The brain may be hard-wired to detect snakes


You can quit blaming movies like this for your fear of snakes.

Instead, blame your earliest primate ancestors. (Via New Line Cinema / "Snakes on a Plane"

A group of scientists at the University of California-Davis wanted to test why people find the legless lizards so creepy, even if they’ve never seen one in person. Detecting snakes, they thought, was a trait hard wired by evolution. (Via BBC

To test their theory, they implanted microelectrodes in the brains of two monkeys raised on a farm. The monkeys were shown images of snakes, others monkeys  and various shapes. (Via YouTube / SMCBuki

Since these monkeys had never seen snakes before, any potential response to a snake would not have been the result of memory or learning.

As the researchers predicted, neurons in the part of the brain that controls vision responded faster and stronger to images of the snakes. (Via YouTube / Nature North

Read more trending stories

As one of the study’s authors explained: “This part of the visual system appears to be the sort of quicker, automatic visual system that allows us to respond without even being consciously aware of the object that we are responding to.” (Via NPR

The researchers say this supports the theory that primates, including humans, evolved their vision skills over time to detect and react to threats like snakes. (Via National Geographic

Which makes sense — scientists believe the first modern predators of primates — 100 or so million years ago — looked exactly like snakes. (Via YouTube / Animal Wire

The authors say they want to expand their study to test other parts of the brain, as well as the responses to other types of predators. 

- See more at newsy.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Solar eclipse 2017: You can be a 'citizen scientist' during the Great American Eclipse
Solar eclipse 2017: You can be a 'citizen scientist' during the Great American Eclipse

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross North America on Monday. The eclipse is expected to cross from Oregon, entering the U.S. at 10:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and leaving U.S. shores from South Carolina at 2:50 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, over the course of an hour and a half. Becoming a citizen scientist through...
Solar eclipse 2017: What's on your Great American Eclipse playlist?
Solar eclipse 2017: What's on your Great American Eclipse playlist?

On Monday, millions of people will watch the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in nearly a century. So we thought it might be fun to make an eclipse-related playlist of songs that use the words moon, eclipse or sun in the title.  Or, perhaps, in the spirit of this “once-in-a-lifetime" event, how about songs that...
Solar eclipse 2017: Is it safe to take a selfie with the eclipse? How to do it the right way
Solar eclipse 2017: Is it safe to take a selfie with the eclipse? How to do it the right way

The Great American Eclipse on Monday is expected to draw millions of Americans to cities along the centerline path of totality, where the moon completely blocks the sun, the earth goes dark and the sun’s corona shimmers in the blackened sky. And with all the hype surrounding the total eclipse, you’re probably wondering if you...
Commentary: Supporting students who want to stay here

This is the season when students are returning to university campuses across Ohio, including the University of Dayton and the Miami Valley region, to learn from their academic communities, and to advance communities far beyond them with their passion and innovation. As a former university administrator and now as a professor, I respectfully ask for...
Rare Aston Martin sports car sells for record-setting $22.5 million
Rare Aston Martin sports car sells for record-setting $22.5 million

A rare Aston Martin sports car sold for a record-setting $22.5 million at auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance during Monterey Car Week. The 1956 Aston Martin DBR1/1 was created to compete in the World Sportscar Championship and Le Mans race series. Only five of the vehicles were crafted, this is the first chassis. It competed...
More Stories