Brain network related to the "superior reasoning" skills in the humans has been detected by a team of scientists. It performs a high-level cognitive process in which we make comparisons and find equivalencies, as one does in algebra, for example.
UC Berkeley scientists have found mounting brain evidence that helps explain how humans have excelled at "relational reasoning," a cognitive skill in which we discern patterns and relationships to make sense of seemingly unrelated information, such as solving problems in unfamiliar circumstances.
Their findings suggest that subtle shifts in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain are linked to superior cognition and among other things, the frontoparietal network plays a key role in analysis, memory retrieval, abstract thinking and problem-solving, and has the fluidity to adapt according to the task at hand.
Neuroscientist Silvia Bunge said that this research has led them to take seriously the possibility that tweaks to this network over an evolutionary timescale could help to explain differences in the way that humans and other primates solve problems.
She added that it's not just that humans have language at their disposal and they also have the capacity to compare and integrate several pieces of information in a way that other primates don't.
Co-author Michael Vendetti said that given the supporting evidence across species, they posit that connections between these frontal and parietal regions have provided the necessary support for human's unique ability to reason using abstract relations.
The study concluded that these results do not necessarily prove that non-human primates are unable to reason using higher-order thinking, but if it is possible to train non-humans to produce human-like performance on tasks associated with higher-order relational thinking, it is certainly not something that comes naturally to them.
The study is published in the journal Neuron.