November 14, 2012

Oxytocin and Monogamous Fidelity
Oxytocin, which is known to contribute to pair-bonding, encourages men to expand their personal “Don’t come near me” bubble when around an attractive woman—but only when those men are in relationships, researchers found. Single men were just as likely to get close to a pretty stranger whether or not they’d been dosed with oxytocin, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

Are Humans Gradually Becoming Less Intelligent?
“The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples [living] before our ancestors emerged from Africa,” said study author Gerald Crabtree, a researcher at Stanford University, in a statement. Since then it’s all been downhill, Crabtree contends. The theory isn’t without critics, with one scientist contacted by LiveScience suggesting that rather than losing our smarts, humans have just diversified them with various types of intelligence today. (Tia Ghose, LiveScience)

Meditation Appears to Benefit Black Patients With Heart Disease
A study that followed 201 African Americans for an average of five years found those who meditated regularly were far more likely to avoid three extremely unwelcome outcomes. Compared to peers participating in a health-education program, meditators were, in that period, 48 percent less likely to die, have a heart attack, or suffer a stroke. (Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard)

OkCupid’s Founders Win the Harvard Humanist of the Year Award
“Humanism is a philosophy of life that is focused on building a better world for all human beings” without belief in any gods, said Greg Epstein, Harvard University’s humanist chaplain. “That is the value we were putting our finger on with these guys,” he said. “I don’t think there has ever been a place with a mixed environment of people from religious and nonreligious backgrounds where it is more comfortable and respected to be an atheist, an agnostic, or a humanist.” The site, Epstein said, embodies America’s “secular future.” (Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service)

Q&A
Oliver Sacks

The neurologist who wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat lifts the lid on hallucinations—including his chat with a spider. (Tiffany O’Callaghan, New Scientist)

Category: Field Notes

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