Feeds

Intelligence a genetic mistake

Badly copied genome boosted brains, kinda

Top three mobile application threats

It’s not quite the “key to intelligence”, but a study published in the journal Cell at least offers a hint to how human brains changed post-hominid: a miscopied gene that seems to let the brain form more connections, faster.

The paper finds that a gene dubbed SRGAP2 has, during cell divisions, been incompletely copied three times in human evolution: once around 3.4 million years ago, and again 2.4 and 1 million years ago.

The gene in question is associated with cortical development. As noted in Christian Science Monitor, duplications are an important evolutionary mechanism, acting as a kind of “sandbox” in which mutations can occur without harming an organism.

In this case, the scientists have a parallel study on which they’ve based the gene duplication / brain hypothesis. Testing one of the partial duplications, SRGAP2C, in mice, they have found two interesting developments.

The first effect they observed is that during development, the brain cells of the SRGAP2C-treated mice migrate more readily, which might provide better organization. The second effect is that the mouse brain cells showed “the emergence of human-specific features” – including the development of “spines” on the cells, which provide connection to other cells.

In other words, while the research hasn’t demonstrated that the duplicated gene leads to smarter mice (or, necessarily, to smarter humans), the studies do associate the genes with some of the things that make the modern human brain work better than Australopithecus.

The researchers also find the timing of the mutation suggestive (although not conclusive): one of the partially-copied genes seems to arrive in the human genome at around the same time as modern humans began to supplant their hominid predecessors. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.