20 stories of human discovery

Many happy diverse ethnicity different young and old people group headshots in collage mosaic collection. Lot of smiling multicultural faces looking at camera. Human resource society database concept.
In 2020, scientists attempted to answer some of the most profound questions about our species. Where — and whom — do we come from? Is there a seat of consciousness in our brains? Do we evolve, like other species? This year, we came a little closer to finally answering these questions and more. Below is a countdown of 20 breakthroughs Inverse reported on that changed what it means to be human.Shutterstock
2020 countdown
Mind and Body

Scientists discover the roots of consciousness in the brain

The "alternative activation" of two brain networks may be a signature of consciousness.

genetic intermingling

Archaic DNA stemming from ancient sex fundamentally influences health today

Thank you, ancient hominin cousins!

copernican

The iconic Pale Blue Dot image puts Earth into perspective

"To see it in that ray of light, it’s so incredibly special."

Family tree

An unidentified ancient human lives on in modern genes

"Super-archaic" gene regions have been passed down to some living people.

Reset button

Magic mushrooms might rebalance the brain — study

A new model can inform interventions for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Eye to eye

Tortoises and humans share this one unique trait

Animal research explores why children are drawn toward face-like shapes.

Family tree

Neanderthal DNA discovery solves a human history mystery

afterlife

In death, one form of sensory perception persists

Talking to a loved one as they pass may indeed be give them some comfort.

Love on the brain

Neuroscientists reveal what it takes to make love last

A brain study offers insight into what ignites the romantic flame.

exhumed

Amateurs discovered an ancient grave that rewrites history

"This the first burial of its kind."

Science

Neanderthal study exposes a 'fist bump' kind of revelation

A piece of yarn is an insight into an ancient mind.

Zap

Monkey brain study reveals the 'engine of consciousness'

“There are many exciting implications for this work."

2019
Mind and Body

The 25 most surprising stories of human potential in 2019

Here are the ways we learned to live better, happier, and longer in 2019.

Mind and Body

To master new skills, follow these 4 psychologist-backed tips

Expert musicians practice deliberately to master new skills. Their technique can be applied to anything. 

Mind and Body

Rat study hints at the benefits of psychedelic micro-dosing

Scientists are getting closer to unraveling the science behind all the hype.

Mind and Body

Study reveals why getting enough sleep may be critical to your health

A November 2019 study suggests seven hours may be the ‘magic number’ for ideal sleep.

Mind and Body

Before a panic attack strikes, stressed-out people can use this technique

This NAVY seal method could be the key to overcoming panic.

Science

Study: Naps may actually save your life

This is how many naps you should take a week, according to science.

Mind and Body

Growing up in nature can offer lasting psychological benefits -- study

For children, spending time in nature might safeguard their later mental health.

Mind and Body

Why you should start talking to yourself, according to science

Talking to yourself can help you achieve your goals -- if you do it right.

Mind and Body

Study pinpoints the limit of human endurance -- and it's impressively high

"The limits of endurance appear to be non-negotiable."

Mind and Body

Studies: One daily habit may help your brain beat the effects of aging

You can't stop the passage of time, but you can do lots of crosswords.

Mind and Body

Taking this one supplement could help fight depression

Research reveals the brain-boosting power of one common supplement.

Mind and Body

Scientists traced procrastination's deep biological roots in the brain 

Procrastination is not just poor time management.