linkfest – 12/11/11

Acquired Traits Can Be Inherited Via Small RNAs – cool sh*t!

Yawn Contagion and Empathy in Homo sapiens“[S]ocial bonding predicted the occurrence, frequency, and latency of yawn contagion. As with other measures of empathy, the rate of contagion was greatest in response to kin, then friends, then acquaintances, and lastly strangers.”

Why Aren’t We Smarter Already? Evolutionary Limits On Cognition

Chimp markets reveal evolution of friendship[M]ale chimps do indeed swap meat in return for sex … and for support in aggressive encounters”

The Health Risks of Being Left-Handed“Lefties Face Chance Of ADHD, Other Disorders; Brain Wiring Holds Clues”

Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Association Between Anthropometric Measures and IQ: A Study of Minnesota Twins at Age 11 and 17“Head circumference and height showed the most consistent positive associations with IQ, whereas more detailed anthropometric measures were not significantly better predictors of IQ.”

Oldest Known Mattress Found; Slept Whole Family“Roomy mats also had insect-repelling ‘top sheet,’ archaeologists say.”

Great art? It’s all in the mind – being told a painting is fake changes how our brains respond to it

Rats Will Help Their Pals Get Free“Rats are wired to show compassion for each other and will help out their fellow rat rather than get a treat.” – of CHOCOLATE! i have to admit, i don’t know what i’d do in the same situation…. (~_^)

National Pride Brings Happiness — But What You’re Proud of Matters – researchers find “civic nationalists” happier than “ethnic nationalists.” what this means remains to be seen — haven’t seen the original paper.

Creativity Linked to Rule Bending“People who scored high on standard tests for creativity were also more likely to be willing to cheat for personal gain.”

bonus: Huge Japanese earthquake cracked open the seafloor“The March 2011 megaquake off the coast of Japan opened up fissures as wide as 6 feet (3 meters) in the seafloor….” – cool!

(note: comments do not require an email. hi there!)

11 Comments

  1. @ Yawn contagion – A true anecdote. In my youth I was riding on a ferry from Hong Kong to the mainland. It had a large, open deck and I happened to standing at the prow. I casually turned around to face row upon row of seated passengers. They were all staring at me, do doubt because I was a foreigner and a mighty raggedly dressed one at that. Anyway I yawned and the whole audience yawned back, a veritable sea of yawns.

    Reply

  2. cool collection

    “Creativity Linked to Rule Bending”

    – as well as the explanation they give i think creativity is related to aggression also i.e. i think creativity is a combination of brains and aggression.

    .
    “researchers find “civic nationalists” happier than “ethnic nationalists.”

    – not surprising if they’re testing ethnic nationalists in countries/regions where their ethnicity is being turned into a minority. you’d need to do the tests on people in a homogenous region.

    .
    Rats Will Help Their Pals Get Free

    “Researchers started by housing 30 rats together in pairs, each duo sharing the same cage for two weeks.”

    i suspect this may have been crucial (and weirdly enough related to why Pompey’s men ran away from Caesar’s)

    “and appeared more agitated while the entrapment was going on.”

    distress at distress imo

    “In those cases, all six female rats became door openers and 17 out of 24 male rats did, “which is consistent with suggestions that females are more empathic than males,” said the study.”

    I think this ties in with the possible origin of this form of empathy being mother-child and also makes me wonder if empathy is transmitted on the X somehow? not sure if that is possible but it would be a easy way to give females a double dose.

    “Since most, but not all the rats became door-openers for their pals, the next step could be to look “for the biological source of these behavioral differences,” the study said.”

    awesome. i get this a lot so i find it very interesting. i’ll say without a doubt there’s some chemical release that causes distress at distress which is similar to a smoker without cigarettes and it basically forces altruism even if you are mentally quite aware you don’t want to help. you’re forced into it to stop the distress like a smoker reaching for a cig.

    .
    “Head circumference and height showed the most consistent positive associations with IQ, whereas more detailed anthropometric measures were not significantly better predictors of IQ.”

    my pet theory is milk. neolithic farmers at the northern edge shifting from grain-dependent to cattle-dependent and by extension milk-dependent. grow taller from the diet. got bigger heads. bingo.

    .
    Chimp markets reveal evolution of friendship

    “The observed exchanges resemble human friendships, in which we don’t keep detailed track of what we owe each other,” he says.

    i was just reading about the programmed strategies for iterated prisoner’s dilemna

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma

    and i think the way it works is most people *do* keep very careful track at the beginning when they first meet a new potential friend and there’s a ritual of small gift-giving (sharing cigarettes, buying rounds of drinks, keeping secrets) to check for reciprocation and only when the new person has proved themselves reciprocal are they accepted as a friend and detailed scoring is dropped.

    .
    “Why Aren’t We Smarter Already? Evolutionary Limits On Cognition”

    Numerous mental health nurses over the years have told me their patients are mostly either very dumb or very clever.

    Reply

  3. “Yawn contagion – A true anecdote.”

    Interesting – now you mention it i wonder if high conscientousness people have a more pronounced reaction.

