Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study Reveals Brain Differences Between Humans and Chimpanzees Linked to Aging

27.07.2011
Decrease in Brain Volume of Humans Seen as Unique Distinction Between Species

Chimpanzees, the closest living relatives to humans, do not experience a decrease in brain volume as they age like humans do, according to a study by George Washington University researcher Chet Sherwood and his colleagues.

There are many similarities between the species, but this discovery reveals an important distinction, demonstrating how humans are unique from other animals. The study “Aging of the Cerebral Cortex Differs Between Humans and Chimpanzees” is the first study of its kind in this field and will be published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” on July 25, 2011.

“Although other animals experience some cognitive impairment and brain atrophy as they age, it appears that human aging is marked by more dramatic degeneration,” said Dr. Sherwood, associate professor of anthropology in GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the volume of the whole brain and numerous specific internal structures using a sample of 99 chimpanzee brains ranging from 10-51 years of age. This data were compared to brain structure volumes measured in 87 humans ranging from 22-88 years of age.

Measurements of the neocortical gray and white matter, frontal lobe gray and white matter and the hippocampus were performed. In contrast to humans, who showed a decrease in the volume of all brain structures over the lifespan, chimpanzees did not display significant age-related changes. Furthermore, the effects of aging in humans were only evident after the maximum age of chimpanzees. As a result, the researchers concluded that the brain shrinkage seen in human aging is evolutionarily novel and is the result of an extended lifespan.

The hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for encoding new memories and maintaining spatial navigation, was of specific interest to the researchers, as this area is especially vulnerable to age-associated atrophy in humans. In addition, the hippocampus is the region of the brain most prominently affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD), an illness that is only seen in primarily older humans. AD is a form of dementia that is associated with a loss of brain function, impacting memory, thinking and behavior. AD is a result of neurodegeneration, which is the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons, including the death of neurons. The unique vulnerability seen in humans to develop AD may be in part due to the human tendency to show more pronounced brain atrophy than any other species, even in normal, healthy aging.

“What’s really unusual for humans is the combination of an extremely long life and a large brain,” said Dr. Sherwood. “While there are certainly benefits to both of these adaptations, it seems that more intense decline in brain volume in the elderly of our species is a cost.”

Established in 1821 in the heart of the nation’s capital, the George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is the largest of GW’s academic units. It encompasses the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and more than 40 departments and programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional studies. The Columbian College provides the foundation for GW’s commitment to the liberal arts and a broad education for all students. An internationally recognized faculty and active partnerships with prestigious research institutions place Columbian College at the forefront in advancing policy, enhancing culture and transforming lives through research and discovery.

In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.

Jill Sankey | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gwu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>