Human Brains Are Different From Chimps Due To Plasticity

Posted: Nov 17 2015, 5:56am CST | by , Updated: Nov 17 2015, 9:06pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Human Brains are Different from Chimps Due to Plasticity
3D model of human and chimpanzee skull. Credit: Jose Manual de la Cuetara/Aida Gomez-Robles

Human brain organization is greatly influenced by environment instead of genes.

Human brains are more adaptable and responsive to environmental changes than chimpanzees. The reason is our brains are more plastic or mouldable.  

Researchers from George Washington University developed three-dimensional models of humans and chimps brain and compared them with each other. They found that the size and organization of chimp’s brain was mostly influenced by genetics. 

Genetics influenced the size of human brains too but situation changes when it comes to human brain organization. Human brain organization or structure was more shaped by environment.

“We found that the anatomy of the chimpanzee brain is more strongly controlled by genes than that of human brains, suggesting that the human brain is extensively shaped by its environment no matter its genetics,” said Aida Gómez-Robles, postdoctoral scientist at the GW Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology and lead author of the study.

“So while genetics determined human and chimpanzee brain size, it’s not as much of a factor for human cerebral organization as it is for chimpanzees.”

For the study, researchers examined 218 human brains and 206 chimpanzee brains. Human brains were mostly of twins or siblings while the chimp brains belonged to different blood ties including mother and child and half siblings. The study opens a new perspective to why humans are more adaptable to various environments and conditions.

Dr Gómez-Robles concludes. “The human brains appear to be much more responsive to environmental influences. It’s something that facilitates the constant adaptation of the human brain and behavior to the changing environment, which includes our social and cultural context.” 


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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