Study: The human brain is still evolving

Sep 08, 2005

University of Chicago researchers say they've discovered the human brain is apparently still evolving. In two related papers published in the Sept. 9 issue of Science, they show that two genes linked to brain size are rapidly changing in humans.

"Our studies indicate the trend that is the defining characteristic of human evolution -- the growth of brain size and complexity -- is likely still going on," said lead researcher Bruce Lahn, an assistant professor of human genetics.

"Meanwhile, our environment and the skills we need to survive in it are changing ... (and) I would expect the human brain, which has done well by us so far, will continue to adapt to those changes," said Lahn.

Evolution, he said, doesn't occur at the species level. Rather, some individuals acquire a specific genetic mutation, and, because that variant confers on those who bear it a greater likelihood of survival, it then spreads in the population.

"We're seeing two examples of such a spread in progress," he said. "In each case, it's a spread of a new genetic variant in a gene that controls brain size. This variant is clearly favored by natural selection."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Explainer: How to solve a jewel heist (and why it takes so long)

Related Stories

Grass plants can transport infectious prions

May 16, 2015

Grass plants can bind, uptake and transport infectious prions, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The research was published online in the latest ...

Recommended for you

Top UK scientists warn against EU exit

May 22, 2015

A group of leading British scientists including Nobel-winning geneticist Paul Nurse warned leaving the European Union could threaten research funding, in a letter published in The Times newspaper on Friday.

How we discovered the three revolutions of American pop

May 22, 2015

Dr Matthias Mauch discusses his recent scientific analysis of the "fossil record" of the Billboard charts prompted widespread attention, particularly the findings about the three musical "revolutions" that shaped the musical la ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.