Links for Keyword: Sexual Behavior

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By Emily Oster In 1980, 8.6 percent of first births were to women over 30; by 2015 this was 31 percent. This is more than an interesting demographic fact. It means that many of us are having children much later than our parents did. By the time a baby arrives, many of us have been through school, spent time in the working world, developed friendships, hobbies. And through all of these activities, we have probably grown used to the idea that if we work harder — at our jobs, at school, at banking that personal record in the half marathon — we can achieve more. Babies, however, often do not respond to a diligent work ethic. Take, as an example, crying. When my daughter, Penelope, was an infant, she was typically inconsolable between 5 and 8 p.m. I’d walk her up and down the hall, sometimes just crying (me crying, that is — obviously she was crying). I once did this in a hotel — up and down, up and down, Penelope screaming at the top of her lungs. I hope no one else was staying there. I tried everything — bouncing her more, bouncing her less, bouncing with swinging, bouncing with nursing (difficult). Nothing worked; she would eventually just exhaust herself. I wondered whether this was normal. I’m an economist, someone who works with data. I wrote a book on using data to make better choices during pregnancy; it was natural for me to turn to the data again once the baby arrived. And here, faced with crying, I found that the data was helpful. We often say babies are “colicky,” but researchers have an actual definition of colic (three hours of crying, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks) and some estimates of what share of babies fit this description (about 2 percent). But the same data can also tell us that many babies cry just a bit less than that, and almost 20 percent of parents report their baby “cries a lot.” So I was not alone. The data also told me the crying would get better, which it eventually did. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26162 - Posted: 04.22.2019

Nicola Davis Philandering men have unfaithfulness written all over their faces, according to research that suggests men and women are able to spot cheating chaps just by looking at them. Experts found men with more “masculine” faces were more likely to be thought to be unfaithful, and such men also self-reported more cheating or “poaching” of other men’s partners. However, they stressed the results were modest, and said people should be wary of deciding whether someone is a love rat based on impressions of facial features alone. The team said being suspicious of men with masculine features – such as a strong browridge, strong jaw and thinner lips – might have offered an evolutionary advantage, allowing heterosexual women to spot a flaky partner and men to recognise a potential rival who might seduce their partner or leave them raising someone else’s child. Previous research has suggested women are able to spot unfaithful men from their mugshot, with the masculinity of the man’s face a key factor in the judgment, while weaker effects have been found for men weighing up images of women. However, it was unclear whether people could also spot a philanderer of the same sex. Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, researchers described how they asked heterosexual white participants to judge the facial features of 189 white adults who had been photographed and taken part in previous research. Overall, 293 men and 472 women rated pictures of women, while 299 men and 452 women judged images of men, rating on a scale of one to 10 how likely they thought each person was to be unfaithful. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26147 - Posted: 04.17.2019

Robert J King Ph.D. Saying that people deserve to be treated decently is not a factual claim. You can’t look it up in a textbook, and no amount of brain-scanning is going to reveal why it’s true. People have been either succeeding (or more often failing) to treat each other kindly, fairly, and honorably, since before there was science, since before there were people really. And—they will continue to try (and often fail) far into the future, whatever science reveals about our natures. If I am trying to help a child understand why stealing from another child was wrong, or that they should share the sandpit, or apologize to that other annoying (and now crying) kid…yes…I know he took your dolly, but you still can’t hit him with that Lego dinosaur… Well, I don’t get out my copy of Eric Kandel's Principles of Neural Science, and start pointing meaningfully to the diagram of Brodmann area 11 in the prefrontal cortex. This seems blindingly obvious. However, the corollary: That you don’t need neurological backup to argue that you should treat people fairly, seems lost on writers like Cordelia Fine and Gina Rippon. Both are trying to argue that humans are neurological hermaphrodites, as if somehow admitting any sex differences in brains would mandate the unfair treatment of women. Gina Rippon is back to “debunk” neuroscience with her latest, The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience That Shatters The Myth Of The Female Brain. It is tempting to rebunk these debunkings but, if I am right in my guess about what is going on here, no amount of factual piling on is going to help. In fact—it may make things worse, because it’s going to convince writers like Fine and Rippon that some hideous conspiracy is occurring and, like some horrible feminist version of Alex Jones, that the whole of brain science is fake news. Let’s stop things before they get out of hand. © 2019 Sussex Publishers, LLC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26135 - Posted: 04.13.2019

