What makes humans narrowly more evolved than chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest nonhuman primates, despite their similar genetic makeup? There are evident behavioral and cognitive differences. Thus, scientists are curious about learning this mysterious property of humanness since the inception of brain research.
In this space a new development holds potential to make strides. Researchers at the Salk Institute jointly with researchers at the anthropology department of UC, San Diego have developed a strategy that facilitates such human evolution study initiatives. Further, theories of early development of human neurons in comparison to the neurons of nonhuman pirates have a platform for better understanding. The development published in the February issue of eLife, offers researchers a newer tool to carry out fundamental brain study.
Stem Cell Technology forms basis for the New Method
According to scientific literature, brain development involves two important processes such as neuron maturation and migration. Neuron maturation involves neurons multiply in number, as link between neurons become stronger for better communication. Whereas, migration involves physical movement of neurons in different parts of the developing brain. This difference in neuron maturation and migration between humans and nonhuman primates is what researchers have been striving to comprehend. The development of the new tool is a worthwhile move in the direction.
To undertake the study, for understanding the difference in the physiology of neurons of primates with that of non-primates, a new method employing stem cell technology is devised. Using a virus and chemical cocktails, the method involves to obtain skin cells from primates and coax them.