Humans

Right is right for righties, plus trading for better decisions and the human spread to Arabia in this week’s news

Trading cognitive declines Working together may protect older people whose thinking skills are declining from getting burned on investments and other crucial decisions. A computer set-up that allowed a group of seniors to trade shares of political candidates from both parties during the 2008 primaries, much as stocks get traded, cut the financial losses of participants with brain-related problems in decision making, say neuropsychologist Natalie Denburg of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and her colleagues. Based on digital transactions, a software program created trading criteria that were automatically used to stop extremely bad trades from being finalized, the researchers report in an upcoming Neuropsychologia . —
Bruce Bower Kids’ good side, bad side Children take handedness to heart. By ages 5 to 10, right-handers regard the right side of their visual field as better than the left side, while lefties favor the left side, say psychologists Daniel Casasanto of the New School of Social Research in New York City and Tania Henetz of Stanford University. Righties labeled cartoon animals on a screen’s right side as smarter and nicer than animated creatures on the left, and lefties reversed those judgments, the scientists report in an upcoming Cognitive Science . Moving more fluently with the body’s right or left side subtly shapes opinions about what’s good or bad, the researchers propose. — Bruce Bower Into Arabia
Early humans had entered northern Arabia by 75,000 years ago, a discovery that helps paleoanthropologists better understand how humans emerged from Africa to spread across the rest of the world. Stone tools in the Jubbah region, 500 kilometers from any coast, suggest that people lived there at least temporarily. Today the landscape is desert, but at the time it was studded with shallow lakes, grasses and some trees — an attractive way station on the trip out of Africa. A team led by Michael Petraglia of the University of Oxford reports the find in an upcoming Quaternary Science Reviews . — Alexandra Witze

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