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Strategies for Explaining Species Difference in Human/Ape Comparative Neuroanatomy


There is a great deal of interest in understanding cognitive and behavioral differences between humans and other primates. One way to do this is to investigate the evolution of the neurological substrates underlying these cognitive and behavioral differences. Once these species differences have been identified they must be interpreted, and different explanatory strategies have been proposed for this purpose, though not strictly in the context of human/ape comparisons. This paper therefore reviews findings from comparative neuroanatomical studies of humans and apes from the last twenty-five years at both the macro- and micro structural levels, along with three strategies for explaining species difference. These strategies are mechanical, developmental, and adaptational explanations. Finally, what these categories mean for, how they apply to, and how they intersect in human/ape comparative neuroanatomical work is discussed in the context of the reviewed findings.

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