Since brain does not fossilize, brain endocast (i.e., replica of the inner surface of the braincase, Figure 1) constitutes the only direct evidence for reconstructing hominin brain evolution (Holloway, 1978; Holloway et al., 2004a). In this context, paleoneurology has suffered from strong limitations due to the fragmentary nature of the fossil record and the absence of any information regarding subcortical elements in extinct taxa. Additionally, variation in brain shape and organization (and in the corresponding endocast) is technically difficult to capture, as stated by Bruner (2017a, p. 64): “[…] the smooth and blurred geometry of the brain, its complex and complicated mechanisms, and its noticeable individual variability make any research associated with its morphology very entangled and difficult to develop within fixed methodological approaches.” An emblematic example might be the reluctance of paleoneurologists to consider the sulcal imprints visible on the endocranial surface because of the substantial uncertainties in describing such features in fossil specimens and related debates (e.g., the lunate sulcus in the Taung child’s endocast; Falk, 1980a, 2009, 2014; Holloway, 1981a; Holloway et al., 2004b). In 1987, Tobias even came to the conclusion that “The recognition of specific cerebral gyri and sulci from their impressions on an endocast is a taxing, often subjective and even invidious undertaking which arouses much argumentation” (p. 748) …
Author Archives: emilianobruner
Brainstorming today at the Laboratory of Hominid Paleoneurobiology! Talks and chats on several doctoral projects, integrating brain anatomy, functional craniology, vascular morphology and cognitive archaeology. From the left: Emiliano Bruner, Gizéh Rangel de Lázaro, María Silva Gago, Annapaola Fedato, Alannah Pearson, and Sofia Pereira-Pedro.
Virtual anatomy and inner structural morphology,
from head to toe
A tribute to Laurent Puymerail
Comptes Rendus Palevol 16 (2017)
A new PhD student in the team working on craniovascular anatomy! Stanislava Eisová was in our laboratory few years ago, publishing a paper on parietal bone and vessels in which she investigated correlations between craniovascular morphology, skull size, and bone thickness. She got a Master Degree in Anthropology of Past Populations at the University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic. Now she begins a PhD program on Anthropology and Human Genetics at the Faculty of Science of the Charles University, Prague. Her project will be on craniovascular traits, anthropology, paleoanthropology, and paleopathology. She will investigate craniovascular characters in normal samples, pathological conditions, and fossil specimens. The project is co-directed by Petr Velemínský.
The world’s most detailed scan of the brain’s internal wiring has been produced by scientists at Cardiff University. The MRI machine reveals the fibres which carry all the brain’s thought processes. It’s been done in Cardiff, Nottingham, Cambridge and Stockport, as well as London England and London Ontario. Doctors hope it will help increase understanding of a range of neurological disorders and could be used instead of invasive biopsies …
[keep on reading this article by Fergus Walsh on BBC News]
A perspective review on cerebellum and Alzheimer’s disease, coordinated by Heidi Jacobs …
Jacobs H.I., Hopkins D.A., Mayrhofer H.C., Bruner E., van Leeuwen F.W., Raaijmakers W., Schmahmann J.D.
The cerebellum in Alzheimer’s disease: evaluating its role in cognitive decline.
(and here a post on cerebellum and paleoneurology …)
New member of the lab! Annapaola Fedato did her master thesis on cognitive archaeology and visuospatial integration in our laboratory, as a student from the University of Padua (Italy). And now she will keep on working on the same issue with a PhD grant, dealing with experimental archaeology, affordance, and hand-tool relationships. About this topic, here a perspective paper on visuospatial integration and human evolution, and a review on visuospatial behaviours and fossil evidence. Because this blog deals mainly with brain and skull anatomy, she will be in charge of posting news and information on those brain areas involved in visuospatial functions. Welcome! [Affiliation Info]