A paleoneurology research team suggests they couldn’t. But how can the researchers be sure?:
… neuroscientist Emiliano Bruner and psychologist Roberto Colom hope to probe the mind of Neanderthal man, who ranged across Eurasia from about 400,000 years ago through 40,000 years ago but now survives only in small percentages of the genome of the much larger modern human population…
Although they don’t come right out and say it in so many words in the media release, they think that Neanderthal man was not smart enough to meditate…
But how sure can anyone be sure that Neanderthals couldn’t meditate, based on endocasts? Even the brains of recently deceased modern humans may not be especially informative. There is a dramatic saga associated with Albert Einstein’s preserved brain but, while it showed some differences from other brains, we don’t know how many people have shown such differences who lived and died without revolutionizing physics or anything else. And Einstein’s brain is preserved wetware, not a cast.
Here’s a bigger background problem: Many people function normally with split brains, a brain missing key components, or only half a brain, (or maybe less.) Recently, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke star spoke of leading a normal life despite having “quite a bit” of brain missing due to an aneurysm.News, “Fossil scientists ask, Could a Neanderthal meditate?” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: How much can we rely on casts from fossil skulls when the relationship between the mind and the brain is unclear even in currently living human beings?
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Why is Neanderthal art considered controversial? It makes sense that whenever humans started to wonder about life, we started to create art that helps us think about it. Science writer Michael Marshall reports that some researchers are accused of banning others from taking samples that would prove a Neanderthal was the artist.
Researchers: Prolonged meditation alters the brain. The changes were detected mainly in the frontal and parietal lobes. Andrew Newberg and colleagues found changes in brain functional connectivity in participants in a seven-day Ignatian spirituality retreat in Pennsylvania.