science

First she let her hair fal and down it flussed to her feet its teviots winding coils

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Eye movements of 105 heterosexual undergraduate students (36 males) were monitored while viewing photographs of men and women identified as a potential mate or a potential friend. Results showed that people looked at the head and chest more when assessing potential mates and looked at the legs and feet more when assessing potential friends.

{ Archives of Sexual Behavior | Continue reading }

photo { Michelle Pfeiffer photographed by Jim Britt, 1979 }

Nature does not work with an end in view

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Neurobiological research on memory has tended to focus on the cellular mechanisms involved in storing information, known as persistence, but much less attention has been paid to those involved in forgetting, also known as transience. It’s often been assumed that an inability to remember comes down to a failure of the mechanisms involved in storing or recalling information. 

“We find plenty of evidence from recent research that there are mechanisms that promote memory loss, and that these are distinct from those involved in storing information,” says co-author Paul Frankland.

One recent study in particular done by Frankland’s lab showed that the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus seems to promote forgetting. This was an interesting finding since this area of the brain generates more cells in young people. The research explored how forgetting in childhood may play a role in why adults typically do not have memories for events that occurred before the age of four years old. 

{ University of Toronto | Continue reading }

art { Masao Mochizuki, The Air Power of the World, 1976 }

‘A sound mind in a sound body.’ –Juvenal

Chang et al. investigated the well-known asymmetry of the scrotum in man and showed that in right-handed subjects the right testis tended to be higher, whereas the converse applied in left-handed subjects.

{ Nature | PDF }

But just then there was a slight altercation between Master Tommy and Master Jacky

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{ On the Inability to Ignore Useless Advice }

oil marker on acrylic on canvas on wood { François Morellet, Rococoncret n°4, 2012 }

‘Infinite—nothing.’ –Pascal

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The urge to be permanently blind is an extremely rare mental health disturbance. The underlying cause of this desire has not been determined yet. […] Only 5 people with an urge to be blind were found to participate in the study (4 female, 1 male). […]

The hypothesis that people with a desire for blindness suffer from a significantly higher visual overload in activities of daily living than visually healthy subjects was confirmed.

{ Case Reports in Ophthalmology | Continue reading }

art { Douglas Huebler, Variable Piece #44 / Global, 1971 | more }

if it moves fuck it

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In a mossy forest in the western Andes of Ecuador, a small, cocoa-brown bird with a red crown sings from a slim perch. […] Three rival birds call back in rapid response. […] They are singing with their wings, and their potential mates seem to find the sound very alluring. […]

This is an evolutionary innovation — a whole new way to sing. But the evolutionary mechanism behind this novelty is not adaptation by natural selection, in which only those who survive pass on their genes, allowing the species to become better adapted to its environment over time. Rather, it is sexual selection by mate choice, in which individuals pass on their genes only if they’re chosen as mates. From the peacock’s tail to the haunting melodies of the wood thrush, mate choice is responsible for much of the beauty in the natural world.

Most biologists believe that these mechanisms always work in concert — that sex appeal is the sign of an objectively better mate, one with better genes or in better condition. But the wing songs of the club-winged manakin provide new insights that contradict this conventional wisdom. Instead of ensuring that organisms are on an inexorable path to self-improvement, mate choice can drive a species into what I call maladaptive decadence — a decline in survival and fecundity of the entire species. It may even lead to extinction.

{ NYT | Continue reading }

art { Cy Twombly, Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus, 1962 }

Life offers second chances, it’s called tomorrow

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Simulation suggests 68 percent of the universe may not actually exist

According to the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (Lambda-CDM) model, which is the current accepted standard for how the universe began and evolved, the ordinary matter we encounter every day only makes up around five percent of the universe’s density, with dark matter comprising 27 percent, and the remaining 68 percent made up of dark energy, a so-far theoretical force driving the expansion of the universe. But a new study has questioned whether dark energy exists at all, citing computer simulations that found that by accounting for the changing structure of the cosmos, the gap in the theory, which dark energy was proposed to fill, vanishes.

{ New Atlas | Continue reading }

art { Portia Munson, Her Coffin, 2016 }

No one speaks English, and everything’s broken


As men are generally more short-term oriented in their sexuality than women, and given that cigarette and alcohol use are still considered masculine behaviors, we explored if female smoking and drinking can function as a short-term mating strategy. […]

The experiment showed that young men perceive women who use cigarettes and alcohol as being more sexually unrestricted. Furthermore, tobacco and (especially) alcohol use brought some short-term attractiveness benefits to women. In short-term mating contexts, drinking enhanced women’s attractiveness, whereas occasional smoking was found equally desirable as not smoking. However, in long-term mating contexts, frequent drinking and all smoking behavior harmed women’s desirability.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading }

art { Edvard Munch, Girls on the Bridge, 1902 }

Your air in my lungs

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People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest—intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat. We measured glucose levels in 107 married couples over 21 days. To measure aggressive impulses, participants stuck 0–51 pins into a voodoo doll that represented their spouse each night, depending how angry they were with their spouse. To measure aggression, participants blasted their spouse with loud noise through headphones. Participants who had lower glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo doll and blasted their spouse with louder and longer noise blasts.

{ PNAS | PDF }

art { Sergei Eisenstein. Untitled, c. 1931 }

‘When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.’ –Eric Hoffer

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The ability to choose should let people create more enjoyable experiences. However, in a set of 5 studies, people who chose repeatedly during ongoing consumption exhibited a greater drop in enjoyment compared with those who received a series of random selections from the same set of liked stimuli.

{ American Psychology Association | Continue reading }

related { This questionnaire was designed to test your ability to choose at random }

‘The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.’ –Dostoyevsky

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When you’re doing two things at once – like listening to the radio while driving – your brain organizes itself into two, functionally independent networks, almost as if you temporarily have two brains. That’s according to a fascinating new study from University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists Shuntaro Sasai and colleagues.

{ Neuroskeptic | Continue reading }

art { Harri Peccinotti }

yesterday never comes back

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Remembering the past is a complex phenomenon that is subject to error. The malleable nature of human memory has led some researchers to argue that our memory systems are not oriented towards flawlessly preserving our past experiences. Indeed, many researchers now agree that remembering is, to some degree, reconstructive. Current theories propose that our capacity to flexibly recombine remembered information from multiple sources – such as distributed memory records, inferences, and expectations – helps us to solve current problems and anticipate future events. One implication of having a reconstructive and flexible memory system is that people can develop rich and coherent autobiographical memories of entire events that never happened.

In this article, we revisit questions about the conditions under which participants in studies of false autobiographical memory come to believe in and remember fictitious childhood experiences. […]

Approximately one-third of participants showed evidence of a false memory, and more than half showed evidence of believing that the [fictitious] event occurred in the past.

{ Memory | Continue reading }

Photo photo { Brooke Nipar }