In January 2004, the State Superintendent of Schools in my adopted state of Georgia, USA, eliminated evolution from the public school science curriculum. Fortunately, a small group of dedicated activists, combined with worldwide media attention, blocked the attempt to turn back the scientific clock, for now. Nonetheless, the teaching of evolution remains under threat in many other locations around the USA and the world (Forrest and Gross, 2004; Scott, 2006). We evolutionary biologists must do something about the fact that, 150 years after Darwin's famous book, the lay public has an appallingly poor understanding of the foundational theory in biology. The production of this book series will hopefully promote not only a greater understanding of brain evolution by scientists, but also kindle a desire to provide more and better instruction in evolutionary biology for tomorrow's citizens of the world.
A major problem in obtaining public support for quality evolution education has been that the average citizen sees no need for learning evolutionary biology. The key is to illustrate for students the connection between their everyday lives and evolutionary principles. In the following, I will discuss the largely unrecognized importance of evolutionary theory in guiding medical research toward a better understanding of brain development and pathology, and in guiding clinical interventions today and in the future (see The Development and Evolutionary Expansion of the Cerebral Cortex in Primates, Primate Brain Evolution in Phylogenetic Context, Organization and Correspondence of the Auditory Cortex of Humans and Nonhuman Primates, The Evolution of Neuron Types and Cortical Histology in Apes and Humans, The Origin of Neocortex: Lessons from Comparative Embryology, Cortical Evolution as the Expression of a Program for Disproportionate Growth and the Proliferation of Areas, Reconstructing the Organization of Neocortex of the First Mammals and Subsequent Modifications, Captured in the Net of Space and Time: Understanding Cortical Field Evolution, The Evolution of the Dorsal Thalamus in Mammals, Epigenetic Responses to a Changing Periphery -Wagging the Dog).
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