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Aging brains are different in humans and chimpanzees
Date:7/27/2011

healthy, normal aging in humans involves more pronounced brain deterioration than in other species.

"Taken together with particular environmental and genetic risk factors, this might help to explain the fact that only humans are vulnerable to developing dementing illnesses like Alzheimer's disease in old age."

Sherwood and colleagues conclude evolution led to both a large brain and a long lifespan in humans. They point out that the benefits of these traits are much debated, but they surmise it might be related to an increased reliance on social learning of skills.

"As a result, we suggest that the high energy cost of a large brain in humans leads to more wear and tear that cannot be easily repaired because most neurons are not renewed," said Sherwood. "As a consequence, human brains become more vulnerable to degeneration towards the later stages of life."


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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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