From Medical XPress:
An international team of researchers has found via study that a groove in the brain, which they have named the “superior temporal asymmetrical pit” (STAP) appears to be unique to humans as it is barely noticeable in primates. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they studied brain scans of humans of a wide variety of ages and compared them with similar scans of other primate brains and found the difference. They suggest their finding may help better understand the evolution of our species.
Medical scientists and doctors have known about the STAP for some time, but until now, it was not known just how unique it is. It is on average just 4.5-centimetres long and is deeper in the right hemisphere than it is in the left. No one knows why the groove exists, but its location offers clues—it is likely associated with communication, the researchers note.
To learn more about the STAP, the researchers looked at brain scans of 177 people and 73 chimpanzees—analyses revealed that while clearly present in all the human scans, it was barely present in any of chimps. The team notes that in the right hemisphere, the groove is in a part of the brain involved in facial recognition and in figuring out the motives or feelings of other people. In the left hemisphere, the groove runs through a part of the brain very clearly associated with language skills.
The human brain is approximately three times as big as a chimp’s, yet finding functional differences in brain structure has been difficult to pinpoint. More.
One hoped that people wouldn’t seize on this to say There! Now we have found what makes us human! But doubtless, some will. Neuroscience has tried wholly embracing naturalism, but the brain always got away, and the mind hasn’t been heard from since.
Sure enough, from New Scientist:
“Asymmetrical brain landmarks may be key features to understand what is so specific in our species,” says Leroy, since left and right sides of the human brain tend to perform different tasks. “We think that [this asymmetry] is related to either speech or social cognition, which are both abilities for which humans outperform other primates.”
Not noticed mainly because no one was looking. People were looking for similarities to chimps, not differences from them.
Okay, differences are allowed as long as it is the single, minor, accidental difference that explains everything.
Far more likely, the groove is just one of hundreds of previously unnoticed, interdependent features that all activated at the same time. But that sounds to much like design, so back to the war of trivial explanations.
See also: Why human evolution happened only once: the question no one has to answer
Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
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