The Max Planck Institute of MolecularCell Biology and Genetics: Dresden, Germany
Hello, I'm Wieland Huttner. What am I doing here, you ask?
My team and I are researching the neocortex- a part of the brain which grows much larger in primates, such as monkeys, than in other animals
We are looking at the brain cells of embryonic mice in order to research this part of the brain
We have created a mouse model. In this model we can "switch on" a gene called the Pax6 gene.
Normally this gene is found in specific neural progenitor cells in humans, but not in mice. When we put this gene in the mouse model's progenitor cells, they multiplied, creating more neurons in the neocortex.
Based on the results of this study, we believe that the gene Pax6 might play an important part in the evolution of primate brain functions.