News & Views

Filter By:

Article Type
  • A new algorithmic tool developed by Rotaru and colleagues can more accurately predict crime events in US cities. Predictive crime modelling can produce powerful statistical tools, but there are important considerations for researchers to take into account to avoid their findings being misused and doing more harm than good.

    • Andrew V. Papachristos
    News & Views
  • Recent studies have suggested that attention switches rhythmically, with up to eight cycles per second. An article by Brookshire calls these results into question, showing that widely used methods in the field do not separate rhythmic from arrhythmic structure.

    • Malte Wöstmann
    News & Views
  • An enduring puzzle in evolution is the maintenance of costly traits. Šaffa et al.1 examine phylogenetic evidence for the origins of genital mutilation/cutting (GM/C) in human societies, and find that these practices probably emerged multiple times during the past 5,000–7,000 years, and that female GM/C arose only after male GM/C was present in a society.

    • Mhairi A. Gibson
    News & Views
  • Past research has put forward competing hypotheses about the determinants of the evolvement of romantic love, including it being a consequence of economic development or the result of transmission of culture. A new large-scale empirical study by Baumard et al.1 puts these different hypotheses to the test.

    • Trine Bille
    News & Views
  • Developing theories by designing experiments that are aimed at falsifying them is a core endeavour in empirical sciences. By analysing 365 articles dedicated to the study of consciousness, Yaron et al.’s study1 shows that there is almost no dialogue between the four main theories of this elusive phenomenon and gives us an interactive database with which to probe the literature.

    • Axel Cleeremans
    News & Views
  • Despite substantial attempts to end the global trade in elephant ivory, illegal transnational networks continue to operate. A new study by Wasser and colleagues1 uses genetic matches between related elephants to reveal the scale, interconnectedness and audacity of traffickers in illegal ivory.

    • Jennifer Jacquet
    News & Views
  • To make sense of what we hear, the brain must integrate information over time. How is this temporal integration orchestrated in human auditory cortex? A new study by Norman-Haignere and colleagues1 introduces a promising method to estimate neural integration windows and demonstrates that category-specific versus more generic computations operate on distinct timescales.

    • Lea-Maria Schmitt
    • Jonas Obleser
    News & Views
  • It is seemingly in the interest of high-income countries to prioritize vaccinating their own population against COVID-19, despite it being immoral. However, mathematical modelling by Ye et al.1 shows that this approach offers only limited, short-term benefits, whereas equitable vaccine distribution would substantially curb the emergence and spread of new variants.

    • Dan Yamin
    News & Views
  • Similarities and differences between deep learning models and primate vision have been the focus of recent research. Audition is comparatively less-studied. A new report describes the emergence of human-like auditory perception in a deep neural network, and suggests a promising way to relate perceptual behaviour to specific aspects of the environment.

    • Rufin VanRullen
    News & Views
  • To interact safely with our environment, we must be able to judge our confidence in what we perceive. But what cues do we use to compute perceptual confidence? Geurts et al.1 decode brain activity and show that perceptual confidence is based on the distribution of sensory uncertainty, combining uncertainty driven by the input and the visual system.

    • Pascal Mamassian
    News & Views
  • Syndemic theory considers how social inequalities drive disease interaction. A new study uses a mixed-methods approach to examine how stress interacts with multiple diseases to affect quality of life in Soweto, South Africa.

    • Cassandra L. Workman
    News & Views
  • Scientific progress depends on researchers updating their beliefs when new evidence arises. McDiarmid and colleagues show that psychologists adjust their beliefs after seeing new results from a replication project. While updating is less than a Bayesian model would justify, it is not undermined by personal investment.

    • Michael Gordon
    • Thomas Pfeiffer
    News & Views
  • Greater exposure to media coverage of traumatic events is associated with greater symptoms of post-traumatic stress. A new study by Dick et al. indicates that this relationship is stronger in youth with a specific pattern of brain activation that may make them more vulnerable to the effects of trauma.

    • Lisa M. Shin
    • Samuel R. Sommers
    News & Views
  • A key question in human evolutionary genetics is whether and how natural selection has shaped the human genome. A new study by Song and colleagues uses GWAS data to examine evidence for the effects of polygenic adaptation in complex traits at different time scales.

    • Oscar Lao
    News & Views
  • Monumental architecture is fundamental for understanding ancient complex societies as it is the result of coordinated projects that frame political and ceremonial activity1. A new study documents hundreds of architectural centres in Mexico, revealing monumental architecture at a scale unimaginable even a decade ago2.

    • Robert M. Rosenswig
    News & Views
  • Predicted values and feedback from errors in those predictions are fundamental to adaptive decision-making. Heffner et al. directly compare the contributions of reward predictions and emotional predictions to social decisions and find, unexpectedly, that emotional predictions are often the more important determinant of choice.

    • Bernard W. Balleine
    News & Views
  • What is the mind? Scientists may not agree on an answer, but new research shows that people across diverse cultures do. This shared conception of the human mind appears to be a cognitive structure that organizes numerous mental capacities along a small number of dimensions: bodily sensation, cognition and, in some cultural settings, emotion.

    • Bertram F. Malle
    News & Views
  • Biobanks facilitate large-scale tests of hypotheses that may advance health, but whether biobanking participants adequately comprehend the potential uses of their data should concern researchers and the public. Consent matters because it provides a singular safeguard and a participatory mechanism to influence science’s production of new forms of power.

    • Elizabeth Bromley
    • Dmitry Khodyakov
    News & Views
  • The ethics of research into the genetics of sexuality is not straightforward. A new study by Zietsch et al. investigates a hypothesis for the evolutionary basis of same-sex sexual behaviour. This increases our understanding of the genetics of complex behaviour, raising questions about whether and how such knowledge should be used.

    • Julian Savulescu
    • Brian D. Earp
    • Udo Schuklenk
    News & Views
  • Figuring out the referent of a new word is a hard problem, yet children solve it early and often. A new model by Bohn et al. proposes that young children rationally combine different sources of information when learning language. This account precisely predicts and explains novel developmental findings, above and beyond competing proposals.

    • Tomer D. Ullman
    News & Views