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The oft-repeated claim that Earth’s biota is entering a sixth “mass extinction” depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the “background” rates prevailing between the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (that is, 2 E/MSY), which is twice as high as widely used previous estimates. We then compare this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. The latter is conservatively low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting stringent criteria. Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 100 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.Humans are causing a massive animal extinction without precedent in 65 million years. Humans are causing a massive animal extinction without precedent in 65 million years.

Adolescents with conduct disorder frequently engage in aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Often these behaviors are controlled or managed through behavioral or other psychosocial interventions. However, such interventions do not always ensure lasting changes in an adolescent's response repertoire so that he or she does not engage in aggression when exposed to the same situations that gave rise to the behavior previously. Mindfulness training provides a treatment option that helps an individual focus and attend to conditions that give rise to maladaptive behavior.Using a multiple baseline design,we assessed the effectiveness of a mindfulness training procedure in modulating the aggressive behavior of three adolescents who were at risk of expulsion from school because of this behavior. The adolescents were able to learn the mindfulness procedure successfully and use it in situations that previously occasioned aggressive behavior.This led to large decreases in the aggression of all three individuals. Follow-up data showed that the adolescents were able to keep their aggressive behavior at socially acceptable levels in school through to graduation. Maladaptive behaviors, other than aggression, that the adolescents chose not to modify, showed no consistent change during mindfulness training, practice, and follow-up.
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The primary taste cortex consists of the insula and operculum. Previous work has indicated that neurons in the primary taste cortex respond solely to sensory input from taste receptors and lingual somatosensory receptors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show here that expectancy modulates these neural responses in humans. When subjects were led to believe that a highly aversive bitter taste would be less distasteful than it actually was, they reported it to be less aversive than when they had accurate information about the taste and, moreover, the primary taste cortex was less strongly activated. In addition, the activation of the right insula and operculum tracked online ratings of the aversiveness for each taste. Such expectancy-driven modulation of primary sensory cortex may affect perceptions of external events.
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The relationship between altruism and antisocial behavior has received limited attention because altruism and antisocial behavior tend to be studied and discussed in distinct literatures. Our research bridges these literatures by focusing on three fundamental questions. First, are altruism and antisocial behavior opposite ends of a single dimension, or can they coexist in the same individual? Second, do altruism and antisocial behavior have the same or distinct etiologies? Third, do they stem from the same or from distinct aspects of a person's personality? Our findings indicate that altruism and antisocial behavior are uncorrelated tendencies stemming from different sources. Whereas altruism was linked primarily to shared (i.e., familial) environments, unique (i.e., nonfamilial) environments, and personality traits reflecting positive emotionality, antisocial behavior was linked primarily to genes, unique environments, and personality traits reflecting negative emotionality and a lack of constraint.

Abstract Hamilton's rule explains when natural selection will favor altruism between conspecifics, given their degree of relatedness. In practice, indicators of relatedness (such as scent) coevolve with strategies based on these indicators, a fact not included in previous theories of kin recognition. Using a combination of simulation modeling and mathematical extension of Hamilton's rule, we demonstrate how altruism can emerge and be sustained in a coevolutionary setting where relatedness depends on an individual's social environment and varies from one locus to another. The results support a very general expectation of widespread, and not necessarily weak, conditional altruism in nature.

Animal cognition is that branch of the biological sciences that studies how animals perceive, learn about, remember, understand, and respond to the world in which they live. The mechanisms it investigates are evolved ways of processing information that promote the fitness or survival of the organisms that possess them. Interesting new findings about animal cognition have been revealed as part of the cognitive revolutions in psychology of the last 30 years. Among these are insights into how animals keep track of time, how they process numerical information, and how they navigate through space. Studies of time representation show that animals have one clock that keeps track of the time of day and another clock that times intervals as short as a few seconds. Other research indicates that animals can accurately estimate numbers of events and perhaps even summate numbers of objects and symbols that stand for numbers. Experiments on spatial representation have shown that animals use egocentric and allocentric cues to navigate from place to place. Egocentric cues are internal and are used for dead reckoning return vectors to a home base; allocentric cues are external cues, such as an environmental framework or landmarks, that are used by animals to remember and find important locations in space. Animal cognition studies also have revealed evidence for some advanced processes. As examples, pigeons show conceptual ability by learning to sort photographs into categories of people, flowers, cars, and chairs, and chimpanzees seem to reveal a theory of mind by behaving as if they understand the contents of other chimpanzees' minds.

