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Switch to Forum Live View Humans Are Wired to Respond to Animals
3 years ago  ::  Sep 11, 2011 - 11:59PM #1
solfeggio
Posts: 9,237
An interesting bit of research from Caltech and UCLA has shown that we're all hardwired to respond in one way or another to nonhuman animals:

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/11...

www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurre...

The lead author on the paper observed that 'neurons in the human amygdala respond preferentially to pictures of animals,' which just means that the cells were more active when the test subjects looked at pictures of animals as opposed to pictures of buildings or even people.

So what, exactly, is the amygdala?  It's an almond-shaped mass of grey matter in the anterior extremity of the temporal lobe.  It's part of the limbic system and has a primary role in processing emotions as well as in fear modulation and memory.

Why should images of animals have an effect on the amygdala?  Well, at one time humans were the prey of animals, and it is possible that, in order to speed reaction time when danger threatened in the form of a carnivore, human brains developed a system to speed up reaction time.

www.livescience.com/4183-fear-snakes-dro...

          
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 12:31AM #2
Erey
Posts: 18,732

I think dogs are wired to respond to humans, and maybe cats too.


 


evidentaly they discovered the part of the brain that is to respond to God also.

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 1:26AM #3
jane2
Posts: 14,295

Sep 12, 2011 -- 12:31AM, Erey wrote:


I think dogs are wired to respond to humans, and maybe cats too.


 


evidentaly they discovered the part of the brain that is to respond to God also.




I love dogs and do think they think humans are part of the pack. They love us and we love them. Within my lifetime we have learned much about our dogs but such understanding is in its infancy. Peter Kreeft, a conservative professor of philiosphy at Boston College, maintains we may well encounter our beloved pets on the other side.




discuss catholicism
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 9:09AM #4
TemplarS
Posts: 6,818

The interesting thing to me is that we respond so positively to many animals.  We do not just view them as either a predator or a food source.  We seem to be able to empathize with them.


People will risk their lives to rescue animals they have never seen before. 


I think there is a converse to Jane's observation that dogs think of us as part of their pack; seems like we also think of animals as part of our extended pack or tribe. 


This is fascinating stuff.

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 10:07AM #5
CharikIeia
Posts: 8,301

Sep 12, 2011 -- 9:09AM, TemplarS wrote:


The interesting thing to me is that we respond so positively to many animals.  We do not just view them as either a predator or a food source.  We seem to be able to empathize with them.


People will risk their lives to rescue animals they have never seen before. 


I think there is a converse to Jane's observation that dogs think of us as part of their pack; seems like we also think of animals as part of our extended pack or tribe. 


This is fascinating stuff.



Yes, but we need to be aware of the danger of "anthropomorphising" animals.


What we think is good for an animal, through (potentially mistaken) empathy, need not be good for the animal at all. I guess we all know of examples where mistaken empathy led to a suffering animal.


Thinking about it, I think this is very similar to religious  people anthropomorphising the notion of "god". When we think we know something, it can certainly be projection! Of course, the case of a purely human construct like "god" lies slightly different, but there also are plenty of similarities.

tl;dr
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 11:37AM #6
TemplarS
Posts: 6,818

Sure, Char-


but we must rely on rational thought to overrule emotion-


which is often easier said than done.

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 11:46AM #7
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Sep 12, 2011 -- 10:07AM, CharikIeia wrote:


Yes, but we need to be aware of the danger of "anthropomorphising" animals.


What we think is good for an animal, through (potentially mistaken) empathy, need not be good for the animal at all. I guess we all know of examples where mistaken empathy led to a suffering animal.




Which is why I no longer can bear to go to zoos where animals are caged and penned.


Yes, I know that some of these animals are extinct in the wild. However, I can't imagine how any creature is very content in an artificial environment devised for it by another species.


Guess I'm guilty of anthropomorphizing, since I'm certainly thinking in terms of how *I* would feel were I a zoo animal. Then again, maybe I'd relish having someone provide me with food regularly while I lounge about in controlled comfort. Doesn't seem right, though.

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 12:04PM #8
TemplarS
Posts: 6,818

Sep 12, 2011 -- 11:46AM, DotNotInOz wrote:


Which is why I no longer can bear to go to zoos where animals are caged and penned.


Yes, I know that some of these animals are extinct in the wild. However, I can't imagine how any creature is very content in an artificial environment devised for it by another species.


Guess I'm guilty of anthropomorphizing, since I'm certainly thinking in terms of how *I* would feel were I a zoo animal. Then again, maybe I'd relish having someone provide me with food regularly while I lounge about in controlled comfort. Doesn't seem right, though.





It depends to a large extent on the zoo and the animal.


Animals require more than food and shelter, especially the more intelligent ones.  They require room to exercise, mental stimulation, perhaps interactions with other animals, and so on.  But animals vary widely here, and I am not sure zoologists understand all there is to know.


This is true of domestic animals as well. I have had several German Shepherds, and these are not, for example, dogs which will be happy in a home with a couple where both partners work long hours and the dog is left on its own.  They need activity and mental stimulation to thrive. 

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 3:44PM #9
Erey
Posts: 18,732

speaking of zoos did anyone read that novel Life of Pi where the main charecter speaks about the zoo he grew up in and how the animals got accustomed to confinement. 

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 6:43PM #10
solfeggio
Posts: 9,237

I'm with Dot in that I cannot bear to visit a zoo anymore.  Somewhere along the line, I began to think of zoos as nothing more than prisons in which the innocent were given a life sentence.  The whole idea was so upsetting that I couldn't even think of going to the zoo ever again.  Fortunately, our whole family is in agreement with this, so the zoo has been off-limits to us for years.


I know that zoos are the last place for some endangered species, and that many zoos strive very hard to provide as much space for the animals as they can, and they are to be commended for that, but, still....


I don't think it is ascribing human feelings to nonhumans if we try to put ourselves in their place and determine what would please them.  There are some qualities that we all share, after all, like wanting to be free from pain, to have enough to eat, to be able to raise our children in comparative safety, and to have a comfortable place to live. 


 

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