Neurophylogenetics and You: Evolutionary Approaches to Human Brain Mapping


October 9, 2019 - 12:00pm
Northwest Building 243
About the Speaker
Katherine L. Bryant
Speaker Title: 
Postdoctoral Researcher
Speaker Affiliation: 
University of Oxford

Humans possess unique and uniquely complex cognitive skills, including language, tool manufacture and use, and large-scale cooperation. In order to understand the processes that permitted the evolution of these abilities in humans, we must examine the structure of the human brain in context with our closest relatives, primates, as well as members of other mammalian taxa with complex cognitive abilities (e.g., Carnivora, Cetacea, Proboscidea, etc.). Additionally, this information must go beyond absolute and relative size to also examine the organization of cortical areas, white matter connectivity, and the expansion and differentiation of brain areas. Combining data from neuroimaging, morphometry, and paleoneurology with evolutionary phylogenetic approaches will elucidate the relationship between structure, function, and evolution. In this talk, I will discuss my research on the organization of white matter in the brains of humans, chimpanzees, and macaques with a special focus on association cortex, and propose future directions for studying human brains using phylogenetic approaches.