Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence

Front Cover
Macmillan, Mar 4, 2008 - Psychology - 259 pages
13 Reviews
Our big brains, our language ability, and our intelligence make us uniquely human. 
But barely 10,000 years ago (a mere blip in evolutionary time) human-like creatures called "Boskops" flourished in South Africa. They possessed extraordinary features: forebrains roughly 50% larger than ours, and estimated IQs to match--far surpassing our own. Many of these huge fossil skulls have been discovered over the last century, but most of us have never heard of this scientific marvel.
Prominent neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger compare the contents of the Boskop brain and our own brains today, and arrive at startling conclusions about our intelligence and creativity. Connecting cutting-edge theories of genetics, evolution, language, memory, learning, and intelligence, Lynch and Granger show the implications of large brains for a broad array of fields, from the current state of the art in Alzheimer's and other brain disorders, to new advances in brain-based robots that see and converse with us, and the means by which neural prosthetics-- replacement parts for the brain--are being designed and tested. The authors demystify the complexities of our brains in this fascinating and accessible book, and give us tantalizing insights into our humanity--its past, and its future.
  

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Review: Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence

User Review  - Ralph Hermansen - Goodreads

"Big Brain" by Gary Lynch and Richard Granger is controversial. What makes it so is the premise that a race of super-sized brained people existed called Boskops. Supposedly they had brains ... Read full review

Review: Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence

User Review  - Greg - Goodreads

Not what I thought it would be at all. Mostly a book about brain anatomy/biology that most anyone familiar with psych will know. There was a lot of good info starting maybe 2/3rds of the way through ... Read full review

Contents

Big Brains Bigger Brains
1
Biggest Brain
3
Are Bigger Brains Better?
5
Brain and Language
7
Were Boskops Smarter?
8
Why Havent We All Heard of Boskops?
10
Outline of the Book
11
The Mind in the Machine
17
From Brain Differences to Individual Differences
119
Brain Paths
122
Brain Tracts and Differential Abilities
125
Nature and Nurture
127
Whats in a Species?
129
Definitions
131
Fallacies of the Notion of Race
132
Race Versus Gene Pools
135

Learning Network Codes
18
Brain Circuits vs Computer Circuits
23
The Brain of John Von Neumann
25
Genes Build Brains
33
How Much Variation Can Occur?
36
Blueprint Systems
38
Bundling Genes
40
Variation Is Random but It Is Constrained
44
Brains Arrive
51
First Brains
52
Brain Expansion
58
The Brains of Mammals
63
Neurons and Networks
65
Learning
70
From Olfaction to Cognition
73
From Cortex to Behavior
80
Neocortex
84
The Thinking Brain
89
Extending Thinking over Time
93
The Cortex Takes Charge
96
The Tools of Thought
99
Sequences
106
What One Brain Area Tells Another Brain Area
107
Whats in an Image?
108
From Generalists to Specialists
109
Memory Construction
110
Building Highlevel Cognition
113
Libraries and Labyrinths
114
Grammars of the Brain
116
The Origins of Big Brains
139
Brain Size in the Primates
141
Brain Size in the Family of Man
145
Big Babies
154
On Intelligence
157
Giant Brains
161
The Man of the Future
162
How Giant Brains Were Forgotten
165
Inside the Giant Brain
171
Giant Brains and Intelligence
175
All but Human
179
Differences
182
From Quantity to Quality
189
From Brain Advances to Cognitive Advances
191
From Cognition to Language
193
Learning Curve
195
From Speaking to Writing
197
More than Human
201
New Paths New Humans
204
The Final Path to Humans
205
Inconstant Brain
209
Next Steps
211
Coda
214
Appendix
217
Acknowledgments
233
Bibliography
235
Index
255
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Gary Lynch is a professor at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of more than 550 scientific publications that are among the most cited in the field of neuroscience. He is the co-inventor of a novel family of cognition-enhancing drugs called “ampakines”, is co-founder of three technology companies (Cortex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: COR), Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA), and Thuris Corporation), has served as advisor to multiple professional entities including the Society for Neuroscience and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and has been featured in major television networks, newspapers, and magazines ranging from the Los Angeles Times to Popular Science
 
Richard Granger
is W.H. Neukom Distinguished Professor of Computational Science and of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth. He has been the principal architect of a series of advanced computational systems for military, commercial and medical applications, and co-inventor of FDA-approved devices and drugs. He is a consultant, co-founder, and board member of numerous technology corporations such as Thuris Corporation and Cortex Pharmaceuticals, and government research agencies including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. His work has been highlighted in numerous popular press and television features, including recent stories in Forbes, Wired, and on CNN.