The Superior Visual Perception Hypothesis: Neuroaesthetics of Cave Art
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBehavioral Sciences. 2021, 11 (6), 81. 10.3390/bs11060081
Cave Art in the Upper Paleolithic presents a boost of creativity and visual thinking. What can explain these savant-like paintings? The normal brain function in modern man rarely supports the creation of highly detailed paintings, particularly the convincing representation of animal movement, without extensive training and access to modern technology. Differences in neuro-signaling and brain anatomy between modern and archaic Homo sapiens could also cause differences in perception. The brain of archaic Homo sapiens could perceive raw detailed information without using pre-established top-down concepts, as opposed to the common understanding of the normal modern non-savant brain driven by top-down control. Some ancient genes preserved in modern humans may be expressed in rare disorders. Researchers have compared Cave Art with art made by people with autism spectrum disorder. We propose that archaic primary consciousness, as opposed to modern secondary consciousness, included a savant-like perception with a superior richness of details compared to modern man. Modern people with high frequencies of Neanderthal genes, have notable anatomical features such as increased skull width in the occipital and parietal visual areas. We hypothesize that the anatomical differences are functional and may allow a different path to visual perception.