Researchers have discovered a series of genes linked to creativity that may have given Homo sapiens a significant advantage over Neanderthals.

Genes of creativity gave Homo sapiens an edge over Neanderthals. Photo Pierre ANDRIEU / AFP

How could Homo sapiens prevail against Neanderthals ? According to a study carried out by an international research team, and published Wednesday, April 21 in the journal Nature Molecular Psychiatry, the « secret weapon » of modern man, the one that allowed him to avoid extinction, was a series genes linked to creativity.

The results of the study suggest that these genes played « a fundamental role in the evolution of creativity, self-awareness and cooperative behavior ». These genes have indeed promoted « greater resistance to aging, injury and disease. »

267 unique genes in Homo sapiens

Led by the University of Granada in Spain, the experts behind the study identified 267 unique genes in modern humans and, through genetic markers, gene expression data and MRI techniques based on on artificial intelligence, discovered that they were linked to creativity.

“Scientists were able to identify regions of the brain in which these genes (and those with which they interacted) were overexpressed,” they wrote. « These regions (of the brain) are involved in human self-awareness and creativity, and include regions which are strongly associated with human well-being and which have arisen relatively recently. » 

According to the authors, creativity may have encouraged cooperation between individuals, which would have paved the way for technological innovation, behavioral flexibility and openness to exploration, thus allowing them to develop more successfully than their predecessors.

Very old brain networks

The same team of scientists had identified in the past a set of 972 genes organized into three brain networks, the oldest of which – which concerns learning habits, social attachment and conflict resolution – dates from 40 years ago. million years ago.  

The second network – which concerns intentional self-mastery – appeared 2 million years ago, while the most recent, which governs creative self-awareness, only appeared 100,000 years ago.

#Le Dauphiné