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Urban vs. Rural Minds: The Differences in Brain Behavior


The Economist reports that city dwellers are at a significantly increased risk of developing anxiety and mood disorders. Evidence from a new study by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, a German psychologist, might explain why.
Urbanites, it turns out, deal with stress differently than rural residents. Meyer-Lindenberg identified a difference in the activity of the amygdalas, with those living in cities having the highest activity in this area of the brain. The amygdala is responsible for memory storage and emotional events, and scientists believe it’s also related to dealing with fear. Meyer-Lindenberg also found that people raised in cities have an off-kilter perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC) amygdala link, a condition also present in schizophrenia.
But how about pigeons? Turns out urban pigeons, like urban humans, are also different: they’ve learned to exploit humans in order to maximize feeding time, but also how to discriminate against those that won’t do them any good.
The BBC reports on a French study which finds that pigeons can discriminate between a friendly human and a hostile one – even when the feeders changed appearances. The researchers said that the study is the “first experimental evidence in pigeons for this level of human discrimination.” Sounds like the urban pigeons might have learned some economics.