U. of M. scientists find that urban rodents have bigger brains- implications for humans?

The Wall Street Journal published “To Scrounge in the Big City: Bigger Brains, More Stress” on 2-3-16. This article reports on research by U. of Minnesota scientist Emilie Snell-Rood, published in 2013, which studied rodent skulls at the Bell Museum and found that the size of brains increased as the rodent’s environment became more urbanized. Another study reported in this article found, using human subjects, that urban subjects had a stronger stress response, as indicated by brain scans assessed activity of their amygdala, than rural subjects. The author wondered, “Naturally, these findings raise scads of new questions. What parts of the brain expand with urbanization? Are the urban critters actually better at anything than their rural cousins? And does any of this apply to humans?”

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