Stem Cells and Human Evolution
Comparative analyses of brain cells in closely related species can shed light on changes occurring during evolution. The study of post-mortem brains of nonhuman primates (NHPs) has been limited and often does not recapitulate important species- specific developmental hallmarks. This talk will discuss new technology to investigate the development of live neurons from human and nonhuman primates and compare specific cell behaviors such as migration and maturation. We show differential migration patterns in human neural progenitor cells compared to those of chimpanzees and bonobos, suggesting changes related to maturation timing in human neurons. The strategy proposed here lays the groundwork for further comparative analyses between humans and NHPs and opens new avenues for understanding the differences in the neural underpinnings of cognition and neurological disease susceptibility between species.