Academic journal article Science and Children

More Sophisticated Wiring Helped Humans Evolve beyond Chimps

Academic journal article Science and Children

More Sophisticated Wiring Helped Humans Evolve beyond Chimps

Article excerpt

A recent study pinpoints uniquely human patterns of gene activity in the brain that could shed light on how we evolved differently than our closest relative, the chimpanzee. These genes' identification could improve understanding of human brain diseases like autism and schizophrenia, as well as learning disorders and addictions.

"Scientists usually describe evolution in terms of the human brain growing bigger and adding new regions," explained principal investigator Daniel Geschwind. "Our research suggests that it's not only size, but the rising complexity within brain centers, that led humans to evolve into their own species."

Using post-mortem brain tissue, researchers applied next-generation sequencing and other modern methods to study gene activity in humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques, a common ancestor for both chimpanzee and humans that allowed the researchers to see where changes emerged between humans and chimpanzees. They zeroed in on three brain regions--the frontal cortex, hippocampus, and striatum.

By tracking gene expression, the process by which genes manufacture the amino acids that make up cellu-A new study pinpoints uniquely human patterns of gene activity in the brain that could shed light on how we evolved differently than our closest relative. …

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