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【听力文摘】如何构建更强的大脑?

2014-02-25    来源:普特英语听力    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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Building Bigger Brains
We humans pride ourselves on having large, supple brains. But while our brains are larger than those of most other animals, it appears that over time our presence can result in smaller-brained animals having cerebral growth spurts.

Growth Both Urban And Rural
Scientists have found that certain small mammals — including some species of shrew, vole, bat, gopher, mouse and squirrel — have larger brains when they live near or around people in both urban and rural areas.

For example, one study found that the brains of urban-dwelling white-footed mice and meadow voles are about six percent larger than their rural cousins.

Meanwhile, as habitats have become developed, rural dwelling shrews and bats have also evolved larger brains over the past century.


Human Selection Pressure
Scientists speculate that the larger brains of some city living animals are due to those critters having to adapt to and survive in places populated by lots of people. After all, it stands to reason that raising baby mice and voles in busy urban and suburban places requires as much brain power as possible.

As for the rural animals whose brains have grown, it could be that human development in rural areas has forced animals such as bats and shrews to forage farther afield, and that patrolling larger hunting grounds requires more brain power.

An important underlying point of this research is that even an organ as complex as the brain is capable of significant evolution over relatively short periods of time.

我们人类为拥有大的,灵活的大脑而自豪。然而,尽管我们的大脑比大多数动物大,但是,经过一段时间,我们的存在似乎会让大脑较小动物的大脑突然生长。

大脑生长无城乡差别

科学家们发现某些小型哺乳动物──包括某些种类的鼩鼱、田鼠、蝙蝠、囊鼠、老鼠、松鼠──不论是生活在城市还是农村,当它们比邻人类而居时,大脑会变大。

例如,一项研究发现居住在城市的白足鼠和草甸田鼠,他们的大脑比它们的乡下亲属大出6%。

同时,随着栖息地的扩展,在过去的一个世纪里,居住在农村的鼩鼱和蝙蝠的大脑也变大了。

来自人类选择的压力

科学家们猜测, 一些生活在城市的动物大脑变大,是因为他们不得不在人气旺的地方适应并生存下来。毕竟,可以理解老鼠和田鼠要在繁华的城市和郊区生儿育女是挺费脑子的。

至于生活在农村的动物大脑变大,这可能是因为人类在农村的发展已经迫使像蝙蝠和鼩鼱这样的动物到更远的野外觅食。在更大的狩猎区巡查,更费脑力。

这项研究的潜在关键是,即使像大脑这样复杂的器官,也能在相对短的时间里发生重大进化。

【本译文由普特网友 veroniquelj 提供】



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