Care2.com - Who can pass the window of a pet store without pausing to look at the puppies or parakeets? Researchers at Caltech have found that our brains have individual cells that fire specifically when we see an animal but not a person, place or object.
Christof Koch and other researchers discovered the cells while studying the brains of 41 neurosurgical patients who were about to have surgery for severe epilepsy, as reported in Nature Neuroscience.
Electrodes were placed deep in the patients’ brains to find the source of their seizures. Researchers took note about how various parts of the brain responded to seeing certain images. They found that only the amygdala had cells that responded when seeing images of animals.
Behavioral studies have found that people respond with more attention when seeing an animal or person than something stationary, like a building. After all, chairs, bridges and books just stay as they are, while animals can go from friendly to hostile and vice versa in a matter of moments.
Our brains have simply evolved to take notice of animals first: Perhaps this is why so many of us feel ourselves inexorably drawn to animals, from those pups in the window to pictures and even stories about animals.
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Written by Kristen C. at Care2.com
Photo by _tar0_ at Flickr