Rhonda Voskuhl & Sabra Klein We are concerned that Lise Eliot’s review of Gina Rippon’s book The Gendered Brain (Nature 566, 453–454; 2019) undermines the premise that sex is a biological variable with respect to many medical conditions and drug responses (see J. A. Clayton and F. S. Collins Nature 509, 282–283; 2014). As president-elect and president, respectively, of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, we disagree with Eliot’s claim that the brain is “no more gendered than the liver or kidneys or heart”. We also disagree that sex differences in behaviour are due to cultural effects on newborns, not to biological effects. In our view, these are not mutually exclusive. Sex disparities occur in animal models that are not subject to cultural bias. The brain, like many organs, shows differences attributable to sex, both during health (see, for example, E. Luders et al. J. Neurosci. 29, 14265–14270; 2009) and during disease. Two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women; twice as many men as women have Parkinson’s disease (see, for example, L. J. Young and D. W. Pfaff Front. Neuroendocrinol. 35, 253–254; 2014). And multiple sclerosis affects three times more women than men, although men with the condition develop neurological disability more quickly (see, for example, R. R. Voskuhl and S. M. Gold Nature Rev. Neurol. 8, 255–263; 2012). Sex is a modifier of disease risk and progression. © 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26130 - Posted: 04.12.2019

By Sarah Mervosh He is called the “father of the American cavalry,” a Polish-born Revolutionary War hero who fought for American independence under George Washington and whose legend inspired the dedication of parades, schools, roads and bridges. But for more than 200 years, a mystery persisted about his final resting place. Historical accounts suggested the cavalryman, Casimir Pulaski, had been buried at sea, but others maintained he was buried in an unmarked grave in Savannah, Ga. Researchers believe they have found the answer — after coming to another significant discovery: The famed general was most likely intersex. New evidence suggests that although Pulaski identified and lived as a man, biologically, he did not fit into the binary definitions of male and female, a twist that helps explain why scientists could not previously identify his remains. The revelatory findings are detailed in a new documentary, “The General Was Female?,” which is showing on the Smithsonian Channel on Monday. The discovery offers historical representation to people who are intersex, a group that has often been stigmatized and overlooked throughout history. About one in 2,000 people is born with ambiguous genitalia, which can lead doctors to perform what advocates say are unnecessary and harmful surgeries, according to the Intersex Society of North America. But intersex includes a variety of conditions, and many more people have subtler variations in sex anatomy, which may manifest later in life — or not at all. Some estimates suggest that about 1.7 percent of the population has intersex traits, making such characteristics about as common as having red hair. Though Pulaski’s role in history has long been embraced in areas with strong Polish and Catholic ties — his birthday is an Illinois state holiday and he is celebrated with an annual Polish pride parade in New York City — the new findings now also place him alongside the few historical figures who are known to have had intersex traits. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26120 - Posted: 04.08.2019

“What we didn’t know before was some individuals seem to be able to choose whether they lay eggs or give birth to live babies,” Whittington said on Wednesday. “That was pretty staggering. We had no idea that could be the case. So I think it just makes this lizard even weirder.” Previous research has shown that if a Sydney skink was taken north it would still lay eggs, while live bearers transferred south would also continue to reproduce as they previously did. “I’m curious to know what happens if you breed an egg layer with a live bearer – what do their sons and daughters do?” Whittington said. Another skink in South Australia has also been shown to be bimodal. Bougainville’s skinks give birth to babies on Kangaroo Island, while on the mainland they lay eggs. Only a handful of species in the world do this. The University of Sydney study into the three-toed skink will be published in Biology Letters this week. Whittington hopes to map where they lay eggs and where they give birth in further research. The three-toed skink, which looks like a baby snake with tiny legs, is widespread along Australia’s east coast and is often seen in gardens or compost heaps. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26106 - Posted: 04.03.2019

By Michael C. Reichert Early in my first go at being a father, I was hijacked by ancient impulses. Our family lived in a rowhouse neighborhood in Philadelphia, and right down the street was a small playground where gangs of boys gathered for games of stickball and basketball. My son loved playing sports. But he was unprepared for what developed as his friends grew older. After years together laughing and riding their tricycles and then bikes up and down the block, several of the boys grew angry and mean. Ultimately, they turned on my son, taunting him, leaving him out of their games. He began to trudge home, tail between his legs. And I felt called to action. At first, I tried to bolster his confidence so he would give the playground another go. But one Saturday morning I met him at the front steps and told him he could not come into the house. “You have to figure this out,” I said. “I’ll stay with you as long as you need, but I cannot let you just give up.” He tried to push past me, his humiliation becoming frantic. He melted down, screaming and crying. I kept saying: “You can do it. You don’t have to give up.” A neighbor poked her head out, concerned about what must have sounded like child abuse. Did I do the right thing? Even now I’m not sure. He did go back to the playground, and eventually managed some kind of truce with the other kids. He grew up into a fine man, a teacher, and understands I was trying to help, in my clumsy way. But while teaching him to stand up for himself, was I also passing along the prejudice that a boy should override his pain and never back down from a fight? What happened in my son’s peer group was perfectly predictable. Boyhood immerses boys in violence and the bullying that leads to it. High school boys are more likely than girls to have been in a physical fight in the past year and male children are more likely to have been victims of violence. Three types of male violence — violence against women, violence against other men and violence against themselves — are deeply interwoven. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26098 - Posted: 04.01.2019

New rules to reduce naturally high testosterone levels in female athletes have been branded "unscientific". Last year, athletics chiefs ruled women with levels of five nanomoles per litre or more must have hormone treatment before being allowed to compete. But experts, reporting in the British Medical Journal, say there is a lack of evidence about testosterone's effects and the cut-off figure is arbitrary. A decision on the legality of the rules is expected later this month. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) delayed implementing its regulations after South African runner Caster Semenya contested the legality of the new rules. She was banned from international competitions for nearly a year for having testosterone levels above the athletics body's limit for female athletes. World athletics bosses have previously said they want to protect the sanctity of fair and open competition. Writing in an editorial in the BMJ, Dr Sheree Bekker, from the University of Bath, and Prof Cara Tannenbaum, from the University of Montreal, say the IAAF's regulations risked "setting an unscientific precedent for other cases of genetic advantage". "The medical profession does not define biological sex or physical function by serum testosterone levels alone," they say. And they warned that the proposed rules could have "far reaching implications" on individuals and societies. Dr Bekker and Prof Tannenbaum argue that testosterone levels vary naturally in men and women, with higher averages among elite athletes. But there is also a big crossover between men and women, with 16% of men classified as having low testosterone and 14% of women having high, according to some definitions. They say testosterone is just one indicator of sports performance and many other factors also play a role. "If more science is needed... then call for health research organisations to deliver on this mandate," they say. © 2019 BBC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26057 - Posted: 03.21.2019

By Michael Price Female twins who shared a womb with a brother tend to get less education, earn less money, and have fewer children than girls who shared a womb with another girl, according to an analysis of hundreds of thousands of births over more than a decade. Researchers suspect the cause is testosterone exposure during fetal development, though the exact mechanism remains a mystery. “I think it’s a really interesting look at how this really complicated system might impact females,” says Talia Melber, a biological anthropologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana who wasn’t involved in the study. Still, she cautions, a lot more work needs to be done to establish a causal link. Fraternal twins, in which each of two eggs is fertilized by a different sperm cell, occur in about four of every 1000 births. About half of those result in male-female twin pairs. Typically, about 8 to 9 weeks into gestation, a male fetus begins to produce massive amounts of testosterone, which helps jump-start the development of male reproductive organs and brain architecture; female fetuses receive only modest amounts of the sex hormone. In male-female twins, though, small amounts of the male fetus’s testosterone can seep into the female twin’s separate amniotic sac. Scientists have known about this phenomenon for decades, and have been arguing for just as long over what effects, if any, it has on women later in life. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26051 - Posted: 03.19.2019

By Elizabeth Pennisi Cowbirds are the quintessential deadbeat parents. They, and about 90 other bird species, abandon their eggs in other birds’ nests, leaving the burden of chick care to others. An arms race is the result: Cuckolded foster parents keep evolving ways to fight back, and deadbeats evolve countermeasures. Now, researchers have discovered how spots on an egg play a crucial role in a parent’s decision to keep an egg—or boot it from the nest. One of the shiny cowbird’s (Molothrus bonariensis) most common victims is the chalk-browed mockingbird (Mimus saturninus). The mockingbird’s eggs are blue-green and spotted, whereas the cowbird’s eggs vary from pure white to brown and spotted. Researchers had assumed mockingbirds reject cowbird eggs that don't look like their own, in pattern and color. But the new study finds it’s not that simple. To get a better sense of how mockingbirds decide which eggs to boot, evolutionary ecologist Daniel Hanley at Long Island University in Brookville, New York, and colleagues painted 70 3D-printed eggs a range of colors and put spots on half of them. They distributed these eggs among 85 mockingbird nests and checked several days later to see which eggs were still there. Spots tended to make the mockingbirds hedge their bets and keep an egg, even if the color wasn’t “right,” Hanley and his colleagues report in the April issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. For example, the mockingbirds removed unspotted brown eggs—a “wrong” color and pattern—90% of the time. But the birds were less sure when the egg had spots. They removed brown eggs with spots just 60% of the time, for example. In general, mockingbirds were more accepting of very blue eggs, even those that were much bluer than their own eggs. And when these blue eggs had spots, parents kept them more than 90% of the time. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 26014 - Posted: 03.07.2019

Nicola Davis A pair of twins have stunned researchers after it emerged that they are neither identical nor fraternal – but something in between. The team say the boy and girl, now four years old, are the second case of semi-identical twins ever recorded, and the first to be spotted while the mother was pregnant. The situation was a surprise to the researchers. An ultrasound of the 28-year old mother at six weeks suggested the twins were identical – with signs including a shared placenta. But it soon became clear all was not as it seemed. “What happened was the mother came back for her routine ultrasound some months later, and we saw one [twin] to be a boy and one to be a girl,” said Dr Michael Gabbett, first author of the report from Queensland University of Technology in Australia. “At that point we started the genetic studies and worked it out from there.” Twins are normally either identical or fraternal. In the case of identical, one egg is fertilised by one sperm, but the resulting ball of cells splits in two, giving rise to two offspring with identical genetic material. In the case of fraternal, or non-identical, twins, two eggs are fertilised, each by a different sperm. The resulting siblings arise from the same pregnancy, but are no more genetically similar than siblings from the same parents born at a different time. Faced with a puzzling scenario, Gabbett and colleagues report in the New England Journal of Medicine that they took samples from the two amniotic sacs, allowing them to investigate the genomes of the twins during the pregnancy. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25997 - Posted: 03.01.2019

Susan Milius Cheating pays, sort of. But for a glossy blue-black bird with a bright yellow eye, cheating doesn’t outdo regular honest parenting. The greater ani, a type of cuckoo found from Panama to the Amazon Basin, usually starts out as a dutiful parent. Two or three male-female pairs typically build and fill a communal nest “like a big basket of eggs,” says behavioral ecologist Christina Riehl of Princeton University. But if a snake or some other disaster kills the young, a bereft female sometimes gets sneaky. She slips into neighboring ani nests and leaves an egg here and there that she won’t care for, but the rightful nest owners might. Not all females from trashed nests do that. Some just wait for the next breeding season, when all the birds get a fresh start building another nest. Greater anis’ sporadic cheating offers a rare chance to compare the success of egg-sneaks with honest mothers in the same species. Over 11 breeding seasons, Riehl and colleagues determined the parentage of more than 1,700 eggs and found 65 eggs in foster nests. Mothers that parasitize other nests in this way seem to lay more eggs a year, on average, Riehl says. “It’s actually kind of hard to be a parasite,” she says. But the average number of chicks that survived to flutter out of the nest on their own frantic wing power was about the same for all females, Riehl and Princeton colleague Meghan Strong report online February 27 in Nature. The mothers that always cooperated averaged about one fledgling a year, and so did the females that laid stealth eggs. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25991 - Posted: 02.28.2019

By Karen Weintraub All serious butterfly collectors remember their first gynandromorph: a butterfly with a color and pattern that are distinctly male on one wing and female on the other. Seeing one sparks wonder and curiosity. For the biologist Nipam H. Patel, the sighting offered a possible answer to a question he had been pondering for years: During embryonic and larval development, how do cells know where to stop and where to go? He was sure that the delicate black outlines between male and female regions appearing on one wing — but not the other — identified a key facet of animal development. “It immediately struck me that this was telling me something interesting about how the wing was being made,” said Dr. Patel, a biologist who now heads the Marine Biological Laboratory, a research institute in Woods Hole, Mass., affiliated with the University of Chicago. The patterning on the gynandromorph’s wing shows that the body uses signaling centers to control where cells go during development and what tissues they become in creatures as diverse as butterflies and people, Dr. Patel said. Gynandromorph butterflies and other half-male, half-female creatures, particularly birds, have fascinated both scientists and amateurs for centuries. The latest sensation was a half-red, half-taupe cardinal that became a regular visitor in the backyard of Shirley and Jeffrey Caldwell in Erie, Pa. Although the bird would have to be tested to confirm that it is a gynandromorph, its color division strongly suggests that it is, scientists say. Split-sex creatures are not as unusual as they may seem when one discovery goes viral, as the cardinal’s did. It extends beyond birds and butterflies to other insects and crustaceans, like lobsters and crabs. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25990 - Posted: 02.27.2019

Genevieve Fox You receive an invitation, emblazoned with a question: “A bouncing little ‘he’ or a pretty little ‘she’?” The question is your teaser for the “gender reveal party” to which you are being invited by an expectant mother who, at more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy, knows what you don’t: the sex of her child. After you arrive, explains cognitive neuroscientist Gina Rippon in her riveting new book, The Gendered Brain, the big reveal will be hidden within some novelty item, such as a white iced cake, and will be colour-coded. Cut the cake and you’ll see either blue or pink filling. If it is blue, it is a… Yes, you’ve guessed it. Whatever its sex, this baby’s future is predetermined by the entrenched belief that males and females do all kinds of things differently, better or worse, because they have different brains. A neuroscientist explains: the need for ‘empathetic citizens’ - podcast “Hang on a minute!” chuckles Rippon, who has been interested in the human brain since childhood, “the science has moved on. We’re in the 21st century now!” Her measured delivery is at odds with the image created by her detractors, who decry her as a “neuronazi” and a “grumpy old harridan” with an “equality fetish”. For my part, I was braced for an encounter with an egghead, who would talk at me and over me. Rippon is patient, though there is an urgency in her voice as she explains how vital it is, how life-changing, that we finally unpack – and discard – the sexist stereotypes and binary coding that limit and harm us. For Rippon, a twin, the effects of stereotyping kicked in early. Her “under-achieving” brother was sent to a boys’ academic Catholic boarding school, aged 11. “It’s difficult to say this. I was clearly academically bright. I was top in the country for the 11+.” This gave her a scholarship to a grammar school. Her parents sent her to a girls’ non-academic Catholic convent instead. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25983 - Posted: 02.26.2019

