Thursday, March 24, 2022

Symbolic quantitative cognition in wild zebrafish

Symbolic quantitative cognition in wild zebrafish (Danio rerio). Nawaf Abdul Majeed, Dhairrya Singh, Akshita Baiju Gopal, Tanya Battiwala, Ninaad Kulshreshtha, Rahulraj Mishra, Shagun Sabharwal, Madhusmita Behera, Manisha Sahu, Ameya Menon, Lalchhanhimi Bungsut, Amiya Walia, Raksha Saraf, Susan Mathew, Ashumi Shah, Suhaavi Kochhar, Nivedita Salar, Sushmita Thakuri, Yashant Sharma, Nishtha Rampuria, Anubhab Bhattacharjee, Niharika Wagh, Sahana Hegde, Indira Bulhan, Gurasheesh Singh,  Bittu Kaveri Rajaraman. bioRxiv, Mar 19 2022.

Abstract: Zebrafish (Danio rerio) constitute an excellent model system to investigate the neural and genetic basis of quantitative cognition because of the single neuron resolution of calcium imaging of awake, behaving fish. While nonsymbolic numerical cognition has been investigated across many taxa, symbolic numerical cognition has not been investigated among fish. We developed a novel quantitative symbolic test for zebrafish using an operant conditioning paradigm in which the number of horizontal lines zebrafish approached in a 2-alternative forced choice task predicted the number of food reward pellets they would receive. Zebrafish did not at the population level learn a preference for the 2-line stimulus predictive of receiving 2 food pellets. However, they performed significantly above chance in a nonsymbolic discrimination task with the same apparatus, in which the 2-line stimulus was associated with the same reward but the choice of the 1-line stimulus was not rewarded. We also explored the explanatory value of alternative spatial learning hypotheses such as a Win-Stay, Lose-Shift (WSLS) strategy at the individual level for fish in navigating these spatially randomised tasks. The implications of this for symbolic versus nonsymbolic quantitative cognition in this model system are discussed relative to reward type and stimulus modality.

Association between mutations constrained in our distant past and modern human behaviours suggest traits associated with mate choice are the same today as they were thousands of generations ago... or not!

Constrained human genes under scrutiny. A higher number of damaging variations in certain genes is associated with an increased likelihood that a man will be childless. A geneticist and an anthropologist discuss what can — and can’t — be learnt from this finding. Loic Yengo & Heidi Colleran. Nature, Mar 23 2022.

In brief:

• Some genes are constrained, which means that damaging variants of them are removed from the population by natural selection.

• Writing in Nature, Gardner et al.1 investigated the processes underlying this evolutionary process in humans.

• They report that having a high overall amount of damaging genetic variation in constrained genes is associated with childlessness in men.

• The association is linked to only 1% of the chance of childlessness between individuals, but to larger effects over many generations in a population.

• The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that having a greater burden of damaging genetic variation might affect a man’s ability to find a mating partner.

Narcissism and psychopathy were positively linked with higher sexual motivation, self-esteem, and assertiveness, & negatively related to anxiety & fear; in the end, they have more fun

Evidence for the superordinate predictive ability of trait psychopathy: The Dark Triad and quality of sexual life. Benedikt Steininger, Jakob Pietschnig. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 193, July 2022, 111620.

Abstract: Novel evidence indicates that quality of sexual life is linked to the Dark Triad personality traits. However, results of Dark Triad research have often remained unreplicated, thus questioning the validity of observed effects. Here, we conceptually replicate and extend previous findings on the links of the Dark Triad to the quality of sexual life (i.e., sexual self-concept and generalized sexual satisfaction components) in a large, community-based sample (N = 896, 72% women, mean age = 28.1 years). Participants completed online self-assessments of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and the quality of their sexual lives. Regression analyses showed that all dark traits were positively associated with higher sexual preoccupation, but narcissism and psychopathy were positively linked with higher sexual motivation, self-esteem, and assertiveness, yet negatively related to anxiety and fear. Higher Machiavellianism scores were linked to more negative emotions and lower sexual motivation, self-esteem, assertiveness, and satisfaction. While aversive personality traits were predictive of sexual self-concept and satisfaction, the superordinate predictive value of trait psychopathy raises concerns about the validity of the conceptualization of the Dark Triad as three overlapping, yet sufficiently distinct personality traits. We show that psychopathy appears to be the most important aversive personality trait driving quality of sexual life.

