4.07.2009

Human Cognitive Genetics in One Photo
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This mural displays...

(1) The location of APOE on the 19th chromosome, out of 23 possible positions.
(2) The migration of modern humans from Africa
(3) The beginning of art and consciousness
(4) A scientific look at fixing the APOEe4 'bug'

Around 200,000 years is shown. Interestingly, those most prone to APOE 4/4 are descendants of migratory individuals who left Africa after the common ancestor-whose echoes remain in the DNA of everyone on Earth today, was born.

Consciousness is somewhat more complex. Some experts believed early burial including Neanderthals from locations like Shanidar Cave in the Zagros Mountains with significant pollen deposits mixed into the matrix are evidence that ceremonial flowers (maybe even leis, aloha) were tossed into the grave and point to consciousness and spiritualism. Others point to drawings of dot-fields as signs of spiritualism or shamanism (maybe ancient wo/man was consuming plant concoctions and this led to a spiritual dawn). Another group points to depictions of stick figures, and others rely on the full-blown dramatic inverted realism of Lascaux Cave, with beautiful renderings of grazing animals, as signs of thinking the imponderable.

Regardless, cognitive decline shuts down the brain prematurely, and one of the vectors is the genetic risk factor. Modern life, too, may be a culprit.

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