Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Brain Evolution Resulting from Cooking

  • Mariya VoytyukEmail author
Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2951-1

Synonyms

Definition

Cooking as a potential explanation for the evolution of the disproportionately large human brain.

Introduction

The disproportionately big human brain is a conundrum – it is larger than would be expected for a primate of our size, and it is a very energetically expensive organ. Since human basal metabolic rate (BMR) is not elevated to match such a big brain, the extra energy needed to sustain it suggests a dietary explanation. Feeding the large brain would likely require a shift to a high-quality diet: one comprised of energy-rich, easily digestible foods. This hypothesis is supported by a number of anatomical features: smaller teeth, jaws, stomachs, and a shorter large intestine. Two key elements of human subsistence – cooking and meat eating – have been proposed as a possible means of achieving this high-quality diet.

Encephalization and Trade-Off Theories

The human line has experienced a remarkable increase in brain size...

Keywords

Basal Metabolic Rate Brain Size Rest Metabolic Rate Large Brain Salivary Amylase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Aiello, L. C., & Wheeler, P. (1995). The expensive-tissue hypothesis: The brain and the digestive system in human and primate evolution. Current Anthropology, 36(2), 199–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carmody, R. N., & Wrangham, R. W. (2009). Cooking and the human commitment to a high-quality diet. In Cold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. pp. sqb-2009.Google Scholar
  3. Carmody, R. N., Weintraub, G. S., & Wrangham, R. W. (2011). Energetic consequences of thermal and nonthermal food processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(48), 19199–19203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carmody, R. N., Dannemann, M., Briggs, A. W., Nickel, B., Groopman, E. E., Wrangham, R. W., & Kelso, J. (2016). Genetic evidence of human adaptation to a cooked diet. Genome Biology and Evolution, 8(4), 1091–1103.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Cornélio, A. M., de Bittencourt-Navarrete, R. E., de Bittencourt Brum, R., Queiroz, C. M., & Costa, M. R. (2016). Human brain expansion during evolution is independent of fire control and cooking. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 167.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Fonseca-Azevedo, K., & Herculano-Houzel, S. (2012). Metabolic constraint imposes tradeoff between body size and number of brain neurons in human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(45), 18571–18576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hardy, K., Brand-Miller, J., Brown, K. D., Thomas, M. G., & Copeland, L. (2015). The importance of dietary carbohydrate in human evolution. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 90(3), 251–268.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Koebnick, C., Strassner, C., Hoffmann, I., & Leitzmann, C. (1999). Consequences of a long-term raw food diet on body weight and menstruation: Results of a questionnaire survey. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 43(2), 69–79.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Navarrete, A., van Schaik, C. P., & Isler, K. (2011). Energetics and the evolution of human brain size. Nature, 480(7375), 91–93.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Wrangham, R. W. (2009). Catching fire: How cooking made us human. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA