New research shows for the evolution of intelligence, parents matter

Humans are not the only species that enjoy prolonged childhoods: elephants, whales, dolphins and some bats and birds do also. Is this what makes us smart? And if so, how important are long-suffering parents? Exploring this with corvids - songbirds that hang around their parents in and out of the nest and have large brains relative to body size - researchers found those that spent more time with parents learned faster and lived longer. How intelligence developed has long fascinated evolutionary scientists, with several theories such as brain-to-body size ratio. But, considering large brains take a long time to grow, not many theories have given due credit to parents for shaping their offspring's cognitive development. Michael Griesser, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, recognised there must be an evolutionary perk to extended parenting. "Brains are weird adaptations - they come...

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First-of-its-kind study hints at how psilocybin works in the brain to dissolve ego

The psychedelic experience can be rough on a person's ego. Those who experiment with magic mushrooms and LSD often describe a dissolution of the self, otherwise known as ego-death, ego-loss, or ego-disintegration. For some, the experience is life-changing; for others, it's downright terrifying. Yet despite anecdote after anecdote of good trips and bad trips, no one really knows what these drugs actually do to our perception of self. The human brain's cortex is where the roots of self awareness are thought to lie, and growing evidence has shown the neurotransmitter, glutamate, is elevated in this region when someone is tripping. But up until now we've only had observational evidence. Now, for the first time, researchers have looked directly into how taking psilocybin affects glutamate activity in the brain. And the evidence suggests that our tripping experience, whether good or bad,...

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