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Human Brain Evolution: The Influence of Freshwater and Marine Food Resources

Stephen Cunnane (Editor), Kathlyn Stewart (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-60987-3
397 pages
July 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Human Brain Evolution: The Influence of Freshwater and Marine Food Resources (0470609877) cover image
The evolution of the human brain and cognitive ability is one of the central themes of physical/biological anthropology. This book discusses the emergence of human cognition at a conceptual level, describing it as a process of long adaptive stasis interrupted by short periods of cognitive advance. These advances were not linear and directed, but were acquired indirectly as part of changing human behaviors, in other words through the process of exaptation (acquisition of a function for which it was not originally selected). Based on studies of the modem human brain, certain prerequisites were needed for the development of the early brain and associated cognitive advances. This book documents the energy and nutrient constraints of the modern brain, highlighting the significant role of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) in brain development and maintenance. Crawford provides further emphasis for the role of essential fatty acids, in particular DHA, in brain development, by discussing the evolution of the eye and neural systems.

This is an ideal book for Graduate students, post docs, research scientists in Physical/Biological Anthropology, Human Biology, Archaeology, Nutrition, Cognitive Science, Neurosciences.  It is also an excellent selection for a grad student discussion seminar.

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FOREWORD: EVOLUTION, ENCEPHALIZATION, ENVIRONMENT (Phillip V. Tobias).

INTRODUCTION (Kathlyn M. Stewart and Stephen C. Cunnane).

CONTRIBUTORS.

CHAPTER 1: MACROEVOLUTIONARY PATTERNS, EXAPTATION, AND EMERGENCE IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE HUMAN BRAIN AND COGNITION (Ian Tattersall).

Introduction.

Natural Selection.

Macroevolution.

Patterns in Human Evolution.

Symbolic Cognition.

Exaptation and Emergence.

Large Brains and Aquatic Resources.

References.

CHAPTER 2: LONG-CHAIN POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS IN HUMAN BRAIN EVOLUTION (Michael A. Crawford).

Introduction – Lipids and Evolution.

The Evolution of Complex Life Forms.

The Language of Lipids.

DHA.

Evolution of Homo sapiens.

DHA and Neural Pathways?

A Comment on AA.

The Third Phase of Earth's Life History – AA and Reproduction in Mammals.

Darwin and the Conditions of Existence.

Implications.

Conclusion.

Acknowledgments.

Notes.

References.

CHAPTER 3: HUMAN BRAIN EVOLUTION: A QUESTION OF SOLVING KEY NUTRITIONAL AND METABOLIC CONSTRAINTS ON MAMMALIAN BRAIN DEVELOPMENT (Stephen C. Cunnane).

Introduction.

Brain Evolution in Hominins.

Need for A New Paradigm.

Brain Development.

Energy Requirements of the Brain.

Nutrients and Brain Function.

Brain-Selective Nutrients.

Critical Importance of Baby Fat in Humans.

Gene – Nutrient Interactions.

Conclusions.

Acknowledgments.

References.

CHAPTER 4: METABOLIC AND MOLECULAR ASPECTS OF THE CRITICAL ROLE OF DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID IN HUMAN BRAIN FUNCTION (J. Thomas Brenna).

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Molecular Structure.

DHA and Neural Function.

Metabolic and Biophysical Considerations.

Functional Importance of DHA in Retinal and Neural Membranes.

Dietary Need for Preformed DHA.

DHA Intake During Pregnancy and Lactation: Effects on Higher CNS Functions of the Mother and Infant.

Summary.

References.

CHAPTER 5: LESSONS FROM SHOREBASED HUNTER-GATHERER DIETS IN EAST AFRICA (Frits A.J. Muskiet and Remko S. Kuipers).

Introduction.

Our Genetic Background.

Adaptation to the Conditions of Existence.

Western Diets and the Human Genome.

Brain-Selective Nutrients in Health and Disease.

Dietary Fatty Acids at the Land–Water Interface.

Tanzanian Breast Milk Fatty Acids Versus Western Recommendations.

Estimated Fatty Acid Intakes from Shore-Based Paleolithic Diets.

Conclusions.

Notes.

References.

Appendix.

CHAPTER 6: THYROID HORMONE, IODINE AND HUMAN BRAIN EVOLUTION (Sebastiano Venturi and Michel E. Bégin).

Introduction.

Thyroid Hormone Metabolism and Function.

Fetal Development.

Antioxidant Activity of Iodine.

Dietary Sources of Iodine.

Iodine Defi ciency Disorders.

Human Brain Evolution.

Thyroid Hormone, Iodine, and Human Brain Evolution.

Conclusion.

References.

CHAPTER 7: FOOD FOR THOUGHT: THE ROLE OF COASTLINES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES IN HUMAN EVOLUTION (Jon M. Erlandson).

Introduction.

Food for Thought.

Human Nutrition and Physiology.

Archaeological Evidence for the Antiquity of Fishing.

Conclusions.

Acknowledgments.

Notes.

References.

CHAPTER 8: THE CASE FOR EXPLOITATION OF WETLANDS ENVIRONMENTS AND FOODS BY PRE-SAPIENS HOMININS (Kathlyn M. Stewart).

Introduction.

Hominid Exploitation of Wetlands Environments and Resources.

Early Hominins: Colonization of New Environments.

Plio-Pleistocene Climate Instability and Use of Wetlands Resources.

Intensifi cation of Wetlands Vegetation Exploitation.

The Shift to High-Quality Foods.

Preconditions for Encephalization.

Precessional Forcing, Drying Lakes/Rivers, and Die-Offs of Aquatic Faunas.

Mammal Meat: A Later Hominin Adaptation?

Postscript: H. heidelbergensis and H. sapiens.

Summary.

Acknowledgments.

References.

CHAPTER 9: BRAIN SIZE IN CARNIVORAN MAMMALS THAT FORAGE AT THE LAND–WATER ECOTONE, WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR ROBUST AUSTRALOPITHECINE PALEOBIOLOGY (Alan B. Shabel).

Introduction.

Methods.

Results.

Discussion.

Acknowledgments.

References.

CHAPTER 10: COASTAL DIET, ENCEPHALIZATION, AND INNOVATIVE BEHAVIORS IN THE LATE MIDDLE STONE AGE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (John Parkington).

Introduction.

Changes.

Climate Change.

A New Narrative.

References.

CHAPTER 11: HUMAN BRAIN EVOLUTION: A NEW WETLANDS SCENARIO (Stephen C. Cunnane and Kathlyn M. Stewart).

Human Brain Evolution.

Neurochemical and Nutritional Evidence.

The Fossil Evidence.

Plausibility, Prediction, and Parsimony.

Salient Points.

Conclusion.

Reference.

INDEX.

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“This is an ideal book for Graduate students, post docs, research scientists in Physical/ Biological Anthropology, Human Biology, Archaeology, Nutrition, Cognitive Science, Neurosciences. It is also an excellent selection for a grad student discussion seminar.”  (Human Evolution, 1 March 2013)

"This volume...is a puissant move away from the heavy, earthbound view of hominid evolution and a move toward a greater emphasis upon the role of water and waterways in hominid development, survival, and diversification" (Phillip Tobias, Foreward, Human Brain Evolution)

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