MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: How does the brain help animasl to survive?

Date: Mon Jan 10 14:40:36 2000
Posted By: Gabriel Vargas, Post-doc/Fellow, Neurosciences/Psychiatry, UCSF
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 945619535.Gb

The brain helps animals survive by providing a site where information is 
processed and the most basic activities necessary for survival such as 
breathing are regulated. The brainstem (the most primitive part of the 
brain) is the area where breathing is regulated for example. It is necessary 
for life. In more developed animals such as mammals there has been an 
increase in the size of the brain because having a more developed brain 
allows animals to process more information about their surroundings. Mammals 
are able to associate, for example, going to a specific watering hole and 
meeting a predator so that next time they go there they will remember that 
association and perhaps even avoid that site. In more developed mammals such 
as primates, the increase in brain size allows these creatures the ability 
to plan ahead and build tools, both of which provided tremendous advantages 
in terms of survival and in the case of our species has been selected for 
such that our brains have increased in size to a tremendous degree since our 
ancestors first appeared in Africa around 4 million years ago.

The Emotional Brain : The Mysterious Underpinnings of 
Emotional Life.
by Joseph Ledoux

People of the Earth : An Introduction to World Prehistory 
by Brian M. Fagan 

by Gordon M. Shepherd 

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