Research published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology adds weight to the theory that schizophrenia is a costly by-product of human brain evolution.
Philipp Khaitovich, from the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Shanghai branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, led a collaboration of researchers from Cambridge, Leipzig and Shanghai who investigated brains from healthy and schizophrenic humans and compared them with chimpanzee and rhesus macaque brains. The researchers looked for differences in gene expression and metabolite concentrations and, as Khaitovich explains, “identified molecular mechanisms involved in the evolution of human cognitive abilities by combining biological data from two research directions: evolutionary and medical”.
The idea that certain neurological diseases are by-products of increases in metabolic capacity and brain size that occurred during human evolution has been suggested before, but in this new work the authors used new technical approaches to really put the theory to the test.
They identified the molecular changes that took place over the course of human evolution and considered those molecular changes observed in schizophrenia, a psychiatric disorder believed to affect cognitive functions such as the capacities for language and complex social relationships. They found that expression levels of many genes and metabolites that are altered in schizophrenia, especially those related to energy metabolism, also changed rapidly during evolution. According to Khaitovich, “Our new research suggests that schizophrenia is a by-product of the increased metabolic demands brought about during human brain evolution”.
The authors conclude that this work paves the way for a much more detailed investigation. “Our brains are unique among all species in their enormous metabolic demand. If we can explain how our brains sustain such a tremendous metabolic flow, we will have a much better chance to understand how the brain works and why it sometimes breaks”, said Khaitovich.
Graeme Baldwin | alfa
The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine