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 How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration
14.11.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht NIH scientists illuminate causes of hepatitis b virus-associated acute liver failure
14.11.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

NIH scientists illuminate causes of hepatitis b virus-associated acute liver failure

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs

14.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>