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Large brains, short life: selection on brain size impacts intrinsic lifespan
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3473-1402
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Number of Authors: 32019 (English)In: Biology Letters, ISSN 1744-9561, E-ISSN 1744-957X, Vol. 15, no 5, article id 20190137Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The relationship between brain size and ageing is a paradox. The cognitive benefits of large brains should protect from extrinsic mortality and thus indirectly select for slower ageing. However, the substantial energetic cost of neural tissue may also impact the energetic budget of large-brained organisms, causing less investment in somatic maintenance and thereby faster ageing. While the positive association between brain size and survival in the wild is well established, no studies exist on the direct effects of brain size on ageing. Here we test how brain size influences intrinsic ageing in guppy (Poecilia reticulata) brain size selection lines with 12% difference in relative brain size. Measuring survival under benign conditions, we find that large-brained animals live 22% shorter than small-brained animals and the effect is similar in both males and females. Our results suggest a trade-off between investment into brain size and somatic maintenance. This implies that the link between brain size and ageing is contingent on the mechanism of mortality, and selection for positive correlations between brain size and ageing should occur mainly under cognition-driven survival benefits from increased brain size. We show that accelerated ageing can be a cost of evolving a larger brain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 15, no 5, article id 20190137
Keywords [en]
brain size, ageing, lifespan
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170202DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0137ISI: 000470116400015PubMedID: 31088278OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-170202DiVA, id: diva2:1337665
Available from: 2019-07-16 Created: 2019-07-16 Last updated: 2019-07-16Bibliographically approved

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Kotrschal, AlexanderCorral-Lopez, AlbertoKolm, Niclas
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