Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Human Frontal Cortex Differs Even Genetically
The basic goal of many neuroscientific studies is to determine what makes human brains so different from those of other animal species, and in particular those of our cousins, the great apes. One such study was conducted recently by geneticist Genevieve Konopka and her team, and it yielded some very interesting findings about the frontal lobe of the brain.
One difference that scientists already knew about was that the frontal lobe accounts for a greater proportion of the total surface area of the cortex in humans than in other species (29%, compared with 17% in rhesus monkeys, 7% in dogs, and 3.5% in cats). But Konopka and her team studied differences in the expression of the genes for the various neurons that compose the frontal cortex. Specifically, the team compared the genes that are expressed (and therefore, active) in the frontal cortex of humans with those expressed in the frontal cortex of chimpanzees and macaques. The geneticists found that many of these genes are expressed differently in humans compared with these two other primate species. (more…)