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June 22 2014

Egyptologist unravels ancient mystery


It is one of the greatest archaeological mysteries of all times: the disappearance of a Persian army of 50,000 men in the Egyptian desert around 524 BC. A professor has now unearthed a cover-up affair and solved the riddle.

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June 22 2014

Neanderthals evolved their teeth before big brains


The Neanderthals knew how to make an entrance: teeth first. Our sister species' distinctive teeth were among the first unique aspects of their anatomy to evolve, according to a study of their ancestors. These early Neanderthals may have used their teeth as a third hand, gripping objects that they then cut with tools.

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June 22 2014

The genes tell crows to choose partners that look like themselves


Crows like to select mates that look alike. In a large-scale genomic study a team of researchers found that this behavior might be rooted in their genetic make-up, revealing a likely common evolutionary path that allows for separating populations into novel species.

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June 22 2014

These Popular Plastic Bottles May Be Messing With Your Hormones


Many BPA-free plastics may leach BPA-like chemicals that are potentially damaging to human health, a dilemma Mother Jones explored in our exposé on the plastics industry earlier this year. But consumers have had no way of knowing which of the items lurking in their pantries might wreak havoc on their hormones. Until now. A new paper in the journal Environmental Health identifies specific plastic products that leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Perhaps more importantly, it also names a few options that are hormone-free.

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June 22 2014

Broccoli drink flushes air pollutants from body


A daily broccoli sprout drink helped people in a heavily polluted area of China rid their bodies of an airborne cancer-causing chemical and lung irritant, scientists report.

In a clinical trial, researchers used the broccoli beverage to get nearly 300 Chinese men and women to consume sulforaphane, a plant compound already demonstrated in animal studies to have cancer-preventive properties.

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June 22 2014

Does Reading ‘Moral’ Stories to Children Promote Honesty?


All over the world, young children are exposed to classic fairy tales, myths and other stories. Most kids love hearing the stories, but in addition to being a fun activity, story-telling is also thought of as an educational tool which can promote moral reasoning and honesty. Conventional wisdom suggests that hearing fairy tales in which dishonest protagonists are punished might help convince the listeners to become truth-tellers.

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June 22 2014

Music lessons for children boost 'executive brain function' throughout adult life


A new study has suggested that children who receive regular music lessons display increased brain function through the rest of their adult life.

Research published in the journal PLOS One found that children who had received private music lessons for at least two years showed increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with executive function – the cognitive processes that enable people to process and retain information, solve problems and regulate their behaviour.

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June 22 2014

Our humming brains help us learn rapidly


Our brain's ability to rapidly interpret and analyse new information may lie in the musical hum of our brainwaves.

We continuously take in information about the world but establishing new neural connections and pathways – the process thought to underlie memory formation – is too slow to account for our ability to learn rapidly.

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June 22 2014

Does 'free will' stem from brain noise?


Our ability to make choices — and sometimes mistakes — might arise from random fluctuations in the brain's background electrical noise, according to a recent study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis.

"How do we behave independently of cause and effect?" said Jesse Bengson, a postdoctoral researcher at the center and first author on the paper. "This shows how arbitrary states in the brain can influence apparently voluntary decisions."

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June 22 2014

What did you do today? Your brain 'remembers' it cell by cell


No one will forget the amnesiac Henry Molaison.

An epileptic who had his hippocampus removed in 1953, Molaison lost the ability to record episodic memory. He had no idea if he'd eaten lunch. He greeted acquaintances each time as if it were the first.

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June 22 2014

When Will Medicinal ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Be Legalized?


Many people have now seen media stories about the renewed research interest in psychedelics as medicines, often called a “renaissance” in psychedelic research, over perhaps the past five years or so. Although many psychedelic substances have been used safely as medicines in indigenous cultures for millennia, we are now seeing renewed interest in these substances in Western cultures. As a co-founder of the Heffter Research Institute I have watched with an increasing sense of both amazement and gratitude — that we have been able to accomplish so much in such a relatively short time. We are on the path to make psilocybin into a prescription medicine!

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June 22 2014

True secrets of psychedelics: Are they everything they’re cracked up to be?


Scientists are currently conducting separate studies on psychedelics and meditation — both are being trialed to treat the same conditions. A review study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, released in March this year, found that meditation may be as effective as medication in treating conditions such as depression and anxiety. Hot on the heels of this study was the Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study at NYU’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, which found that Psilocybin (the active drug in “magic mushrooms”) was effective in treating anxiety and depression in terminal cancer patients.

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June 21 2014

Is the sun getting you high?


Do you like to spend your days basking on the beach or relaxing in a tanning bed? You may think you do it for cosmetic reasons—that natural glow does look good on you—but new research suggests you might have another motive. Mice frequently exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light show symptoms of drug use and addiction, suggesting that every time you seek out the sun’s rays, you may just be looking for a high.

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June 21 2014

Soon, decayed tooth may repair itself


LONDON: British scientists have discovered a technique which can make a decayed tooth repair itself.

The technique, developed at King's College, London, effectively reverses decay by using electrical currents to boost the tooth's natural repair process.

This path-breaking treatment could be available in three years, according to the British researchers who created it.

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June 21 2014

Birds evolve 'signature' patterns to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own


For some birds, recognising their own eggs can be a matter of life or death. In a new study, scientists have shown that many birds affected by the parasitic Common Cuckoo - which lays its lethal offspring in other birds' nests - have evolved distinctive patterns on their eggs in order to distinguish them from those laid by a cuckoo cheat.

The study reveals that these signature patterns provide a powerful defense against cuckoo trickery, helping host birds to reject cuckoo eggs before they hatch and destroy the host's own brood.

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June 21 2014

Brown Bears Caught Performing Oral Sex


The club of fellatio-loving animals just gained a new member: bears.

Scientists have observed a pair of male brown bears in captivity in Croatia that regularly engaged in oral sex over several years. While the creatures in this case study likely do it for pleasure, their fellatio habits might have started because they were forced to wean too early, the researchers suspect.

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June 21 2014

Fish-Eating Spiders Lurk on Every Continent Except Antarctica


Not all spiders catch their prey by spinning webs; a surprising number of arachnids quite literally fish for their meals, snatching scaly animals sometimes twice their size.

In fact, a new scientific review found that fish-eating spiders lurk near rivers, ponds and swamps on every continent except Antarctica. They've lifted small catfish out of marshes in Ecuador; grabbed killifish out of nets in Cameroon; devoured dwarf fish in California aquariums; and stalked hatchery ponds in Oklahoma, continuing to kill fish even after eating their fill.

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