On the homogeneity and heterogeneity of cortical thickness profiles in Homo sapiens sapiens.
ABSTRACT: Cortical thickness has been investigated since the beginning of the 20th century, but we do not know how similar the cortical thickness profiles among humans are. In this study, the local similarity of cortical thickness profiles was investigated using sliding window methods. Here, we show that approximately 5% of the cortical thickness profiles are similarly expressed among humans while 45% of the cortical thickness profiles show a high level of heterogeneity. Therefore, heterogeneity is the rule, not the exception. Cortical thickness profiles of somatosensory homunculi and the anterior insula are consistent among humans, while the cortical thickness profiles of the motor homunculus are more variable. Cortical thickness profiles of homunculi that code for muscle position and skin stimulation are highly similar among humans despite large differences in sex, education, and age. This finding suggests that the structure of these cortices remains well preserved over a lifetime. Our observations possibly relativize opinions on cortical plasticity.
Project description:The aim of this study was to localize the anatomic distribution of upper motor neuron (UMN) loss through examining cortical thickness at the clinical onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and explore motor manifestation in functionally impaired body region attribute to impairment of lower motor neuron (LMN) or UMN or mixed LMN and UMN? The clinical features, cortical thickness of corresponding areas from different body regions in MRI and electromyography (EMG) data were collected from 108 classical ALS patients. The cortical thickness was thinner in ALS group than control group in bilateral head-face and upper-limb areas (p?<?0.05). In head-face area, the cortical thickness of bulbar-onset group was significantly lower than that of control groups (p?<?0.05). In upper-limb areas, the cortical thickness of cervical-onset group was significantly thinner than that of control group. Notably, the bulbar ALSFRS-R subscore was correlated with cortical thickness in bilateral head-face areas (p?<?0.05). The bulbar ALSFRS-R subscore of the positive LMN damage group was lower compared to that of the negative LMN damage group (P?<?0.001). The limb ALSFRS-R subscore correlated with compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitudes of median, ulnar, peroneal, and tibial nerves (P?<?0.001), but was not related to cortical thickness. In conclusion, the UMN degeneration in ALS was derived from focal initiation, bulbar- and cervical-onset may date from head-face and upper-limb areas in motor homunculus cortex, respectively. The bulbar dysfunction was resulted from the mixed UMN and LMN impairment, while limb dysfunction derived mostly from LMN loss.
Project description:This study identifies and analyzes statistically significant overlaps between selective sweep screens in anatomically modern humans and several domesticated species. The results obtained suggest that (paleo-)genomic data can be exploited to complement the fossil record and support the idea of self-domestication in Homo sapiens, a process that likely intensified as our species populated its niche. Our analysis lends support to attempts to capture the "domestication syndrome" in terms of alterations to certain signaling pathways and cell lineages, such as the neural crest.
Project description:Cognitive psychologists distinguish implicit, procedural category learning (stimulus-response associations learned outside declarative cognition) from explicit-declarative category learning (conscious category rules). These systems are dissociated by category learning tasks with either a multidimensional, information-integration (II) solution or a unidimensional, rule-based (RB) solution. In the present experiments, humans and two monkeys learned II and RB category tasks fostering implicit and explicit learning, respectively. Then they received occasional transfer trials-never directly reinforced-drawn from untrained regions of the stimulus space. We hypothesized that implicit-procedural category learning-allied to associative learning-would transfer weakly because it is yoked to the training stimuli. This result was confirmed for humans and monkeys. We hypothesized that explicit category learning-allied to abstract category rules-would transfer robustly. This result was confirmed only for humans. That is, humans displayed explicit category knowledge that transferred flawlessly. Monkeys did not. This result illuminates the distinctive abstractness, stimulus independence, and representational portability of humans' explicit category rules. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:At the center of the debate on the emergence of modern humans and their spread throughout the globe is the question of whether archaic Homo lineages contributed to the modern human gene pool, and more importantly, whether such contributions impacted the evolutionary adaptation of our species. A major obstacle to answering this question is that low levels of admixture with archaic lineages are not expected to leave extensive traces in the modern human gene pool because of genetic drift. Loci that have undergone strong positive selection, however, offer a unique opportunity to identify low-level admixture with archaic lineages, provided that the introgressed archaic allele has risen to high frequency under positive selection. The gene microcephalin (MCPH1) regulates brain size during development and has experienced positive selection in the lineage leading to Homo sapiens. Within modern humans, a group of closely related haplotypes at this locus, known as haplogroup D, rose from a single copy approximately 37,000 years ago and swept to exceptionally high frequency (approximately 70% worldwide today) because of positive selection. Here, we examine the origin of haplogroup D. By using the interhaplogroup divergence test, we show that haplogroup D likely originated from a lineage separated from modern humans approximately 1.1 million years ago and introgressed into humans by approximately 37,000 years ago. This finding supports the possibility of admixture between modern humans and archaic Homo populations (Neanderthals being one possibility). Furthermore, it buttresses the important notion that, through such adminture, our species has benefited evolutionarily by gaining new advantageous alleles. The interhaplogroup divergence test developed here may be broadly applicable to the detection of introgression at other loci in the human genome or in genomes of other species.
