A new study has claimed that the human brains are fast evolving to environmental changes. It has changed more rapidly-and in different ways-than was initially thought, reports Scientific American.
There's been a lot of recent evolution-far more than anyone envisioned in the 1980s when this idea came to prominence," stated Kevin Laland, a professor at the University of Saint Andrew's School of Biology in Scotland and co-author of the study.
Laland and his colleagues argue that today's better understanding of the pace of evolution, human adaptability and the way the mind works all suggest that, contrary to cartoon stereotypes and popular psychologists, modern humans are not just primitive savages struggling to make psychological sense of an alien contemporary world.
More recent studies have found evidence of speedy evolutionary change in animals-as well as hundreds of changes in the human genome that appeared within tens of thousands, rather than over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
Early evolutionary psychologists have often favoured something like a "jukebox" model of the brain, in which it contains any number of evolved, pre-programmed behaviours waiting to be set off by various stimuli, as if at the touch of a button.
Laland and his colleagues instead argue for "a very different model of how the mind works," he says, in which the human mind is much more plastic, and perhaps more akin to a collection of musical instruments awaiting a jam session; the tune they will play depends more on developmental and cultural experiences than on engrained compositions.
The study was published online July 19 in PLoS Biology.