science

‘Ooh, I love U in me.’ –Prince

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The current research investigates how people make sexual decisions when romantic partners’ sexual desires conflict, situations we refer to as sexual interdependence dilemmas.

Across an experimental study, a retrospective recall study, and a 21-day daily experience study, we found that people who were motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs—those high in sexual communal strength—were more willing to engage in sex with their romantic partner, even when their own desire was low, and as a result, both partners reported enhanced relationship and sexual satisfaction.

The benefits of sexual communal strength were due to communally oriented people’s increased desire to promote their partner’s interests and decreased desire to pursue their own interests.

This is the first set of studies to investigate how people make decisions in sexual interdependence dilemmas and show that communally motivated individuals navigate these situations in a way that is beneficial for relationships.

{ Society for Personality and Social Psychology/SAGE }

related { Science says lasting relationships come down to 2 basic traits: kindness and generosity }

‘One foot in sea, and one on shore, to one thing constant never.’ –Shakespeare

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Back in 2009, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara performed a curious experiment. In many ways, it was routine — they placed a subject in the brain scanner, displayed some images, and monitored how the subject’s brain responded. The measured brain activity showed up on the scans as red hot spots, like many other neuroimaging studies.

Except that this time, the subject was an Atlantic salmon, and it was dead.

Dead fish do not normally exhibit any kind of brain activity, of course. The study was a tongue-in-cheek reminder of the problems with brain scanning studies. Those colorful images of the human brain found in virtually all news media may have captivated the imagination of the public, but they have also been subject of controversy among scientists over the past decade or so. In fact, neuro-imagers are now debating how reliable brain scanning studies actually are, and are still mostly in the dark about exactly what it means when they see some part of the brain “light up.”

{ Neurophilosophy | Continue reading }

I’m gonna die. #rip Cause of death: “OUT OF XANAX”

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People prescribe optimism when they believe it has the opportunity to improve the chance of success—unfortunately, people may be overly optimistic about just how much optimism can do.

{ APA/PsycNET | Continue reading }

art { Caravaggio, Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, 1609-1610 }

‘Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification — the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.’ —Karl Popper

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Recalling one memory actually leads to the forgetting of other competing memories, a new study confirms.

It is one of the single most surprising facts about memory, now isolated by neuroscience research.

Although many scientists believed the brain must work this way, this is the first time it has been demonstrated.

{ PsyBlog | Continue reading | Nature }

‘Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an impostor.’ —Cioran

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DNA can’t explain all inherited biological traits, research shows

Characteristics passed between generations are not decided solely by DNA, but can be brought about by other material in cells, new research shows. Scientists studied proteins found in cells, known as histones, which are not part of the genetic code, but act as spools around which DNA is wound. Histones are known to control whether or not genes are switched on.

{ Science Daily | Continue reading }

related { New Discovery Moves Gene Editing Closer to Use in Humans }

cgi { Rizon Parein }

‘Sooner or later, each desire must encounter its lassitude: its truth…’ –Cioran

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Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood.

Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth).

We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge.

In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted.

Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”).

Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation.

{ PNAS | Continue reading }

Will the sun ever shine in the blind man’s eyes when he cries?

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Japan’s House Foods Group Inc. said it has developed onions that release extremely low amount of tear-inducing compounds. […]

[T]he resulting onions have the added benefit of not leaving a strong smell on the cook’s hands or the breath of those who eat them.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

related { 1,000-year-old onion and garlic eye remedy kills MRSA }

art { Max Bill, untitled, 1967 }

*sighs heavily, walks over to big DAYS SINCE MAX GOT TOO DRUNK AT AN OFFICE PARTY AND EMBARRASSED HIMSELF sign, flips number back to 0* —Max Read

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15 years ago, the neurosciences defined the main function of brains in terms of processing input to compute output: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” wrote Mike Mauk in 2000.

Since then, a lot of things have been discovered that make this stimulus-response concept untenable and potentially based largely on laboratory artifacts.

For instance, it was discovered that the likely ancestral state of behavioral organization is one of probing the environment with ongoing, variable actions first and evaluating sensory feedback later (i.e., the inverse of stimulus response). […]

In humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies over the last decade and a half revealed that the human brain is far from passively waiting for stimuli, but rather constantly produces ongoing, variable activity, and just shifts this activity over to other networks when we move from rest to task or switch between tasks.

{ Björn Brembs | Continue reading }

The whool of the whaal in the wheel of the whorl

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A group of leading biologists called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited.

The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, [which holds the power to repair or enhance any human gene, and] could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Genome-editing technologies may offer a powerful approach to treat many human diseases, including HIV/AIDS, haemophilia, sickle-cell anaemia and several forms of cancer. All techniques currently in various stages of clinical development focus on modifying the genetic material of somatic cells, such as T cells (a type of white blood cell). These are not designed to affect sperm or eggs. […]

The newest addition to the genome-editing arsenal is CRISPR/Cas9, a bacteria-derived system that uses RNA molecules that recognize specific human DNA sequences. The RNAs act as guides, matching the nuclease to corresponding locations in the human genome.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

photo { Darren Holmes }

related { Genetic Origins of Economic Development }

And now we’re flyin’ through the stars, I hope this night will last forever

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{ American scientist James Stuckey and volunteer Judy Creeden demonstrate the human body’s ability to function as a conductor of electricity during a lecture in New York sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission, 1966 | photo by F. Roy Kemp }

What one refuses in a minute, no eternity will return

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8,000 Years Ago, 17 Women Reproduced for Every One Man

[A] member of the research team, a biological anthropologist, hypothesizes that somehow, only a few men accumulated lots of wealth and power, leaving nothing for others. These men could then pass their wealth on to their sons, perpetuating this pattern of elitist reproductive success. Then, as more thousands of years passed, the numbers of men reproducing, compared to women, rose again. “Maybe more and more people started being successful,” Wilson Sayres says. In more recent history, as a global average, about four or five women reproduced for every one man.

{ Pacific Standard | Continue reading }

The boots to them, them in the bar

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Our eyes are drawn to several dimensions of an object–such as color, texture, and luminance–even when we need to focus on only one of them, researchers at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania have found. The study, which appears in the journal Current Biology, points to the ability of our visual system to integrate multiple components of an item while underscoring the difficulty we have in focusing on a particular aspect of it.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

photo { George Pitts }