Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Short Review

Brain Evolution and Human Neuropsychology: The Inferential Brain Hypothesis

Timothy R. Koscika1a2 c1 and Daniel Tranela1a3

a1 Department of Neurology, Division of Behavioral Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa

a2 Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

a3 Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa


Collaboration between human neuropsychology and comparative neuroscience has generated invaluable contributions to our understanding of human brain evolution and function. Further cross-talk between these disciplines has the potential to continue to revolutionize these fields. Modern neuroimaging methods could be applied in a comparative context, yielding exciting new data with the potential of providing insight into brain evolution. Conversely, incorporating an evolutionary base into the theoretical perspectives from which we approach human neuropsychology could lead to novel hypotheses and testable predictions. In the spirit of these objectives, we present here a new theoretical proposal, the Inferential Brain Hypothesis, whereby the human brain is thought to be characterized by a shift from perceptual processing to inferential computation, particularly within the social realm. This shift is believed to be a driving force for the evolution of the large human cortex. (JINS, 2012, 18, 394–401)

(Received May 13 2011)

(Revised February 09 2012)

(Accepted February 09 2012)


c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: Timothy R. Koscik, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, 100 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3G3. E-mail: