DCEXS and IBE (CSIC-UPF): Human and primate brains: not only size matters

DCEXS and IBE (CSIC-UPF): Human and primate brains: not only size matters

News from DCEXS-UPF and IBE (CSIC-UPF)

Our brain is the primary organ that gives identity to our species. An analysis of the brain tissues of humans, chimpanzees and macaques, shows that the human brain is not only a larger version than the ancestral primate brain, it is also different in many other aspects.

"That our brains are three times larger than those of chimpanzees is a very remarkable achievement in just over a million years of evolution," explains Tomàs Marquès-Bonet, ICREA research professor at UPF and researcher and director of the IBE. "Human brains have many more cells than those of other primates, and these are more interconnected. Therefore they have more processing capacity," he adds.

In the study, the gene expression in 247 tissue samples from six humans, five chimpanzees and five macaques were analysed. These were mainly samples from regions of the brain that are involved in behaviour and cognitive processes. Surprising similarities were observed, even in the prefrontal cortex, which is the region of the brain involved in higher-order-learning. In contrast, the striatum of the human brain had a different gene expression pattern. This region is usually associated with movement and could be linked to bipedalism. // RF-PRBB 

More information:

Reference article:
Sousa et al. Molecular and cellular reorganization of neural circuits in the human lineage. Science, November, 2017. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3456

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