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A note for The Half-Lesson, "Your Brain Is Not for Thinking," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 4 is:

Both predators and prey evolved to sense more of the world around them. They began to develop more sophisticated sensory systems.

For an entertaining, accessible summary of how predation may have prompted the development of sensory systems, see Peter Godfrey-Smith’s book.[1] It’s not an “arms” race so much as an “eyes, ears, and nose” race.

More generally, scientists now hypothesize that predation may have been a major pressure that gave rise to the evolution of vertebrate animals. We vertebrates are distinct from our invertebrate ancestors in several ways. Vertebrates evolved eyes and ears and other sense organs, all located in a proper head that is separate from the body. Vertebrates evolved larger, more elaborated bodies, including an expanded sense of touch and a sense of bodily movements in space (called proprioception), as well as a heart and lungs and other internal bodily systems (called visceral systems). We evolved an immune system that learns and adapts to the surrounding environment. And vertebrates evolved a proper brain, with all the vertebrate parts (sometimes called a hindbrain, a midbrain and a forebrain). For more details, see books by Godfrey-Smith,[1] the evolutionary biologist Henry Gee,[2] and the evolutionary neuroscientists and anatomists Georg Striedter and Glenn Northcutt,[3] and the references therein.

Predation may have also had a role in the development of more sophisticated motor systems.[1][4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Godfrey-Smith, Peter. 2016. Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  2. Gee, Henry. 2018. Across the Bridge: Understanding the Origin of the Vertebrates. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  3. Striedter, Georg F., and R. Glenn Northcutt. 2020. Brains Through Time: A Natural History of Vertebrates. New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. Cisek, Paul. 2019. “Resynthesizing Behavior through Phylogenetic Refinement.” Attention, Perception and Psychophysics 81: 2265–2287