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Scientists say that human brain is still evolving.

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posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 09:55 AM
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apnews.myway.com...


WASHINGTON (AP) - The human brain may still be evolving. So suggests new research that tracked changes in two genes thought to help regulate brain growth, changes that appeared well after the rise of modern humans 200,000 years ago.

That the defining feature of humans - our large brains - continued to evolve as recently as 5,800 years ago, and may be doing so today, promises to surprise the average person, if not biologists.

"We, including scientists, have considered ourselves as sort of the pinnacle of evolution," noted lead researcher Bruce Lahn, a University of Chicago geneticist whose studies appear in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"There's a sense we as humans have kind of peaked," agreed Greg Wray, director of Duke University's Center for Evolutionary Genomics. "A different way to look at is it's almost impossible for evolution not to happen."

Still, the findings also are controversial, because it's far from clear what effect the genetic changes had or if they arose when Lahn's "molecular clock" suggests - at roughly the same time period as some cultural achievements, including written language and the development of cities.

Lahn and colleagues examined two genes, named microcephalin and ASPM, that are connected to brain size. If those genes don't work, babies are born with severely small brains, called microcephaly.

Using DNA samples from ethnically diverse populations, they identified a collection of variations in each gene that occurred with unusually high frequency. In fact, the variations were so common they couldn't be accidental mutations but instead were probably due to natural selection, where genetic changes that are favorable to a species quickly gain a foothold and begin to spread, the researchers report.


so wat do u dink?
, its still controversial but i believe it since its proven about our skulls compare back to our ancestors. i wonder wat kind of abilities we could have. would our brains be bigger than ooo lets say the aliens who see seen in movies and pictures that have large heads. do u feel like u are getting smarter?


[edit on 9-9-2005 by deltaboy]




posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 12:07 PM
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Originally posted by deltaboy

so wat do u dink?
, its still controversial but i believe it since its proven about our skulls compare back to our ancestors. i wonder wat kind of abilities we could have. would our brains be bigger than ooo lets say the aliens who see seen in movies and pictures that have large heads. do u feel like u are getting smarter?


[edit on 9-9-2005 by deltaboy]


My guess is our brains wouldn't get bigger.

But, we can get to use MORE parts of our Brains effectively.

[edit on 9-9-2005 by Humster]



posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 12:11 PM
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I don't see how natural selection could still be working in humans -- it seems now the people who are the most successful in society have much fewer children than those who are the least successful.



posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 01:06 PM
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I have often wondered what form the next stage of human evolution will take. I doubt that our brains will become significantly larger, for a number of reasons. Foremost amongst these is the notion that an increase in brain size does not necessarily equate with an increase in intelligence (Reference - BBC). Neanderthals, for example, typically possessed brains larger in size then our own (Reference 1 - Answers.com; Reference 2 - Discover.com), yet their technical intelligence and aptitude for tool use, innovation, adaptation and abstract thought were demonstrably less developed then our own.

Another problem with the idea of the human brain growing much larger is the fact that human babies are already born with underdeveloped brains to accommodate the size of the human birth canal (Reference). A sudden increase in brain size, and subsequently in head size, would result in extremely difficult births where the child may face oxygen depravation, brain damage or even death.

It has also occurred to me, as it clearly has to djohnsto77, that many of the fundamental principles of 'survival of the fittest' no longer apply to many humans. In many western nations, the 'strongest' individual is not necessarily the person with the greatest physical strength. Nor is a person with superior genes necessarily more likely to succeed than any other person. Whilst it can be argued that survival instincts still drive humans to select mates who will produce strong, healthy offspring and be capable of providing for them, the general reality is that humans no longer select their mates based purely on animal instinct, if we ever did. What, then, are the unique problems that contemporary humans currently face that the next stage of evolution might conceivably address?

It occurs to me that what we may begin to see, in terms of the advancing evolution of the human race, are humans who are born, for example, with an immunity to cancer, or to AIDS, or to heart disease. Diseases and viruses and conditions such as these are by far the largest killers of human beings in modern times, so it seems only natural that the next level of human evolution might target such weaknesses in an effort to improve humanity's ability to survive and reproduce.

Having said that, every previous incarnation of human evolution has taken the form of a radical physical change. When you compare, for example, the physiology of Homo erectus with our own, you can see quite clearly that the two species of humans, though similar in some respects, are in fact very different:



Therefore, with archaeology as our guide, we can reasonably assume that the next phase of human evolution will be markedly different to current humans in terms of physical appearance.

