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Science

'Master Gene' Makes Mouse Brain Look More Human 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the rats-of-nimh-become-real dept.
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have found a genetic mutation that causes mammalian neural tissue to expand and fold. When they mutated this gene in mice, the rodents developed brains that look more like ours (abstract). The discovery may help explain why humans evolved more elaborate brains than mice, and it could suggest ways to treat disorders such as autism and epilepsy that arise from abnormal neural development. The findings go against a common conception that 'dumber species will have different genes' for brain development than more intelligent species, Borrell says. He adds that the mechanism could help explain how New World monkeys, with their small, smooth brains, could have evolved from an ancestor with a bigger and more folded brain."
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'Master Gene' Makes Mouse Brain Look More Human

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  • Fear the day ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Skapare (16644) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @01:39AM (#43565101) Homepage

    ... when the mice become self-aware.

  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @01:53AM (#43565173) Homepage Journal

    Yes it is, however scientists and reporters covering science research have no shortage of evidence demonstrating that if they don't provide concrete possible practical applications, the public perception is that scientists are getting research funding that they are squandering in the science equivalent of the $56,000 hammer sold to the military. Now if you want all research that is worth pursuing even if it doesn't lead to any practical applications receive that treatment, I'm pretty sure that there will be a large number of people willing to encourage the lambasting.

  • Re:Disappointed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @02:17AM (#43565271) Homepage
    Perfect. :) The bit I don't get is how "a genetic mutation that causes mammalian neural tissue to expand and fold" disproves "'dumber species will have different genes'? Since, well, it's a gene that's different. Also, conflating folding of the neural tissues with intelligence (rather than simply viewing it as a necessary precursor) sounds like the modern version of "men are more intelligent than women because their brains weigh more."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2013 @07:30AM (#43566347)

    ... Mostly because we are, essentially speaking, a big evolutionary mistake.

    BULLSHIT

    We shouldn't exist anymore, honestly. We're terrible at staying alive.

    Must be why there are 6+ BILLION humans spread over the ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET

    We can't run fast,

    Wrong. There aren't all that many land animals that can cover long distances faster than humans.

    we're not strong,

    Wrong. Humans are stronger than wolves. A good-sized wolf can't THROW a human. Yet any decently-strong human can actually pick up and throw a full-grown wolf.

    Of course, getting bit might be a problem, but that can be avoided.

    we can't hide easily,

    Wrong.

    we have no fur or feathers to keep us warm (which means we have to burn a LOT of calories just to heat up the air around us in cold periods!)...

    Irrelevant. Besides, neither do a lot of other large mammals.

    We are, essentially, an evolutionary mistake. ...

    Oxymoron at best. Meaningless babble at worst.

    Evolution makes no "mistakes" - evolution is not directed, it has no goal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:36AM (#43567153)

    ... We can't run fast, we're not strong, we can't hide easily, we have no fur or feathers to keep us warm (which means we have to burn a LOT of calories just to heat up the air around us in cold periods!)... We are, essentially, an evolutionary mistake. ...

    Actually we are able to long distance run better than any other animal on earth, so a good hunting strategy for humans is to just run after animals until they are too tired. We have a greater amount of throwing strength than any other animal, which makes throwing rocks a valid hunting strategy. Our combined abilities to climb, swim, and sprint allow us to escape predators, most of which can only do one or two of those three. Even if we didn't have our brainpower, we would be successful mid-tier predators and scavengers in temperate climates. The Homo genetic line didn't one day become super-geniuses compared to other animals. The extra brain power only allowed us to go from a niche predator to an apex predator.

  • Re:Disappointed. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by foniksonik (573572) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @11:03AM (#43567753) Homepage Journal

    Even the stupidest, most retarded or genetically impoverished human is orders of magnitude more sentient and "intelligent" than 99.999% of the other species on the planet.

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