Recent Interesting Science Articles (Dec ’11)Wednesday, January 11, 2012 17:13
Posted in category Science
I spent some time looking for cool stuff to share but only have a couple of articles for the last month of 2011, so here they are anyway:
- The Economist has a simple story about how the usual practice of cutting off an infant’s umbilical cord immediately following birth may not be a good idea. The theory is that as long as the cord is still attached, blood continues to flow from the detached placenta to the infant. If the cord is cut too soon, not enough blood flows into the infant, causing anemia. Indeed, a study found that infants who had their umbilical cords cut after at least 3 minutes following birth had up to 45% more iron in their blood compared to those whose cords were cut within 10 seconds when they were 4 months old. As the article suggests, this may be what nature “intended” as other mammals tend to leave the cords attached for some time following birth.
- The next article is the latest in a long line of findings in evolutionary psychology which show that human infants are born with an ingrained sense of morality. What makes this one different is that it also shows that infants’ sense of morality is capable of quickly growing more sophisticated as they grow older. Previous studies showed that infants like to reward actors in events that they perceive to be good, which usually means an actor that has been seen to be helping other actors in a scenario, such as retrieving an object for them or helping them climb across an obstacle etc. However, this time the researchers showed that at the age of about 8 months, the babies, when asked to reward an actor, would choose to reward a bad actor if they had previously seen this actor doing bad things to another antisocial actor as opposed to another actor who only did good things all the time. This means that they are rewarding an actor who they think is justly punishing someone bad.
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