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: Team discovers first evidence of milk consumption in ancient dental plaque

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MDMA godfather Alexander Shulgin's legacy

Jun 06, 2014

The first time ecstasy impinged on the public consciousness in Britain was in November 1995, when an 18-year old Essex schoolgirl named Leah Betts died a few days after taking a tablet at a birthday party. The cause of her death was drink ...

Recommended for you

Golden Ratio offers unity of science

4 hours ago

It is said to represent a "cosmic constant" found in the curvature of elephant tusks, the shape of a kudu's horn, the destructive beauty of Hurricane Katrina, and in the astronomical grandeur of how planets, ...

Consumer sentiment brightens holiday spending

7 hours ago

Consumer confidence posted its fourth consecutive monthly gain in November, rising to its highest level since July 2007, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

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.