Top findings from the past month.

illustration: Emmanuel Kant looking at a brain

This month, a team of neuroscientists led by NYU's Denic Pelli confirmed a claim by 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant: the experience of beauty requires thought. 

NYU anthropologists Shara Bailey and Scott Williams assisted in analysis of new partial skeletons (found in South African) of the recently discovered human relative Homo naledi. Psychologist Pascal Wallisch showed that ordinary moviegoers' tastes are highly idiosyncratic—and at odds with critics' opinions. 

Steinhardt researchers found that for preschoolers, there was no difference in comprehension between print books read aloud and digital versions of the same stories played on a tablet. At Tandon, two-dimensional observation of zebra fish (who swim in a three-dimensional space), was shown to underestimate their locomotion. A Furman Center report on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit concluded that there is little evidence that LIHC housing developments affect the overall concentration of poverty, though they do bring with them significant reductions in crime, and tenants living in them have slightly better access to schools than households receiving other forms of housing assistance. Economics professor David Cesarini worked as part of an international research team that uncovered 52 genes for intelligence, of which 40 were completely new discoveries.

In medicine, Langone researchers found that the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra does not cause melanoma, that cholesterol-lowering drugs may not actually extend the lifespan of older adults who don't have atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and that a protein deployed as part of the body's immune reaction to viruses like influenza and HIV may cause learning and memory problems. They also showed that chronic pain in any one body part may make the brain perceive pain anywhere on the body more intensely, found that the cannabis derivative cannbidiol reduced seizure frequency by 39% in patiences with a rare form of epilepsy, and explored the possibility that the thalamus, a small brain region previously known to pass on information received from the senses, may also assemble the circuits that allow for successful decision-making. A study of rats with anterior cruciate ligament damage suggested that adenosine (a molecule that helps to nourish cartilage) replacement therapy for people with ACL injuries could potentially delay the onset of osteoarthritis and the need for joint replacements. 

Education researchers found that differences in tuition rates among public university programs have grown over the past 25 years, with a lack of transparency in the terminology around fees serving to mask the true cost of attendance. A study of 10,000 high school sophomores and their teachers found that teachers underestimated the math and English abilities of students of colors, leading black students to be more than twice as likely to internalize the message that their classes were too difficult.