How well does the cognitive buffer hypothesis explain hominin encephalisation?

The Evolution of the Human Mind


Research Paper (undergraduate), 2017

7 Pages, Grade: 5.00


Excerpt

2
Content
Introduction ... 3
The explanation of the cognitive buffer hypothesis towards the hominin encephalisation ... 5
Conclusions ... 5
References ... 7

3
Introduction
In general, the idea of the complexity and function of mind in nature is and was highly
explored. Simply put, it contains in itself the core set of the cognitive capacities, such as
capacities for perception, internal representation of the world, memory and decision making,
as well as the function of making possible complex patterns of human behavior (Godfrey-
Smith, P. 1996). Therefore, all these opens up the possibilities of exploring the cognitive
buffer hypothesis in the explanation of the hominin encephalisation, as related to the concept
of the larger brains and the better adaptation towards the complex environmental conditions.
In fact, dealing with the complex problems of the environment by means of perception and in
brief action can be reviewed as a special case of one more complex phenomenon: flexibility
and the dealing of complexity by means of it. Hence, the place of mind within nature is
special and the idea of the adaptability towards it is special, as well.
The numerous questions triggered by the presentation of the cognitive buffer hypothesis have
led to another round of diverse studies concerning the idea of the hominin encephalisation,
broadly defined as " the amount of brain mass related or placed in comparison to the animal's
body total mass" (Jonxis, J. H. P. (1991). One of the mostly debated and investigated studies
on the issue is the one of Sol, D. (2009a), referring to the idea that the cognitive buffer
hypothesis suggests that the earliest established adaptive function of the large brain enhances
the behavioral response of the individual to the surrounding environment, as well as increases
the survival rates and benefits the longer reproductive life (Iwaniuk & Nelson 2003). The
estimates of another research of Sol, D. et all (2007) prove in general the fact that in many
wild birds populations, the species having larger brains than normal show lower rates of adult
mortality as compared to their counterparts with smaller brains. These conclusions together
with notion that large brain makes easier the behavioral response to socioecological
challenges characterizes in brief the role of the cognitive buffer hypothesis.
However, in order to establish the truthfulness of such issues, more research experiments need
to be conducted. Moreover, as noted by Lefebvre, L et all (2004) some other kinds of animals,
not only birds in particular, were capable to produce new, as well as modified behaviors
compared to others. As stated by Sol, D. et all (2007), the animals that had been surveyed by
Lefebvre, L et all (2004) and capable of producing different behavior were also in possession
of larger brains as compared to their counterparts, possessors of smaller brains. Although
there have been different types of studies on the subject the reasons why larger brains function
better than smaller ones within the wild, or in new and unknown surroundings are not well

4
understood yet; despite the fact that Lefebvre, L., and D. Sol. (2008) proposed several
reasons. The theory on the subject claims that larger brains contain more neurons in their
structure that enables them to perform higher capacity for gathering, storing and incorporating
different pieces of information.
Echoing the principles that describe the abovementioned ideas Schuck-Paim, C., W. J.
Alonso, and E. B. Ottoni. (2008) have conducted a survey concerning the neotropical parrots
and the climatic variability as associated with their brain size. According to the conclusions of
that survey in particular, no matter the idea that the larger brains are generally more adaptable
to the environmental conditions and challenges, the relevant researches on the subject are still
scarce. On the contrary, the study of Schuck-Paim, C., W. J. Alonso, and E. B. Ottoni. (2008)
focuses on the Neotropical parrots and put into doubt the hypothesis that if relatively larger
brains were favored in climatically variable environments, larger-brained species should
currently tolerate a higher degree of environmental uncertainty. Interesting outcomes come
from that study in favor of the fact that there are other factors highlighting the dynamics of the
brain sizes and in brief, supporting the hypothesis that proportionally larger-brained species
are more tolerant to climatic variability, both in regards to time and space. Moreover, the
study suggests the idea the differences in the corresponding brain size among Neotropical
parrots represent diverse, recently happened events in the evolutionary history of the group,
and are particularly linked to an increased dependence on more open and climatically unstable
habitats.
Unlike the abovementioned studies where the focus was on the impact of the cognitive buffer
hypothesis towards the explanation of the hominin encephalisation and the impact of the
larger brains in particular individuals on their behavior and ways of coping of the challenges,
posed by the surrounding environment, the latter paper attempted to provide adequate
evidence on the idea whether larger brains were favored in climatically variable
environments, larger-brained species should currently tolerate a higher degree of
environmental uncertainty. Although further research is inevitably needed, the presented ones
so far, explain in detail the notion of the cognitive buffer hypothesis and the evolution of the
human mind. This being the purpose of the present paper, in my opinion is met and an attempt
to formulate a synthesis of accumulated knowledge has been performed. After discussing the
implications of the studies related to the main theme, a further elaboration of the possible
pathways getting the intricacies of the rapidly developing world of the human mind is carried
out.
Excerpt out of 7 pages

Details

Title
How well does the cognitive buffer hypothesis explain hominin encephalisation?
Subtitle
The Evolution of the Human Mind
College
Anglia Ruskin University
Grade
5.00
Author
Year
2017
Pages
7
Catalog Number
V387414
ISBN (eBook)
9783668615694
File size
506 KB
Language
English
Tags
cognitive buffer hypothesis encephalization
Quote paper
Silvia Stamenova (Author), 2017, How well does the cognitive buffer hypothesis explain hominin encephalisation?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/387414

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