Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Human Brain Evolution

  • Chet C. SherwoodEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_813-1


There have been significant changes in brain development, anatomy, and molecular biology over the course of human evolution.


Modern humans are characterized by remarkable specializations of cognition, including a language that is rich in syntactic complexity and symbolic meaning, a nuanced understanding of the mental states of others, a strong motivation to share in pursuing joint goals, an ability to manufacture sophisticated tools, and an extraordinary capacity for cultural learning. What are the evolutionary changes in brain structure and molecular biology that underlie these cognitive faculties? A comprehensive understanding of human brain evolution requires data from multiple perspectives, incorporating information from fossils, archaeology, comparative neuroanatomy, and genetics.

Evolution of the brain in the human lineage

Compared to other primates and our earliest hominin ancestors, modern humans have very large brains. Weighing approximately 1,400 g on...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Center for the Advanced Study of Human PaleobiologyThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Arnocky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada