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What made modern humans smarter than Neanderthals, new research reveals

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What made modern humans smarter than Neanderthals, new research reveals-GadgetAny

The size of a Neanderthal’s brain was equal to, if not slightly larger than, that of a modern human, according to research on ancient skulls. However, because soft tissue doesn’t survive well in the fossil record, nothing is known about Neanderthal brain development.

The Neanderthals, the Stone Age hominins that lived in Europe and certain regions of Asia before going extinct approximately 40,000 years ago, may have had a cognitive advantage over modern humans, or Homo sapiens, according to an intriguing study that was published on September 8.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, claim to have discovered a genetic mutation that caused the brains of Homo sapiens to produce neurons more quickly. The gene in question, called TKTL1, has a Neanderthal version that differs from the present human variant by one amino acid.

“We’ve identified a gene that contributes to making us human,” said study author Wieland Huttner, professor and director emeritus at the institute.Neanderthals

The study team discovered that the modern human variation of the gene caused an increase in a particular type of… cell that generates neurons in the neocortex region of the brain when the two copies of the gene were put into mouse embryos. Similar outcomes were obtained when the two gene variations were examined in organoids—lab-grown brain tissue created from human stem cells—and ferret embryos.

According to the study, which was published in the journal Science, the team reasoned that this capacity to produce more neurons likely gave Homo sapiens a cognitive advantage unrelated to overall brain size, indicating that contemporary humans have “more neocortex to work with than the ancient Neanderthal did.”

“This shows us that even though we do not know how many neurons the Neanderthal brain had, we can assume that modern humans have more neurons in the frontal lobe of the brain, where TKTL1 activity is highest, than Neanderthals,” Huttner explained.
“There has been a discussion whether or not the frontal lobe of Neanderthals was as large as that of modern humans,” he added.
“But we don’t need to care because (from this research) we know that modern humans must have had more neurons in the frontal lobe … and we think that that is an advantage for cognitive abilities.”
Awanish Kumar

By Awanish Kumar

I keep abreast of the latest technological developments to bring you unfiltered information about gadgets.

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