Dean Falk

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Dean Falk
Dean Falk
Falk in June 2009
BornJune 25, 1944 (1944-06-25) (age 74)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
OrganizationFlorida State University

Dean Falk (born June 25, 1944) is an American academic Neuroanthropologist who specializes in the evolution of the brain and cognition in higher primates. She is a Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University.


As an undergraduate, Falk studied mathematics and anthropology. Since receiving her PhD from the University of Michigan in 1976, she has taught courses in anatomy, neuroanatomy, and anthropology. Falk is interested in the evolution of the brain and cognition. She formulated the “radiator theory” that cranial blood vessels were important for hominin brain evolution, and the “putting the baby down” hypothesis that prehistoric mothers and infants facilitated the emergence of language.

In 2013, Falk and colleagues thoroughly described the cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein from recently emerged photographs of his whole brain. She is currently co-authoring a book on Asperger's syndrome with her 24-year-old granddaughter, who has Asperger's. [1]

Homo floresiensis[edit]

After the skeletal remains of an 18,000-year-old, "Hobbit"-sized human were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 they were identified as a new species labelled Homo floresiensis (“Hobbit”). Some scientists thought that the specimen must have been a pygmy or a microcephalic — a human with an abnormally small skull. Falk undertook a study in 2005 which supported the claim that the find represented a new species.

Falk's 2005 study was criticised by other experts.[2] In response, in 2007, with an international team of experts, Falk created detailed maps of imprints left on the ancient hominid's braincase (endocasts) and concluded that the Hobbit was actually a new species closely related to Homo erectus. Falk's team have repeatedly asserted that their findings confirm that the species cataloged as LB1, Homo floresiensis, is definitely not a human born with microcephalia — a somewhat rare pathological condition that still occurs today.

Human Brain Evolution[edit]

In 2014, Dean Falk published her work on "Interpreting sulci on hominin endocasts: old hypotheses and new findings. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience". Her work summarizes what paleoneurologists can potentially learn about human brain evolution from fossils is confined to information about the evolution of brain size and how when limited parts of the cerebral cortex became organized. Falk notes that the cerebral cortex is a highly evolved part of the human brain and that it facilitates conscious thought, planning, language, social skills, and scientific, artistic, and musical creativity. The cerebral cortex may leave imprints in skulls which are sometimes reproduced on endocasts. Falk states that these implications leave the internal brain structures neglected by paleoneurologists. These parts of the brain also evolved, and they are extremely important for processing memories, gut-level feelings, and social interactions in ways that set humans apart from other animals.


Select books[edit]

  • Falk, Dean (2011). The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26670-4.
  • Falk, D., Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants and the Origin of Language, Basic Books, New York 2009 ISBN 978-0-465-00219-1
  • Falk, D. Braindance Revised and Expanded. University Press of Florida, 2004
  • Falk, D. and K. Gibson (eds) Evolutionary Anatomy of the Primate Cerebral Cortex. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001
  • Falk, D. Primate Diversity. New York: Norton, 2000

Select journal articles[edit]

  • Falk, D. (2014). Interpreting sulci on hominin endocasts: Old hypotheses and new findings. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:134. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00134.
  • Weiwei, M., Falk, D., Sun, T., Chen, Wl, Li, J., Yin, D., Zang, L., & M. Fan. (2013). The corpus callosum of Albert Einstein’s brain: another clue to his high intelligence? Brain, doi : 10.1093/brain/awt252. [1]
  • Falk, D., Lepore, F., Noe, A. (2013). The cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein: A description and preliminary analysis of unpublished photographs, Brain 136(4): 1304-1327.
  • Falk, D. Happiness: An evolutionary perspective. (2012). In B. R. Johnston (Ed.), second Vital Topics Forum “On Happiness,” the American Anthropologist 114(1):8-9.
  • Falk, D. (2009). The natural endocast of Taung (Australopithecus africanus): Insights from the unpublished papers of Raymond Arthur Dart, Yrbk. Phys. Anthropol. Series 52:49-65.
  • Falk, D., Hildebolt,C., Smith, K., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Saptomo, W.E., Imhof, H., Seidler, H. & F. Prior. (2007). Brain shape in human microcephalics and Homo floresiensis. PNAS 104:2513-2518.
  • Falk, D., Hildebolt, C., Smith, K., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Brown, P., Jatmiko, Saptomo W. E., Brunsden, B. & F. Prior. (2005). The brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis. Science Express, March 3, 2005; Science 308:242-245.
  • Falk, D. Prelinguistic evolution in early hominins: Whence motherese? (target article) (2004). Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27:491-503.
  • Falk, D. Brain evolution in Homo: the "radiator" theory (target article). (1990). Behav. Brain Sci. 13:333-344.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Official website

  • Dean Falk Florida State University faculty profile

[2] Falk: Human Brain Evolution