“They really take a philosophical theory and
make it an experiment.” —MArco IAcoBonI
Stone Age artists produced movies
techniques, much of it previously published in French, in the June Antiquity.
They also describe for the first time
examples of animation at two French
caves, Chauvet and La Baume Latrone.
“Movement and action are indeed
represented in cave art in different
manners,” remarks archaeologist Jean
Clottes, honorary conservator general of
heritage for the French Ministry of Culture. Clottes led a 1998 investigation of
Chauvet’s 30,000-year-old cave paintings.
A 10-meter-long Chauvet painting
represents a hunting story, Azéma proposes. The story begins by showing sev-
By Bruce Bower
By about 30,000 years ago, Europeans
were using cartoonlike techniques to
give the impression that lions and other
wild beasts were charging across cave
walls, two French investigators find.
Artists created graphic stories in caves
and illusions of moving animals on rotating bone disks, say archaeologist Marc
Azéma of the University of Toulouse–
Le Mirail in France and Florent Rivère, an
independent artist based in Foix, France.
Azéma and Rivère summarize their 20
years of research on Stone Age animation
Ancient artists created bone toys inscribed with figures of an animal on either side.
When strung on an animal tendon and spun, the toys depict the animal moving.
Thou just can’t
help but covet
Wanting what others have
may be hardwired in brain
By Laura Sanders
As every kid knows, the very best toy
is the one that someone else is playing
with. A new study on covetous adults
explains why other people’s possessions
always seem better.
Seeds of this desire are sown in the
mirror neuron system, a part of the
brain that is activated in a similar pattern
whether a person is performing an action
or merely watching someone else do it.
Envy can spread among people like
a disease, a force that explains much of
human behavior, French philosopher
René Girard proposed in the 1980s. Now,
French neuroscientists have verified the
phenomenon and even attempted to
explain how it happens.
“They really take a philosophical
theory and make it an experiment,”
says neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni
Copying other people’s desires is a
good way to learn about the environment, says study coauthor Mathias
Pessiglione of INSERM in Paris. Eating
what other people eat, for example, is a
simple way to avoid food poisoning. But
this adaptive feature can break down
when desired objects are in short supply.
Pessiglione and his team showed
adults one of two videos: a piece of candy
sitting on a surface or a person’s hand
reaching toward a different-colored
piece of candy. Participants then rated
the desirability of each candy they saw.