Keywords: Dark TriadNarcissismMachiavellianismPsychopathyQuality of sexual lifeSexual self-conceptReplication

4. Discussion

In the present study, we demonstrate non-trivial influences of dark personality traits on sexual self-concept, sexual satisfaction, and overall quality of sexual life. Excessive thinking about sex (i.e., sexual preoccupation) was positively linked to all dark traits. Effects were small to medium-sized and tended to be most pronounced for subclinical psychopathy. When inspecting the associative pattern by means of multiple regressions, only psychopathy meaningfully predicted being excessively preoccupied with sexual thoughts. This finding is consistent with previous research linking aspects of antisocial behavior, practices, as well as impulsivity to an increased preoccupation with sexuality (Lee & Forbey, 2010).

The motivation to be sexually active was linked to all dark traits (excepting Machiavellianism which only yielded effects for men). Therefore, while it seems conceivable that psychopathy and narcissism increase the desire for sexual interaction, Machiavellianism may not. This idea is consistent with previous research linking narcissism and psychopathy to an increased sex drive, which does not apply to Machiavellianism once the other dark traits are controlled for (Baughman et al., 2014). However, in our study only psychopathy was meaningfully and positively associated with the motivation to be sexually active when the other Dark Triad traits were simultaneously investigated.

Narcissism and psychopathy were both positively related to cognitive dimensions of SSC (i.e., sexual self-esteem and assertiveness), while Machiavellianism was not. In the multiple regression models, a negative relationship between Machiavellianism and sexual self-esteem, as well as assertiveness, could be observed in women. It thus appears that while narcissism and psychopathy may increase one's enjoyment of sexuality and the confidence to express one's sexual desires, Machiavellianism tends to have the opposite result in women, thereby possibly being obstructive to a satisfactory quality of sexual life. The same pattern was observed previously between Dark Triad traits and assertiveness (Petrides et al., 2011). This may mean that higher general assertiveness in those high in narcissism and psychopathy may also accompany higher sexual assertiveness, thereby contributing to an improved quality of sexual life.

Sexual anxiety and fear were negatively linked to narcissism and psychopathy, while they were positively associated with Machiavellianism in women and the overall sample. It seems plausible that those high in psychopathy are less prone to experience negative emotions related to their sexual lives, because of an inherent lack of fear and anxiety (e.g., Lilienfeld & Andrews, 1996). Previous research demonstrated negative relationships between extraverted and antagonistic narcissism with fear (Sauls & Zeigler-Hill, 2020). It therefore appears that the tendentially carefree nature of those high in narcissism also extends into their sex lives. Contrarily, the increased amount of sexual anxiety and fear pertaining to those high in Machiavellianism is consistent with the previously discussed lower levels of sexual self-esteem and assertiveness, and suggests that for individuals high in Machiavellianism, sexual activity may be a source of stress and discomfort.

Narcissism in women as well as psychopathy in men and women was associated with a larger number of sexual partners. This finding conforms to recent evidence linking both psychopathy and narcissism to an increased number of sexual partners (Borráz-León & Rantala, 2021). In the multiple regression models, only psychopathy positively predicted the number of partners. Our observation of narcissism being virtually unrelated to the number of sexual partners in women and negatively associated with the number of sexual partners in men contrasts prior accounts of narcissism being moderately (and positively) correlated with sociosexuality in this group (Sevi, 2019). The positive association between psychopathy and number of lifetime sexual partners fits well to extant research linking psychopathy to higher sociosexuality (Burtăverde et al., 2021Sevi, 2019).

In terms of the generalized satisfaction with sexual life, there was a trivial negative relationship with Machiavellianism in women and the overall sample, while it was positively, but weakly correlated with Psychopathy in men. When these traits were entered simultaneously in regression models, Machiavellianism meaningfully predicted sexual satisfaction negatively but psychopathy positively.

Here, narcissism and psychopathy were characterized by higher sexual preoccupation, sexual motivation, sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness, and, in turn, lower levels of sexual anxiety and fear. Additionally, those high in psychopathy indicated a greater number of lifetime sexual partners and a higher generalized satisfaction with their sexual lives. This may mean that people who are high in psychopathy and narcissism approach their sexuality with more self-confidence and positive feelings than others, while the personality traits can also to some extent be protective against negative emotions related to one's sexual life.

Regarding narcissism, these results fit well with previous findings linking narcissism to higher life satisfaction, positive affect, self-esteem, and subjective well-being (Aghababaei & Błachnio, 2015Womick et al., 2019). The pattern appears to be less clear when it comes to psychopathy, which has been shown to be negatively linked to life satisfaction and flourishing (Van Groningen et al., 2021).

