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The Role of Niche Construction in the Evolution and Future of the Human Brain

Michael Woodley


Published: 2006/06/01


The author discusses the phenomena of niche construction in the evolution of the human brain, and explores the relation between culture and environment and how this relation can effect changes to the geometry of a species niche. Feedback pressures resulting in an increase in brain size are discussed, along with the idea that the development of a system involving wide-scale assortative mating coupled with the existence of culturally constructed barriers to gene-flow, constitutes a potential inhibitor to subsequent brain size increases. Finally, the future of the human brain is discussed in the context of reproductive engineering – arguably the apex of Homo’s ability to niche construct – and the likely effects of contemporary cultural changes on the future of the human brain.

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