A study performed by researchers at both the George Washington University and the University of Texas has recently shown the reason why humans are so much more adaptable than chimpanzees.
The study, performed on 206 chimpanzee brains (probably without their consent) and on 218 human brains (hopefully with their consent), was meant to show brain size and structure similarities caused by genetic factors.
The results show a major difference between the two types of brains, and that is the fact that chimpanzee brain structures are inherited, while the human brain structures are dictated by our environment.
Being a new step towards understanding the mystery that still is the human brain, this research shows how the human brain’s innate flexible structure can help us, as individuals, adapt to virtually any type of environment that can support life.
While chimpanzee brains were shown to be very closely influenced by genetics, in humans, even the brains of twins showed differences because of the increased plasticity. This once again shows how adaptable the human being is.
“So what does that tell us about the difference between us and our furry cousins?” you may ask.
Well, since you asked so nicely, here it is: the difference of plasticity between the two types of brains does not only relate to the adaptability of the individual, but also to external factors.
Human brains, because of their increased plasticity, have been shown to be very vulnerable to degenerative diseases. This means that the same reason that gives us an edge on the evolutionary scale is the reason why so many of us get horrible brain diseases.
Pretty ironic, isn’t it?
Professor William Hopkins, from the Neuroscience Institute, states that compared to chimps, humans are born with much less developed brains. This is what allows the brain to have its increased plasticity, since it has room to develop, allowing the human to adapt.
So, this is pretty much all the new data researchers have uncovered following the examination of over 400 primate brains, human and chimpanzee alike. It still leaves the human brain to be a place of mystery, but it brings us one step closer to figuring out its secrets.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org