Study finds chimps can use gestures to communicate in hunt for food

Chimpanzees are capable of using gestures to communicate as they pursue specific goals, such as finding a hidden piece of food, according to a new Georgia State University research study.

Researchers at Georgia State University’s Language Research Center examined how two language-trained chimpanzees communicated with a human experimenter to find food. Their results are the most compelling evidence to date that primates can use gestures to coordinate actions in pursuit of a specific goal.

The team devised a task that demanded coordination among the chimps and a human to find a piece of food that had been hidden in a large outdoor area. The human experimenter did not know where the food was hidden, and the chimpanzees used gestures such as pointing to guide the experimenter to the food.

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How a versatile gut bacterium helps us get our daily dietary fiber

This image shows Bacteroides ovatus, wild strain.  Credit: Harry Brumer, UBC

This image shows Bacteroides ovatus, wild strain. Credit: Harry Brumer, UBC

University of British Columbia researchers have discovered the genetic machinery that turns a common gut bacterium into the Swiss Army knife of the digestive tract – helping us metabolize a main component of dietary fibre from the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.

The findings illuminate the specialized roles played by key members of the vast microbial community living in the human gut, and could inform the development of tailored microbiota transplants to improve intestinal health after antibiotic use or illness. The research is published today in the journal Nature.

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In the blink of an eye

The human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds.

Altering the community of gut bacteria promotes health and increases lifespan

Even though recent research in humans has linked the composition of gut flora with diet and health in the elderly and the list of age-related diseases associated with changes in gut bacteria include cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease, lead author and Buck faculty Heinrich Jasper, PhD, says there is no systematic understanding of how we go from having a young, healthy gut to one that is old and decrepit.

Easier said than done

Researchers have carried out experiments involving virtual reality and found that human behaviour might be very different from what is seen in conventional tests relying on moral dilemmas.

Brain regions ‘tune’ activity to enable attention

The brain appears to synchronize the activity of different brain regions to make it possible for a person to pay attention or concentrate on a task, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have learned.

When a doctors visit is a guilt trip

Have you ever left a doctor's office feeling ashamed or guilty? Chances are one in two that you answered "yes," according to research from the University of California, San Diego.

The symphony of life, revealed

Like the strings on a violin or the pipes of an organ, the proteins in the human body vibrate in different patterns, scientists have long suspected. Now, a new study provides what researchers say is the first conclusive evidence that this is true.

Women with a high economic status claim to have better sex

An analysis based on the first Spanish National Sexual Health Survey, carried out in 2009, confirms that socioeconomic factors affect sexual satisfaction. People with a lower economic status claim to be less sexually satisfied, particularly women.