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  • Measuring neural activity in moving humans has been a longstanding challenge in neuroscience, which limits what we know about our navigational neural codes. Leveraging mobile EEG and motion capture, Griffiths et al. overcome this challenge to elucidate neural representations of direction and highlight key cross-species similarities.

    • Sergio A. Pecirno
    • Alexandra T. Keinath
    News & Views
  • The impetus behind the development of various Chinese dialects is as yet unknown. In a comprehensive quantitative coanalysis of linguistic and genetic data across China, Yang et al. find evidence to suggest that demographic diffusion, cultural diffusion and linguistic assimilation all contributed to the expansive diversity of Chinese dialects.

    • Yu Xu
    • Chuan-Chao Wang
    News & Views
  • Financial incentives may be offered for risky but potentially life-saving actions, such as donating organs and participation in medical trials. It has been argued that such incentives could distort decision making and lead people to act against their own best interest. However, experimental evidence now suggests that higher financial incentives do not cause harm.

    • Linda Thunström
    News & Views
  • The past 35 years have seen Bayesian models applied to many areas of the cognitive and brain sciences, which suggests that reasoning and decision-making may be rational. Wishful thinking provides a serious challenge, as it questions a core assumption of Bayesian belief updating. Melnikoff and Strohminger develop a Bayesian model that uses affective prediction errors and meets this challenge.

    • Mike Oaksford
    News & Views
  • The sense of belonging to a larger group is a central feature of humanity but its identification in Palaeolithic societies is challenging. Baker et al. use a pan-European dataset of personal ornaments to show that these markers of group identity form distinct clusters that cannot be explained simply by geographical proximity or shared biological descent.

    • Reuven Yeshurun
    News & Views
  • Rising diagnoses of depression in young people is an important concern. Remote measurement technologies are one way that practitioners can screen, monitor or support young people who are diagnosed with depression. In a realist review, Walsh and colleagues show that there is some benefit to using remote measurement technologies, but that young people express concerns about data safety and privacy.

    • Magenta B. Simmons
    • Simon Katterl
    News & Views
  • Policy proposals with the most votes may not always be the most informative. A research paper now makes the case that divisive issues — those that receive much support but also much opposition — provide valuable information in democratic deliberative processes, as they help to detect relevant demands that would not emerge via agreement rankings.

    • Marcelo Santos
    News & Views
  • Air pollution is a leading cause of death in the USA, with substantial disparities in its effect on different racial and ethnic groups. Ma et al. used nationwide data on air pollution and cardiovascular-disease mortality rates, and find that air pollution disproportionately effects non-Hispanic Black people compared to non-Hispanic white people.

    • Sarah Amele
    • Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi
    News & Views
  • People tend to form partnerships with others who are similar to themselves. A new meta-analysis examines correlations between human mating partners, and finds correlations across nearly every trait studied. Education, social attitudes and substance use showed the highest correlations. Effect sizes differed between studies, suggesting potential cultural contingency.

    • Yayouk E. Willems
    • Laurel Raffington
    News & Views
  • ‘Metacognition’ refers to thinking about thinking, and its function in collective human behaviour remains largely unknown. Using a multiplayer online game and agent-based modelling, Hawkins et al. found distinctive patterns of collective intelligence that only emerge when using metacognitive social inference skills.

    • Wataru Toyokawa
    News & Views
  • Ancient DNA can inform reconstructions of prehistoric social organization, but most evidence comes from elite burial grounds. Rivollat et al. analyse ancient DNA and archaeological evidence from 94 individuals at a non-monumental graveyard in France: Gurgy ‘les Noisats’. Their results reveal a patrilocal community who buried relatives close to one another.

    • Kendra Sirak
    News & Views
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccination policies of countries differed widely. A new Resource, collated by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) project, details the policies of 185 countries, including variation in vaccination prioritization plans, eligibility and availability, cost to the individual, and mandatory vaccination.

    • Katie Attwell
    News & Views
  • Are social isolation and loneliness associated with an increased risk of mortality? Wang et al. show that both social isolation and loneliness are associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cancer mortality in the general population by a systematic review and meta-analysis of 90 prospective cohort studies.

    • Jiaojiao Ren
    • Chen Mao
    News & Views
  • Park et al. analyse a large global dataset of GBIF-mediated records, and report survey results from active herbaria (plant collections), to examine how the past assembly of herbaria bears the stamp of the colonial enterprise and how this legacy and behaviour is still with us today.

    • Sandra Knapp
    News & Views
  • Many policymakers turn to the military to reduce crime. Yet, evidence describing the effects of military policing is nearly nonexistent. Blair and Weintraub evaluate the effects of military policing on crime and human rights violations in Cali, Colombia. Their results suggest crime incidence and insecurity perceptions did not decrease, which leaves lessons for the design and implementation of security policies.

    • Santiago Tobon
    News & Views
  • Why do expressions of emotion seem so heightened on social media? Brady et al. argue that extreme moral outrage on social media is not only driven by the producers and sharers of emotional expressions, but also by systematic biases in the way people that perceive moral outrage on social media.

    • Amit Goldenberg
    • Robb Willer
    News & Views
  • Supernatural beliefs shape how people understand the world, but there is debate regarding how these beliefs relate to the natural or social world. Jackson and colleagues quantitatively analysed the ethnographic record and found evidence that supernatural explanations are more commonly used for natural than for social phenomena.

    • Matthew I. Billet
    • Ara Norenzayan
    News & Views
  • A century of experiments on human visual memory have catalogued the many determinants of what people remember about their visual environments. In a massive experimental study of visual memory, Huang leverages mobile gaming to collect a dataset of 35 million behavioural responses that reveals how the mechanisms of visual spatial memory fit together.

    • Jordan W. Suchow
    News & Views
  • Are people unwilling or unable to engage with information that runs against the views of their party? Tappin et al. push against this notion with a survey experiment that shows the public responds to counter-partisan policy arguments by changing their minds about these issues, even when they also see where party leaders stand on them.

    • Erik Peterson
    News & Views
  • Predicting the future is something that humans have tried to do — in various ways — for a very long time. A paper by Grossmann et al. tests the ability of social scientists to predict societal change and finds that they are not particularly good at it.

    • Matthew J. Salganik
    News & Views