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The unusual growth pattern of an infant’s brain appears to recapitulate the history of brain evolution, a recent study suggests. In other words, children become less "monkey-like" as they age.
The study, led by Jason Hill, a neurobiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, documented the “strikingly nonuniform” growth of the human brain during childhood development. The regions responsible for language and reasoning tend to grow at nearly twice the rate of other regions after birth.
By comparing MRI scans of infant human brains with those of young adults and macaque monkeys, researchers concluded that “the expansion patterns in infant brains are ‘remarkably similar’ to how human brains have changed since humans and macaques diverged from a common ancestor about 25 million years ago,” National Geographic News reports.*
Instead of using the scans to understand how monkeys and humans differ (which is the real point to consider), the authors relied on their evolutionary assumptions to elaborate their story about brain evolution.
The team did acknowledge, however, that the growth of these brain regions may be delayed until after birth so that a child’s early life experiences can shape his or her brain’s development. That idea is fully compatible with God’s special creation of humans, completely separate from monkeys.
Once again, the starting point—raw data (the MRI scans)—isn’t where the controversy lies (unless the data are actually flawed). The disagreements arise in the interpretation of the data in light of the underlying worldview, whether creation-based or evolution-based.
* John Roach, “Human Brains ‘Evolve,’ Become Less Monkey-Like with Age,” http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/07/100711-humans-monkeys-brainsevolution-science/