We May Be Born With an Urge to Help
( New York Times )

What is the essence of human nature? Flawed, say many theologians. Vicious and addicted to warfare, wrote Hobbes. Selfish and in need of considerable improvement, think many parents.

But biologists are beginning to form a generally sunnier view of humankind. Their conclusions are derived in part from testing very young children, and partly from comparing human children with those of chimpanzees, hoping that the differences will point to what is distinctively human.

The somewhat surprising answer at which some biologists have arrived is that babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Of course every animal must to some extent be selfish to survive. But the biologists also see in humans a natural willingness to help.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・theologian 神学者(theology:神学)
・warfare 戦争、交戦状態、戦闘行為
・distinctively (他と)区別して、独特に
・extent 広さ、大きさ、程度、限度

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People Hear With Skin as Well as Their Ears
( New York Times )

We hear with our ears, right? Yes, but scientists have known for years that we also hear with our eyes. In a landmark study published in 1976, researchers found that people integrated both auditory cues and visual ones, like mouth and face movements, when they heard speech.

That study, and many that followed, raised this fundamental question about speech perception: If humans can integrate different sensory cues, do they do so through experience (through seeing countless speaking faces over time), or has evolution hard-wired them to do it?

A new study that looks at a different set of sensory cues adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests such integration is innate. In a paper in Nature, Bryan Gick and Donald Derrick of the University of British Columbia report that people can hear with their skin.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・auditory 耳の、聴覚の.
・cue キュー(セリフなどの合図)、きっかけ、手がかり
・evolution 発展、進化

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The Human Body Is Built for Distance
( New York Times )

Does running a marathon push the body further than it is meant to go?

The conventional wisdom is that distance running leads to
debilitating wear and tear, especially on the joints. But that
hasn’t stopped runners from flocking to starting lines in record numbers.

The scientific evidence supports the notion that humans evolved to be runners. In a 2007 paper in the journal Sports Medicine, Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, and Dennis M. Bramble, a biologist at the University of Utah, wrote that several characteristics unique to humans suggested endurance running played an important role in our evolution.

Most mammals can sprint faster than humans ― having four legs gives them the advantage. But when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・conventional 因習的な、慣習的な
・wisdom 知恵、分別
・debilitate 衰弱させる
・joint 接合、関節
・flock 群がる、集まる
・pant あえぐ、息切れする

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A Dream Interpretation: Tuneups for the Brain
( New York Times )

It’s snowing heavily, and everyone in the backyard is in a swimsuit, at some kind of party: Mom, Dad, the high school principal, there’s even an ex-girlfriend. And is that Elvis, over by the pin~ata?


Dreams are so rich and have such an authentic feeling that scientists have long assumed they must have a crucial psychological purpose. To Freud, dreaming provided a playground for the unconscious mind; to Jung, it was a stage where the psyche’s archetypes acted out primal themes. Newer theories hold that dreams help the brain to consolidate emotional memories or to work though current problems, like divorce
and work frustrations.

Yet what if the primary purpose of dreaming isn’t psychological at all?

In a paper published last month in the journal Nature Reviews
Neuroscience, Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a psychiatrist and longtime sleep researcher at Harvard, argues that the main function of rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM, when most dreaming occurs, is physiological. The brain is warming its circuits, anticipating the sights and sounds and emotions of waking.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・interpretation 解釈、通訳
・authentic 本物の、正真正銘の
・crucial 決定的な、重要な
・purpose 目的、意味
・primal 第一の、主要な、原始の
・consolidate 強くする、固める、(会社など)合併統合する
・psychiatrist 精神科医(psychiatry:精神医学)

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Fossil Skeleton From Africa Predates Lucy
( New York Times )

Lucy, meet Ardi.

Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus, is the newest fossil skeleton out of Africa to take its place in the gallery of human origins. At an age of 4.4 million years, it lived well before and was much more primitive than the famous 3.2-million-year-old Lucy, of the species Australopithecus afarensis.

Since finding fragments of the older hominid in 1992, an
international team of scientists has been searching for more
specimens and on Thursday presented a fairly complete skeleton and their first full analysis. By replacing Lucy as the earliest known skeleton from the human branch of the primate family tree, the scientists said, Ardi opened a window to “the early evolutionary steps that our ancestors took after we diverged from our common ancestor with chimpanzees.”

The older hominid was already so different from chimps that it
suggested “no modern ape is a realistic proxy for characterizing early hominid evolution,” they wrote.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・fragment 破片、断片
・specimen 見本、標本
・diverge 分岐する、離れる
・proxy 代理(人・物)

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