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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

Weighing in at about three pounds, the human brain is the largest and most complex of any living primate. But just as most human genes are nearly identical among mammals, so too does the human brain bear major similarities in structure and function to the brains of those species most closely related to us on the tree of life. However, even nervous systems from the simplest organisms offer clues about the function of the human brain. Researchers are also working to identify the key brain differences that endow humans with unique cognitive abilities, like speaking and abstraction. Neuroscientists study a variety of animal models, from zebrafish to songbirds. The simplicity of the nervous system in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans allowed scientists to trace all its neural connections. This insight could one day offer clues about connections in the human brain. Researchers also study chemicals in the animal world in hopes of finding new drug targets in the human.

Discoveries

Source: Dana Foundation
The human brain is the crowning achievement of evolution. But what makes it so special?
Source: Society for Neuroscience
The primate retina passes information about rapid movement to the brain.
Source: Science Friday
What can the cuttlefish’s remarkable camouflage abilities teach us about vision?

Evolution in the News

Source: Quanta Magazine
Date: 25 March 2015
The comb jelly, a primitive marine creature, is forcing scientists to rethink how animals got their start.
Source: LiveScience
Date: 26 Feb 2015

New research suggests that a single gene may be responsible for the large number of neurons found uniquely in the human brain. 

Source: Inside Science
Date: 14 Oct 2014
Humans may have evolved a visual spider “template” to warn us of danger.
Read more about neuroscience core concepts for the U. S. National Science Education Standards.
Learn more about regions of the brain.
Neuromyth: Can your brain make new cells/
Animal research. Are mice the best tool to study addiction?
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