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Fundamental research

08 - 01 - 2018

Has the gene for the evolution of the human brain been discovered?

A recent study found that the gene called CLOCK, which is involved in the biological clock, also regulates many genes independent of the circadian cycle and that act on the development of neurons and brain function.


The human brain is large compared to that of the chimpanzee for example. And although it is smaller than the whales’ and dolphins’, it has special abilities. Where do these come from?



The neocortex is the part of the brain that has developed most recently in humans. The expression of the CLOCK gene is particularly strong in this part of the brain.


Based on this observation, a team of researchers has shown that this gene:

  • - regulates genes that express themselves differently in primate species according to their evolution
  • - is linked to cognitive disorders and intervenes in the migration of neurons in the brain.


On these very encouraging grounds, the study on CLOCK gene functions will be continued using brain organoids obtained in vitro from human cells and a humanized mouse model.


The results of this work will help gain knowledge on the human brain as well as on the origin of some of its pathologies and the possibilities to remedy them.