Study reveals how human brains grow larger than those of other apes

A study has revealed how humans’ brains have been able to develop to be larger than those of other apes.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge found a key molecular switch that can make ape brain organoids grow more like human brain organoids, and vice versa.

In the study, organoides grown from human, gorilla and chimpanzee stem cells were compared. Organoides are three dimensional tissues which are grown from stem cells and model early brain development.

Scientists found that similar to actual human brains, the human brain organoids grew a lot bigger than those from other apes.

“This provides some of the first insight into what is different about the developing human brain that sets us apart from our closest living relatives, the other great apes,” said Dr Madeline Lancaster, from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

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