Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/2440/102260
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Type: Journal article
Title: Fossil skulls reveal that blood flow rate to the brain increased faster than brain volume during human evolution
Author: Seymour, R.
Bosiocic, V.
Snelling, E.
Citation: Royal Society Open Science, 2016; 3(8):160305-1-160305-8
Publisher: The Royal Society
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 2054-5703
2054-5703
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Roger S. Seymour, Vanya Bosiocic and Edward P. Snelling
Abstract: The evolution of human cognition has been inferred from anthropological discoveries and estimates of brain size from fossil skulls. A more direct measure of cognition would be cerebral metabolic rate, which is proportional to cerebral blood flow rate (perfusion). The hominin cerebrum is supplied almost exclusively by the internal carotid arteries. The sizes of the foramina that transmitted these vessels in life can be measured in hominin fossil skulls and used to calculate cerebral perfusion rate. Perfusion in 11 species of hominin ancestors, from Australopithecus to archaic Homo sapiens, increases disproportionately when scaled against brain volume (the allometric exponent is 1.41). The high exponent indicates an increase in the metabolic intensity of cerebral tissue in later Homo species, rather than remaining constant (1.0) as expected by a linear increase in neuron number, or decreasing according to Kleiber’s Law (0.75). During 3 Myr of hominin evolution, cerebral tissue perfusion increased 1.7-fold, which, when multiplied by a 3.5-fold increase in brain size, indicates a 6.0-fold increase in total cerebral blood flow rate. This is probably associated with increased interneuron connectivity, synaptic activity and cognitive function, which all ultimately depend on cerebral metabolic rate.
Keywords: brain perfusion; hominin; evolution; cognition; cerebral cortex
Description: Published 31 August 2016. Corrected by: Erratum: Fossil skulls reveal that blood flow rate to the brain increased faster than brain volume during human evolution (vol 3, 160305, 2016), in Vol. 4, Issue 8, ARTN 170846. Revised data.
Rights: © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160305
Grant ID: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/DP120102081
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 3
Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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