Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Humans' Large Brain Explained

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Humans' Large Brain Explained

Article excerpt

Researchers have found what may be the key to understanding why the human brain is larger and more complex than that of other animals. The human brain, with its unequaled cognitive capacity, evolved rapidly and dramatically.

"We wanted to know why," says James Sikela, PhD, who headed the international research team that included researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Mental Health. "The size and cognitive capacity of the human brain sets us apart. But how did that happen?"

The research indicates that what drove the evolutionary expansion of the human brain may well be a specific unit within a protein--called a protein domain--that is far more numerous in humans than other species.

The protein domain at issue is DUF1220. Humans have more than 270 copies of DUF1220 encoded in the genome, far more than other species. The closer a species is to humans, the more copies of DUF1220 show up. Chimpanzees have the next highest number, 125. Gorillas have 99, marmosets 30 and mice just one. "The one overriding theme that we saw repeatedly was that the more copies of DUF1220 in the genome, the bigger the brain. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.