Scientists List 2011’s Most Fascinating Discoveries

Puzzling-brain-111229Over at Live Science:

Matt Sponheimer, anthropologist at University of Colorado, Boulder:

“One of the big controversies that has been playing out in 2011 is what were the environments in which early hominin lived. There has been something of a fight between the Tim White and Thure Cerling groups over this, with the last salvo being a 2011 paper by Cerling, et al. White, et al. had been pushing for closed, even forested environments, while Cerling, et al. are pushing for quite open and probably very dry environments. These scenarios have very important implications for our understanding of human evolution.” [Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans]

Zen Faulkes, brain, behavior and evolution researcher at University of Texas, Pan American:

“We are making headway in using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans to make crude predictions about what people 'think.' Lots of people are investigating the neural bases of deception, and from this, people have been thinking about whether fMRI could be used as a lie detector. This idea is so common now that it was even featured on 'MythBusters.'

This paper showed a very simple way to 'beat the machine.' It's important because it shows that this fast-moving and exciting field of neuroscience is still very much at the basic research stage. It shouldn't be rushed out of the lab into law enforcement and intelligence communities yet.”