The concept of ecosystem services (ES), the benefits humans derive from ecosystems, is increasingly applied to environmental conservation, human well-being and poverty alleviation, and to inform the development of interventions. Payments for ecosystem services (PES) implicitly recognize the unequal distribution of the costs and benefits of maintaining ES, through monetary compensation from ‘winners’ to ‘losers’. Some research into PES has examined how such schemes affect poverty, while other literature addresses trade-offs between different ES. However, much evolving ES literature adopts an aggregated perspective of humans and their well-being, which can disregard critical issues for poverty alleviation. This paper identifies four issues with examples from coastal ES in developing countries. First, different groups derive well-being benefits from different ES, creating winners and losers as ES, change. Second, dynamic mechanisms of access determine who can benefit. Third, individuals' contexts and needs determine how ES contribute to well-being. Fourth, aggregated analyses may neglect crucial poverty alleviation mechanisms such as cash-based livelihoods. To inform the development of ES interventions that contribute to poverty alleviation, disaggregated analysis is needed that focuses on who derives which benefits from ecosystems, and how such benefits contribute to the well-being of the poor. These issues present challenges in data availability and selection of how and at which scales to disaggregate. Disaggregation can be applied spatially, but should also include social groupings, such as gender, age and ethnicity, and is most important where inequality is greatest. Existing tools, such as stakeholder analysis and equity weights, can improve the relevance of ES research to poverty alleviation.

There is growing evidence that social and emotional skills can be taught to students in school and teaching these skills can have a positive effect on later outcomes, such as better mental health and less drug use. This paper presents a benefit-cost analysis of a longitudinal social and emotional learning intervention in Sweden, using data for 663 students participating in the evaluation. Intervention costs are compared against treatment impact on self-reported drug use. Pre-test and post-test data are available. Since follow-up data for the participants' drug use as adults is not available, informed projections have been made. Net present monetary values are calculated for the general public and society. The results show that students in the treatment group report decreasing use of drugs over the five year long intervention, the value of which easily outweighs the intervention costs.

The classic opening scene of 2001, A Space Odyssey shows an ape-man wreaking havoc with humanity's first invention--a bone used as a weapon to kill a rival. It's an image that fits well with popular notions of our species as inherently violent, with the idea that humans are--and always have been--warlike by nature. But as Douglas P. Fry convincingly argues in Beyond War, the facts show that our ancient ancestors were not innately warlike--and neither are we. Fry points out that, for perhaps ninety-nine percent of our history, for well over a million years, humans lived in nomadic hunter-and- ...

In this paradigm, life is not an accidental byproduct of the laws of physics. Biocentrism takes the reader on a seemingly improbable but ultimately inescapable journey through a foreign universe our own from the viewpoints of an acclaimed biologist and a leading astronomer. Switching perspective from physics to biology unlocks the cages in which Western science has unwittingly managed to confine itself. Biocentrism will shatter the reader’s ideas of life time and space, and even death. At the same time it will release us from the dull worldview of life being merely the activity of an admixture of carbon and a few other elements; it suggests the exhilarating possibility that life is fundamentally immortal.The 21st century is predicted to be the Century of Biology, a shift from the previous century dominated by physics. It seems fitting, then, to begin the century by turning the universe outside-in and unifying the foundations of science with a simple idea discovered by one of the leading life-scientists of our age. Biocentrism awakens in readers a new sense of possibility, and is full of so many shocking new perspectives that the reader will never see reality the same way again.

