Human & primate brain cells


A new US study has revealed the striking similarities between the brain cells of humans and non-human primates in the part of the brain that is needed for cognition.


Research led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) and Yale Medical School, genetically analysed and compared more than 600,000 neurons from tissue samples of adult humans, chimpanzees, macaques and marmosets, taken from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the brain.


Although human and primate brains are very different physically, the team found that most of the cells they analysed were very similar across species at the cellular and genetic level, with minimal differences.


The prefrontal cortex only exists in primates and has been linked to higher cognition, such as short-term memory, and neuropsychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.


Professor Andre Sousa (pictured) at UW said: “Most of the cells are actually very similar because these species are relatively close evolutionarily.”


The team did find differences in the abundance of certain cell types as well as diversity among similar cell populations across species.


“We want to understand how these differences lead to differences in the brain and then lead to differences we can observe in adults,” Prof Sousa added.


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