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SCI/TECH: Gene May Be Key To Evolution Of Larger Human Brain

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posted on Jan, 13 2004 @ 09:03 AM
Medical researchers have found a gene that affects the expansion of the human brain. Comparing the gene from humans to primates, and other animals, the researchers found that natural selection caused the changed of the gene, especially in the primates leading up to the humans.

In this study, the researchers focused on a gene called the Abnormal Spindle-Like Microcephaly Associated (ASPM) gene. Loss of function of the ASPM gene is linked to human microcephaly a severe reduction in the size of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for planning, abstract reasoning and other higher brain function. The discovery of this association by HHMI investigator Christopher A. Walsh and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is what prompted Lahn to launch an evolutionary study of the gene.

I'm curious about the effects of expansion of the brain. If it grows bigger, than other body parts might grow or shrink proportionally. If the brain grows super-large, than the skull has to increase in size as well. Aa circulatory system that's capable of pumping enough blood up there needs to be established as well. Of course, this doesn't just happen overnight, as it takes millions of years of evolution for a significant change to occur.

Looks like we're not going to have our brains get smarter this lifetime.

[Edited on 13-1-2004 by SkepticOverlord]


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