It's tempting to believe that people these days aren't getting enough sleep, living as we do in our well-lit houses with TVs blaring, cell phones buzzing, and a well-used coffee maker in every kitchen. But new evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 15 shows that three ancient groups of hunter-gatherers--living in different parts of the world without any of those trappings of modern life--don't get any more sleep than we do.... Read more »
Yetish et al. (2015) Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-industrial Societies. Current Biology. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.046
The big news today was that a man in California set fire to an aisle of Halloween costumes in a Walmart. Honestly, this shouldn’t be the biggest news story of […]... Read more »
de Becdelievre, C., Thiol, S., Santos, F., & Rottier, S. (2015) From fire-induced alterations on human bones to the original circumstances of the fire: An integrated approach of human cremains drawn from a Neolithic collective burial. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 210-225. DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.08.030
Why some people live much longer than others is an enduring mystery. Now, based on a study of a worm, scientists are getting one step closer to understanding longevity. They report that the metabolic profiles of the worms could accurately predict how long they would live and that middle age could be a key turning point.... Read more »
Sarah K. Davies, Jacob G. Bundy, & Armand M. Leroi. (2015) Metabolic Youth in Middle Age: Predicting Aging in Caenorhabditis elegans Using Metabolomics. Journal of proteome research. info:/10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00442
"It's empathy that makes us help other people. It's empathy that makes us moral." The economist Paul Zak casually makes this comment in his widely watched TED talk about the hormone oxytocin, which he dubs the "moral molecule". Zak quotes a number of behavioral studies to support his claim that oxytocin increases empathy and trust, which in turn increases moral behavior. If all humans regularly inhaled a few puffs of oxytocin through a nasal spray, we could become more compassionate and caring. It sounds too good to be true. And recent research now suggests that this overly simplistic view of oxytocin, empathy and morality is indeed too good to be true.... Read more »
De Dreu, C., Greer, L., Van Kleef, G., Shalvi, S., & Handgraaf, M. (2011) Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(4), 1262-1266. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015316108
Xu X, Zuo X, Wang X, & Han S. (2009) Do you feel my pain? Racial group membership modulates empathic neural responses. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(26), 8525-9. PMID: 19571143
In 2009, Google made available Google Books (also known as the Ngram corpus), a database that now includes over 8 million books from libraries around the world. The books comprise a collection of words (over 500 billion English words) and phrases and this dataset is freely available for research use. The Books corpus allows researchers to examine changes in the frequency of word use in books over time, dating back to 1800.
This has led a lot of striking findings. So for instance, it has b... Read more »
Pechenick EA, Danforth CM, & Dodds PS. (2015) Characterizing the Google Books Corpus: Strong Limits to Inferences of Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Evolution. PloS one, 10(10). PMID: 26445406
Parents who are more anxious and emotional can impact the amount of violent video games their children play, according to new consumer research from Iowa State University. Russell Laczniak, a professor of marketing and the John and Connie Stafford Professor in Business, says given the harmful effects of violent video games, he and his colleagues wanted to better understand how parents influence children’s behavior.... Read more »
Walker, D., Laczniak, R., Carlson, L., & Brocato, E. (2015) Parenting Orientations as Antecedents of Children's Violent Videogame Play. Journal of Consumer Affairs. DOI: 10.1111/joca.12096
Some of the most striking images from the refugees who have been trekking across Europe are of families and children. Beyond the immediate perils of their journeys, migration inevitably changes families. As children are usually much quicker to learn new … Continue reading →... Read more »
Bauer, E. (2013) Reconstructing Moral Identities in Memories of Childhood Language Brokering Experiences. International Migration, 51(5), 205-218. DOI: 10.1111/imig.12030
A new study finds that rising placebo responses may play a part in the increasingly high failure rate for clinical trials of drugs designed to control chronic pain caused by nerve damage. Surprisingly, however, the analysis of clinical trials conducted since 1990 found that the increase in placebo responses occurred only in trials conducted wholly in the U.S.; trials conducted in Europe or Asia showed no changes in placebo responses over that period.... Read more »
Tuttle, A., Tohyama, S., Ramsay, T., Kimmelman, J., Schweinhardt, P., Bennett, G., & Mogil, J. (2015) Increasing placebo responses over time in U.S. clinical trials of neuropathic pain. PAIN, 1. DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000333
That title is not a mistake. When I read the recent articles about the earliest example of a decapitation, my first thought was “wow, look at those illustrations; we really […]... Read more »
