Aug 12, 2023

Study identifies characteristics specific to human brains

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, genetics, neuroscience

Researchers led by a team at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified cellular and molecular features of the brain that set modern humans apart from their closest primate relatives and ancient human ancestors. The findings, published in Nature, offer new insights into human brain evolution.

“Most on the have focused on neurons because this cell type was thought to be responsible for our intelligence and enhanced . This study gives us a renewed appreciation for other cells involved in and the role they have played both in advancing cognition and our susceptibility to a number of cognitive diseases,” said study leader Genevieve Konopka, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience and a member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern.

Since , people have been curious about what gives humans abilities that other animals don’t have, such as speech and language, Dr. Konopka explained. A range of previous studies have sought to answer this question by examining anatomy or performing genetic or on whole brains or sections, experiments that provide a view of thousands of cells at a time.

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