Comparative Cognition and Neuroscience: Misconceptions about Brain Evolution

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evolution, neuroscience, animal cognition

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This paper discusses five common misconceptions about the evolution of the brain. These misconceptions are: (1) brains evolved in a unilinear, serial process; (2) brain size increased linearly from simple to complex animals; (3) all the systems in the brain in different animals evolved at the same rate; (4) the “new” part of the brain became larger through evolution; and (5) the “same” brain structures in different animals attained the “same” functions. These misunderstandings must be corrected in order for comparative brain research to be a useful approach to understand the cognitive functions of different animals. This paper also discusses the growing interest in the integration of animal cognition studies and comparative brain research in the United States of America. In particular, two recent scientific meetings are presented as examples of the type of collaborations for exploring interdisciplinary brain research for comparative cognition.

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Japanese Psychological Research, v. 46, issue 3, p. 246-254