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Yes, correct context is indeed the key: an answer to Haave-Audet et al. 2019.

08:00 EDT 11th October 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Yes, correct context is indeed the key: an answer to Haave-Audet et al. 2019."

We published a study recently testing the link between brain size and behavioural plasticity using brain size selected guppy (Poecilia reticulata) lines (Herczeg et al. 2019. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 32(3):218-226). Only large brained fish showed habituation to a new, perceived as risky, but actually harmless environment by increasing movement activity over the 20 days observation period. We concluded that "Our results suggest that brain size likely explains some of the variation in behavioural plasticity found at the intraspecific level". In a commentary to be published in the same journal, Haave-Audet et al. challenged the main message of our study, stating that (i) relative brain size is not a suitable proxy for cognitive ability and (ii) habituation measured by us is likely not adaptive and costly. In our response, we first show that a decade's work have proven repeatedly that relative brain size is indeed positively linked to cognitive performance in our model system. Second, we discuss how switching from stressed to unstressed behaviour in stressful situations without real risk is likely to be adaptive. Finally, we point out that the main cost of behavioural plasticity in our case is the development and maintenance of the neural system needed for information processing and not the expression of plasticity. We hope that our discussion with Haave-Audet et al. helps clarifying some central issues in this emerging research field.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Journal of evolutionary biology
ISSN: 1420-9101
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