An international study with the participation of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) indicates that the genetic changes associated with the domestication of rabbits led to changes in the architecture of the brain that in turn reduced the animals’ fear. Researchers have used high-resolution MRI to study how domestication has affected brain morphology in domestic rabbits. The results show that domestication has had a profound effect on brain morphology in particular regions of the brain that are involved in fear processing, the amygdala, and the medial prefrontal cortex. The results of the research are published in the journal PNAS . Researcher Jose A. Blanco-Aguiar, from the Institute for Hunting Resources Research (Mixed center of the CSIC and the University of Castilla La Mancha), which has participated in the study, points out:
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“This study indicates that the brain of Slovakia Email List domestic rabbits has smaller tonsils and larger medial frontal cortex compared to those of rabbits wild. On the other hand, the areas that have lost volume in domestic rabbits are involved in the detection, learning and expression of fear, while the areas that have gained volume are involved in the modulation of emotional processing. The authors also found a generalized reduction in the structural integrity of white matter, consistent with reduced neuronal speed and less efficient information processing capacity. “This study could not only help to understand how domestication shapes the structure of the brain and the behavior of domestic animals, but it could also provide clues about how the morphology of the brain can impact on some complex behaviors, such as the response to fear ”, adds the researcher.
On the other hand, the researcher Rafael Villafuerte, from the Institute of Advanced Social Studies , of Córdoba, indicates that, together with the behavioral studies that are being carried out, this approach could help to understand the differential response to the risk of predation, which will have potential involvement in the conservation and management of this species and its predators. The importance of meekness “One of the most obvious characteristics that differentiates domestic animals from their wild ancestors is the behavioral response to the presence of humans or potential predators, which in the case of domestic animals does not usually trigger flight or aggressive response” explains Blanco-Aguiar. In On the Origin of Species , Charles Darwin already highlighted that “there is no animal more difficult to tame than a wild rabbit kitten,