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> In their new study, Yankner and his colleagues report that the brains of long-lived humans have unusually low levels of proteins involved in excitation, at least in comparison with the brains of people who died much younger. This finding suggests that the exceptionally old people probably had less neural firing. To investigate this association in more detail, Yankner’s team turned to C. elegans. They compared neural activity in the splendidly long-lived daf-2 mutants with that of normal worms and saw that firing levels in the daf-2 animals were indeed very different.

> “They were almost silent. They had very low neural activity compared to normal worms,” Yankner said, noting that neural activity usually increases with age in worms. “This was very interesting, and sort of parallels the gene expression pattern we saw in the extremely old humans.”

Does the low neural activity correlate with a less active experience of the world? Are you experiencing your state with the mute button on? I'm no neurosurgeon, but if this is the trade-off, perhaps living longer by using this REST gene might result in a less rich, dynamic, and textured experience? Might it mean living a life like this is less 'fun'?




Depends on the nature of activity. Pure stress will activate your brain but experience is mostly degraded.


What if stressful existance pushes for shorter lifespan with the effect of quickening the turnover of generations.

So stressful environment would speed up the evolutionary iteration of generations. While less stressful existance that has adopted to the environment would persist longer.


This analogy happens in some animals for sure. At the zoo they place the antelope near the cheetahs so that they breed more.


And having everything firing at once is a seizure. But somewhere between that and normal is unclear.

It's also possible the association is in the other direction - people with neurons that fire less might be less stressed in general (almost by definition), and maybe the effect of stress on longevity takes place elsewhere entirely.


> Does the low neural activity correlate with a less active experience of the world?

From the fine article:

> "Neuronal overactivity may not feel like anything in particular from the viewpoint of the worm, mouse or human, unless it gets bad enough to provoke seizures. But perhaps over time it may damage neurons."

No.


> Neural activity refers to the constant flicker of electrical currents and transmissions in the brain. Excessive activity, or excitation, could manifest in numerous ways, from a muscle twitch to a change in mood or thought, the authors said.

> It’s not yet clear from the study whether or how a person’s thoughts, personality, or behavior affect his or her longevity.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/10/nervous-syste...




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