Project description:Anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens, AMH) began spreading across Eurasia from Africa and adjacent Southwest Asia about 50,000-55,000 years ago (ca 50-55 ka). Some have argued that human genetic, fossil, and archaeological data indicate one or more prior dispersals, possibly as early as 120 ka. A recently reported age estimate of 65 ka for Madjedbebe, an archaeological site in northern Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea), if correct, offers what might be the strongest support yet presented for a pre-55-ka African AMH exodus. We review evidence for AMH arrival on an arc spanning South China through Sahul and then evaluate data from Madjedbebe. We find that an age estimate of >50 ka for this site is unlikely to be valid. While AMH may have moved far beyond Africa well before 50-55 ka, data from the region of interest offered in support of this idea are not compelling.
Project description:We investigated differences in regional cortical thickness between previously identified empirically derived mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subtypes (amnestic MCI, dysnomic MCI, dysexecutive/mixed MCI, and cluster-derived normal) in order to determine whether these cognitive subtypes would show different patterns of cortical atrophy.Participants were 485 individuals diagnosed with MCI and 178 cognitively normal individuals from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Cortical thickness estimates were computed for 32 regions of interest per hemisphere. Statistical group maps compared each MCI subtype to cognitively normal participants and to one another.The pattern of cortical thinning observed in each MCI subtype corresponded to their cognitive profile. No differences in cortical thickness were found between the cluster-derived normal MCI subtype and the cognitively normal group. Direct comparison between MCI subtypes suggested that the cortical thickness patterns reflect increasing disease severity.There is an ordered pattern of cortical atrophy among patients with MCI that coincides with their profiles of increasing cognitive dysfunction. This heterogeneity is not captured when patients are grouped by conventional diagnostic criteria. Results in the cluster-derived normal group further support the premise that the conventional MCI diagnostic criteria are highly susceptible to false-positive diagnostic errors. Findings suggest a need to (1) improve the diagnostic criteria by reducing reliance on conventional screening measures, rating scales, and a single memory measure in order to avoid false-positive errors; and (2) divide MCI samples into meaningful subgroups based on cognitive and biomarkers profiles-a method that may provide better staging of MCI and inform prognosis.
Project description:Recent developmental studies demonstrate that early fossil hominins possessed shorter growth periods than living humans, implying disparate life histories. Analyses of incremental features in teeth provide an accurate means of assessing the age at death of developing dentitions, facilitating direct comparisons with fossil and modern humans. It is currently unknown when and where the prolonged modern human developmental condition originated. Here, an application of x-ray synchrotron microtomography reveals that an early Homo sapiens juvenile from Morocco dated at 160,000 years before present displays an equivalent degree of tooth development to modern European children at the same age. Crown formation times in the juvenile's macrodont dentition are higher than modern human mean values, whereas root development is accelerated relative to modern humans but is less than living apes and some fossil hominins. The juvenile from Jebel Irhoud is currently the oldest-known member of Homo with a developmental pattern (degree of eruption, developmental stage, and crown formation time) that is more similar to modern H. sapiens than to earlier members of Homo. This study also underscores the continuing importance of North Africa for understanding the origins of human anatomical and behavioral modernity. Corresponding biological and cultural changes may have appeared relatively late in the course of human evolution.
