THE EYES HAVE IT
Rudolph could switch his shiny nose on and off, but were you aware that reindeer can also change their eye colour? Wired reports on recent research from University College London and Norway’s University of Tromso that revealed Arctic reindeer eyes change their hue as the seasons change in order to help them detect predators. The change occurs in a layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the retina. The change helps reindeer cope with extreme differences in light levels between seasons, said UCL’s Glen Jeffery. “This gives them an advantage when it comes to spotting predators, which could save their lives.”
ALL BETS ARE OFF
There is hope for compulsive gamblers and it likely will come in the form of a pill. As reported in the Vancouver Sun, researchers at the University of British Columbia have had success in reducing compulsive gambling in rats with a new drug, raising hopes of doing likewise in humans. Lead researcher Paul Cocker set up a “rat casino” to test the theory that human gamblers are as keenly encouraged by a near-miss on a slot machine as by a win. Test rodents showed the same tendency, seeking a reward for a “two-cherry” loss almost as often as for a “three-cherry” win. The UBC team employed drugs to block the rats’ D4 dopamine receptor and were able to increase or decrease the rats’ compulsion to press the reward lever after a near-win.
With all due respect to Casablanca, a kiss is not necessarily just a kiss. The New York Times reports on an Oxford University study that explored the function of kissing in human relationships. In an online study, 308 men and 594 women were queried about their attitudes toward kissing along with their sexual history and current relationship status. They were also asked to rate their “mate value” by assessing their own attractiveness. The results showed that kissing helped people assess the genetic quality of potential mates and was useful in keeping couples together. The women believed kissing was more important in a relationship than the men did, but kissing was extremely important to both men and women who believed themselves to be attractive.
THOUGHT DU JOUR
It is absurd to divide people into good or bad. People are either charming or tedious.
Oscar Wilde, writer, poet (1854-1900)