> “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'?
So stressful environment would speed up the evolutionary iteration of generations. While less stressful existance that has adopted to the environment would persist longer.
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.
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."
> It’s not yet clear from the study whether or how a person’s thoughts, personality, or behavior affect his or her longevity.