adapting to modern circumstances.

Many scientists are less optimistic. The authors of a study published in the journal Trends in Genetics in 2012 maintained that humans began to lose the evolutionary pressure to be smart and alert once the agricultural age was ensconced.

Consider that more than 4,000 years ago great civilizations existed around the world where amazing buildings and cities were created with great artistry and precision, often with astronomical alignments and endurance that cannot be replicated today with all modern man’s education, tools and technology.

According to journalist April Holloway, citing the 2012 study, today technology has taken over, rendering our need to apply skill, creativity and memory virtually redundant.

Instead of memorizing navigational routes, we switch on our ‘sat navs,’ and rather than storing phone numbers and addresses in our memory banks, we have them all to hand on our iPhones and Blackberries.

While our technology is evolving rapidly, it seems that our once exercised and resourceful brains are not.

Perhaps we should pay more attention to ‘exercising’ our brains by depending less on ‘experts’ for every little problem and more on ourselves—as our ancestors did.



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