Katharina Hamann with an international team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Harvard University and the Michigan State University found that sharing in children that young is a pure collaborative phenomenon: when kids received rewards not cooperatively but as a windfall, or worked individually next to one another, they kept the majority of toys for themselves. One of humans' closest living relatives, chimpanzees, did not show this connection between sharing resources and collaborative efforts.
Chlamydia Knock Out the Body's Own Cancer Defence
Infections due to the sexually transmitted bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis often remain unnoticed. The pathogen is not only a common cause of female infertility; it is also suspected of increasing the risk of abdominal cancer. A research team at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin has now observed the breakdown of an important endogenous protective factor in the course of chlamydial infection. By activating the destruction of p53 protein, the bacterium blocks a key protective mechanism of infected cells, the initiation
From Single Cells to Multicellular Life
All multicellular creatures are descended from single-celled organisms. The leap from unicellularity to multicellularity is possible only if the originally independent cells collaborate. So-called cheating cells that exploit the cooperation of others are considered a major obstacle. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, together with researchers from New Zealand and the USA, have observed in real time the evolution of simple self-reproducing groups of cells from previously individual cells. The nascent organisms are comprised of a single
Don't Be an Outsider!
Children and chimpanzees often follow the group when they want to learn something new. But do they actually forego their own preferences in order to fit in with their peers? In direct comparisons between apes and children, a research team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and Jena University has found that the readiness to abandon preferences and conform to others is particularly pronounced in humans – even in two-year-old children. Interestingly, the number of peers presenting an alternative
Together We Are Strong - Or Insufferable
How do we as individuals prompt our fellow humans to behave socially? This is one of the central questions relating to social dilemmas in game theory. Previous studies assumed that it is almost impossible to control cooperation in large groups. Nonetheless, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology have now demonstrated that each of us can exert an influence on the cooperative behaviour of others. However, the possibilities available to the individual are limited in this regard, particularly in the context
Pair Bonding Reinforced in the Brain
In addition to their song, songbirds also have an extensive repertoire of calls. While the species-specific song must be learned as a young bird, most calls are, as in the case of all other birds, innate. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Seewiesen have now discovered that in zebra finches the song control system in the brain is also active during simple communication calls. This relationship between unlearned calls and an area of the brain responsible for learned vocalisations is important for