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Chinese scientists put human brain genes into a monkey – BGR

Everything we know about evolution tells us that humans have ancestors of primates and that the development of our complex brain has allowed humans to follow the path we are on today. It is something that scientists in China are tackling in a revolutionary and frightening way to see what changes in the brain of primates have made our Evolution Tree fork shape.

A recent study that has been linked by researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology identified genes with modern macaque monkeys that produce transgenic specimens that have more advanced problem-solving abilities than their unaltered brothers. If you think that sounds like the plot of a bad science fiction movie, that's because that's the case.

Geneticists have identified many genes that differ between humans and primates, but they determine which of the genes could have led to changes in brain chemistry has proved incredibly challenging. It is believed that some genes are associated with advanced language, while others appear to be associated with overall brain size.

As reported by the MIT Technology Review the Chinese research team focused on a gene known as MCPH1

damaged, producing babies with smaller brains than usual. Addition of the human version of MCPH1 to monkey embryos resulted in eleven samples, six of which died before tests could be performed.

The remaining five, the scientists of which confirmed that they possess multiple copies of the human gene, should complete the memory tests and were subjected to MRI scans. Interestingly, the researchers found that the brains of the monkey were actually no bigger than their unaltered peers, but that they performed better in short-term memory exercises.

Obviously, there are a lot of ethical concerns here, not least of which is whether scientists should even manipulate the makeup of primate brain or not. The research has been much criticized and some researchers have written about the dangers and ethical pitfalls of playing with complex brains in the name of science.

Nonetheless, the researchers involved in the brain modification study plan to continue their work in the future, experimenting with various human brain genes.

Image Source: Cultura / Shutterstock

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