Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The protective brain hypothesis is confirmed

19.07.2010
"In the past, it was thought that one of the selective advantages of having a large brain is that it facilitates the development of new behaviour to respond to the ecological challenges that the individual has not experienced before, such as a sudden reduction in food or the appearance of a new predator ", César González-Lagos, main author of the study and researcher at the Centre of Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) associated with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, highlights to SINC.

The results, which are published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, reveal that "species which have developed large brains live for longer than those with small brains, as the protective brain theory suggests, and therefore, can reproduce more times", the researcher stresses.

If the animal is protected by a large brain, this results in greater survival and a longer life. "However until recently there has been little evidence and there had been no agreement on whether species with larger brains live longer", the scientist points out.

According to this hypothesis, the brain would adopt a "protective" role which would help to reduce mortality and lengthen the reproductive live of the individuals, thereby compensating the energetic and development costs associated with a large brain.

The evidence is correlative, not cause-effect

The team analysed 493 species of mammals from different regions of the planet. According to the authors, the evidence resulting from the study is "correlative", in other words they do not "necessarily" indicate cause-effect, but the analysis indicates that the link between a large brain and longevity is not only due to the fact that species with large brains are greater in size and develop more slowly, they also live in specific regions or share the same evolutionary ancestors.

"As extension of life duration is central to many hypotheses on the advantages of developing large brains, these results offer a solid base which can be used to continue building a general theory on the evolution of the brain", concludes the scientist.

The first observations of Darwin

Throughout their evolutionary history some mammals, such as primates, cetaceans and elephants, have developed much larger brains than would be expected for their body size. But a large brain involves energetic costs and development time.

In El descendiente del Hombre (The descendent of Man) (1871), the British naturalist Charles Darwin, always attracted by this question, thought that a large brain, such as that of humans, improved the mental capacity of individuals, because natural selection favours the appearance of large brains.

Darwin believed that with a large brain mental capacity is improved. But, what selective advantage does it offer? The controversy on the advantages of having a larger brain continues.

Bibliographical reference: Gonzalez-Lagos, C.; Sol, D.; Reader, S.M. "Large-brained mammals live longer" Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23(5): 1064-1074, May 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.01976.x

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rochester scientists discover gene controlling genetic recombination rates
23.04.2018 | University of Rochester

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle

23.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Joining metals without welding

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

Researchers illuminate the path to a new era of microelectronics

23.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>