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Rivalry helps fruit flies maintain brainpower

Males dim mentally after generations without competitors

CROSSWORDS FOR FLIES  The challenges of courting and mating may have an unexpected benefit for male fruit flies: a bracing mental workout that over time helps maintain Drosophila brainpower. 

The demands of outmaneuvering other guys when courting may help male fruit flies stay mentally sharp.

After more than 100 generations in the lab without male competition, male fruit flies didn’t do so well in a standard test of learning, reports evolutionary biologist Brian Hollis of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

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