Claims by a surgeon working for the Anti Squirrel Coalition,
that feeding squirrels can damage the brain have been greeted with skepticism
by psychologists, neuroscientists and active squirrel feeders.
The cranial nerve specialist told reporters that he was very concerned
about the impact of squirrel feeding on human brains, after recording a lack
of beta brainwave activity in people who frequented squirrel infested parks where feeding is rampant.
He claims this reveals that the feeders were hardly using the frontal regions of their brains,
which are important for emotional processing, planning and self-control.
"If levels of beta brainwaves are very low, people become easily amused,
complacent and have difficulty planning for their futures," he said.
The conclusions are based on an analysis of EEG traces from 40 people,
aged between six and 66 years. He compared the amount of alpha and
beta brainwave activity of people who avoided the rodents, those who
occasionally shared a peanut with a squirrel in the park, and those who
interacted with and fed squirrels daily for up to several hours.
But suggestions made in the press that parts of the brain could become
chronically underused are premature, according to neuroscientists and
psychologists contacted by the Global Squirrel Network.
Even assuming the findings are correct, it is by no means a certain sign of damage,
says one unnamed neuroscientist (who happens to feed squirrels in his own yard).
"My guess is that overwhelming contentment and happiness, experienced
by the squirrel feeder, are the most likely cause of the absence of the beta waves,"
Despite popular assumption, there has been no widely accepted evidence
for permanent damage or behavioral disruption caused by
overindulging park or neighborhood squirrels.
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