My picks from ScienceDaily


Ecologists Report Quantifiable Measures Of Nature’s Services To Humans:

The idea of ecosystem services is a promising conservation concept but has been rarely put into practice. In a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, researchers use novel tools to report some of the first quantifiable results that place values on nature’s services to humans.

15-year-old Theory About The Nervous System Disproved:

A delay in traffic may cause a headache, but a delay in the nervous system can cause much more. University of Missouri researchers have uncovered clues identifying which proteins are involved in the development of the nervous system and found that the proteins previously thought to play a significant role, in fact, do not.

Readers Build Vivid Mental Simulations Of Narrative Situations:

A new brain-imaging study is shedding light on what it means to “get lost” in a good book — suggesting that readers create vivid mental simulations of the sounds, sights, tastes and movements described in a textual narrative while simultaneously activating brain regions used to process similar experiences in real life.

Effects Of Brain Exercise Depend On Opponent:

Playing games against a computer activates different brain areas from those activated when playing against a human opponent. New research has shown that the belief that one is playing against a virtual opponent has significant effects on activation patterns in the brain.

Rich Man, Poor Man: Body Language Can Indicate Socioeconomic Status, Study Shows:

Socioeconomic status (SES) is determined by a number of factors such as wealth, occupation and schools attended. SES influences the food we eat, hobbies we participate in and can even have an impact on our health. People with an upper SES background can often be accused of flaunting their status, such as by the types of cars they drive or how many pairs of Manolo Blahniks they have in their closet. It is easy to guess someone’s SES based on their clothing and the size of their home, but what about more subtle clues? Psychologists Michael W. Kraus and Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley wanted to see if non-verbal cues (that is, body language) can indicate our SES.

Xenophobia, For Men Only:

Very few people fear dandelions. Or even dangerous things – like Hummers. We may object to outsized automobiles on principle, but the mere sight of them doesn’t make us tremble and sweat and run away. On the other hand, even toddlers show an automatic and powerful fear of snakes, including harmless ones.

Brain Goes Into ‘Screen Saver’ Mode In Absence of Stimulus:

Even when our eyes are closed, the visual centers in our brain are humming with activity. Weizmann Institute scientists and others have shown in the last few years that the magnitude of sense-related activity in a brain that’s disengaged from seeing, touching, etc., is quite similar to that of one exposed to a stimulus.

Origin Of Claws Seen In Fossil 390 Million Years Old:

A missing link in the evolution of the front claw of living scorpions and horseshoe crabs was identified with the discovery of a 390 million-year-old fossil by researchers at Yale and the University of Bonn, Germany.

Birds’ Strategic Mobbing Fends Off Parasitic Invaders:

Reed warblers use mobbing as a front line of nest defense against parasitic cuckoos, according to a new report published online on January 29th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. Cuckoos act as parasites by laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, reed warblers in particular, burdening their hosts with the trouble of raising young that don’t belong to them.

Key Insights Into How New Species Emerge:

A team of researchers are reporting the ongoing emergence of a new species of fruit fly–and the sequential development of a new species of wasp–in the February 6 issue of the journal Science. Jeff Feder, a University of Notre Dame biologist, and his colleagues say the introduction of apples to America almost 400 years ago ultimately may have changed the behavior of a fruit fly, leading to its modification and the subsequent modification of a parasitic wasp that feeds on it.

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