"Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

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"Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Kivia » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:12 pm

THE GIST
* The human brain is hardwired to pay attention to animals, according to a new study.
* Our ancestral past, which included either being predators or prey of animals, likely caused our brains to evolve the response.

Years of either running from or running after animals left its mark in the human brain -- even just looking at a photo of an animal jolts our brains into action.

No matter how high tech and urban we may become, animals continue to affect our brains like no other person, place or thing, shows new research in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience.

Co-author Ralph Adolphs explained to Discovery News "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."

"These abilities are at once critically important to survival and yet very difficult to do," added Adolphs, a professor of psychology, neuroscience and biology at the California Institute of Technology. "Both predator and prey detection requires fast, real-time detection of shapes that are often camouflaged in a cluttered environment."

Adolphs, project leader Florian Mormann, and their colleagues recorded how the brains of 41 neurosurgical patients undergoing epilepsy monitoring responded to images of people, landmarks, animals, or objects. During 111 experimental sessions, the researchers monitored the subjects' brain activity as they sat in bed while viewing about 100 images per session. The monitoring was quite precise, showing how even individual neurons reacted.
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The scientists found that neurons in the right amygdala responded preferentially to pictures of animals, whether they were of cute little critters or threatening big beasts. The amygdalae are two almond-shaped groups of neurons located deep within the brain.

Mormann told Discovery News that the right amygdala "has previously been implicated in the processing both of stimuli that are aversive and of stimuli that are rewarding. During our evolutionary past, animals could have represented either predator (aversive) or prey (rewarding). In either case, their behavioral relevance was pretty high."

Outside of an experimental setting, humans, of course, don't just see animals. We hear them and they affect our other senses too. Although the study just involved photographs, the researchers suspect the amygdala would have also been jolted into action by animal calls.

Even though we may not feel particularly moved by animal images, the researchers say the resulting brain activity occurs at a conscious level. The researchers stop short of saying that animals inherently trigger our emotions, but it's possible that they do affect our fear and arousal responses in unique ways.

Prior studies have supported that early in vertebrate evolution, "the right brain hemisphere became specialized in dealing with unexpected and behaviorally relevant stimuli," Mormann said. This latest study strengthens that theory.

The level of specialization is intense, especially considering how the human brain springs into action after just seeing a photo of an animal.

Animal images, Adolphs explained, "mobilize the brain's resources to process information about them. The amygdala helps us to detect that there is an animal out there, and we can then pay attention to it, encode it into memory, and mount a behavior response."

For our early human ancestors, that response would likely have been to run for their lives, hide, admire, or go in for the dinner kill.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/anima ... pgn=fbdsc9

I thought this was quite an interesting article. I can't help but wonder if this also has anything to do with the fact that why some people fear animals, while others tend to love them. I always thought that it may be because of past experiences in childhood and such, but maybe this could also influence it due to the fact that our brain starts working as soon as we see an animal, even in a photograph. Cool beans right here^^

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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Overcast » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:09 pm

No kidding Kivia, that was a great read!

It make sense... when I flip through my math textbook (which has images throuought of various objects, persons and animals), when I come acrosss an animal image I can practically feel the slight increase in my conscience level as I look at the image. But maybe thats just me coming out of the math stupor for a second :P . I liked the clarity of this article; even amatuers in biology and neurology such as ourselves can understand the gist of this article.

However I think this article was only referring to the instinctual responses of the human brain; fears and emotions are learned responses, not something genetic/we are born with.

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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Alpha Female » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:05 pm

Wow, that's really something. ^^ I really never thought about that before, I've just been so drawn to animals so I'd normally look at any animal pictures I come across. xD
Thanks for sharing Kiv!
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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Kivia » Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:09 pm

Overcast wrote:However I think this article was only referring to the instinctual responses of the human brain; fears and emotions are learned responses, not something genetic/we are born with.
I thought so- I guess I was looking further into it than needed. xD Thank you for that though^^

But yeah, I too feel this connection anytime I see any animal. I agree in that the article did a great job in explaining this.

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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Overcast » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:11 pm

Kivia wrote:I thought so- I guess I was looking further into it than needed. xD Thank you for that though^^
Your welcome Kivia, anyime! Sometimes, all that is needed is the opinion of another to clarify something :P.

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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Legendary-Taco » Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:29 pm

Interesting to see that we still have that feeling that we had from far earlier times. I myself never really noticed it, but I guess I'll start paying more attention x3

Thanks for sharing, Kivia c:
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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by wolf852 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:42 pm

Cool article. Defiantly got me thinking. :mrgreen:
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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by Grin » Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:48 pm

I found this article very interesting as well. :] And yes, it's no wonder why so many people find animals an appealing subject.

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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by BlackWarrior » Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:27 am

Wow this is amazing! Thank you so much for the share! Very interesting indeed! ^^
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Re: "Humans Hardwired to Tune Into Animals "

Post by HappygirlXD » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:01 am

Interesting, but rather strange. That's a neat little piece of information.
Legendary-Taco wrote:I myself never really noticed it, but I guess I'll start paying more attention x3

Same here. :3

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