Like Those in Humans, Baby Chimps' Forebrains
THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Like humans, chimpanzees
are born with immature forebrains, according to researchers who
used MRI to track the development of three chimpanzees' brains from
ages 6 months to 6 years.
At birth, areas of the brain that play an important role in
complex cognitive functions such as decision making, self-awareness
and creativity are immature in both chimps and humans, the Japanese
The scientists also noted that both chimpanzees and humans enjoy
close relationships between infants and adults, as suggested by
smiles and mutual gazes.
But they found that baby chimpanzees don't have the same
dramatic increase in the volume of prefrontal white matter that
occurs in human infants.
The study, published Aug. 11 in the journal
Current Biology, is the first to follow the development of the chimpanzee brain and compare it to the human brain.
"One of the most marked evolutionary changes underlying human-specific cognitive traits is a greatly enlarged prefrontal cortex," Tetsuro Matsuzawa, of Kyoto University, said in a journal news release. "It is also one of the latest-developing brain regions of the cerebrum."
This development delay may provide both young humans and chimps
an extended period of brain plasticity in order to allow them time
to develop complex social interactions, knowledge and skill shaped
by life experiences, the scientists suggested.
The University of Washington has more about
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