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STUDY: Humans and flies employ very similar mechanisms for brain development and function

The study provides strong evidence that the genetic activity required for the formation of brain areas important to control behavior is the same for insects and mammals.

KING’S COLLEGE LONDON: Although physically very different, research has found that the brains of flies, mice and humans are similar in how they form and how they function. Data has shown that the genetic mechanisms that underlie the brain development of insects and mammals are very similar but this can be interpreted in two different ways, where some believe it provides evidence of one single ancestor for both mammals and insects and others think it could support the theory that brains evolved multiple times independently…

The study provides strong evidence that the mechanisms that regulate genetic activity required for the formation of brain areas important to control behaviour, is the same for insects and mammals… Most strikingly they have demonstrated that when these regulatory mechanisms are inhibited or impaired in insects and mammals they experience very similar behavioural problems. This indicates that the same building blocks that control the activity of genes are essential to both the formation of brain circuits and the behaviour-related functions they perform. According to the researchers this provides evidence that these mechanisms have been established in one common ancestor…

Senior author on the study, Dr Frank Hirth from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London said: ‘To my knowledge this is the first study that provides evidence of the source of similarities between human and fly brains, how they form and how they function. Our research shows that the brain circuits essential for coordinated behaviour are put in place by similar mechanisms in humans, flies and mice. This indicates that the evolution of their very different brains can be traced back to a common ancestral brain more than a half billion years ago.’  SOURCE…

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