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'Master Gene' Makes Mouse Brain Look More Human 121

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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  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @02:31AM (#43565071) Journal
    I wish journalists would stop including the mandatory bit about how this might lead to such and such practical applications when reporting on scientific discoveries. Knowledge is worth pursuing even if it doesn't lead to any practical applications.
  • Re:Disappointed. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:21AM (#43565449) Journal

    ... 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"

    Very true !!!

    Even amongst the humans, there are some who are very intelligent and then there are some who are very very stupid

    As humans, both the very intelligent and the very very stupid have brains which fold --- which indicates that it's not the folding of the brain which gives rise of intelligence

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @04:39AM (#43565501)

    It was not necessary.

    Do you know what that thing between our ears "costs" our body? 20% of our total energy output is gobbled up by that thing! For 2% of the body mass. It better be effin' worth it!

    Evolution will never allow something that's not strictly beneficial for survival and reproduction to prevail. A bigger brain needs more food, and in times of shortages, mice who would evolve a bigger brain would starve to death first. They don't win anything from higher intelligence, on the other hand.

    We did. Mostly because we are, essentially speaking, a big evolutionary mistake. We shouldn't exist anymore, honestly. We're terrible at staying alive. 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. If it wasn't for that brain that allowed us to develop tools to compensate our shortcomings. In our species, higher intelligence actually meant better chances of survival. Yes, our brain costs a fortune to support and "run" it (and if our body was a corporation it would have been axed years ago), but the advantages outweigh that.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!