DURHAM scientists are dispelling the myth that human intelligence is linked to brain size.
Researchers at Durham University have discovered the size of the brain’s frontal lobes does not solely account for humans’ superior cognitive abilities over animals.
The study found that frontal lobes are not, as previously thought, disproportionately enlarged relative to other areas of the brain.
And the scientists in Durham and Reading universities suggest more “primitive” areas, such as the cerebellum, are equally important.
These areas may therefore play unexpectedly important roles in human cognition and its disorders, such as autism and dyslexia, say the researchers.
Lead author Professor Robert Barton, from the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, said: “Probably the most widespread assumption about how the human brain evolved is that size increase was concentrated in the frontal lobes.
“We show that this is untrue: human frontal lobes are exactly the size expected for a non-human brain scaled up to human size.
“This means that areas traditionally considered to be more primitive were just as important during our evolution.
“These other areas should now get more attention. In fact there is already some evidence that damage to the cerebellum, for example, is a factor in disorders such as autism and dyslexia.”
The scientists argue that many of our high-level abilities are carried out by more extensive brain networks linking many different areas of the brain.