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Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Tali Leibovich, Naama Katzin, Maayan Harel, Avishai Henik
In this review, we are pitting two theories against each other: the more accepted theory-the 'number sense' theory-suggesting that a sense of number is innate and non-symbolic numerosity is being processed independently of continuous magnitudes (e.g., size, area, density); and the newly emerging theory suggesting that (1) both numerosities and continuous magnitudes are processed holistically when comparing numerosities, and (2) a sense of number might not be innate. In the first part of this review, we discuss the 'number sense' theory...
August 17, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Judith M Burkart, Michèle N Schubiger, Carel P van Schaik
The presence of general intelligence poses a major evolutionary puzzle, which has led to increased interest in its presence in nonhuman animals. The aim of this review is to critically evaluate this puzzle, and to explore the implications for current theories about the evolution of cognition. We first review domain-general and domain-specific accounts of human cognition in order to situate attempts to identify general intelligence in nonhuman animals. Recent studies are consistent with the presence of general intelligence in mammals (rodents and primates)...
July 28, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Daniel Nettle, Clare Andrews, Melissa Bateson
Integrative explanations of why obesity is more prevalent in some sectors of the human population than others are lacking. Here, we outline and evaluate one candidate explanation, the insurance hypothesis (IH). The IH is rooted in adaptive evolutionary thinking: the function of storing fat is to provide a buffer against shortfall in the food supply. Thus, individuals should store more fat when they receive cues that access to food is uncertain. Applied to humans, this implies that an important proximate driver of obesity should be food insecurity rather than food abundance per se...
July 28, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Nazim Keven, Kathleen A Akins
Over 35 years ago, Meltzoff and Moore (1977) published their famous article 'Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates'. Their central conclusion, that neonates can imitate, was and continues to be controversial. Here we focus on an often neglected aspect of this debate, namely on neonatal spontaneous behaviors themselves. We present a case study of a paradigmatic orofacial 'gesture', namely tongue protrusion and retraction (TP/R). Against the background of new research on mammalian aerodigestive development, we ask: How does the human aerodigestive system develop and what role does TP/R play in the neonate's emerging system of aerodigestion? We show that mammalian aerodigestion develops in two phases: (1) from the onset of isolated orofacial movements in utero to the post-natal mastery of suckling at 4 months after birth, and; (2) thereafter, from preparation to the mastery of mastication and deglutition of solid foods...
July 14, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Dario Maestripieri, Andrea Henry, Nora Nickels
Financial and prosocial biases in favor of attractive individuals have been documented in the labor market, in everyday life social transactions, and in studies involving experimental economic games. Different explanations have been proposed by economists, social psychologists, and evolutionary psychologists. Some of these explanations assume that attractiveness is a marker of personality, intelligence, trustworthiness, professional competence, or productivity while others suggest that attractive individuals are favored because they are preferred sexual partners...
June 10, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Paul A M Van Lange, Maria I Rinderu, Brad J Bushman
Worldwide there are substantial differences within and between countries in aggression and violence. Although there are various exceptions, a general rule is that aggression and violence increase as one moves closer to the equator, which suggests the important role of climate differences. While this pattern is robust, theoretical explanations for these large differences in aggression and violence within countries and around the world are lacking. Most extant explanations focus on the influence of average temperature as a factor that triggers aggression (The General Aggression Model), or the notion that warm temperature allows for more social interaction situations (Routine Activity Theory) in which aggression is likely to unfold...
May 23, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Matthew M Gervais, Daniel M T Fessler
Contempt is typically studied as a uniquely human moral emotion. However, this approach has yielded inconclusive results. We argue this is because the folk affect concept "contempt" has been inaccurately mapped onto basic affect systems. "Contempt" has features that are inconsistent with a basic emotion, especially its protracted duration and frequently cold phenomenology. Yet other features are inconsistent with a basic attitude. Nonetheless, the features of "contempt" functionally cohere. To account for this we revive and reconfigure the sentiment construct using the notion of evolved functional specialization...
