Brain Waves through Time: 12 Principles for Understanding the Evolution of the Human Brain and Man's Behavior

By Robert T. DeMoss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
THE FIRST NETWORK

Climates changed and some forests receded. Driven by hunger, some of our distant ancestors began to look downward from the safety of their trees. At first, a few left their arboreal homes forever, but their past lives in the trees served them well. Carrying the first rudimentary tools fashioned from tree limbs, some of our distant relatives used sticks to scratch for food or drive off predators. With sticks in hand, some learned to walk upright. Just as their earlier cousins had relinquished their homes in the trees forever, a small number of primates relinquished their pasts and walked upright from then on. That was four to five million years ago.

During the ensuing five million years, the brains of some primates grew from the size found in chimpanzees, almost tripling in size to that found in "modern" humans. 1 That growth, however, did not impact all parts of the brain equally. Rather, the most significant changes, the greatest enlargement, occurred in the "new cortex," also called the neocortex. This and other sections of the brain will be explored shortly.


TERMINOLOGY

On the whole, our brains contain an estimated eighty billion information processing cells called neurons.2 Other scientists have not been so stingy with their estimate, placing the number closer to one trillion. 3 Different scientists provide varying estimates of the number of neurons, probably because the quantities are so vast that only estimates can be made. Regardless of whose count we choose, brain cell numbers are enormous, and even the smallest functional unit of the brain may contain literally millions of brain cells.

-31-

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Brain Waves through Time: 12 Principles for Understanding the Evolution of the Human Brain and Man's Behavior
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Chapter 1 - The Paradox 1
  • Chapter 2 - Humans in Perspective 15
  • Chapter 3 - The First Network 31
  • Chapter 4 - The Hungry and Biased Brain 51
  • Chapter 5 - The Indelible Stamp of Development 75
  • Chapter 6 - Memories: Loyal and Misunderstood 99
  • Chapter 7 - The Well Conditioned Body 121
  • Chapter 8 - Seeing or Hearing is Doing 147
  • Chapter 9 - The Reliable Brain 169
  • Chapter 10 - Time Travel 199
  • Chapter 11 - The Human Mind, the Group Mind 227
  • Notes 251
  • Index 267
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