University of Colorado scientists have identified a minute particle inside a protein that is responsible for human intelligence.
Researchers suggest that this microscopic molecule makes the human to become the most intelligent creature on earth, stressing that DUF1220 can explain why human brains are bigger and more complex than any other animals.
Compared with other species, human brain’s ratio to body size is significantly larger and has a much greater cerebral cortex, the area that has a higher concentration of neurons and controls higher thought processes.
“The size and cognitive capacity of the human brain sets us apart, we want to know how did that happen?” said Professor James Sikela from the University of Colorado.
Humans have more than 270 copies of DUF1220 (protein domain issue) encoded in their DNA, which are far more than other species.
The study published online in The American Journal of Human Genetics unraveled a link between the number of DUF1220s and size of brain, indicating that these factors play a key role in intelligence score of different species or within the human population.
“The one over-riding theme that we saw repeatedly was the more copies of DUF1220 in the genome, the bigger the brain,” Prof Sikela noted.
They associated lower numbers of DUF1220 with microcephaly, when the brain is too small, and larger amounts with macrocephaly, when the brain is abnormally large.
“This discovery opens many new doors. It provides new tools to diagnose diseases related to brain size,” Prof Sikela concluded.
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