How the geometry of ancient habitats may have influenced human brain evolution | Ars Technica

There’s a pivotal scene in the 2012 film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and a company of dwarves are chased by orcs through a classic New Zealand landscape. For Northwestern University neuroscientist and engineer Malcolm MacIver, the scene is an excellent example of the kind of patchy landscape—dotted with trees, bushes, boxers, and rolling knolls—that may have shaped the evolution of higher intelligence in humans, compared to their aquatic ancestors. Specifically, it falls within a “Goldilocks zone”—not too sparse, and not too dense—that favors strategic thinking and planning ahead, leading to the development of “planning” circuitry in the human brain, according to MacIver’s most recent paper, published in Nature Communications.
— Read on arstechnica.com/science/2020/07/how-the-geometry-of-ancient-habitats-may-have-influenced-human-brain-evolution/