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Music, evolution, and the harmony of souls$
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Alan R. Harvey

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198786856.001.0001

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Brains and the Evolution of Homo sapiens

Brains and the Evolution of Homo sapiens

(p.46) Chapter 3 Brains and the Evolution of Homo sapiens
Music, evolution, and the harmony of souls

Alan Harvey

Oxford University Press

To examine ideas as to how and why humans evolved (and retained) music and language as interrelated but distinct communication streams, this chapter sets out the basic tenets of modern evolutionary biology, focusing on brains and the evolution of Homo sapiens. After first considering brain size, laterality, and morphology of human versus other (living and extinct) hominin brains, the connectional and functional architectures of human and non-human primate brains are compared. Mechanisms that regulate gene expression are described, and genetic mutations discussed, emphasizing polymorphisms known to affect linguistic ability, memory, and cognition. A time-frame of human evolution is proposed, based primarily on paternal and maternal lineage studies, and including evidence of emergent cultural activity and human musicality. It is argued that music and modern language capability are recent evolutionary events, both present in the founder population that exited Africa 50,000–65,000 years ago.

Keywords:   brain evolution, laterality, gene expression, genetic mutations, polymorphisms, memory, cognition, lineage studies, cultural activity, musicality

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