    Reply

  4. Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Association Between Anthropometric Measures and IQ: A Study of Minnesota Twins at Age 11 and 17 – “Head circumference and height showed the most consistent positive associations with IQ, whereas more detailed anthropometric measures were not significantly better predictors of IQ.”

    Paper’s here – http://tinyurl.com/dxwr9fg.

    Shame they didn’t check cranial height (which would be their “face height” measurement correlated for the actual length of the facial portion). Like circumference, that would probably be an indirect measure of cranial volume. Although they claim “However, detailed measures of gray matter, temporal white matter and frontal white matter volumes in a previous study were only slightly more strongly correlated with IQ than found in this study for head circumference (Lange et al. 2010). Since head circumference is only moderately correlated with brain volume, it is likely that its correlation with IQ also reflects factors other than those involved in brain volume”.

    Interesting that head length and breadth didn’t matter. There are theories that bracycephalics are more intelligent, at least through higher cranial circumference (due to a more efficient cranial packing – spheres hold more volume than ellipses of the same surface area).

    “researchers find “civic nationalists” happier than “ethnic nationalists.”

    I’d be interested to see how they partialled this out – I wouldn’t be surprised if ethnic and civil nationalism had strong positive correlations, frankly, and the researchers decided that “once civic nationalism is controlled for” ethnic nationalism had few benefits (ignoring the correlation).

    Reply

  5. > makes me wonder if empathy is transmitted on the X somehow? not sure if that is possible but it would be a easy way to give females a double dose.

    I would think probably sex steroids. That’s where a lot of the action is.

    The Y merely constructs the testis, whose secretion of androgens pretty much does all the rest.

    Reply

  6. Why Aren’t We Smarter Already? Maybe we were smarter already but don’t need to be so smart anymore. Human brains have been getting smaller over tens of millennia and you have to admit the Ice Man had a pretty impressive toolkit.

    Modern societies may make fewer, not greater, demands on the average person’s intelligence. The same may have been true of peasant farmers in comparison to their Paleolithic forebears.

    Fish in caves lose their eyes.

    Reply

  7. @ – Why Aren’t we smarter already?

    I had an additional thought. We know the human brain consumes a disproportionate share of our total metabolic energy. Highly intelligent people spend a disproportionate amount of their time thinking about ideas, often very abstract ideas. Most of these ideas are worth little, either to the societies they live in or to their families. Societies composed entirely of such individuals probably would not function very well, nor would the individuals in them reproduce at the same rates as people in more normal societies.

    Over time therefore natural selection would select not for the highest possible average intelligence but for the norm with the highest rate of reproduction for a given environment.

    Exceptions, such a market-dominant minorities, would be explained by the fact that they thrive in the interstices of much larger societies of lower average intelligence, with which they do not interbreed. In larger numbers they wouldn’t do nearly as well, as witness the Ashkenazi in 19th century Poland or in Israel today. (OTH, abstract ideas have more economic value in the Internet Age.)

    Just a hypothesis.

    Reply

  8. @luke – “Anyway I yawned and the whole audience yawned back, a veritable sea of yawns.”

    heh! (^_^)

    when i was 10 or 12 i used to try to see if i could make my cat yawn by (fake) yawning at him. (yes, i was an odd child.) at the time, i thought it worked ’cause after four or five tries he usually did yawn. looking back on it, he was probably just bored with the situation. (~_^)

    Reply

  9. @luke – “Modern societies may make fewer, not greater, demands on the average person’s intelligence.”

    i think you’re absolutely right about this! life isn’t much (much) of a struggle in our modern, western world — usually. not even in most of the world prolly. and any idiot can reproduce themselves.

    @luke – “Societies composed entirely of such individuals probably would not function very well….”

    no, indeed. *facepalm* (^_^)

    @luke – “Over time therefore natural selection would select not for the highest possible average intelligence but for the norm with the highest rate of reproduction for a given environment.”

    spoken like a true darwinist! (~_^) and i think you’re prolly right.

    Reply

  10. @g.w. – “‘researchers find “civic nationalists” happier than “ethnic nationalists.’

    “- not surprising if they’re testing ethnic nationalists in countries/regions where their ethnicity is being turned into a minority.”

    yes. i’m holding off on forming an opinion on this piece until if/when i see the original paper. i’ve got too many questions about what they actually looked at.

    @g.w. – “distress at distress imo”

    i get that a lot. (i am a chick!)

    Reply

  11. @g.w. – “makes me wonder if empathy is transmitted on the X somehow? not sure if that is possible but it would be a easy way to give females a double dose.”

    there’s some thinking out that the the “genes for autism” are on the x-chromosome — or, rather, that some “genes for being social” are on the x, and that if you have a faulty one and you’re a guy, you’re out of luck, ’cause you only have one copy, whereas if you’re a female you have two, so your spare can pick up the slack if you have one faulty copy. maybe something similar with altruism genes? dunno.

    @r.s. – “I would think probably sex steroids. That’s where a lot of the action is.”

    that’s an interesting thought!

    Reply

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