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Brains, maturation times, and parenting John Allman*, Andrea Hasenstaub
 

Summary: Commentary
Brains, maturation times, and parenting
John Allman*, Andrea Hasenstaub
Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
Finch and Sapolsky propose that the slow development
of human infants and their consequent long period of de-
pendency on their parents have favored the evolution of
genes that retard brain senescence, specifically recently
evolved variants of the apolipoprotein E gene. We examine
here the probable reasons why human maturation is so slow,
and the influence of this slow development on parental
dependence and patterns of survival. Large brains are ex-
pensive in terms of energy, anatomic complexity, and the
time required to reach particular stages of postnatal matu-
ration. We hypothesize that the maturational time costs arise
from the fact that the brain is unique among the organs of
the body in requiring a great deal of interaction with the
environment (learning experience) to achieve adult compe-
tence, and thus that the brain serves as a rate-limiting factor
governing the maturation of the entire body. Although the

  

Source: Allman, John M. - Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine