Brain evolution due to fat metabolism

12 May 2012


Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered evidence showing that the evolution of human brains may have resulted from changes in the genes responsible for fat metabolism. Led by Adam Ameur, the researchers think a gene change around 300,000 years ago helped early humans to produce larger amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils in our diet, which are vital for brain development.  

Intriguingly, the researchers only found the gene change in humans, and not in our primate relatives like chimps, gorillas and monkeys, or in early hominids such as Neanderthals. But there's a flip-side to this, as although increased production of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids may have helped our brains to evolve, today they contribute to the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease.


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