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Anthropology in Practice

Marbles Lost, Marbles Found: Children’s Games and Consequences

I used to be a crack shot at pitch (marbles) as a kid. I learned from my dad. We’d draw a circle with a piece of chalk, and “pitch” our taws at each other’s pieces, which is how the game gets its name in Trinidad. Our goal was to knock each other’s pieces out of [...]

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Not bad science

Scientists Get Primates to Play Cards

All three primates chose the safer option

A few months ago I moved to Reno, Nevada. Although I haven’t been to a casino yet myself, living in a so-called ‘casino town’ makes you acutely aware of the effects of gambling on people. But why do people gamble to begin with? Surely if we know that the odds are stacked against us, we [...]

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Pigeons, Like Humans, Can Behave Irrationally

Courtesy of Joseph Baranowski/dragontoller via flickr

Gambling may seem like a uniquely human activity. Twinkling slot machines and croupiers in starched white shirts may be about as far from the natural world as we can get. Yet one team of researchers, led by psychologist Thomas Zentall at the University of Kentucky, has taken a particular interest in how animals gamble. The [...]

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Short on sleep, the brain optimistically favors long odds

risky behavior gambling

Sleep deprivation can lead to plenty of unwise decisions, which researchers have long tied to flagging attention and short-term memory. But a new study shows how just one night of missed sleep can make people more likely to chase big gains while risking even larger losses—independent of their tapering attention spans. A team of Duke [...]

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Almost winning is just as exciting for problem gamblers

Oh, so close. Just one more try. It’s hard to understand what keeps problem gamblers betting after a long losing streak. But a new study published May 5 in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests their brains’ reward centers, part of the dopamine system (so-called because the neurons release the neurotransmitter dopamine), react the same way [...]

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