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Sped-up evolution may have molded the human brain by slowing neuron growth

Published in Brain/Neurology.

For neuroscientists who study our own brains, the quest to understand the human brain contains many paradoxes. We still don’t understand the features that give human brains their unique cognitive abilities.

The human brain is larger compared to our body size than that of many other animals, but it’s nowhere near the largest brain out there — the largest brain by absolute mass belongs to the sperm whale, while the tiny tree shrew has the highest brain-to-body size ratio of any mammal. And the “parts list” of the kinds of neurons and other cells that make up our brains is very similar to that of a mouse brain.