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Science Forum

  1. 16 Sep '14 09:50 / 1 edit
    What makes us humans intellectually unique from other animals? Surely there is no simple answer to that. But, at least a small part of the answer appears to be a mutation to a gene called Foxp2 although this is just one of a number of uniquely human versions of genes that are associated with human intelligence. When scientists engineered mice to express humanized Foxp2, remarkably, the mice learning ability measurably improved!
    In humans, the gene is associated with both language and learning.

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-09-neuroscientists-key-role-language-gene.html
  2. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Sep '14 11:04
    Wonder if they could insert that gene into Bonobo's and chimps, what would happen, since they are the closest to us genetically.
  3. 16 Sep '14 12:20 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Wonder if they could insert that gene into Bonobo's and chimps, what would happen, since they are the closest to us genetically.
    what would happen is they start talking with their first word being "NO!" and then go on the rampage taking over the world hunting us for sport while we will go dumb.
  4. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Sep '14 14:33
    Originally posted by humy
    what would happen is they start talking with their first word being "NO!" and then go on the rampage taking over the world hunting us for sport while we will go dumb.
    Hey, that might make a great movie

    Seriously, the talking part would be difficult, they don't have the vocal chord arrangement of humans so it would be more like intelligent grunts and lots of vowels.

    Was just thinking of that old song, OOH EE, OOH AH AH, TING TANG WALLA WALLA BING BANG
  5. 16 Sep '14 14:59
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Seriously, the talking part would be difficult, they don't have the vocal chord arrangement of humans so it would be more like intelligent grunts and lots of vowels.
    Gorillas and Chimps can learn basic sign language.
  6. 16 Sep '14 15:01
    I believe brain size, or rather the number of neurons in the brain, is the largest factor in intelligence.
  7. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Sep '14 15:44
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I believe brain size, or rather the number of neurons in the brain, is the largest factor in intelligence.
    That doesn't make sense, suppose you just have fat neurons? Then you would have a large brain but limited number of connections. It's the connections that make for intelligence.
  8. 16 Sep '14 15:48 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    That doesn't make sense, suppose you just have fat neurons? Then you would have a large brain but limited number of connections. It's the connections that make for intelligence.
    I am not an expert on this but I assume Gorilla and Chimp brains generally have less connections than that in the human brain?
    But I suppose you could always genetically engineer some to have as many connections as a human brain.
  9. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Sep '14 16:40
    Originally posted by humy
    I am not an expert on this but I assume Gorilla and Chimp brains generally have less connections than that in the human brain?
    But I suppose you could always genetically engineer some to have as many connections as a human brain.
    No, I am pretty sure the connections and surface area of chimps is something like 1/4 of humans, I remember seeing the brains splayed out 3 dimensionally and humans covered something like a square meter while chimps 1/4th of that.
  10. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    16 Sep '14 17:09
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I believe brain size, or rather the number of neurons in the brain, is the largest factor in intelligence.
    There was a news report a couple of years ago about a girl in France who had only one hemisphere. She is academically normal. I think for human intelligence the presence of specific structures has a level of importance as high as the ratio of brain size to body mass or connectivity per neurone.
  11. 16 Sep '14 17:34
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    That doesn't make sense, suppose you just have fat neurons? Then you would have a large brain but limited number of connections. It's the connections that make for intelligence.
    That is why I said number of neurons not total size.

    See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_by_number_of_neurons

    And:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7_XH1CBzGw
  12. 16 Sep '14 17:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    There was a news report a couple of years ago about a girl in France who had only one hemisphere. She is academically normal.
    Did the remaining hemisphere grow to fill the space? Did it have more neurons than a typical human hemisphere?
    Are you sure she wasn't impaired in some areas? Intelligence is more than just academics.
    Even a human brain with one hemisphere has over 50% more neurons than a Chimpanzee.
  13. 16 Sep '14 17:40
    Another key difference between us and most mammals is age. We take longer to grow up and this gives the brain more time to grow and make connections.
  14. 16 Sep '14 19:03
    If single mutations can cause increases in intelligence that work across species such as the one on the OP, then it is likely that similar mutations exist in species other than humans, and that if transferred to humans, we could create a super intelligent human.
  15. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    17 Sep '14 15:16 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Did the remaining hemisphere grow to fill the space? Did it have more neurons than a typical human hemisphere?
    Are you sure she wasn't impaired in some areas? Intelligence is more than just academics.
    Even a human brain with one hemisphere has over 50% more neurons than a Chimpanzee.
    There was an X-ray which showed the hemisphere leaning over slightly but she had one normal hemisphere. This was a television news report lasting about two minutes, they did not indicate that there were any other consequences. Since the medical community were involved there was some effect, I'd guess she's blind in one eye.

    What I was getting at is that a purely reductionist view of the brain won't explain intelligence.