Laboratory of Evolutionary Neurobiology (Krubitzer)
A distinguishing feature of the mammalian neocortex is the remarkable ability to change over a lifetime, and this is particularly dramatic during development. Such plasticity allows an individual to match the functional organization and connectivity of the cortex with the physical parameters of a specific environment, and thus optimize their behavior for that environment.
More than any other species, humans have evolved a remarkable ability to physically manipulate their environment with their hands to effectively transform our culture and indeed the planet. This ability co-evolved with an enormous expansion of the neocortex and an increase in the amount of cortex associated with hand use and hand-eye coordination.