BRAIN DEVELOPMENT – EVOLUTION [ GROWTH & ADAPTATION OF THE HUMAN BRAIN ]
FROM THE single celled product of conception, the human animal grows into a complex, uniquely cognitive being. Evolution has built upon older, more primitive animal brain forms to lead humanity to emotion and rational thought. Over eons of time, neural circuitry has developed to promote and continue to promote individual and collective survival. That’s because the human brain is “plastic,” primed from an extremely young age to learn and change.
THE DEVELOPMENT of the human brain is written in millions of years of evolution, its story still unfolding.
Neurons began to emerge with the appearance of multicellular animals. The earliest neural connections formed primitive networks of cells in tiny life-forms swimming in primordial oceans. Today, such systems can still be found in simple life-forms such as jellyfish.
An octopus’s brain is dime size, but it can solve simple problems such as moving barriers to get food.
CHARLES DARWIN KNEW he had opened a tinderbox when he published On the Origin of Species in 1859. He laid out a theory of evolution through natural selection: Individuals that have a biological advantage are more likely to outlive their peers and pass their edge to offspring. A gazelle that is a bit faster than another may outrun the lion and breed fast children the next day. Cuidado, Darwin wrote in his notebook, using the Spanish for “careful.” Taken toits logical conclusion, even humans fell under his theory-an idea Darwin down-played at first because he knew it would be unpopular.