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A proposal in relation to a genetic control of lifespan in mammals

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Neill


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This article proposes that behavioural advancement during mammalian evolution had been in part mediated through extension of total developmental time. Such time extensions would have resulted in increased numbers of neuronal precursor cells, hence larger brains and a disproportionate increase in the neocortex. Larger neocortical areas enabled new connections to be formed during development and hence expansion of existing behavioural circuits. To have been positively selected such behavioural advances would have required enough postdevelopmental time to enable the behaviour to be fully manifest. It is therefore proposed that the success of mammalian evolution depended on initiating a genetic control of total postdevelopmental time. This could have been mediated through the redeployment of gene regulatory networks controlling total developmental time to additionally control total postdevelopmental time. The result would be that any extension of developmental time, leading to a behavioural advancement, would be accompanied by a proportional extension to postdevelopmental time. In effect it is proposed that mammalian lifespan as a whole is genetically controlled. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Neill D

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ageing Research Reviews

Year: 2010

Volume: 9

Issue: 4

Pages: 437-446

Print publication date: 27/05/2010

ISSN (print): 1568-1637

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9649


DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.05.004