As to what this next species might be capable of intellectually, it is difficult for us to guess. How would we have explained the concept of computers to Homo erectus? For that matter, how would we have been able to explain the concept of art, or of spirituality - concepts which were completely beyond their realm of understanding (as far as we can establish from the fossil and archaeological record). These new humans might be capable of instinctually performing feats we currently find extremely difficult. They may naturally understand advanced mathematics, for example. This seems a strange concept, but to Homo erectus, the ability to count or perform calculations, however simple, would have seemed equally impossible. Then there is the possibility that they may see innovation where we do not. Neanderthals, for example, possessed spears, but they did not know how to throw them, using them instead for jabbing and thrusting (Reference). Similarly, our successors may be capable of conceiving of things that simply would never occur to us. In addition to being more intelligent than us, history suggests that they will probably also think differently than we do.

Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures. From our vantage point, we can look back at the long hand of evolution and when we compare ourselves to those human species which came before us, it is easy to declare that we are the end product of this process. However, the Neanderthal may have expressed a similar thought - that he was undisputed lord and master over the world. Looking back is easy. It is more difficult to imagine what lies ahead.

Great thread by the way deltaboy.



posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 03:19 PM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
I don't see how natural selection could still be working in humans -- it seems now the people who are the most successful in society have much fewer children than those who are the least successful.


Below is a link to the 100th monkey observation from back in the 50s and 60s. What is most important about this discovery is that, when one group of monkeys learned something, another set of monkeys that were completely isolated learned the exact same thing, within the same general time frame (within a few days or a week).

www.lightshift.com...

Being successful in society has nothing to do with the evolution of our mind. Everyone has an effect on the world, just by thinking you're creating ripples in space and time that will be there forever. You might be intrested in watching a video called "What the Hell", sometimes called "What the bleep" or "What the !@#$@!". In this video (played in a lot of theaters) some scientists found that they could influence water molecules just by writing a word on the side of the container. Sounds crazy right?



posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 09:20 PM
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Originally posted by senseless04
....... In this video (played in a lot of theaters) some scientists found that they could influence water molecules just by writing a word on the side of the container. Sounds crazy right?



Ya it does sound crazy. But who knows maybe they finally find out the string of words that let us control water. Kinda like what we see in fantasy games where wizards and such cast a spell using words


Speaking about the monkeys, have you guys ever wondered, whether or not, the inventions and knowledge we as humans, all are coded in our genes and will only be released at a given timeframe?

Lok at the monkey example. They got hold and learn the same thing at almost the same timeframe.



posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 10:24 AM
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so wat do u dink?, its still controversial but i believe it since its proven about our skulls compare back to our ancestors. i wonder wat kind of abilities we could have. would our brains be bigger than ooo lets say the aliens who see seen in movies and pictures that have large heads. do u feel like u are getting smarter?


Well, since evoloution never stops (thanks for the info charlie) its rate is just not constant, so, its probable



posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 10:32 AM
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Humanity is almost at the point where we can actively direct the evolution of our brain through neuroscience. It's been theorized that the brain works like a muscle and the more you work on certain parts of it the more dense neural connections become.

Neuroscience is going to be the next major frontier. Imagine drugs that could inhance memory or increase ability for abstract thought.

There will be many ethical considerations but if there was a service where you could go to get some brain enhancing drugs tailored for your biochemistry alone. Think what that would do for the economy, science and general innovation.



posted on Sep, 10 2005 @ 05:49 PM
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Originally posted by Humster
Ya it does sound crazy. But who knows maybe they finally find out the string of words that let us control water. Kinda like what we see in fantasy games where wizards and such cast a spell using words



Not really, its more like quatum physics =) .. The idea is that, when we think something, or write, or draw, our intention is more or less transmitted to that device through our brains EM field. The scientists that were investigating this, are all well known, not crackpot perpetual energy nuts. I guess, eventually maybe 5000 years from now we'll be able to influence everything around us like what you're talking about.

[edit on 10-9-2005 by senseless04]



posted on Sep, 11 2005 @ 10:29 PM
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I believe that nano technologies and dna will play a huge part in the next step. Bringing us to a new level of thought is kinda hard to comprehend. Perhaps we only have to get to the point where we can alter ourselves, which we are almost there.



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