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Biol Lett. 2009 Feb 23;5(1):130-3. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0621.

Revisiting the cognitive buffer hypothesis for the evolution of large brains.

Author information

1
CSIC-CEAB-CREAF Centre for Ecological Research and Applied Forestries, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain. dsolrueda@gmail.com

Abstract

Why have some animals evolved large brains despite substantial energetic and developmental costs? A classic answer is that a large brain facilitates the construction of behavioural responses to unusual, novel or complex socioecological challenges. This buffer effect should increase survival rates and favour a longer reproductive life, thereby compensating for the costs of delayed reproduction. Although still limited, evidence in birds and mammals is accumulating that a large brain facilitates the construction of novel and altered behavioural patterns and that this ability helps dealing with new ecological challenges more successfully, supporting the cognitive-buffer interpretation of the evolution of large brains.

PMID:
19049952
PMCID:
PMC2657766
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2008.0621
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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