Origin of Intelligence, Mental Illness Linked to Ancient Genetic Accident

Origin of Intelligence, Mental Illness Linked to Ancient Genetic Accident

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Scientists have discovered for the first time how humans — and other mammals — have evolved to have intelligence. Researchers have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved. This point, 500 million years ago, provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyze situations and have flexibility in the way in which we think.

Professor Seth Grant, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “One of the greatest scientific problems is to explain how intelligence and complex behaviours arose during evolution.” The research, which is detailed in two papers in Nature Neuroscience, also shows a direct link between the evolution of behavior and the origins of brain diseases. Scientists believe that the same genes that improved our mental capacity are also responsible for a number of brain disorders.

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