Strauss A, Oliveira RE, Bernardo DV, Salazar-García DC, Talamo S, Jaouen K, Hubbe M, Black S, Wilkinson C, Richards MP.... (2015) The Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil). PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26397983
Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »
Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247
I like making lists about living things. Colour is a great starting point for such lists, whether they're about body parts infected by microbes or the origins of science words. For this post, I'm going to look at how bones and teeth can take on a bunch of strange colours...... Read more »
Dooley A, & Moncrief N. (2012) Fluorescence provides evidence of congenital erythropoietic porphyria in 7000-year-old specimens of the eastern fox squirrel from the Devil's Den. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32(2), 495-497. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2012.639422
Ferrand J, Rossano S, Rollet P, Allard T, Cordier P, Catillon G, Auxiette G, Farges F, & Pont S. (2014) On the origin of the green colour of archaeological bone artefacts of the Gallo-Roman Period. Archaeometry, 56(6), 1024-1040. DOI: 10.1111/arcm.12042
The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control over thoughts and actions.... Read more »
In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking and perceptions of order, design, or intent.... Read more »
Dieguez, S., Wagner-Egger, P., & Gauvrit, N. (2015) Nothing Happens by Accident, or Does It? A Low Prior for Randomness Does Not Explain Belief in Conspiracy Theories. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615598740
An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.
... Read more »
Eerkens JW, Carlson T, Malhi RS, Blake J, Bartelink EJ, Barfod GH, Estes A, Garibay R, Glessner J, Greenwald AM.... (2015) Isotopic and genetic analyses of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare. American journal of physical anthropology. PMID: 26331533
A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.... Read more »
Ginsburg, G., Drake, K., Tein, J., Teetsel, R., & Riddle, M. (2015) Preventing Onset of Anxiety Disorders in Offspring of Anxious Parents: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Family-Based Intervention. American Journal of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.14091178
A remarkable paper just published in PLoS ONE reports on what is, I think, one of the largest psychological experiments of all time.
Researchers Elizabeth L. Paluck and colleagues partnered with a TV network to insert certain themes (or messages) into popular dramas shown on US TV. They then looked to see whether these themes had an effect on real world behavior, ranging from Google searches to drink-driving arrests.
The study was based on three prime time Spanish-language dramas (tele... Read more »
Paluck EL, Lagunes P, Green DP, Vavreck L, Peer L, & Gomila R. (2015) Does Product Placement Change Television Viewers' Social Behavior?. PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26398217
Classifying something as living isn’t as easy as it sounds, after all we are all atoms, so when do atoms go from nonliving to living? Despite the complexities of viruses, we have historically deemed them nonliving. However, a new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today.... Read more »
Arshan Nasir, & Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. (2015) A phylogenomic data-driven exploration of viral origins and evolution. Science Advances. info:/10.1126/sciadv.1500527
Social networking makes it easy to monitor the status and activities of a former romantic partner, an often unhealthy use of social media known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) or, more commonly, “Facebook stalking.” Psychological and relationship factors and how individuals cope with the termination of a romantic relationship can help predict their use of online surveillance, according to a new study.... Read more »
Fox, J., & Tokunaga, R. (2015) Romantic Partner Monitoring After Breakups: Attachment, Dependence, Distress, and Post-Dissolution Online Surveillance via Social Networking Sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(9), 491-498. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2015.0123
Leprosy is a fascinating disease- not just for its effects, but for the social implications of having the disease. Leprosy was an epidemic disease that not only infected millions of […]... Read more »
Blondiaux, J., Naji, S., Bocquet-Appel, J., Colard, T., de Broucker, A., & de Seréville-Niel, C. (2015) The leprosarium of Saint-Thomas d’Aizier: The cementochronological proof of the medieval decline of Hansen disease in Europe?. International Journal of Paleopathology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2015.02.005
by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move
The refugee crisis in Europe has caught a lot of global media attention. Countries at the entry points and their official actions, as well civil organizations, get a lot of attention in online media; furthermore, social media comments quite often … Continue reading →... Read more »
Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., KhosraviNik, M., Krzyzanowski, M., McEnery, T., & Wodak, R. (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse , 19(3), 273-306. DOI: 10.1177/0957926508088962
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