Skip to content

Growing Neanderthal brains in a dish

Studying our ancient relatives could give insight into how our brains develop.

A photograph of a dissection of the human brain on a metal surface.
Matt Cain/Flickr

Growing brains in a jar sounds like something out of a movie, but it really is happening.

A team of American biologists are growing brains in their lab using stem cells and ancient DNA.  By isolating Neanderthal DNA hidden within the genetic code of humans, they are growing these brains to learn about their development. This is our first look at our ancestors’ brain functioning.

The researchers are looking to our Neanderthal ancestors  to better understand how our own brains evolved and how they work.

Discussion topics

In what ways do you think understanding how our brains work might benefit us?

How much do you know about how your own brain works?