Nicole Creanza and Kate Snyder How do individuals choose their mates? Why are some more successful at attracting mates than others? These age-old questions are broadly relevant to all animals, including human beings. Darwin’s theory of natural selection offers one way to answer them. Sometimes phrased as “survival of the fittest,” the theory can also apply to mate choice, predicting that it’s beneficial to choose the mate who’s best adapted to surviving in its environment — the fastest runner, the best hunter, the farmer with the highest yields. That’s a bit simplistic as a summary of human sexuality, of course, since people pair up in the context of complex social norms and gender roles that are uniquely human. Researchers like us do think, though, that mate choice in other animals is influenced by these kinds of perceived adaptations. It fits with scientists’ understanding of evolution: If females choose to mate with well-adapted males, their offspring might have a better chance of surviving as well. Advantageous traits wind up passed down and preserved in future generations. But in many species, males try to attract mates by displaying characteristics that seem to be decidedly non-adaptive. These signals – such as a dazzling tail on a peacock or a beautiful tune from a songbird – were originally a big wrench thrown into Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Traits like these seem to do the opposite of making an animal more likely to survive in its environment. A flashy tail display or a showy melody is cumbersome, and it announces you to predators as well as love interests. Darwin got so upset by this inconsistency that he said “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick.” © 2010–2019, The Conversation US, Inc.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25979 - Posted: 02.22.2019

By Meredith Wadman BethAnn McLaughlin has no time for James Watson, especially not when the 90-year-old geneticist is peering out from a photo on the wall of her guest room at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Banbury Center. “I don’t need him staring at me when I’m trying to go to sleep,” McLaughlin told a December 2018 gathering at the storied New York meeting center as she projected a photo of her redecorating job: She had hung a washcloth over the image of Watson, who co-discovered DNA’s structure, directed the lab for decades—and is well-known for racist and sexist statements. The washcloth image was part of McLaughlin’s unconventional presentation—by turns sobering, hilarious, passionate, and profane—to two dozen experts who had gathered to wrestle with how to end gender discrimination in the biosciences. McLaughlin, a 51-year-old neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, displayed the names of current members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) who have been sanctioned for sexual harassment. She urged other NAS members—several of whom sat in the room—to resign in protest, “as one does.” She chided institutions for passing along “harassholes” to other universities. “The only other places that do this are the Catholic Church and the military,” she said. In the past 9 months, McLaughlin has exploded into view as the public face of the #MeToo movement in science, wielding her irreverent, sometimes wickedly funny Twitter presence, @McLNeuro, as part cudgel, part cheerleader’s megaphone. In June 2018, she created a website, MeTooSTEM.com, where scores of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have posted mostly anonymous, often harrowing tales of their own harassment. In just 2 days that month, she convinced the widely used website RateMyProfessors.com to remove its “red hot chili pepper” rating for “hotness.” And after launching an online petition, she succeeded last fall in spurring AAAS, which publishes Science, to adopt a policy allowing proven sexual harassers to be stripped of AAAS honors. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25961 - Posted: 02.13.2019

By Natalie Angier Most female flies take a low-rent approach to parenthood, depositing scores of seed-sized eggs in the trash or on pet scat to hatch, leaving the larvae to fend for themselves. Not so the female tsetse fly. She gestates her young internally, one at a time, and gives birth to them live. When each extravagantly pampered offspring pulls free of her uterus after nine days, fly mother and child are pretty much the same size. “It’s the equivalent of giving birth to an 18-year-old,” said Geoffrey Attardo, an entomologist who studies tsetse flies at the University of California, Davis. The newborn tsetse fly looks like a hand grenade and moves like a Slinky, and if you squeeze it too hard the source of its plumpness becomes clear — or rather a telltale white. The larva, it seems, is just a big bag of milk. “Rupture the gut,” Dr. Attardo said, “and the milk comes spilling out.” And milk it truly is — a nutritional, biochemical and immunological designer fluid that the mother fly’s body has spun from her blood meals and pumped into her uterus, where her developing young greedily gulped it down. Thus fattened on maternal largess, a tsetse fly larva can safely burrow underground and pupate for 30 days before emerging as a full-blown adult with a nasty bite and a notorious capacity to transmit a deadly disease called sleeping sickness. In a recent chemical and genetic analysis of tsetse fly milk, Dr. Attardo and his colleagues were startled to discover how similar it was to the product of the beloved gland that stamps us as mammals. “I was expecting something completely off the wall and different,” he said. “But there are frightening, fascinating overlaps with mammalian milk in the kinds of proteins we see.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25955 - Posted: 02.12.2019