Conversely, those high in Machiavellianism, reported lower sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness, and satisfaction with their sexual lives. Machiavellianism was associated with higher levels of sexual anxiety and fear. In contrast to narcissism and psychopathy, Machiavellianism appears to be linked to increased negative emotions regarding the sexual aspects of life, which suggests a lower quality of sexual life. These findings corroborate previous findings linking Machiavellianism to various negative (sexuality-related) outcomes, like decreased relationship satisfaction (Brewer & Abell, 2017), engaging in sexual activity out of insecurity (Brewer & Abell, 2015), and lower subjective well-being as well as meaning in life (Womick et al., 2019).

However, inspecting the unique predictive value of the Dark Triad traits by means of multiple regressions, as has been argued in previous research (Furnham et al., 2013), raises another concern. In doing so, we found that trait psychopathy tended to be the most – and in some cases only – meaningful predictor of various subscales of SSC and the quality of sexual life. For example, when accounting for the shared variance between the Dark Triad, psychopathy remained the only meaningful predictor of sexual preoccupation, sexual motivation, and the number of lifetime sexual partners (unexpectedly excepting narcissism).

When comparing zero-order correlations with their respective multiple regression weights, the loss of predictive power of the narcissism construct in favor of psychopathy seems especially noteworthy, because it hints at the conceptual volatility of the conceptualization of the Dark Triad as three overlapping, yet sufficiently distinct traits, as initially proposed (Paulhus & Williams, 2002). For example, it has been often noted that neither narcissism nor Machiavellianism meaningfully predict outcome variables of interest, like malevolent behavior, once controlling for trait psychopathy (Muris et al., 2017). Furthermore, a single Dark Core – as opposed to a Dark Triad – has repeatedly been demonstrated to represent a better fitting conceptualization of the dark personality, with the Dark Core being predominantly driven by the psychopathy facets callousness and manipulation (e.g., Bertl et al., 2017), thereby once more hinting at the superordinate position of the psychopathy construct within the Dark Triad.

4.1. Limitations

Some limitations of the present study need to be acknowledged. On the one hand, we excluded participants who identified as homosexual and asexual, which limits the generalizability of our findings. However, these inclusion criteria were adopted to allow meaningful comparisons with the so far only available prior study about this topic (Pilch & Smolorz, 2019).

On the other hand, participants filled-in their self-reports online which necessarily entails the well-known drawbacks of online-administered questionnaires (e.g., no controlled environments, no possibility to check participant attention). However, this approach ultimately allowed us to recruit a comparatively large number of participants beyond mere student samples.

Finally, because we aimed at increasing comparability with the extant Dark Triad literature, we exclusively relied on the SRP-III as a measure of psychopathy. Considering the superordinate predictive ability of trait psychopathy regarding the quality of sexual life, future researchers may wish to compare different models and conceptualizations to increase our understanding of this link.

4.2. Conclusion

Here we show that Dark Triad traits are associated with increased sexual preoccupation. Participants scoring higher in narcissism and psychopathy are characterized by an overall better quality of sexual life, while individuals scoring high on Machiavellianism tend to report more negative sexuality-related outcomes, showing a lower quality of their sexual experience. Notwithstanding, when controlling for the shared variance between the Dark Triad traits, psychopathy appears to be the most potent predictor of SSC and quality of sexual life, ultimately questioning the incremental validity of the Dark Triad framework. Thus, psychopathy appears to be the most important aversive personality trait driving quality of sexual life.

Indigenous communities in Mexico are better able to escape predatory criminal rule when they are allowed to carve a space of autonomy through the institution of "usos y costumbres," without regular police, judiciary & multiparty elections

Magaloni, Beatriz and Gosztonyi, Kristóf and Thompson, Sarah, State-Evading Solutions to Violence: Organized Crime and Governance in Indigenous Mexico (January 12, 2022). SSRN:

Abstract: The monopoly of violence in the hands of the state is conceived as the principal vehicle to generate order. A problem with this vision is that parts of the state and its law enforcement apparatus often become extensions of criminality rather than solutions to it. We argue that one solution to this dilemma is to "opt out from the state." Using a multi-method strategy combining extensive qualitative research, quasi-experimental statistical analyses, and survey data, the paper demonstrates that indigenous communities in Mexico are better able to escape predatory criminal rule when they are legally allowed to carve a space of autonomy from the state through the institution of "usos y costumbres." We demonstrate that these municipalities are more immune to violence than similar localities where regular police forces and local judiciaries are in charge of law enforcement and where mayors are elected through multiparty elections rather than customary practices.

