The Brain

Animals Could Help Reveal Why Humans Fall For Illusions

Photo credit: Rabbit or duck, it’s all in the eyes. Wikimedia, CC BY

Visual illusions, such as the rabbit-duck (shown above) and café wall (shown below) are fascinating because they remind us of the discrepancy between perception and reality. But our knowledge of such illusions has been largely limited to studying humans.

That is now changing. There is mounting evidence that other animals can fall prey to the same illusions. Understanding whether these illusions arise in different brains could help us understand how evolution shapes visual perception.


Plants and Animals

Every Time A Fig Is Born There Is A Wasp Massacre

Photo credit: Ready to fight to the death? James Cook, Author provided

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is a common refrain. But usually it is not followed by the words “because your neighbours may kill you”. However, this is precisely the scenario faced by some female Brazilian fig wasps – and a recent report of their “mortal combat” provides an intriguing, if chilling, example of how natural selection shapes animal behaviour.

Editor's Blog

The Female Enigmas Of Bletchley Park In The 1940s Should Encourage Those Of Tomorrow

Photo credit: Jean Valentine, a bombe operator at Bletchley in the 1940s. Rui Vieira/PA

Bletchley Park is a name on everyone’s lips at the moment thanks to the generous coverage stemming from a film that rightly celebrates the role played by men like Alan Turing. But what about the women? At its height there were more than 10,000 people working at Bletchley Park, of whom more than two-thirds were women.

Health and Medicine

Improved Anti-HIV Antibodies Created Through Genetic Engineering

Photo credit: Lance Hayashida/Caltech Marketing & Communications and the Bjorkman Laboratory/Caltech

Part of what makes human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) so difficult to treat is its ability to elude the body’s immune system in a variety of ways. However, a recent study has described genetically-altered antibodies which have 100 times the HIV-fighting power of natural antibodies. This could be used to develop new treatments. Rachel Galimidi of Caltech was lead author of the paper, which was published in Cell.

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