Dolphins have a clever trick for overcoming sleep deprivation. Sam Ridgway from the US Navy Marine Mammal Program explains that they are able to send half of their brains to sleep while the other half remains conscious. What is more, the mammals seem to be able to remain continually vigilant for sounds for days on end. All of this made Ridgway and his colleagues from San Diego and Tel Aviv wonder whether the dolphins’ unrelenting auditory vigilance tired them and took a toll on the animals’ other senses?
Having strong memories of that rich, delicious dessert you ate last night? If so, you shouldn’t feel like a glutton. It’s only natural. UC Irvine researchers have found that eating fat-rich foods triggers the formation of long-term memories of that activity. The study adds to their recent work linking dietary fats to appetite control and may herald new approaches for treating obesity and other eating disorders.
Relationships are difficult and most of us probably think at some point that communicating positively with our partner when discussing stressful issues, like home finances, is an impossible task. What if there was a safe way to take the “edge” off these discussions? The biology of human social relationships is just beginning to emerge as groundbreaking research on social cognition conducted in animals is now informing research in humans.
During infancy, each of us emerges from a delightful but largely incoherent babble of syllables and learns to speak – normally, in the language of those who care for us. But imagine what would happen if we were somehow raised in utter isolation from other people, not only our parents but also from surrogates such as nurses and nannies. What sort of culture might we evolve if reared in isolation? Would we learn to speak? Would such a language evolve over multiple generations? If so, would it eventually resemble existing ones?