Human brains possess more plasticity than chimp brains according to a recent study conducted as a collaboration between the Georgia State University, the George Washington University and the University of Texas’s Anderson Cancer Center.
- A new study compared the plasticity of human and chimp brains in order to understand the connection between genetics and the structure and size of the brain.
- Human and chimp brains are similar in the degree in which the genome influence brain size.
- The structure of the uman brain is not as influenced by genetics as the one of the chimp brain.
The research focused on comparing the plasticity of human brains to that which chimpanzee brains possess. In the field of neurology this plasticity represents the tendency that the brain has to change its shape, size and even structure as a reaction to some of the external factors it is exposed to.
Researchers wanted to draw comparisons between the neutral abilities that the two species possessed in order to understand how elasticity affects the human brain and its health and understand why and how it is important to the person’s health.
The team conducting the study looked at 218 human brains and at 206 chimpanzee brains in order to establish the differences between the two species. The main focus of their research was to identify the connections between the brain structure and size and the genetic determinations in people that were related. The human brains used for the research and that were mapped out in order to be studied belonged to siblings and twins.
The monkey brains that were used in the study were taken from apes which had several types of familial relations. Both the human brains and the chimp brains used in the study were scanned using an MRI machine in order for scientist to then reconstruct them in the form of 3D models using a computer program.
Both the ape and the human brains showed many similarities in the genome sequence that was responsible for determining their brain size. It was also found that genetics had an important influence on the size of the brain and relatives with similar genes also had similar brain sizes.
However this was not the case for the determination of the brain’s structure. While the chimp’s brain structure was just as influenced by the genome and was mostly inherited, the structure of human brains was less influenced by genetics. This, according to scientists analyzing the brains, meant that the human brain was, to a great extent, shaped by the environment it was in and not so much by genetics.
The findings suggest that the plasticity of the human brain is an important aspect of man’s evolved intelligence as it offers human beings the ability to adapt to different cultures and environments. However, it can also make him vulnerable to a series of new diseases and harmful genetic problems.
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