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Here Is Why Neanderthals Never Had Brain Disorders

Update Date: Apr 21, 2014 09:17 AM EDT

Researchers have finally discovered why modern humans develop brain disorder like schizophrenia or autism but our ancestor Neanderthals did not. 

According to researchers, the reason is that our ancestors did not have the DNA triggers which led to these ailments and in them those were essentially "turned off." 

Researchers also found that hundreds of other genes were turned "on" in Neanderthals but are "off" in people existing today. 

"The genes related to autism, as well as to schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, were more likely to be 'off' in Neanderthals than in modern humans," said lead author Liram Carmel from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the press release. The discovery underlines the power of the 'on/off' patterns. 

"The 'on/off' switches could also explain the anatomical differences between archaic and present-day humans, including Neanderthals' shorter legs and arms, bow-leggedness, large hands and fingers, and curved arm bones," Carmel explained. 

Experts believe that depression is related to our ancestors' ability to fight infection. 

"Most of the genetic variations that have been linked to depression turn out to affect the function of the immune system," said Andrew Miller, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, according to "This led us to rethink why depression seems to stay embedded in the genome." 

The study also noted that when dozens of brain-related genes become more active in today's humans, it produces harmful side effects of neurological illness too. 

"It is, therefore, impossible to know whether the 'on/off' patterns found in Neanderthal genes are typical of the species overall or peculiar to the individual studied," the study noted.

Findings of the study has been published in the journal Science

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