Author Topic: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists  (Read 2838 times)

Offline stromboli

Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« on: February 26, 2015, 10:55:46 PM »
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/02/gene-that-makes-human-brain-unique-identified-by-scientists/

Quote
A strand of DNA that lies at the heart of what makes humans unique in the animal kingdom has been identified by researchers in Germany.

Scientists in Dresden found a gene that drives the expansion of the human brain and helps to make it the most complex structure in the universe.

Researchers believe the gene plays a pivotal role in human cognition by ramping up dramatically the number of neurons in the neocortex, a brain region that is central to reasoning, language and sensory perception.
The gene is found in modern humans, but was also carried by neanderthals, who had brains at least as large as ours, and the mysterious Denisovans, a group of human ancestors known only from a few bone fragments in Siberia.

Wieland Huttner, director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, who led the research, said the finding came from 25 years of work on the problem. “Our ultimate goal has always been to identify the changes in the genome that were responsible for us humans having larger brains than other primates,” he said.

The human brain has almost tripled in size over the past 7 million years into a 1,300cc organ containing 100bn neurons that consume a whopping fifth of our energy. The most rapid growth occurred in the past 2 million years. Homo erectus walked the Earth 1.8 million years ago with a brain size half that of a modern human’s.

“What we now have is a gene that is characteristic of a 1.3 litre to 1.4 litre brain, and that makes it very exciting,” Huttner said.

Tests on mouse embryos confirmed that the gene can have a profound impact on brain development. Embryos injected with the gene grew larger brain regions and some developed the crinkled brain surface that humans have. The folds allow more brain tissue to fit into the same sized skull.

Huttner’s group is now keen to breed mice that carry the gene into adulthood to see how their brains develop, and crucially to see whether any changes boost their intelligence, memory and learning skills.

“Will they learn better, or have better memories? That’s hard to say. But we should know that later this year,” Huttner told the Guardian. “We saw cortical folding in half of the mice. So the gene is sufficient to do that, but it won’t necessarily do it every time.” The scientists are investigating why the gene does not have the same effects every time.

The gene arose on the human lineage some time after our ancient ancestors and those of chimps split from the same evolutionary path more than 5 million years ago. Known as ARHGAP11B, the gene is a modified version of a far more common DNA strand that is found in organisms from simple yeast to mice.

Marta Florio, a neuroscientist at the Dresden lab, found that the gene was highly active in human brain stem cells that make neurons in the neocortex. Instead of the stem cells maturing and dividing into only two neurons, as happens in some animals, the gene makes the cells multiply and produce far more brain cells.

Florio, the first author of a report on the work in the journal Science , discovered a total of 56 genes that affect stem cells in the brains of primates, about a quarter of which are unique to humans. Some have not been identified before and could have their own major effects on human brain development.

“What is unique about humans is not going to come down to one gene only,” Florio said. “Cognition is a complex thing. We don’t think a single gene makes us smarter than other animals. What we can say is that this is probably a key part of what makes us human.”

But she does not think her lab will make super-intelligent mice any time soon. The ARHGAP11B gene seems to produce more brain cells in the neocortex, but that may not be enough to boost an animal’s intelligence on its own. More likely, Florio says, the brain needs other genes to make those neurons form functional networks in the brain. “You’d predict the mice would have more computational power, but the neurons have to form a network, and I’m sceptical that with one gene you will get that. It’s an exciting possibility, but we should be cautious about that happening.”


This is the shit that puts a smile on my face. Every new finding that shows how we evolved from our primate ancestors adds to the always growing record of our development. Looks like Planet of The Apes might happen after all....

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2015, 11:36:37 PM »
Really super smart mice - yeah, that's what I'd like to see! I'll be having nightmares for sure now!
Q for theists; how can there be freewill and miracles? And, how can prayer exist in an environment as regimented as "gods plan"?

"I'm a polyatheist, there are many gods I don't believe in." - Dan Fouts

Offline stromboli

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2015, 09:09:02 AM »
Really super smart mice - yeah, that's what I'd like to see! I'll be having nightmares for sure now!

Fuck the mice- its the monkeys I'm worried about.


Offline PopeyesPappy

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2015, 10:46:35 AM »
Fuck the mice- its the monkeys I'm worried about.

Save a life. Adopt a Greyhound.


Offline stromboli

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2015, 11:38:32 AM »
Yeah, that.

Offline SGOS

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2015, 11:56:22 AM »
I reading a book written by the guy that discovered Lucy right now.  So this is a timely thread.  I was hoping for more out of the book, but so far it's just a recount of a return visit to Ethiopia.  But I think there will be some timeline development and talk about evolutionary paths from Australopithecus to us in the last half. 

I only took one 5 credit course in Anthropology, but my goodness what an engaging subject.  I considered changing my major, I even snuck into some advance classes just to see what lie ahead.  But it seemed like it could lead to a career similar to  music, as in a lot of skills learned, but scraping by to make a living, with a dim possibility of experiencing an act of God that would open up a future.

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2015, 12:41:25 PM »

Offline stromboli

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2015, 12:46:32 PM »
Thank you. The thread now has a theme song.

Offline Atheon

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2015, 10:40:56 PM »
Scientists in Dresden found a gene that drives the expansion of the human brain and helps to make it the most complex structure in the universe.
Except for gawwwddddd, of course! Or aliens.
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca

Offline Mermaid

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 08:41:13 AM »
Except for gawwwddddd, of course! Or aliens.
Or unassembled Ikea furniture.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2015, 02:58:53 AM »
Thank you. The thread now has a theme song.

Narf!
Winner of WitchSabrinas Best Advice Award 2012


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real
tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. -Plato

Offline Shiranu

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2015, 03:38:37 AM »
Quote
Scientists in Dresden found a gene that drives the expansion of the human brain and helps to make it the most complex structure in the universe.

Otherwise good article, but man that is arrogant sounding.

Offline Atheon

Re: Gene That Makes Human Brain Identified By Scientists
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2015, 03:58:04 AM »
Maybe they could invent some kind of brain gene therapy for religiobots.
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca