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Hamster's Shows How Our Brains May Recognize Other Individuals

A team of Cornell University research psychologists have discovered, different areas of the brain react differently when recognizing// others, depending on the emotions attached to the memory, has found. The team, led by professor of psychology Robert Johnston, has been conducting experiments to study individual recognition. The researchers started by first creating social encounters between golden hamsters, after which they examined the animals' brains for evidence of those encounters.

Last year Johnston's team conducted the first experiment to demonstrate the neural basis of individual recognition in hamsters and identify which areas of the brain play a role. Better understanding these mechanisms, Johnston said, may be of central importance in treating certain forms of autism, Asperger syndrome, psychopathy and social anxiety disorders.

Johnston's team uses hamsters to study recognition because their brains are strikingly similar to ours. "They are more sophisticated than you might think," he noted.

Although hamsters recognize individuals by smell, whereas humans use largely sight and sound, Johnston said that the underlying mechanism is the same.

Source: Cornell News Service

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