Two Harvard researchers, Randy L. Buckner and Fenna M. Krienen, recently studied brain size in humans as compared to other mammals (mammals are people and animals) and offered a stunning explanation of how and why our brains evolved and became bigger…bigger than all other mammals.
They offered the “tether hypothesis.”
In all other mammals, the outer layers of the brain are divided into regions called cortices. Through motor cortices, signals — or commands — are sent and mammals react or respond to the commands. A bunny sees a lion coming, a command is sent from the motor cortice and the bunny hops away. If it’s a smart bunny it runs like hell.
But, the two scientists say, here’s where human brains are different. As human brains grew in size, their motor cortices didn’t. Instead, association cortices grew, which paved the way for decision making, memory, and self reflections — or what we think about ourselves. Apparently, other mammals don’t think much about themselves.
Now here’s the thing: As human brains grew in size — over millions of years, of course — a new wiring system developed in the human brain called association cortices.
This new wiring system is crucial to the evolution of the human mind, the Harvard scientists say. These association cortices can communicate without any influences from the outside world, they say. It allows humans to think about themselves and their environment in ways other mammals cannot.
In other words, humans can contemplate their navels while cats and dogs don’t do much contemplating.
Look, if human brains developed through evolution by getting bigger and allowing the association cortices to expand and develop, it would be acceptable to believe that all human brains did not develop in the same way, just like all legs and arms have not developed the same.
In some humans, scientists say, parts of the brain developed allowing the human mammal to experience situations not garnered through the human senses — sight, taste, sound, etc. Science accepts this and calls it extrasensory perception. Maybe you have it or maybe you don’t but some folks do. And where did it come from? From a part of the brain that developed in that person more than in all others, through evolution, of course.
In Charter School General, a child’s brain developed just a little differently than yours or mine. Through that development it allows him to exchange thought processes with animals on a level not available to you or me. He uses this gift to get animals out of the “zoo prison” and save the city.