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Origin of Human Intelligence --"Linked to a Genetic Accident 500 Million Years A

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  • derhexer@aol.com
    URL to an interesting article from The Daily Galaxy _http://tinyurl.com/bdktkxw_ (http://tinyurl.com/bdktkxw) Researchers have identified the moment in
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2012
      URL to an interesting article from The Daily Galaxy
      _http://tinyurl.com/bdktkxw_ (http://tinyurl.com/bdktkxw)

      Researchers have identified the moment in history 500 million years ago
      that provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyze situations and have
      flexibility in the way in which we think. According to Professor Seth
      Grant of the _University of Edinburgh_
      (University%20of%20Edinburgh)&t=h) , who led the new research, intelligence in humans
      developed as the result of an increase in the number of brain genes in our
      evolutionary ancestors: a simple invertebrate animal living in the sea 500
      million years ago experienced a “genetic accident,” which resulted in
      extra copies of these genes being made.
      The research team studied the mental abilities of mice and humans, using
      comparative tasks that involved identifying objects on touch-screen
      computers. They then combined results of these behavioral tests with information
      from the genetic codes of various species to work out when different
      behaviors evolved and discovered that higher mental functions in humans and mice
      were controlled by the same genes.
      The study also showed that when these genes were mutated or damaged, they
      impaired higher mental functions. “Our work shows that the price of higher
      intelligence and more complex behaviors is more mental illness,” said
      Professor Grant.
      “This ground breaking work has implications for how we understand the
      emergence of psychiatric disorders and will offer new avenues for the
      development of new treatments,” said John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental
      Health at the _Wellcome Trust_ (http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/) , one of the
      study funders.
      The researchers had previously shown that more than 100 childhood and adult
      brain diseases are caused by gene mutations.“We can now apply genetics and
      behavioral testing to help patients with these diseases”, said Dr Tim
      Bussey from _Cambridge University_
      (University%20of%20Cambridge)&t=h) , which was also involved in the study.
      Journal reference: Jess Nithianantharajah et al., Synaptic scaffold
      evolution generated components of vertebrate cognitive complexity, _Nature
      Neuroscience_ (http://www.nature.com/neuro/) , 2012, DOI: 10.1038/nn.3276"

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