Illustration of a human and Neanderthal skull side by side.
Mutation Linked to Difference Between Human and Neanderthal Brains
A single amino acid substitution in a protein causes increased neuron production in the frontal lobes of humans compared to Neanderthals—a tiny difference that could have given our species a cognitive edge, researchers say.
Mutation Linked to Difference Between Human and Neanderthal Brains
Mutation Linked to Difference Between Human and Neanderthal Brains

A single amino acid substitution in a protein causes increased neuron production in the frontal lobes of humans compared to Neanderthals—a tiny difference that could have given our species a cognitive edge, researchers say.

A single amino acid substitution in a protein causes increased neuron production in the frontal lobes of humans compared to Neanderthals—a tiny difference that could have given our species a cognitive edge, researchers say.

brain evolution
colorful parrot-like bird riding a tiny bicycle on a tightrope
Reptiles are the Real Bird Brains
Sophie Fessl | Mar 22, 2022
A research group argues that a species’ number of neurons, rather than brain volume, should serve as indicator of cognitive capacity when studying brain evolution, but some experts voice doubts.
A photo of a termite’s head with its brain clearly visible
Termite Brains Anticipate Future Visual Challenges
Chloe Tenn | Feb 1, 2022
Dampwood termites with the potential to leave the colony have larger optic lobes before ever being exposed to different visual environments, an example of predictive brain plasticity.
Image of the Day: Brains and Braincases
Emily Makowski | Oct 18, 2019
The skull changed shape in different ways than the brain during evolution, according to a new comparative study.
Brain Surface Area Reveals Overlap in Genes, Intelligence, Evolution
Carolyn Wilke | Mar 4, 2019
An analysis of the contours of more than 600 kids’ brains points to links between cerebral surface area and heritability in regions of the brain important in cognition.  
Human-Specific Genes Implicated in Brain Size
Abby Olena | May 31, 2018
Three members of a gene family called NOTCH2NL may have been involved in the evolution of humans’ big cortex.
Fossilized Brains Called into Question, Might be Microbes
Abby Olena | Apr 11, 2018
Authors of a new study suggest that 520-million-year-old structures, previously identified as the brains of ancient arthropods, are instead preserved microbial biofilms.
Study: Diet Contributes to Brain Size
Diana Kwon | Mar 29, 2017
The results of a historical primate behavior analysis suggest that species with fruit-filled diets evolved larger brains.
Study: Faster Metabolism Boosted Human Brains
Tanya Lewis | May 5, 2016
Humans burn calories faster than any other primate, researchers report.
To Retain a Brain
Karen Zusi | Jan 1, 2016
Exceptional neural fossil preservation helps answer questions about ancient arthropod evolution.
Roos Are Mainly South Paws
Bob Grant | Jun 22, 2015
A new study shows that kangaroos are predominantly left-handed.
Brain Expression
Edyta Zielinska | Aug 1, 2012
Researchers map the expression patterns of 1,000 genes in the human brain.
A Beautiful Mind
Megan Scudellari | Mar 29, 2012
The human brain is an organized, 3D grid composed of elegant, ribbon-like fibers.
Brain Evolution at a Distance
Hannah Waters | Dec 6, 2011
Gene expression controlled from afar may have spurred the spurt in brain evolution that led to modern humans.