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Comparative neuroanatomy shows that new prefrontal areas emerged during the evolution of anthropoid primates to augment prefrontal, parietal, and temporal areas that had evolved in earlier primates. We recently proposed that the new anthropoid areas reduce foraging errors by generating goals from current contexts and learning to do so rapidly, sometimes based on single events. Among the contexts used to generate these goals, the posterior parietal cortex provides the new prefrontal areas with information about relational metrics such as order, number, duration, length, distance and proportion, which play a crucial role in foraging choices. Here we propose that this specialized network later became adapted to support the human capacity for reasoning and general problem-solving.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Cogn Sci

Publication Date





72 - 81


Animals, Appetitive Behavior, Biological Evolution, Humans, Neural Pathways, Parietal Lobe, Prefrontal Cortex, Primates, Problem Solving