linkfest – 11/18/12

When the going gets tough, the tough get… more relief from a placebo?“[T]he new findings link specific, established personality traits with an individual’s susceptibility to the placebo effect…. The researchers showed a significant link between certain personality traits and how much relief people said they felt when given the placebo – as well as the level of a specific chemical that their brains released…. The findings show that about one-quarter of placebo response was explained by the personality traits of resiliency, straightforwardness, altruism or anger/hostility, as measured on standardized tests.”

Oxytocin Keeps Flirting Folks at Arm’s Length“[M]en who were in a committed relationship even maintained a greater distance from an attractive woman when under the influence of oxytocin than their control group.”

Gene distinguishes early birds from night owls and helps predict time of death“Common gene variant helps determine the time you will wake up each day — and the time of day you are likely to die.”

Link between creativity and mental illness confirmed“People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, there being a particularly salient connection between writing and schizophrenia.” – via parapundit.

Identical Twins Are Genetically Different, Research Suggests – copy errors.

The mysterious Ainu“[I]s the physical similarity [of the Ainu] to Europeans just a matter of chance? Convergent evolution? No, it may be that the Ainu have just not changed as much physically as other East Asians. – from peter frost.

Pre-Neolithic Mediterranean Island settlement“‘[T]he first inhabitants of many of the Mediterranean islands may not have been modern humans at all. Instead, he says evidence has been found that shows that they might have been Neanderthals, or Homo Erectus.'” – from dienekes.

Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology“[E]arly humans were manufacturing hafted multicomponent tools ~200,000 years earlier than previously thought.”

The Golden Age“If people were always getting dumber, why on Earth would the scientific revolution be recent?” – greg cochran’s latest, most excellent rant. (^_^)

Einstein’s Brain“Uncommon features of Einstein’s brain might explain his remarkable cognitive abilities” – @the breviary (with appropriate and enjoyable sarcasm from mangan… (~_^) ).

Brain scans of rappers shed light on creativity“Functional magnetic resonance imaging shows what happens in the brain during improvisation.”

Why “Multicultural Society” is a Logical Impossibility

In Defense of Favoritism“Affective neuroscience research on early-childhood bonding suggests that, as mammals, we probably start out as emotionally glued microcommunities (family and tribe) before we become autonomous ego-driven creatures. Favoritism, not egoism, is probably the primal value system. In short, favoritism or bias toward your group is not intrinsically racist, sexist, or closed-minded. Privileging your tribe does not render you negative or bigoted toward those outside your tribe.”

bonus: Study Tracks Brain Gene Response to Territorial Aggression“Researchers are mapping the genetic underpinnings of the stickleback’s aggressive behavior.”

bonus bonus: Bonobos Catch Yawns from Friends

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Rogue planet’ spotted 100 light-years away“Astronomers have spotted a ‘rogue planet’ – wandering the cosmos without a star to orbit – 100 light-years away.”

(note: comments do not require an email. aggressive stickleback lurking in the foliage….)

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6 Comments

  1. “If people were always getting dumber, why on Earth would the scientific revolution be recent?”

    This might be explained by a steady increase in cognitive variation about the mean (at least since agriculture). Modern human variation in brain size is considerably greater than the variation between members of archaic populations. Structured societies might group select for very different ratios of certain cognitive phenotypes (e.g. the 7 repeat version of DRD4, ASPM, Microcephalin, etc) during each of the steps in what was probably a very nonlinear “fission-fusion” evolutionary path for our species. If selection pressure for different phenotypic ratios has been oscillating like this for a while we may have acquired genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate the individual probability of a given phenotype based on environmental (and, possibly, consanguinity-sensitive) triggers that, in our ancestral environment, correlated with stuff like population density, parasite load, long-term nutritional expectations, etc. (essentially anything that both changed according to a long term pattern and that was very helpful, at least at the intergroup level, to anticipate with various transgenerational phenotypic tweaks).

    Reply

  2. @nozzo (aka elyhek) – “Structured societies might group select….”

    i thought “group selection” was a bad word (phrase) in evolutionary circles…?

    Reply

  3. @nozzo – “Not according to David Sloan Wilson”

    well, yeah. apart from the mssrs. wilson, i meant. (ftr: i haven’t made up my mind on this debate, yet, ’cause i’m still too ignorant about the whole issue.)

    Reply

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