All we know about evolution tells us that humans have ancestors in primates and that the development of our complex brains is what allowed the ancient humans to chart the path in which we find ourselves today. Determining what changes in the brain of primates has prompted our evolutionary segment to take shape is a problem that scientists in China are tackling in a revolutionary – and frightening – way.
A new study by researchers at the Kunming Institute of Zoology has combined genes from the human brain with modern macaque monkeys, creating transgenic specimens demonstrating more advanced problem-solving skills than their non-brothers. changed. If you think that sounds like the plot of a bad sci-fi movie, it's the case.
Geneticists have identified many genes that differ between humans and primates, but determining which of these genes may have resulted in changes in brain chemistry has proven extremely difficult. Some genes are thought to be related to advanced speech, while others appear to be associated with the overall size of the brain.
As Review of MIT technology According to reports, the Chinese research team has focused on a gene called MCPH1 which, when damaged, produces babies with brains smaller than normal. The addition of the human version of MCPH1 to monkey embryos gave 11 samples, but six of them died before tests could be performed.
The other five, whose scientists confirmed that they had multiple copies of the human gene, were commissioned to complete memory tests and were subjected to MRI scans. Interestingly, the researchers noted that the monkey brain was not larger than that of its unmodified peers, but had better results with short-term memory drills.
Clearly, there are a lot of ethical concerns, the most important of which is whether scientists should even manipulate primate brain composition. The research has been the subject of much criticism and some researchers have written about the dangers and ethical pitfalls associated with the use of complex brains in the name of science.
Nevertheless, researchers involved in the brain modification study intend to continue their work and may begin experimenting with different genes in the human brain in the future.