September 16, 2009
Human Brains React To Tool Use Unlike Rhesus Monkeys

An area of the brain called the anterior supramarginal gyrus (aSMG) lights up with activity in humans when humans watch tool use. Rhesus monkeys do not show similar reactions in their brains when scanned with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).

Forty-seven people and five rhesus monkeys participated in the experiments. Two of the monkeys had been trained to obtain rewards beyond their reach by using either a rake or a pair of pliers.

Exactly the same areas of the brain became active in people and monkeys when they watched footage of hands simply grasping tools.

But when they watched videos of tools actually being used, the aSMG became active in the humans alone. It was silent even in the two trained monkeys'.

Do people who study mechanical engineering show more activity in the aSMG when they watch tool use? Do women show less aSMG activity while watching tool use? Are there genetic variations within human populations that increase and decrease aSMG activation when watching tool use?

Imagine a sort of aptitude test where one's brain gets scanned while one looks at and tries various forms of activity. Such a test might be able to reveal what one would most enjoy doing in the long run.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 September 16 09:52 PM  Brain Evolution

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