Scientists have found an explanation for why human cognitive abilities are better than those of other animals.
Researchers have studied how the brain processes information. They found that different areas of the brain use different strategies to communicate with each other. So, certain areas of the brain communicate with others in a very stereotypical way, using input and output. This ensures that the signals are transmitted in a reproducible and reliable manner. This refers to areas that are specialized in sensory and motor functions.
For example, the eyes, which send signals to a specific part of the brain for processing. Much of the information sent is duplicated, which is why scientists call this type of information processing “redundant.” However, redundancy provides stability and reliability, that is, we are able to see with one eye, this is enough for survival.
Not all information provided by the eyes is redundant. Combining information from both eyes ultimately allows the brain to process depth and distance between objects. This is an example of a fundamentally different way of processing information – “synergetic”. This processing is most common in areas of the brain that support a wide range of more complex cognitive functions: attention, working memory, and so on.
When the scientists looked at the prefrontal cortex, which supports more advanced cognitive functions, they saw that macaques have more redundant processing in this area, while synergistic processing is more common in humans. It is possible that this gives us advantages as a species.