“Secret weapon”: Homo sapiens survived thanks to the genes of creativity

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“Secret weapon”: Homo sapiens survived thanks to the genes of creativity

An international team of scientists, led by the University of Granada, has isolated a number of genes that distinguished Homo sapiens from Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) and chimpanzees. These genes have been linked to creativity, according to Molecular Psychiatry.

According to the authors of the scientific work, it was creativity that became the “secret weapon” of our ancestors. It gave them an edge over other hominids and helped them avoid extinction. The genes found in the analysis have played a key role in the evolution of creativity, self-awareness and cooperative behavior, and these qualities provided sapiens with greater survival from injury, disease and aging.

In the study, scientists combined artificial intelligence, molecular genetics, neurobiology, psychology, and anthropology. They identified 267 genes unique to Homo sapiens, which are part of a larger group of 972 genes associated with personality traits, learning and memory.

The scientists explained that brain networks evolved in stages. The most primitive arose in primates and apes about 40 million years ago. She is responsible for emotional reactivity, that is, it regulates impulses, the assimilation of habits, social attachment and conflict resolution.

The second network appeared about 2 million years ago. It regulates conscious self-control: self-direction and social cooperation for mutual benefit. The third and most complex network arose about 100 thousand years ago. It is associated with creative self-awareness.

New research has shown that the genes that respond to the most primitive network are nearly identical in humans, Neanderthals and chimpanzees. The second network (self-control) turned out to be the worst developed in chimpanzees and best in humans, while the Neanderthals were somewhere in the middle. The group of genes for creative self-awareness was peculiar only to people.

Scientists were able to establish which areas of the brain these genes were most active in. These sites are involved in self-awareness and creativity and include areas that are relatively recent and closely related to human well-being.

The findings are critical to our understanding of the factors that ultimately enabled Homo sapiens to replace Neanderthals and other species in the geologically recent past. Creativity may have encouraged people to collaborate with each other, which increased the chances of success for the group as a whole. It paved the way for technological innovation, making our ancestors curious, creative and open to new knowledge.

Earlier it became known that modern humans have a certain small percentage of Neanderthal genes. They, in particular, protect us from the severe form of COVID-19.

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