Less is more when it comes to developing bigger brains

Re-enacting the complex process of brain development.

Brain-scan
Image: Cardiff University

A collaborative study by the scientists from University of Oxford and Cardiff University utilized mathematical models to re-order the complex procedure of mental health that happens as progenitor cells, begin to develop and start to separate into more specialist cells at different focuses in time.

The model observes the ability of progenitor cells to divide either into more progenitor cells or into neurons. Scientists applied the model on mice, monkeys, and humans and identified different brain development strategies that separate each of the three mammals. Although all three types use roughly the same type of raw materials to develop a brain.

Scientists actually wanted to know the population original population of progenitor cells before the brains started to develop. They found that the human brain may develop from fewer raw materials compared to both mice and monkeys. The cerebral cortex in the human brain, which is accountable for high cognitive functions such as language, memory, and movement, contains approximately 16 billion neurons and weighs around 1,500,000 mg.

In contrast to humans, the cerebral cortex of a mouse contains around 14 million neurons and weighs around 400 mg. On the other side, scientists discovered that the monkey’s brain is developed from more initial cells, leading to the creation of a larger brain.

The data suggest that the human brain is has been framed and etched through in excess of 500 million years of advancement, it has possessed the capacity to grow more vital methods for making complex structures with fewer cells.

Dr. Noemi Picco, from the University of Oxford, said: “To produce a larger brain we can either stretch development over a longer period of time or adopt an altogether different developmental program to produce neurons more efficiently within the time available.

“It seems plausible that humans adopted the first solution as our gestational period is much longer than a mouse’s, rather than starting off with a more raw material.”

“While this argument is only speculative, this research produced an alternative testable hypothesis, setting the basis for future experimental studies.”

Professor Zoltán Molnár of Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics said: “The modeling helped us to realize just how little we currently know about the comparative aspects of cerebral cortical development. Some of the data we have are not sufficient to start modeling more complex issues of brain development and evolution. We are planning to assemble an international collaborative team to feed in the numbers for future models.”

Scientists further want to use the model to identify how these strategies may have advanced through evolution. It is expected that the model will help them understand diseases where it may well be that different brain strategies are realized, such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, and Zika-virus-induced microcephaly.

The results have been published in the journal Cerebral Cortex by a team of mathematicians and neurobiologists from University of Oxford, Cardiff University and the Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience.