Neuroscience

Do Drosophila, commonly called fruit flies, have culture?

Culture, lasting changes in a group that cannot be ascribed to genetic or ecological variation, is obviously a human quality, and it may be found in other vertebrates like some other primates and birds. A new computer simulation says it may be in fruit flies also.

Fruit flies can learn and copy the sexual preferences of their conspecifics after observing them copulating. For a behavioral pattern to be deemed culturally transmitted, there are considered:

1) the behavior must be learned socially, which is to say by observing conspecifics,
2) be copied from older individuals,
3) be memorized over the long term,
A pilot study in Development and Psychopathology concluded that teenage girls who engage in self-harm like cutting often have brain features like adults with borderline personality disorder. Often is relative, since this was only 40 individuals.

Cutting and other forms of self-harm are warning signs for suicide, which data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say increased 300 percent among 10- to 14-year-old girls from 1999 to 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that same time, along with a 53 percent increase in suicide in older teen girls and young women.
DDT was banned by a politician in the US in 1972 and was banned a few years later in Finland, so how can it be causing autism now?

The answer is statistics. The same curve that can show autism is linked to organic food can link autism to anything and if you are at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health you are very much against corporations and in need of a way to get in the New York Times, so a recent paper links DDE, a metabolite of DDT, in the blood of pregnant women to autism.

Neuroscientists believe that people's earliest memories date from around three to three-and-a-half years of age but many people report memories much earlier than that. It's likely just as fake as claims of repressed memories from the 1980s. 

At least according to surveys, which are just as unreliable as science claims about memory. 

Survey results of people's first memories found that 38.6 percent of 6,641 people claimed to have memories from two or younger, with 893 people claiming memories from one or younger. This was particularly prevalent among middle-aged and older adults.

It's no secret that marijuana usage leads to hunger, it even has a colloquial name - "the munchies." But understanding the neuroscience of that that could also help people who lose their appetites during illness. 
Fear is a healthy response, kept intact over eons of evolution, but sometimes it can be irrational. A new brain circuit discovery may help make sense of the madness. The study details the role of dopamine in ensuring that rats stop being afraid when there isn't anything to be afraid of anymore. 
An experimental study which sought to determine perceptions of sexual text (sext) messaging situations concluded that men and women were judged differently by the sext messages they sent, even when they were the same.

When messages were unsolicited, men were judged as creepy while women were judged as more appropriate.

The strange conclusion by the authors from their finding was not the obvious one, that men were being discriminated against, "slut shaming" for guys, but that consent is important in sexting. 


Sexting. Vaguely date rapey when a guy does it. But when a woman does it, hegemonic masculinity stereotypes gave more women a free pass.
For thousands of years, trepanation--the act of scraping, cutting, or drilling an opening into the cranium--was practiced around the world, primarily to treat head trauma but also for headaches, seizures and mental illnesses. Sometimes it was even done to expel demons.

It sounds garish now, but ancient Peruvians were surprisingly adept at it, so adept that Incan "neurosurgeons" had twice the survival rate for the procedure than better equipped surgeons during the American Civil War centuries later.

Obviously there could be differences in when it was done, so it may be due to confounders that in Incan times the mortality rate was between 17 and 25 percent while during the Civil War it was between 46 and 56 percent. 
Peter Heine Nielsen, a Danish chess Grandmaster, summarized it quite well. "I always wondered, if some superior alien race came to Earth, how they would play chess. Now I know". The architecture that beat humans at the notoriously CPU-impervious game Go, AlphaGo by Google Deep Mind, was converted to allow the machine to tackle other "closed-rules" games. Successively, the program was given the rules of chess, and a huge battery of Google's GPUs to train itself on the game. Within four hours, the alien emerged. And it is indeed a new class of player.
There is an area close to the left ear, in the ‘temporal lobe’, that, when stimulated via strong magnetic fields, triggers religious feelings, visions of bright lights at the end of a tunnel, and, at a certain frequency, the feeling of the presence of somebody next to oneself, or somehow present, although subjects are in another room and separated from the researchers. This area is damaged in patients with the kind of schizophrenia that Vincent Van Gough suffered. His attacks of deeply religious visions started a few years before he died.