Evolution Doesn’t Care What You Think a Brain Region is Called

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From Medium: While naming brain regions is crucial to the study of neuroscience, it may also be misleading. These names may oversimplify our understanding of the brain, indirectly causing us to associate each brain region with one particular function and vice versa.

“To evolution, the brain is just a gigantic bag of cells, wired together. The purpose of that gigantic bag of cells is to contribute to the survival of the organism in which it resides, to surviving long enough to reproduce. Those that reproduce, win; those that don’t, don’t.

If a random mutation causes or changes the wiring of some neurons to another group of neurons, and that mutation improves the chances of having offspring, it will likely spread through the population. If that random mutation adds connections from prefrontal cortex to visual cortex; from cortical interneurons to a structure outside cortex; from motor cortex to midbrain dopamine neurons, then it will happen. Evolution will not feel sorry that it’s just ruined another set of textbooks.

And it is just a giant bag of cells wired together. Our best evidence that it is not — that we can cling to our names of all the bits — come from studies where we cut a bit out or turn a bit off. When we cut out area X and we see a ‘deficit’ in behaviour Y of an animal (like tying its shoelaces), then we think ‘aha! Area X is for tying shoelaces’. No. For starters, we never see a complete and permanent end to behaviour Y. We normally see that the animal is simply worse at doing or learning Y — not that it cannot do Y at all. The brain can carry on doing Y just fine, thanks, just not as well — there is massive redundancy in the brain. Like what you’d find if it was a giant bag of cells, wired together.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Psychiatry does not like the theory of evolution. Indeed, if some “mental illnesses” are “genetic”, then they could not have a prevalence as huge as that advocated by psychiatrists, because natural selection would have reduced it to almost nothing for a long time.

    On the contrary, “psychic disorders” increase extremely rapidly (according to the psychiatrists) which is contradictory with the genetic hypothesis. To preserve this hypothesis, it would be necessary to pretend that the deficiating genes are spreading in the population, but that is simply eugenics, not darwinism.

    The latent eugenics of psychiatry is not compatible with the principle of natural selection, and so is not scientific.

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