March 22, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
David Sloan Wilson
The target article is a major step toward integrating the biological and human-related sciences. It is highly relevant to economics and public policy formulation in the real world, in addition to its basic scientific import. My commentary covers a number of points, including avoiding an excessively narrow focus on agriculture, the importance of multilevel selection and complex systems theory, and utopic versus dystopic scenarios for the future.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
John Tooby, Leda Cosmides
The properties of individual carbon atoms allow them to chain into complex molecules of immense length. They are not limited to structures involving only a few atoms. The design features of our evolved neural adaptations appear similarly extensible. Individuals with forager brains can link themselves together into unprecedentedly large cooperative structures without the need for large group-beneficial modifications to evolved human design. Roles need only be intelligible to our social program logic, and judged better than alternatives...
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Matthew L Stanley, Felipe De Brigard
Neural reuse allegedly stands in stark contrast against a modular view of the brain. However, the development of unique modularity algorithms in network science has provided the means to identify functionally cooperating, specialized subsystems in a way that remains consistent with the neural reuse view and offers a set of rigorous tools to fully engage in Anderson's (2014) research program.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
William O'Grady
I focus on two challenges that processing-based theories of language must confront: the need to explain why language has the particular properties that it does, and the need to explain why processing pressures are manifested in the particular way that they are. I discuss these matters with reference to two illustrative phenomena: proximity effects in word order and a constraint on contraction.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Karen Emmorey
Signed and spoken languages emerge, change, are acquired, and are processed under distinct perceptual, motor, and memory constraints. Therefore, the Now-or-Never bottleneck has different ramifications for these languages, which are highlighted in this commentary. The extent to which typological differences in linguistic structure can be traced to processing differences provides unique evidence for the claim that structure is processing.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Chen Hou
Complementary to Gowdy & Krall's comparison between ants and humans, I use economy scaling laws to discuss the similarity and difference between them quantitatively. I hypothesize that individual variations in society result in higher energetic efficiency in larger groups, and that the difference in the sustainability between these species originates from the driving forces of growth with different scaling powers.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Michael Silberstein
If neural reuse is true, then: (1) fully escaping phrenology will eventually require an even less brain-centric and mechanistic cognitive neuroscience that focuses on relations and interactions between brain, body, and environment at many different scales and levels across both space and time, and (2) although scientific psychology must be heavily revised, the autonomy and irreducibility of folk psychology are assured.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Lisa A Williams, Eliza Bliss-Moreau
Given the highly social nature of the human emotion system, it is likely that it subserved the evolution of ultrasociality. We review how the experience and functions of human emotions enable social processes that promote ultrasociality (e.g., cooperation). We also point out that emotion may represent one route to redress one of the negative consequences of ultrasociality: ecosystem domination.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Sarah Suárez, Melissa Koenig
Developmental research characterizes even the youngest learners as critical and selective, capable of preserving or culling cultural information on the bases of informant accuracy, reasoning, or coherence. We suggest that Richerson et al. adjust their account of social learning in cultural group selection (CGS) by taking into consideration the role of the selective learner in the cultural inheritance system.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Rose Maier, Dare Baldwin
We identify three "working edges" for fruitful elaboration of the Chunk-and-Pass proposal: (a) accounting for the earliest phases of language acquisition, (b) explaining diversity in the stability and plasticity of different representational types, and
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Magda L Dumitru
Christiansen & Chater (C&C) make two related and somewhat contradictory claims, namely that the ever abstract language representations built during Chunk-and-Pass processing allow for ever greater interference from extra-linguistic information, and that it is nevertheless the language system that re-codes incoming information into abstract representations. I analyse these claims and discuss evidence suggesting that Gestalt-like representations hijack Chunk-and-Pass processing.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Jason Grotuss, Sarah Jean Beard
Agriculture represented a major transition in human evolution, but the appearance of ultrasociality must have included previous steps. We argue that ultrasociality would not have suddenly emerged with agriculture, but rather developed from pre-existing cognitive and social mechanisms. Discussions must include necessary depth about the historical origins of human ultrasociality, and agriculture's aftereffects on large-scale social organization.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
James M Shine, Ian Eisenberg, Russell A Poldrack
Although meta-analytic neuroimaging studies demonstrate a relative lack of specificity in the brain, this evidence may be the result of limits inherent to these types of studies. From this perspective, we review recent findings that suggest that brain function is most appropriately categorized according to the computational capacity of each brain system, rather than the specific task states that elicit its activity.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
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