By Lisa Rapaport New mothers who have friends ready to step in and help them, tend to have toddlers who score better on cognitive tests than the babies of women with smaller social support networks, a U.S. study suggests. Strong social ties to friends and family have long been linked to better behavioral and physical health outcomes for adults. And plenty of previous research also indicates that infants’ and toddlers’ bonds with caregivers can have a lasting impact on children’s emotional, intellectual and social development. But less is known about how the caregivers’ own social connections might influence early childhood cognitive development. For the current study, researchers examined data on 1,082 mother-child pairs. They questioned women about their family structure, friendships and relationships in their communities and also looked at test results from cognitive assessments done when children were 2 years old. Overall, mothers had an average of 3.5 friends in their social support networks. The kids of mothers with more than that tended to have higher cognitive test scores than the kids of those who had fewer, suggesting “network conditions were significantly associated with early cognitive development in children,” the study authors wrote. © 1996-2019 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25954 - Posted: 02.12.2019

Jon Hamilton Women tend to have more youthful brains than their male counterparts — at least when it comes to metabolism. While age reduces the metabolism of all brains, women retain a higher rate throughout the lifespan, researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Females had a younger brain age relative to males," says Dr. Manu Goyal, an assistant professor of radiology and neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. And that may mean women are better equipped to learn and be creative in later life, he says. The finding is "great news for many women," says Roberta Diaz Brinton, who wasn't connected with the study and directs the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. But she cautions that even though women's brain metabolism is higher overall, some women's brains experience a dramatic metabolic decline around menopause, leaving them vulnerable to Alzheimer's. The study came after Goyal and a team of researchers studied the brain scans of 205 people whose ages ranged from 20 to 82. Positron emission tomography scans of these people assessed metabolism by measuring how much oxygen and glucose was being used at many different locations in the brain. The team initially hoped to use the metabolic information to predict a person's age. So they had a computer study how metabolism changed in both men and women. © 2019 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 25933 - Posted: 02.05.2019

By Jordana Cepelewicz Genitals are among the fastest-evolving features in the animal kingdom. They’re also among the most diverse, arrayed in all shapes and sizes, adorned with spines, hooks and even teeth. Ducks have corkscrew-shaped genitalia. The male sea horse has a brood pouch that receives his mate’s eggs for fertilization and in which he nurtures the resulting offspring until birth. Female cabbage white butterflies have a hinged jaw inside their genital tract. Nature is full of strange reproductive organs with unusual uses. For the most part, though, certain genital morphologies are associated with males, others with females. But in 2014, a tiny insect called the barklouse broke even that rule when researchers reported that the females of all four species of a genus found in the caves of Brazil had a penis. It didn’t just look like a penis but acted like one, too: a penetrative organ the female insects used to anchor themselves to their mates during copulation. Moreover, complementary changes in the genitalia of the males had left them with a small pumping mechanism inside a membranous “vagina-like” cavity. Content from The Coca-Cola Company Sustainability and closed-loop recycling systems must now become a global priority, from emerging nations to the world's largest economies. Read More The finding not only piqued widespread interest (and amusement — the team was awarded a comedic Ig Nobel Prize in 2017), but also led to a debate about whether the scientists involved were correct to refer to the structure, called a gynosome, as a “female penis.” (Some experts, for instance, disagree with that characterization because the gynosome collects sperm rather than delivering it.) © 1996-2019 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25928 - Posted: 02.04.2019