Wired to Connect

Wired to Connect

Mona Fishbane



Humans are social animals.  Our species developed in social groups; it has been suggested that our relatively big brains evolved to cope with the vast amount of information we need to process our interactions with others.  Furthermore, in early human evolution, as our forebears left the trees and walked upright on the savanna, the female’s pelvis had to grow smaller for her body to balance on two feet.  This meant that the birth canal was narrowed as well.  But at the same time, the infant’s head size was growing to accommodate the greater complexity of group life.  This larger head could not fit through the narrowed birth canal.  So a compromise evolved: The baby would be born with a smaller head, essentially premature. The human infant—and its growing brain—thus required intensive caretaking by adults for a much longer time after birth than other young animals needed.  This new arrangement, in turn, necessitated a caretaking system that would ensure bonding between parents and infant (and support from other adults as well) during the young child’s long period of dependence.  Thus, we evolved as an intensively caretaking species, with a complex “affiliative neurocircuitry”…



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