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Neuroscientists identify the origins of 'free will' inside the brain

Neuroscientists identify the origins of 'free will' inside the brain

Science
Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Neuroscientists have pinpointed the origin of "free will" inside the human brain. Whether or not free will exists -- or whether such a distinction is meaningful -- will remain a point of contention among priests and philosophers. What matters to neuroscientists is the interpretation, or perception, of free will. And for the first time, scientists have identified its cognitive origins. Scientists define free will as the combination of volition, the will to act and agency, a sense of responsibility for one's actions. Through an analysis method called brain lesion network mapping, scientists were able to pinpoint the origins of the two cognitive processes responsible for the perception of free will. "Lesion network mapping is a recently validated technique that allows scient...
Being human: Big toe clung on longest to primate origins

Being human: Big toe clung on longest to primate origins

Science
Scientists have found that our big toe was one of the last parts of the foot to evolve, a study suggests.As our early ancestors began to walk on two legs, they would also have hung about in trees, using their feet to grasp branches. They walked differently on the ground, but were still able to move around quite efficiently. The rigid big toe that eventually evolved gives efficient push-off power during walking and running.The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In this new study, scientists made 3D scans of the toe bone joints from living and fossil human relatives, including primates such as apes and monkeys, and then compared them to modern day humans. They overla...
Bonobos won't eat filthy food, offering clues to the origins of disgust

Bonobos won't eat filthy food, offering clues to the origins of disgust

Science
June 4 (UPI) -- Bonobos won't eat dirty food. In experiments, the great apes refused fruit that had been contaminated by feces. Scientists wanted to better understand the evolutionary origins of disgust. The reaction helps humans avoid exposure to pathogens, and the latest research suggests the reaction offers apes' similar benefits. Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan offered bonobos several food options: clean apple slices and apple slices tainted by either feces or dirt. Scientists also offered the apes banana slices positioned at various distances from fresh feces. The bonobos most avoided contaminated apples, opting for the clean slices, and were more likely to eat banana slices placed farther away from sources of pathogens. Tests showed the bonobos were also less likely to hav...
Rosetta illuminates origins of sunrise jets on comet 67P

Rosetta illuminates origins of sunrise jets on comet 67P

Science
May 23 (UPI) -- Thanks to data collected by the Rosetta probe, astronomers are beginning to understand the factors responsible for the formation of sunrise jets, which are unique dust and gas jets emitted by comets. Sunrise jets are narrow strands of gas and dust extending from a comet's surface. They spring to life when a comet moves into the inner solar system and become bathed in sunlight, causing ice to melt and water vapor to envelope the orb. Using data collected by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, which orbited and observed comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from August 2014 to September 2016, astronomers were able to catalogue the comet's gas and dust emissions. The more than 70,000 images captured by Rosetta's scientific camera system OSIRIS revealed both sudden erup...
Origins of amphibian-killing fungus uncovered

Origins of amphibian-killing fungus uncovered

Science
A deadly fungus that has ravaged amphibian populations worldwide probably originated in East Asia, new research suggests.A study in Science journal supports an idea that the pet trade helped spread killer strains of the chytrid fungus around the globe.The fungus is a major cause of the devastating declines experienced by frogs, toads, newts and salamanders.There is no known effective measure for controlling the disease.The authors of the report highlight the need to tighten biosecurity along country borders, including a potential ban on the trade in amphibians as pets.The chytrid fungus, known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, was first identified as a problem in the 1990s, said co-author Dr Simon O'Hanlon, from Imperial ...