Keywords: Conflict, indigenous autonomy, violence, crime, state building, Latin America

Does losing money truly hurt? The shared neural bases of monetary loss and pain

Does losing money truly hurt? The shared neural bases of monetary loss and pain. Huixin Tan,Qin Duan,Yihan Liu,Xinyu Qiao,Siyang Luo. Human Brain Mapping, March 22 2022.

Abstract: Both monetary loss and pain have been studied for decades, but evidence supporting the relationship between them is still lacking. We conducted a meta-analysis to explore the overlapping brain regions between monetary loss and pain, including physical pain and social pain. Regardless of the type of pain experienced, activation of the anterior insula was a shared neural representation of monetary loss and pain. The network representation pattern of monetary loss was more similar to that of social pain than that of physical pain. In conclusion, our research provided evidence of the common neural correlates of monetary loss and pain.


Current research has shown that monetary loss shares common neural bases with pain. We found that monetary loss and pain, whether physical pain or social pain, engaged overlapping neural regions. Although monetary loss and physical pain coactivated the right AI and dorsal anterior cingulate, monetary loss and social pain coactivated the left AI, inferior occipital gyrus, and lingual gyrus. Furthermore, the neural representation of monetary loss was more similar to social pain than to physical pain. All these results provided persuasive evidence of common neural correlates of monetary loss and pain.

Regardless of the type of pain experienced, activation of the AI was a shared neural representation of monetary loss and pain. The AI is a multifunctional brain region that is involved in various cognitive, perceptual, and socio-affective processes (Clos, Rottschy, Laird, Fox, & Eickhoff, 2014; Kurth, Zilles, Fox, Laird, & Eickhoff, 2010). In particular, activation of the insula plays an important role in affective processing (Koelsch, Cheung, Jentschke, & Haynes, 2021). Therefore, coactivation of the AI might reflect that monetary loss and pain engaged an overlapping neural module of affective processing. Moreover, monetary loss and physical pain coactivated the right AI, whereas monetary loss and social pain coactivated the left AI. This result was consistent with previous findings that the AI was right-lateralized in connectivity with the postcentral gyrus and superior parietal lobule, which were part of the physical pain network (Kann, Zhang, Manza, Leung, & Li, 2016), whereas the left AI was part of memory and socioemotional networks (Clos et al., 2014), and the activation of the left AI was associated with maintaining the feelings of others in working memory (Smith et al., 2017).

The comparison of activation patterns used three algorithms and consistently showed that the monetary loss network was more similar to the social pain network than to the physical pain network. For individuals, money is not only a physical stimulus but also has rich emotional and social meanings to people, since money can arouse positive or negative emotions (Tang, 1992; Yu, Huang, Mao, & Luo, 2022), elicit individuals’ internal motivation (Lea & Webley, 2006), reduce the harm caused by low self-esteem (Zhang, 2009) and change the norms of interpersonal relationships (Vohs et al., 2008; Zaleskiewicz & Gasiorowska, 2016). Moreover, this result provided neural evidence of the social resource theory of money, in which money was regarded as a type of social resource, similar to social relationships, which might elicit pain and a sense of security (Zhou et al., 2009; Zhou & Gao, 2008).

We admitted that our research had several limitations. For one thing, results of similar analyses may be due to higher similarities in sensory system between monetary loss and social pain compared to physical pain. The reason was that the sensory system of physical pain was the somatomotor system while the sensory system of both monetary loss and social pain was the visual system. However, we excluded this possibility by replicating the similarity analyses without including the somatomotor and visual networks. We got similar results to the previous ones (Figures S3 and S4), suggesting that the neural representation of monetary loss shared more similarities with that of social pain beyond the level of sensory system. For another thing, our research investigated the shared neural bases underlying monetary loss and pain by exploring whether processing these two events involved overlapping neural regions while ignoring the possibility of the involvement of overlapping functional connectivities. Previous studies have reported that the processing of social stimuli and monetary stimuli recruits overlapping functional connectivities by investigating the relationship between social reward and monetary reward (Gu et al., 2019). However, we remained unclear whether the processing of monetary loss and social pain also involved overlapping functional connectivities. Future studies could use meta-analytic connectivity modeling to investigate the neural correlates of monetary loss and social pain from the perspective of functional connectivity.