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Human Brains Respond More To Environment Than Chimps', Study

Update Date: Nov 19, 2015 11:05 AM EST

Scientists find that humans tend to be more responsive to their surroundings than chimpanzees. It explains why this species is more adaptable to diverse cultures and situations.

This is the first study of its kind that is examining the "inherited genetic factors" of human brain systems, and compares them to those of primates, Georgia State University  reported.

About 218 human brains and 206 chimpanzee brains were studied, and compared with reference to brain size and organization, related to genetic similarity. Both human and chimpanzee brain sizes were impacted by genetics. The differences in brain organization was mainly the inheritance. While the chimps' brains are mainly inherited, human brain organisations are related to environment.

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

This discovery gives some insight into humans' vulnerability to degenerative diseases.

"Though our findings suggest that the increased plasticity found in human brains has many benefits for adaptation, it is also possible that it makes our brain more vulnerable to many human-specific neurodegenerative and neurodevelopment disorders," said William Hopkins, professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State

The study was published in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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