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Human Brain Oriented to Animal Detection

Human Brain Oriented to Animal Detection

Researchers examined the brains of 41 neurosurgical patients during 111 experimental sessions, while they were shown hundreds of images. The images were landmarks, people, objects or animals. The right amygdala was observed to respond more to the animal images, regardless of the type of animal shown. In other words, there was amygdala stimulation both for images of cute pets, and large predators. In the study brain activity was able to be detected down to individual neurons. Co-author Dr. Ralph Adolphs said, “that it is important for the brain to be able to rapidly detect animals. The reasons for this are probably several, but would likely include the need to avoid predators and catch prey.” (Source abc.net.au)

The amygdalae are two almond-shaped parts of the brain believed to be central in the processing of emotional reactions, emotional memory and social interactivity. They also are involved in activating the sympathetic nervous system, which is involved in the regulation of stress.

Another intriguing aspect of the study is the possibility that due to the close relationship between humans and other animals for millenia, whether we were running from them, capturing them for food, or domesticating them, part of our brain processing might actually be dedicated just for animal interaction. The brain activity that looks for animals and measures their attributes, distance and presence is likely also found in other animals, because we all evolved in the same or similar ecosystems, and food chains. In other words depending on the context, we are all either prey or predators, so it would seem reasonable there is a similar type of brain processing capacity in each vertebrate species, potentially. Consider the fact there may be as many as 8.7 million species on this planet (including plants) and therefore interactivity seems to be the crux of life. It doesn’t seem far-fetched that what we became resulted from the presence of others.

Image Credit: Bob the Wikipedian

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Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Pets

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40 comments

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7:07PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

cool.

2:50PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

We are absolutely dependent on the animals that we share the planet with... and yet we are killing them off at an alarming rate. It's too bad that we can't appreciate what we have and try to manage it in a realistic and sustainable way.

12:23AM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

6:48AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

"There was amygdala stimulation both for images of cute pets, and large predators."
..."Co-author Dr. Ralph Adolphs said, “that it is important for the brain to be able to rapidly detect animals. The reasons for this are probably several, but would likely include the need to avoid predators and catch prey.” "

Come again??? Didn't quite get it... There is the same stimulation to both predator and prey? Okay.....

9:43PM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

what about insects? I want to know where they are creeping and crawling. If insects evolve/ or were to evolve to animal size, we'd really be responding to them big time!
We may go to the moon, but we still have the instinct to jump on a chair at the sight of a mouse.

8:20PM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

wow awesome sudy!

12:03PM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

Thank you

7:09AM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

Not rocket scince! one onle has to set quietly outside and you will notice you brain tracks movements of the animals around you it is a survival instinct.

Dang! Rosemary G. dont hold back. tell us what you really think. Love your comments

5:46AM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

Animals have brains but no understanding of knowledge, Humans have knowledge but no brains, if they (Humans) did have brains they would not do all the horrible things that they do!

3:49AM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

Since humans are animals--how come we notice other non-human animals even more than other humans?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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