Male hamsters pack on the pounds while females stockpile food for winter [Life Lines]

Hamster.jpg

Image of common hamster by katanski – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10550799

 
 

During hibernation common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) alternate their time between bouts of torpor during which their metabolic rate drops and body temperature is low and arousal during which body temperature is normal. Hibernation allows animals to conserve energy although it is not without costs as it often results in memory deficits, cell damage and reduced immune function. Thus some studies have suggested that animals with sufficient food stores will not undergo hibernation or will undergo shorter periods of hibernation. Recent studies have shown that male and female hamsters prepare for hibernation differently. Whereas males eat the majority of food they find to increase body fat, females store the majority of food they find.

 

Researchers at the University of Vienna (Austria) wanted to know if there were other sex or age dependent variations in patterns of hibernation. Their results were recently published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology. What they found was that adult female hamsters spent more time foraging and thus entered hibernation later than males. Juveniles also entered the hibernacula later than males and, like females, relied on external food stores. Presumably this extra time allows females to wean offspring and juveniles to grow more before preparing for hibernation. Although they emerged from hibernation later than males, adult female hamsters spent less overall time hibernating with shorter and less frequent bouts of torpor than males.

 
 

Source:

 
 

Siutz C, Fransechnini C, Millesi E. Sex and age differences in hibernation patterns of common hamsters: adult females hibernate for shorter periods than males. Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 186(6): 801-811, 2016.

 
 

Spike activity 10-06-2016

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news:

 

 

The New York Times has a fascinating piece on the online community of people who believe they are being ‘gang stalked’.

 

Completely destroy the immune system with chemotherapy and rebuild it with stem cells. A radical experimental treatment that seemed to halt multiple sclerosis with 1 death in 23 out of 24 patients people. One died. Reported by BBC News.

 

Aeon has a piece on the social function of human sacrifice.

 

Using image processing to improve reconstruction of movies from brain activity. Remarkable but trippy extraction of video from brain activity from Jack Gallant’s lab. Deep dream esque.

 

The Washington Post has an interesting piece on the history of seeing racism as a mental illness and its problems.

 

A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved. The Atlantic has a good piece on Attention Schema Theory.

 

Mosaic has an excellent balanced piece on the effect of screens, smartphones and devices on young people.

 

There’s a good obituary for recently deceased legendary psychologist Jerome Bruner in The Washington Post.

 

Time reports that most violent crimes are wrongly linked to mental illness.

 

The widely-reported link between older fathers, spontaneous DNA mutations in sperm, and chance of offspring with autism may be due to a confound: men who carry risk factors tend to have children late in life. Good reporting from Spectrum.