You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

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

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

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Jessica Alba's Honest Co. recalls organic baby powder over infection risk
Jessica Alba's Honest Co. recalls organic baby powder over infection risk

"We've decided to voluntarily recall this product out of an abundance of caution," Gavigan said last week in a YouTube video.
Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, WWE Hall of Famer, dead at 73
Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, WWE Hall of Famer, dead at 73

WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka has died at age 73, his family said Sunday. a href="https://www.
Simplicity is attractive, but not always realistic

S. A. Joyce is one of our regular community contributors. I enjoy reader responses. Praise is gratifying, but criticism is often more valuable, as a doorway to discussion and insight. Case in point, David R. Lecklider’s Dec. 10 letter: “There are ultimately two ways to value goods and services, either the price system or the dictates of...
Selling off wax presidents

We’ve been talking a lot about history lately, and this piece in the Times caught my eye last week — a story about how a presidential wax museum in Gettysburg, Pa., is shutting down after 60 years and selling off all its figures. I’ve been to Gettysburg often, and I remember a childhood stop at the Hall of Presidents and First Ladies...
Learning aggression?

From Pacific Standard: “Superheroes dominate American pop culture at the moment, which would seem to be a good thing. Superman, Wonder Woman, and most of their peers fight injustice and help those in need. One would think their young fans would learn to emulate their admirable behaviors. Unfortunately, one would be wrong. That’s the conclusion...
More Stories