Project description:Penfield's description of the 'homunculus', a 'grotesque creature' with large lips and hands and small trunk and legs depicting the representation of body-parts within the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), is one of the most prominent contributions to the neurosciences. Since then, numerous studies have identified additional body-parts representations outside of S1. Nevertheless, it has been implicitly assumed that S1's homunculus is representative of the entire somatosensory cortex. Therefore, the distribution of body-parts representations in other brain regions, the property that gave Penfield's homunculus its famous 'grotesque' appearance, has been overlooked. We used whole-body somatosensory stimulation, functional MRI and a new cortical parcellation to quantify the organization of the cortical somatosensory representation. Our analysis showed first, an extensive somatosensory response over the cortex; and second, that the proportional representation of body parts differs substantially between major neuroanatomical regions and from S1, with, for instance, much larger trunk representation at higher brain regions, potentially in relation to the regions' functional specialization. These results extend Penfield's initial findings to the higher level of somatosensory processing and suggest a major role for somatosensation in human cognition.
Project description:The genetic architecture of the craniofacial complex has been the subject of intense scrutiny because of the high frequency of congenital malformations. Numerous animal models have been used to document the early development of the craniofacial complex, but few studies have focused directly on the genetic underpinnings of normal variation in the human craniofacial complex. This study examines 80 quantitative traits derived from lateral cephalographs of 981 participants in the Fels Longitudinal Study, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. Quantitative genetic analyses were conducted using the Sequential Oligogenic Linkage Analysis Routines analytic platform, a maximum-likelihood variance components method that incorporates all familial information for parameter estimation. Heritability estimates were significant and of moderate to high magnitude for all craniofacial traits. Additionally, significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified for 10 traits from the three developmental components (basicranium, splanchnocranium, and neurocranium) of the craniofacial complex. These QTL were found on chromosomes 3, 6, 11, 12, and 14. This study of the genetic architecture of the craniofacial complex elucidates fundamental information of the genetic architecture of the craniofacial complex in humans.
Project description:Kynureninase is a member of a large family of catalytically diverse but structurally homologous pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP) dependent enzymes known as the aspartate aminotransferase superfamily or alpha-family. The Homo sapiens and other eukaryotic constitutive kynureninases preferentially catalyze the hydrolytic cleavage of 3-hydroxy-l-kynurenine to produce 3-hydroxyanthranilate and l-alanine, while l-kynurenine is the substrate of many prokaryotic inducible kynureninases. The human enzyme was cloned with an N-terminal hexahistidine tag, expressed, and purified from a bacterial expression system using Ni metal ion affinity chromatography. Kinetic characterization of the recombinant enzyme reveals classic Michaelis-Menten behavior, with a Km of 28.3 +/- 1.9 microM and a specific activity of 1.75 micromol min-1 mg-1 for 3-hydroxy-dl-kynurenine. Crystals of recombinant kynureninase that diffracted to 2.0 A were obtained, and the atomic structure of the PLP-bound holoenzyme was determined by molecular replacement using the Pseudomonas fluorescens kynureninase structure (PDB entry 1qz9) as the phasing model. A structural superposition with the P. fluorescens kynureninase revealed that these two structures resemble the "open" and "closed" conformations of aspartate aminotransferase. The comparison illustrates the dynamic nature of these proteins' small domains and reveals a role for Arg-434 similar to its role in other AAT alpha-family members. Docking of 3-hydroxy-l-kynurenine into the human kynureninase active site suggests that Asn-333 and His-102 are involved in substrate binding and molecular discrimination between inducible and constitutive kynureninase substrates.