Consciousness Blog 22 August 2014
a team in the University of Colombia's Department of Zoology has carried out
research, published in the Journal of Ecology and Evolution, which
demonstrates a clear correlation between brain size and the need to care for
offspring. OK, it's in stickleback fish, and they're not even mammals, but
what seems particularly convincing is that it's the males that have larger
brains than the females, and it's the males who do the caring in that
particular species. Of course this will be unsurprising to human females,
who have long known that looking after their children requires more mental
capacity than going down to the pub and watching football, but it does offer
an escape route from female domination for those males who are prepared to
search for their inner carers.
Well, enough frivolity. In the study, Reversed brain size sexual dimorphism accompanies loss of parental care in white sticklebacks, researchers compared regular male sticklebacks to male white sticklebacks, which do not tend to their offspring, and found a clear difference in brain size. They found evidence that this change in male behaviour – giving up caring for the young – occurred at the same time the white stickleback evolved a smaller brain. The white stickleback is a newly-emerged species that only diverged from other sticklebacks 10,000 years ago.
Said lead author Kieran Samuk, a PhD student in UBC's Dept. of Zoology: "This suggests that regular sticklebacks have bigger brains to handle the brain power needed to care for and protect their young. This is one of the first studies to link parental care with brain size."
association between greater brain size and social complexity is demonstrated
across many species, not just mammalian. Read more
Chapter One of Agent Human by Michael Bell,
The Origins And Purpose Of Consciousness.