Navigation Links
Big brains are pricey, guppy study shows

Bigger brains can make animals, well, brainier, but that boost in brain size and ability comes at a price. That's according to new evidence reported on January 3rd in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, in which researchers artificially selected guppies for large and small brain sizes.

The findings lend support to the notion that bigger brains and increased cognitive ability do go together, a topic that has been a matter of considerable debate in recent years, said Niclas Kolm of Uppsala University in Sweden. They also represent some of the first convincing evidence that large brains are expensive, evolutionarily speaking.

"We provide the first experimental evidence that evolving a larger brain really is costly in terms of both gut investment and, more importantly, reproductive output," Kolm said.

Together, the findings strongly support the idea that relative brain sizes among species are shaped through a balance between selection for increased cognitive ability and the costs of a big brain.

The results in guppies have important implications for us humans. After all, one of the most distinctive features of the human brain is its large size relative to the rest of the body.

"The human brain only makes up 2 percent of our total body mass but stands for 20 percent of our total energy demand," Kolm said. "It is a remarkably costly organ energetically."

But support for the so-called "expensive-tissue hypothesis"that there is a trade-off between the brain and the energy demands of other organs and reproductioncame only from comparative studies among species and were correlative in nature.

In the new study, Kolm's team took a different, within-species approach. They selected live-bearing guppies for large and small brains relative to the size of their bodies. Under that strong selection pressure, they found that brain size could evolve "remarkably quickly."

After selection, large-brained guppies outscored their smaller-brained peers in a test of numerical learning. With more energy devoted to brain-building, brainy fishmales especiallydid have smaller guts. They also left fewer offspring to the next generation.

Those effects were observed despite the fact that the fish were supplied with an abundance of food. The researchers say they are curious to see what will happen in future experiments with fish in a more competitive, semi-natural environment including limited resources and predators.

The findings lead Kolm and his colleagues to suggest that the relatively small family sizes of humans and other primates, not to mention dolphins and whales, might have helped to make our big brains possible.


Contact: Mary Beth O'Leary
Cell Press

Related biology news :

1. Musical duets lock brains as well as rhythms
2. Primates brains make visual maps using triangular grids
3. Preemies brains reap long-term benefits from Kangaroo Mother Care
4. Mice with big brains provide insight into brain regeneration and developmental disorders
5. University of Alberta led research may have discovered how memories are encoded in our brains
6. Hebrew University study finds key mechanism in calcium regulation
7. New study documents the natural relationship between CO2 concentrations and sea level
8. Stowers study hints that stem cells prepare for maturity much earlier than anticipated
9. Birdsong study pecks theory that music is uniquely human
10. Study turns parasite invasion theory on its head
11. Gout study offers genetic insight into disease of kings
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/12/2015)... Hoyos Labs , ... will introduce its new biometric four-finger (4F) ... providing an unprecedented level of security / ... new biometric standard for secure transactions (BOPS). ... financial services to healthcare are implementing Hoyos, ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... 8. Oktober 2015 Die Track ... Unternehmen des Bereiches Tracking, hat heute bekannt ... Gefängnisbehörde Virginias (Department of Corrections – DOC) ... für alle Strafen geliefert werden, die der ... Präsident für den Amerikanischen Kontinent der Track ...
(Date:10/6/2015)... MATEO, Calif. , Oct. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... company, today announced enhancements to its software portfolio ... expression analysis kit for differential expression in eukaryotes. ... Platform, which is a cloud-based genomic analysis solution ... advance scientific discovery from next-generation sequencing efforts. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2015)... cell surface marker detection market ... to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. This ... of oncology diseases and other cell-associated disorders. --> ... USD 6.49 billion by 2022, according to a new report ... be attributed to rise in incidence of oncology diseases and ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) ... and commercializing novel treatments in oncology, endocrinology and women,s ... , the Company,s former Senior Vice President, Chief Financial ... Quebec City office.  David ... of the Company commented, "After a comprehensive review, the ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... -- LabStyle Innovations Corp. (OTCQB: DRIO), ... its Medical Director, Dr. Moshe Kamar , will ... EAI International Conference on Wireless Mobile Communication and Healthcare ... and wireless technologies," the conference will take place in ... - 16, 2015. The conference is endorsed and organized ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... , Oct. 12, 2015 VolitionRx Limited ... completed clinical study of its NuQ ® blood-based test ... online issue of Clinical Epigenetics , the official journal ... in collaboration with Lund University, ... , MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Vice-Dean, Faculty of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: