Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and co-leader of the study. To direct their search, the experts relied on the fact that modern humans of European ancestry carry rare fragments of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes as a result of crossing between the two species. Thus, by analyzing the cranial shape, they identified stretches of Neanderthal DNA in a large sample of modern humans, which they combined with magnetic resonance imaging and genetic information from about 4,500 people. Thanks to the scans, the scientists were able to detect the differences in endocranial shape between Neanderthal fossils and modern human skulls. This contrast allowed them to evaluate the cranial shape in thousands of brain MRIs from living people. Neanderthal genes for brain development On the other hand, the sequenced genomes of ancient Neanderthal DNA also

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allowed them to identify fragments of Gambia Email List Neanderthal DNA in modern humans on chromosomes 1 and 18, related to a less round cranial shape. These fragments contained two genes already linked to brain development: UBR4, involved in the generation of neurons; and PHLPP1, in the development of the isolation of myelin – a substance that protects the axons of certain nerve cells and accelerates the transmission of the nerve impulse. The consequences of transporting these rare Neanderthal DNA fragments are subtle and only detectable in a very large sample. “We know from other studies that complete disruption of UBR4 or PHLPP1 can have important consequences for brain development,” explains lead author Simon Fisher, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. In their work, the experts found that, in carriers of the relevant Neanderthal fragment,

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the UBR4 gene is slightly down-regulated in the putamen, the structure located in the center of the brain that, together with the caudate nucleus, forms the striatum. , and that is part of a network of brain structures called basal ganglia. In the case of carriers of the PHLPP1 Neanderthal fragment, “gene expression is slightly higher in the cerebellum, which is believed to have a dampening effect on myelination of the cerebellum,” says Fisher. Both regions of the cerebrum – the putamen and the cerebellum – are, according to scientists, important in movement. “These regions receive direct information from the motor cortex and participate in the preparation, learning and sensorimotor coordination of movements,” emphasizes Gunz, who adds that the basal ganglia also contribute to various cognitive functions in memory, attention, planning, learning skills, and the evolution of speech and language. All of these neanderthal variants result in small changes in gene activity and make the brain shape

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