Love is the Product of Lousy Neurons

Why are humans so aberrant? It’s because our neurons are lousy processors, so we need big, fat brains to make clever us.

Why are humans so aberrant - that is to say - why do all human cultures have marriage-like institutions while 90 percent of mammalian species are promiscuous?


The neuroscientist David Linden points to our "jellyfish-like or coral-like" neurons, which are pretty crummy parts if you are trying to create "clever us." 

These ancient, inefficient neurons "signal probabilistically, they are unreliable, they leak signals to their neighbors and they’re slow," Linden says. And so, in order to be clever humans, we need an extraordinarily large number of neurons and a huge brain to store them all. And that, in turn, means that it takes humans, as opposed to orangutans, an extraordinary amount of time to develop. 

This long post-natal maturation - the longest childhood of any animal - means that "single moms aren’t very effective in keeping their children alive in hunter/gatherer societies," Linden says. And that is why love is so important for human survival.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

Videos
  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
Keep reading Show less

Juice is terrible for children. Why do we keep giving it to them?

A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.

Pixabay user Stocksnap
popular

Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you. 

Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less