Most people find cats to be cute and fluffy, but when we’re not looking, they’re behaving like downright terrorists around town. Many studies have determined that every year, cats are responsible for the deaths of billions of native animals.
A new study has shown just how much of an ecological catastrophe domestic cats represent and how they affect the destruction of the environment. That’s a true disaster when it comes to the ecology of the native fauna – so some scientists felt that more research was needed.
Our Fluffy Friends Are Out to Destroy
Studies so far show reliable data, but without knowing where the cats actually go, it was hard to tell what they were hunting or the impact of their actions. So, to tackle the problem, scientists conducted an experiment that involved placing trackers on some pet cats and following their actions.
Nine hundred and twenty-five felines in six different countries were tracked this way, yielding some very surprising results. Counter to scientists’ expectations, it turned out that the cats would barely even leave their home ranges. This also means that they were actually more deadly than anticipated.
Even the study’s first author, Roland Kays, was surprised to find out how much of an impact these creatures could have on the environment surrounding them.
Tracking the Habits of Domestic Cats
The researchers also founded the Cat Tracker project – recruiting volunteers willing to tag outdoor pet cats with special GPS loggers. Those would record that cats’ location and provide the needed data. Also, the owners filled out questionnaires regarding their cats’ hunting habits. Different felines from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States were primarily included in the research.
The gathered data was used by the researchers to calculate the home range of each cat. Its recorded locations were then combined with data on other predators and local habitats. The results showed a clear picture of their activities and the negative impact they have on the environment.
The Aphantasia Condition Was Linked to Weak Brain Connections
New research has revealed that people who have the ability to visualize vividly also have a stronger connection between the areas of the brain busy with decision making and the visual network. The study has shed light on the differences in personality and memory between people who have strong visual images and those who experience great difficulty drawing images in their heads.
The New Brain Research Shows Why 3% of the Population Cannot Visualize Images
The new research on cerebral cortex communication was led by the University of Exeter and sheds light on why some 3% of the estimated population has low or no ability to visualize images. The phenomenon was aptly named Aphantasia back in 2015 by professor Adam Zeman. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek word Phantasia, meaning imagination, and the prefix a-, meaning without.
The Brain Research Was Funded by the Council for the Research of Arts and Humanities
This first systematic brain study was funded by the Council for the Research of Arts and Humanities and aimed at neuropsychological and brain imaging of people under hypnosis who have aphantasia. The team studies the vividness of the image in the mid-range of twenty people. They combined image data and detailed cognitive functions and scanned people with hyperfantasia and aphantasia.
The study showed that people with hyperfantasia have a strong connection between the visual network and the prefrontal cortex. These strong connections were evident in the scans. Still, the control group of people with aphantasia showed different results and were able to come up with fewer imaginary scenarios. Despite that, both groups had comparable scores on standard memory tests.
According to professor Zeman, the research showed for the first time that a weak connection between the visual network of the brain and the frontal lobe related to decision-making and attention is what leads to aphantasia. He shared that he considered this a drawback because it takes away another way to experience the world. Still, people with aphantasia have shown to be capable of great success in life.