Molecular archaeology of human cognitive traits.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Kaczanowska, Joanna; Ganglberger, Florian; Chernomor, Olga; Kargl, Dominic; Galik, Bence; Hess, Andreas; Moodley, Yoshan; von Haeseler, Arndt; Bühler, Katja; Haubensak, Wulf
Year of Publication: 2022
Journal: Cell Rep
Volume: 40
Issue: 9
Pagination: 111287
Date Published: 2022 Aug 30
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 2211-1247
Keywords: Animals, Archaeology, Cognition, Evolution, Molecular, Genome, Human, Hominidae, Humans, Mammals, Neanderthals, Phenotype

The brains and minds of our human ancestors remain inaccessible for experimental exploration. Therefore, we reconstructed human cognitive evolution by projecting nonsynonymous/synonymous rate ratios (ω values) in mammalian phylogeny onto the anatomically modern human (AMH) brain. This atlas retraces human neurogenetic selection and allows imputation of ancestral evolution in task-related functional networks (FNs). Adaptive evolution (high ω values) is associated with excitatory neurons and synaptic function. It shifted from FNs for motor control in anthropoid ancestry (60-41 mya) to attention in ancient hominoids (26-19 mya) and hominids (19-7.4 mya). Selection in FNs for language emerged with an early hominin ancestor (7.4-1.7 mya) and was later accompanied by adaptive evolution in FNs for strategic thinking during recent (0.8 mya-present) speciation of AMHs. This pattern mirrors increasingly complex cognitive demands and suggests that co-selection for language alongside strategic thinking may have separated AMHs from their archaic Denisovan and Neanderthal relatives.

DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111287
Alternate Journal: Cell Rep