+
Science

How a little monkey's very hard day could teach us why we get jealous.

When they looked at the jilted monkey's brain, two areas in particular lit up.

science, research, biology, mental health, jealousy
Image via Pixabay and Photo by Jeff Kubina/Wikimedia Commons/Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

The human game of love is a battle won and lost by more than just us.

This article originally appeared on 10.19.17


The monkey had a busy morning, but it was finally time to go home.

He was a small creature, about the size of a rabbit, with a long prehensile tail and dusky red fur. Earlier that day, scientists had scooped him up from his cage and taken him away to get a shot. But now that was done, and just like for many of us, heading home meant that he'd finally get to rest and hang out with his mate.

This time, though, his scientist colleagues weren’t done with him. In fact, our monkey was being set up for an incredible betrayal.


As the copper titi monkey settled in, he spotted his mate — not at home, but in the cage of a romantic rival. Suddenly, circuits deep in his brain came to life. He arched his back and smacked his lips, his tail lashing wildly back and forth.

If he could have gotten over to that cage, he'd have pulled his mate away in an instant, shouted, maybe even fought off the rival.

If you think the monkey’s reaction seems a lot like human jealousy, you're probably right. The entire setup was part of an experiment by Nicole Maninger and Karen Bales of the University of California to figure out where jealousy lives in the brain and how it works.

When they looked at the jilted monkey's brain, two areas in particular lit up.

An MRI and blood draw afterward gave Maninger and Bales a peek at the animal's brain, and in addition to higher testosterone and stress hormones, two more areas deep within his brain were triggered. The first, the cingulate cortex, has a lot to do with social rejection. The second, the lateral septum, is connected to bonding.

"The approximate locations of the cingulate cortex (red) and lateral septum (green) in an MRI of the human brain.

Original image from Geoff B Hall/Wikimedia Commons.

Put together, these areas of the brain appear to show us what Victorian novels, romantic comedies, and reality TV shows have long suspected: Jealousy is intimately tied to monogamy.

Monogamy is interesting because it's actually very rare in the animal kingdom. Fewer than 1 in 10 mammal species mate and bond with a single individual. Even humans aren't strictly monogamous. But we do form uniquely strong, lasting bonds between individuals.

What the research hints at, says Bales, is that the pain of jealousy might actually be one of the reasons monogamous animals bond so strongly to each other. This might even confer an evolutionary advantage, since monogamous male monkeys help raise and feed their kids.

So that tail-lashing, lip-smacking monkey might just help us understand ourselves.

"Understanding the neurobiology and evolution of emotions can help us understand our own emotions and their consequences," says Bales.

It could even help us recognize how our brains form romantic relationships — and what happens when those relationships go terribly wrong. About 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes, and research has hinted that jealousy might play a major role.

Human emotions are incredibly complicated, of course, and we shouldn't suggest that monkeys experience the exact same feelings we do. Titi monkeys have very different lives, societies, and evolutionary histories than people do.

Still, Bales says that we have seen hints of similar brain activity in human studies.

As anyone who's ever felt it knows, jealousy can be an intensely dark, powerful emotion. The next time you feel it, maybe you can take some comfort knowing just what is going on in your brain.

Maninger and Bales' work was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

Keep ReadingShow less