Stress can be associated with many physiological changes resulting in significant decrements in human performance. Due to growing interests in alternative and complementary medicine by Westerners, many of the traditions and holistic yogic breathing practices today are being utilized as a measure for healthier lifestyles. These state-of-the-art practices can have a significant impact on common mental health conditions such as depression and generalized anxiety disorder. However, the potential of yogic breathing on optimizing human performance and overall well-being is not well known. Breathing techniques such as alternate nostril, Sudarshan Kriya and bhastrika utilizes rhythmic breathing to guide practitioners into a deep meditative state of relaxation and promote self-awareness. Furthermore, yogic breathing is physiologically stimulating and can be described as a natural “technological” solution to optimize human performance which can be categorized into: (1) cognitive function (i.e., mind, vigilance); and (2) physical performance (i.e., cardiorespiratory, metabolism, exercise, whole body). Based on previous studies, we postulate that daily practice of breathing meditation techniques play a significant role in preserving the compensatory mechanisms available to sustain physiological function. This preservation of physiological function may help to offset the time associated with reaching a threshold for clinical expression of chronic state (i.e., hypertension, depression, dementia) or acute state (i.e., massive hemorrhage, panic attic) of medical conditions. However, additional rigorous biomedical research is needed to evaluate the physiological mechanisms of various forms of meditation (i.e., breath-based, mantra, mindfulness) on human performance. These efforts will help to define how compensatory reserve mechanisms of cardiovascular and immune systems are modulated by breath-based meditation. While it has been suggested that breath-based meditation is easier for beginning practitioners when compared to other forms of meditation more research is needed to elucidate these observations. A breath-based meditation sequence such as Sudarshan Kriya has the potential to help develop an individual’s self-awareness and support better integration of the brain (i.e., mind) with other organ systems (i.e., body) for enhanced human performance.

A Program to Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Asthma, Hypertension, Migraine, and Other Disorders for Better Health Take a deep abdominal breath. That's the prescription from leading stress and anxiety treatment expert Robert Fried. This straightforward self-improvement guide shows you how to take advantage of several easy breathing techniques and exercises to effectively reduce stress--the most common health complaint in North America--as well as many other health problems. Dr. Fried presents simple breathing exercises anyone can do, any time--at your desk or in bed as you're dropping off to sleep. In this book, you'll receive expert advice on: * The Hows and Whys of Breathing--your lungs and the science of respiration. * The Five-Day Program for Better Breathing and Relaxation--the connection between stress/relaxation and abdominal breathing. * Nutrition and Breathing--foods that can actually improve your blood circulation. * Specific Health Disorders--discover the link between breathing and asthma, migraines, hypertension, anxiety, and depression.

Lalande, Lloyd <https://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/Lalande,_Lloyd.html>, Bambling, Matthew, King, Robert, & Lowe, Roger <https://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/Lowe,_Roger.html> (2011) Breathwork: An additional treatment option for depression and anxiety? Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy: on the cutting edge of modern developments in psychotherapy, 42(2), pp. 113-119.

Breathwork is an increasingly popular experiential approach to psychotherapy based on the use of a specific breathing technique, however, claims of positive mental health outcomes rely on anecdotal clinical evidence. To ascertain the likely efficacy of breathwork this review clarifies the approach and its theoretical assumptions and examines relevant empirical research relating to breathing inhibition, suppression of inner experience, and possible neurological and physiological effects. Additionally, research into mindfulness-based psychotherapy and yoga breathing-based interventions with comparable features to breathwork are examined. Findings suggest qualified support for the key theoretical assumptions of a three component breathwork model, referred to as Integrative Breathwork Therapy (IBT), and its possible utility in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Further research aimed at exploring specific efficacy of this approach for these disorders may yield a useful additional treatment option utilising a different process of change to existing treatments.

Biological systems are particularly prone to variation, and the authors argue that such variation must be regarded as important data in its own right. The authors describe a method in which individual differences are studied within the framework of a general theory of the population as a whole and illustrate how this method can be used to address three types of issues: the nature of the mechanisms that give rise to a specific ability, such as mental imagery; the role of psychological or biological mediators of environmental challenges, such as the biological bases for differences in dispositional mood; and the existence of processes that have nonadditive effects with behavioral and physiological variables, such as factors that modulate the response to stress and its effects on the immune response.
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The category "experience" has played a cardinal role in modern studies of Buddhism. Few scholars seem to question the notion that Buddhist monastic practice, particularly meditation, is intended first and foremost to inculcate specific religious or "mystical" experiences in the minds of practitioners. Accordingly, a wide variety of Buddhist technical terms pertaining to the "stages on the path" are subject to a phenomenological hermeneutic-they are interpreted as if they designated discrete "states of consciousness" experienced by historical individuals in the course of their meditative practice. This paper argues that the role of experience in the history of Buddhism has been greatly exaggerated in contemporary scholarship. Both historical and ethnographic evidence suggests that the privileging of experience may well be traced to certain twentieth-century Asian reform movements, notably those that urge a "return" to zazen or vipassanā meditation, and these reforms were profoundly influenced by religious developments in the West. Even in the case of those contemporary Buddhist schools that do unambiguously exalt meditative experience, ethnographic data belies the notion that the rhetoric of meditative states functions ostensively. While some adepts may indeed experience "altered states" in the course of their training, critical analysis shows that such states do not constitute the reference points for the elaborate Buddhist discourse pertaining to the "path." Rather, such discourse turns out to function ideologically and performatively-wielded more often than not in the interests of legitimation and institutional authority.

