Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Cognitive Ecology II$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Reuven Dukas and John M. Ratcliffe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226169354

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226169378.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 01 December 2021

The Cognitive-Buffer Hypothesis for the Evolution of Large Brains

The Cognitive-Buffer Hypothesis for the Evolution of Large Brains

(p.111) 7 The Cognitive-Buffer Hypothesis for the Evolution of Large Brains
Cognitive Ecology II
Daniel Sol
University of Chicago Press

This chapter relies on recent data to address the old question of why some animals have large brains relative to body size even though such brains incur substantial costs in terms of delayed maturation and high maintenance. It reviews recent studies providing support for the cognitive-buffer hypothesis, which states that a relatively large brain is associated with an enhanced ability to handle novel situations and hence with increased probability of survival in novel or altered environments. The cognitive-buffer hypothesis is the most general explanation for the benefits of the evolution and development of large brains, proposing that a major advantage of a large brain is to produce behavioral responses that protect the animal from the vagaries of the environment. The buffer function of the brain has the potential to generate “autocatalytic” and positive-feedback processes that, although still not well understood, could accelerate brain evolution.

Keywords:   cognitive-buffer hypothesis, large brain, brain evolution, positive-feedback, body size, brain

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.