The evolution of the brain, the human nature of cortical circuits, and intellectual creativity

Front Neuroanat. 2011 May 16:5:29. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2011.00029. eCollection 2011.


The tremendous expansion and the differentiation of the neocortex constitute two major events in the evolution of the mammalian brain. The increase in size and complexity of our brains opened the way to a spectacular development of cognitive and mental skills. This expansion during evolution facilitated the addition of microcircuits with a similar basic structure, which increased the complexity of the human brain and contributed to its uniqueness. However, fundamental differences even exist between distinct mammalian species. Here, we shall discuss the issue of our humanity from a neurobiological and historical perspective.

Keywords: brain size; cortical circuits; evolution; human nature; number synapses; pyramidal neurons.