Our brains, a masterpiece of complexity or the result of a compilation of random outcroppings? Natural selection, fire, language, survival, community, creative expression and sunlight. Driven by climate change, saved by our ability to adapt and survive on a diverse diet. Neuroscience researcher, physician, and journalist Bret Stetka muses, “Evolution is not a progression toward complexity or intelligence with humans in the lead. It’s all of us doing the best we can in our given situation.”
Santiago Ramon Y Cajal posits, “The brain is a world consisting of a number of unexplored continents and great stretches of unknown territory.” Those continents and territories are brought into sharper focus in Stetka’s new book, A History of the Human Brain: From Sea Sponge to CRISPR, How Our Brain Evolved. Where he deftly explores the evolution of our brain, what it looks like today and how our current societal values and behaviors will influence our brains’ adaption in the future.
Single cells, sea sponges, apes, chimpanzees and bird brains – the mysteries unraveled and revealed. Steka reminds us that for the first time in history we will be able to artificially evolve our genetic code with precision, so it may be an opportune time to do our best to understand where we started and how we got here.