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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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Novel stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue

Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain's natural healing tendencies

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The new research can reduce the threat of permanent brain damage considerably.
The new research can reduce the threat of permanent brain damage considerably. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain’s natural healing tendencies.

The treatment called AB126 was developed using extracellular vesicles (EV) — fluid-filled structures known as exosomes — which are generated from human neural stem cells.

“This is truly exciting evidence because exosomes provide a stealth-like characteristic, invisible even to the body’s own defences.

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When packaged with therapeutics, these treatments can actually change cell progression and improve functional recovery,” said Steven Stice, a professor at the University of Georgia in the US who led the research team.

Fully able to cloak itself within the bloodstream, this type of regenerative EV therapy appears to be the most promising in overcoming the limitations of many cells therapies-with the ability for exosomes to carry and deliver multiple doses-as well as the ability to store and administer treatment, the researchers said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added.
Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added. Wikimedia Commons

Small in size, the tiny tubular shape of an exosome allows EV therapy to cross barriers that cells cannot be said the study published in the journal Translational Stroke Research.

Following the administration of AB126, the researchers used MRI scans to measure brain atrophy rates in preclinical, age-matched stroke models, which showed an approximately 35 percent decrease in the size of injury and 50 percent reduction in brain tissue loss.

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“Until now, we had very little evidence specific to neural exosome treatment and the ability to improve motor function. Just days after stroke, we saw better mobility, improved balance and measurable behavioural benefits in treated animal models,” Stice said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added. (IANS)

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