Baboons shed light on human brain evolution

November 12, 2013
Baboons shed light on human brain evolution
Researchers gain understanding of genetic changes that led to brain folds.

(HealthDay)—Research with baboon brains has provided new insight into the evolution of the human brain, a new study contends.

The genetics behind the development of folds in the human brain have been a mystery, but there are new clues in a study scheduled for presentation Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in San Diego.

As the human brain evolved, there was a dramatic increase in the number of and connections, the researchers said. But this growth was restricted by the size of the skull in relation to the birth canal, leading the brain to fold into ridges and valleys.

"The evolution of the human brain over time is a very complex process," Elizabeth Atkinson, of Washington University in St. Louis, said in a Society for Neuroscience news release. "Our study connects the folding of the brain with the underlying genetics, and provides unique insight into how the of our genes has driven the shape, and ultimately the function, of our brains."

The researchers analyzed nearly 1,000 baboon brain scans and pinpointed a handful of chromosome segments and genes that affect the way the brain is folded.

It's thought that thinking capacity is determined by the growth these folds can accommodate.

Human brains have 30 percent more folds than chimpanzee brains, our closest evolutionary relative, according to the news release.

Research presented at meetings typically are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Explore further: Study probes heroin addiction's effect on the brain

More information: The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about the human brain.

Related Stories

Study probes heroin addiction's effect on the brain

November 11, 2013
(HealthDay)—Long-term heroin use changes how genes are activated in the brain, which leads to changes in brain function, according to a new study.

Understanding ourselves by studying the animal kingdom

November 12, 2013
Research released today reveals a new model for a genetic eye disease, and shows how animal models—from fruit flies to armadillos and monkeys—can yield valuable information about the human brain. The findings were presented ...

Teens may have less impulse control when faced with danger

November 11, 2013
(HealthDay)—Teens react more impulsively to danger than children or adults, which might explain why they're more likely to be involved in crimes, according to a new study.

Primate brains follow predictable development pattern

October 8, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—In a breakthrough for understanding brain evolution, neuroscientists have shown that differences between primate brains - from the tiny marmoset to human – can be largely explained as consequences of ...

Recommended for you

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.