It is well known that human speech can provide listeners with simultaneous information about a person’s emotions and objects in the environment. Past research has shown that animal vocalizations can do the same, but little is known about the development of the features that encode such information.
In the steamy tropics, even the birds find the pace of life a bit more relaxed, research shows. Tropical birds expend less energy at rest than do birds living in more northern climates, according to a study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Herds of cows producing skimmed milk could soon be roaming our pastures, reports Cath O’Driscoll in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. Scientists in New Zealand have discovered that some cows have genes that give them a natural ability to produce skimmed milk and plan to use this information to breed herds of milkers producing only skimmed milk.
It’s an enduring mystery that taunts neuroscientists and evolutionary biologists. If the human brain evolved to maximize its owner’s survival, why are we motivated to help others, even when it incurs some personal cost? One pat answer is that when we help someone in need, we expect him to return the favor. But some kinds of altruism aren’t easy to explain away as mere reciprocity. For example, tax incentives aside, donating money to a charitable cause is unlikely to bring the donor any foreseeable return – except perhaps the “joy of giving.” Two new studies shed light on why it feels good to give by examining how and where altruism originates in the brain.
The quickest way for longtime couples to rekindle romance may be to pretend they’re strangers, according to a University of British Columbia psychology study. By acting as if they’re on a first date, they’ll likely put their best face forward and end up having a better time, says investigator Elizabeth Dunn, an assistant professor at the UBC Dept. of Psychology.