Behavioral trajectories during middle childhood are predictive of consequential outcomes later in life (e.g., substance abuse, violence). Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are designed to promote trajectories that reflect both growth in positive behaviors and inhibited development of negative behaviors. The current study used growth mixture models to examine effects of the Positive Action (PA) program on behavioral trajectories of social-emotional and character development (SECD) and misconduct using data from a cluster-randomized trial that involved 14 schools and a sample of predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade. For SECD, findings indicated that PA was similarly effective at improving trajectories within latent classes characterized as "high/declining" and "low/stable". Favorable program effects were likewise evident to a comparable degree for misconduct across observed latent classes that reflected "low/rising" and "high/rising" trajectories. These findings suggest that PA and perhaps other school-based universal SEL programs have the potential to yield comparable benefits across subgroups of youth with differing trajectories of positive and negative behaviors, making them promising strategies for achieving the intended goal of school-wide improvements in student outcomes.

Behavioral trajectories during middle childhood are predictive of consequential outcomes later in life (e.g., substance abuse, violence). Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are designed to promote trajectories that reflect both growth in positive behaviors and inhibited development of negative behaviors. The current study used growth mixture models to examine effects of the Positive Action (PA) program on behavioral trajectories of social-emotional and character development (SECD) and misconduct using data from a cluster-randomized trial that involved 14 schools and a sample of predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade. For SECD, findings indicated that PA was similarly effective at improving trajectories within latent classes characterized as "high/declining" and "low/stable". Favorable program effects were likewise evident to a comparable degree for misconduct across observed latent classes that reflected "low/rising" and "high/rising" trajectories. These findings suggest that PA and perhaps other school-based universal SEL programs have the potential to yield comparable benefits across subgroups of youth with differing trajectories of positive and negative behaviors, making them promising strategies for achieving the intended goal of school-wide improvements in student outcomes.

We evaluated the efficacy of a mindful parenting program for changing parents’ mindfulness, child management practices, and relationships with their early adolescent youth and tested whether changes in parents’ mindfulness mediated changes in other domains. We conducted a pilot randomized trial with 65 families and tested an adapted version of the Strengthening Families Program: For Parent and Youth 10–14 that infused mindfulness principles and practices against the original program and a delayed intervention control group. Results of pre-post analyses of mother and youth-report data showed that the mindful parenting program generally demonstrated comparable effects to the original program on measures of child management practices and stronger effects on measures of mindful parenting and parent–youth relationship qualities. Moreover, mediation analyses indicated that the mindful parenting program operated indirectly on the quality of parent–youth relationships through changes in mindful parenting. Overall, the findings suggest that infusing mindful parenting activities into existing empirically validated parenting programs can enhance their effects on family risk and protection during the transition to adolescence.

Over his long career as witness to an extreme twentieth century, National Book Award-winning psychiatrist, historian, and public intellectual Robert Jay Lifton has grappled with the profound effects of nuclear war, terrorism, and genocide. Now he shifts to climate change, which, Lifton writes, “presents us with what may be the most demanding and unique psychological task ever required of humankind,” what he describes as the task of mobilizing our imaginative resources toward climate sanity.Thanks to the power of corporate-funded climate denialists and the fact that “with its slower, incremental sequence, [climate change] lends itself less to the apocalyptic drama,” a large swathe of humanity has numbed themselves to the reality of climate change. Yet Lifton draws a message of hope from the Paris climate meeting of 2015 where representatives of virtually all nations joined in the recognition that we are a single species in deep trouble. Here, Lifton suggests in this lucid and moving book that recalls Rachel Carson and Jonathan Schell, was evidence of how we might call upon the human mind—“our greatest evolutionary asset”—to translate a growing species awareness—or “climate swerve”—into action to sustain our habitat and civilization.

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