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The cost of cognition: The blessing and curse of human brain complexity

By Shane Huntington

Neuroscientist Prof Seth Grant explains how genetics gave rise to the modern human brain, and how the very complexity that characterises our brains makes them vulnerable to neurological diseases that reveal themselves in mental illness.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

SHANE HUNTINGTON

I'm Dr Shane Huntington. Thanks for joining us. Our ability to comprehend the environment around us, to adapt rapidly the changing conditions and to imaginatively express ourselves through art are all outstanding outcomes of an evolutionary process that has generated human brains of stunning complexity. But what is it that enables our grey matter to achieve such feats? Are these features solely the territory of human beings or do we share similar traits with other life forms? As with any mechanism, be it electrochemical or mechanical, added complexity leads to potential problems that are correspondingly complex to resolve. Diseases that affect the way we think and use our bodies are many and stem from a variety of causes but almost always situated in the brain. Today on Up Close we're joined by neuroscientist Professor Seth Grant to explore how the evolution of synapses has given vertebrates like us the ability to think and learn whilst also making us susceptible to mental illness and diseases of the brain. Seth Grant is Professor Molecular Neuroscience in the Centre for Neuroregeneration at the University of Edinburgh. He is in Melbourne to speak at the 2014...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.