Thursday July 19, 2018

Fruits responsible for larger Brain size in Primates: Researchers

The findings revealed that primate species whose food consumption had higher amounts of fruit (frugivores) and both fruits and leaves (folivores)

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New York, March 28, 2017: A diet rich in fruits may have been responsible for larger brain size in primates, researchers say.

The findings revealed that primate species whose food consumption had higher amounts of fruit (frugivores) and both fruits and leaves (folivores) exhibited significantly larger brains than those who consumed only leaves.

An addition of animal protein (omnivores) also showed significantly larger brains than in those who consumed only leaves.

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“Fruit is patchier in space and time in the environment, and the consumption of it often involves extraction from difficult-to-reach-places or protective skins,” said lead author Alex DeCasien, doctoral student at New York University in the US.

“Together, these factors may lead to the need for relatively greater cognitive complexity and flexibility in frugivorous species,” DeCasien added.

The study, which appears in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, counters the prevailing theory of social brain hypothesis which says social pressures and the need to think about and track social relationships was the primary driver of primate cognitive complexity and ultimately led to the evolution of the large human brain.

“Complex foraging strategies, social structures, and cognitive abilities are likely to have co-evolved throughout primate evolution,” said DeCasien.

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“However, if the question is which factor, diet or sociality, is more important when it comes to determining the brain size of primate species, then our new examination suggests that the factor is diet.”

In the study, the team examined more than 140 primate species and took into account food consumption — leaves, fruit and addition of animal protein –, as well as several measures of sociality, such as group size, social system and mating system.

Their results showed that brain size is predicted by diet rather than by the various measures of sociality. (IANS)

 

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Testosterone Level Determined by Environment During Childhood, Says Study

Bangladeshis in Britain also reached puberty at a younger age and were taller than men who lived in Bangladesh throughout their childhood

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Testosterone Level Determined by Environment During Childhood, Says Study
Testosterone Level Determined by Environment During Childhood, Says Study. (IANS)

Men who grew up in challenging conditions like prevalence of infectious diseases or poor nutrition may have lower levels of testosterone — male sex hormone — in later life, says a study.

The findings suggest that the differences may be linked to energy investment. For instance, in environments where people are more exposed to disease or poor nutrition, developing males direct their energy towards survival at the cost of testosterone.

While high testosterone levels may up the risk of ageing, muscle mass, prostate enlargement and cancer, lower levels may cause lack of energy, erectile dysfunction etc. Thus, the researchers suggest that any screening for risk profiles may need to take a man’s childhood environment into account.

“Very high and very low testosterone levels can have implications for men’s health and it could be important to know more about men’s childhood circumstances to build a fuller picture of their risk factors for certain conditions or diseases,” said Gillian Bentley from Britain’s Durham University.

testosterone
Representational image.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the team collected data from 359 men born and still resident in Bangladesh; Bangladeshi men who moved to London as children; Bangladeshi men who moved to London as adults; second-generation, Britain born men whose parents were Bangladeshi migrants; and Britain born ethnic Europeans.

The results showed that Bangladeshi men who grew up and lived as adults in Britain had significantly higher levels of testosterone compared to relatively well-off men who grew up and lived in Bangladesh as adults.

Also Read: Attractiveness in Males is Not Associated With Female’s Hormone Levels, says Study

Bangladeshis in Britain also reached puberty at a younger age and were taller than men who lived in Bangladesh throughout their childhood.

Further, it was also found that the aspects of male reproductive function remain changeable up to the age of 19 and are more flexible in early rather than late childhood, but no longer heavily influenced by their surroundings. (IANS)