And we're back with a little more science nerdery for you, this just in time for the latest Planet of the Apes reboot, which conveniently -- perhaps presciently -- utilizes Alzheimer's research gone wrong* as a major plot:
The human brain normally can shrink up to 15% as it ages, a change linked to dementia, poor memory and depression. Until now, researchers had assumed this gradual brain loss in later years was universal among primates.
But in the first direct comparison of humans to chimpanzees, a brain-scanning team led by George Washington University anthropologist Chet Sherwood found that chimpanzees don't experience such brain loss. From that, researchers concluded that only people are afflicted by this oddity of longevity.
Well, there it is: no wonder you can't teach an old human new tricks. Among primates, we're unique like that. But watch out for those chimps -- no ravages of longevity for these guys. Their noggins keep whirring at full speed their whole lives.
And as if that's not enough, they can kick our tails when it comes to visual memories, too:
But while our closest relatives in the animal kingdom don't suffer from the same kind of mental decline we do, our best friends do. Like humans, a dog's brains loses mass with age (in addition to the 30% shrinkage already experienced due to domestication) -- and he can even suffer from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, sometimes called Doggie Alzheimer's. And as the average lifespan of our feline overlords increases, we're seeing more and more cases of senility in cats, as well.
No wonder we prefer the company of cats and dogs. We see ourselves in them, and that human-animal bond is further sealed through a recognition of our shared frailties. Plus, Pairs is a lot less intimidating with your cat than with a chimp...
* or perhaps so very right, if you are an uplift supporter.