- BA, Anthropology & Psychology, University of Notre Dame
I am interested in researching human brain evolution through comparative neuroanatomy as well as the evolution of cognition and language. I would like to research the differences in neuroanatomy between humans and other primate species in order to determine uniquely human features of the brain. In connection to this, I am interested in identifying behavioral correlates of such features through techniques such as fMRI. In particular, I am intrigued by the cerebellum, especially its relation to complex cognition and its marked growth relative to the neocortex in modern humans. In addition to anatomical changes, I am interested in language: specifically, determining the evolutionary advantages that would encourage a complex behavior like language to co-evolve with the brain, and how this process occurred. The aforementioned approaches would assist in answering the question of whether areas in the brain were co-opted for language or developed in a modular fashion. Given the social nature of language, human and non-human primate social cognition as a whole is of particular interest to me as well. I feel that the marriage of the brain-and-behavior focus of neuroscience and the biocultural framework offered by anthropology presents the best way to approach such inquiries.