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Study says brain size of animals does matter

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New York: Animal brain size estimates its problem-solving ability, says a study.

Species with large brains were more successful than species with relatively small brains, the study revealed.

“The results of this study provides important support for the claim that brain size reflects an animal’s problem-solving abilities and enhances our understanding of why larger brains evolved in some species,” said Sarah-Benson-Amram, assistant professor at the University of Wyoming in the US.

Species that are more social or live in big social groups are not necessarily better problem-solvers than those that live alone, highlighted the study.

The study represented a step forward in understanding the evolution of problem-solving in mammalian carnivores, researchers revealed in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers tested 140 zoo animals from 39 mammalian carnivore species with a problem-solving task.

Animals such as river otters, wolves, bears, African wild dogs and cheetahs tried to open steel mesh “puzzle boxes” baited with food and adjusted to their body size.

The animals opened the puzzle box using a lever, and if they were successful, they received a food reward in the box.

Overall, 35 percent of animals successfully solved the puzzle, with bears as the most triumphant at completing the task 70 percent of the time. Meerkats and mongooses were the least successful.

Although these species also differed in body size, it was their brain size relative to how big they were that primarily influenced whether they solved the puzzle.

Variables such as the social group size for animals, their manual dexterity or work effort failed to predict success at opening the boxes, the study showed.(IANS)

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New Study Shows That Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

"Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems," said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

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The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image. pixabay

Depression may speed up brain ageing and lead to memory problems in older adults, suggests new research that offers hope of finding a new way to treat memory issues.

“Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems,” said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also showed that older people with greater symptoms of depression may have structural differences in the brain compared to people without symptoms.

“With as many as 25 per cent of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to better understand the relationship between depression and memory problems,” Zeki Al Hazzouri said.

The study involved over 1,000 people with an average age of 71.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image, pixabay

At the beginning of the study, all the participants had brain scans, a psychological exam and assessments for memory and thinking skills. Their memory and thinking skills were tested again an average of five years later.

At the start of the study, 22 per cent of the participants had greater symptoms of depression.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory — a person’s ability to remember specific experiences and events.

Those with greater symptoms of depression had differences in the brain including smaller brain volume as well as a 55 per cent greater chance of small vascular lesions in the brain, the findings showed.

Also Read: Trauma in Childhood is Linked to Negative Outcomes in Adulthood 

“Small vascular lesions in the brain are markers of small vessel disease, a condition in which the walls in the small blood vessels are damaged,” said Zeki Al Hazzouri.

“Our research suggests that depression and brain ageing may occur simultaneously, and greater symptoms of depression may affect brain health through small vessel disease,” Zeki Al Hazzouri added. (IANS)

 

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