Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagNeanderthals and meditation

group-of-neanderthal-hunting-a-bison-stockpack-adobe-stock
Group of neanderthal hunting a bison

Smoke and Drink Too Much? Blame Neanderthal Man!

Besides passing on addictive habits, if you believe a study of casts from fossil skulls, our Neanderthal ancestors couldn’t meditate either…

This from a recent DNA analysis study: Around 40% of the Neandertal genome can still be found in present-day non-Africans, and each individual still carries ~2% of Neandertal DNA. Some of the archaic genetic variants may have conferred benefits at some point in our evolutionary past. Today, scientists can use this information to learn more about the impact of these genetic variants on human behaviour and the risk of developing diseases. Using this approach, a new study from an international team led by researchers from the University of Tartu, Charité Berlin and the Amsterdam UMC analysed Neandertal DNA associations with a large variety of more than a hundred brain disorders and traits such as sleep, smoking or alcohol use in…

primeval-caveman-wearing-animal-skin-holds-stone-hammer-stands-near-cave-and-looks-around-prehistoric-landscape-ready-to-hunt-animal-prey-neanderthal-going-hunting-into-jungle-low-angle-shot-stockpack-adobe-stock
Primeval Caveman Wearing Animal Skin Holds Stone Hammer Stands Near Cave and Looks Around Prehistoric Landscape, Ready to Hunt Animal Prey. Neanderthal Going Hunting into Jungle. Low Angle Shot

Fossil Scientists Ask, Could a Neanderthal Meditate?

A paleoneurology research team suggests they couldn’t. But how can the researchers be sure?

Paleoneurology — the study of the evolution of the brain — is the study of fossil brains of extinct life forms. The brain, as it happens, is “wetware” which doesn’t fossilize so paleoneurologists actually study endocasts (natural or virtual casts) of the interiors of skulls. They try to infer behavior, including language and technical competence from the casts. More ambitiously, neuroscientist Emiliano Bruner and psychologist Roberto Colom hope to probe the mind of Neanderthal man, who ranged across Eurasia from about 400,000 years ago through 40,000 years ago but now survives only in small percentages of the genome of the much larger modern human population. From detailed studies, Bruner and Colom conclude: This work proposes evolutionary changes in attention associated…