Scientific News

Does chocolate make the brain more efficient?

While we may be familiar with chocolate and especially dark chocolate’s positive effect on stress; its effects on cognitive performance were little known… until now. Sweet tooths will have something to be happy about because this recent study published in the medical journal Appetite showed that the regular consumption of chocolate helps fight cognitive decline. So how is it good for our brain?

The study carried out by Georgina E. Crichton at the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre (University of South Australia), in collaboration with the psychology department, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Maine (USA), and the ...

Why are movies scary?

The shark draws near… [music from Jaws]. Janet Leigh takes her shower and a shadow appears behind the curtain… [music from Psycho]. The teenager Regan contorts, writhing back in forth more than is humanly possible [music from The Exorcist]. We as viewers are in no danger, yet these scenes frighten us. How is that we forget it’s only cinema? Read on to learn why.

Rather than questioning the nature of emotions elicited by the film, as philosophers might do (are they real emotions?), Olivier Koenig, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University Lumière Lyon 2 (France), would rather explore the emotional mechanisms. According to the researcher, one of the central ...

Is encouraging small children good for brain development?

“Stop babying him!” “Let him do it himself!” What about encouraging and reassuring young children instead? According to a study carried out at the University of Washington and published in PNAS, very young children who have been supported, praised and coddled by their mother have brains that are better structured for learning and for handling stressful situations later on. To what extent does maternal support, beginning in childhood, influence a child's brain development?

Aside from a few mentions in longitudinal studies, the effects of positive maternal support have not been demonstrated in humans (though it has been shown in animals, particularly rats. Determining ...

Could seafood help maintain your memory?

Summer is here... For those of you who are lucky enough to be on the beach, you might take the opportunity to enjoy some seafood. Well don’t hold yourself back! According to a recent study published in the medical journal Neurology, oysters, whelks, shrimp, and other seafood are beneficial to cognitive health, especially in the elderly. What are the benefits of eating seafood?

In their research, scientists from the medical center at Rush University (United States), and Wageningen University (the Netherlands) monitored 915 volunteers (average age: 81.4 years; 25% men) over the course of 5 years, regularly subjecting them to cognitive tests (19 in all) in order to analyze the ...

How can the "first night effect" be explained?

We may be in the most peaceful room with the most comfortable bedding, but for some reason when we sleep in an unfamiliar place, our sleep is often less than optimal. This phenomenon, known as the “first night effect," is very common. Researchers at the Department of Cognitive Science, Linguistics, and Psychology at Brown University appear to have solved the mystery. What causes us to have fitful sleep during the first night in an unfamiliar environment?

Trouble falling asleep and micro-awakenings, a decrease in REM sleep: we’ve all experienced these characteristics of fragmented sleep the first time we sleep in a new vacation rental or at a friend’s house. Until the ...

Can music help young children speak?

The triple meter of that waltz may be beneficial to your baby. In any case, it’s one of the types of music that a team of researchers from the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington used in order to highlight the positive effects of early music education on speech development in young children. How can music help them acquire language? Let’s take a look at the research!

In their study, T. Christina Zhao and Patricia K. Kuhl wanted to determine whether music games could facilitate speech development in infants. 20 9-month old babies were taught to reproduce musical rhythms and were compared with 19 other babies of the same age who were ...

How did "The Voice" inspire a new unique method for learning neurology?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Charcot Amphitheater, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris. The candidates are waiting backstage, the jury is ready. It’s the final of a somewhat special competition, initiated by neurology professor Emmanuel Flamand-Roze: “We copied part of the scenario from the show “The Voice” and we applied it to learning neurology, particularly neurological semiology." Interviewed that very morning on Europe 1, he explained the premise behind of "The Move," his “reality medicine” contest.

The idea for "The Move” came from two observations. First, students are becoming increasingly weary of typical classroom arrangements (lectures in an amphitheater). ...

Drawing is memorizing!

Did you forget to buy the milk? But you wrote it on a post-it and stuck it on the fridge! If you had drawn a milk carton, maybe it would be sitting in the fridge right now… Indeed, according to a study carried out by Canadian researchers, drawing the thing we want to memorize is more effective than writing its name. Jeffrey D. Wammes, Melissa E. Meade, and Myra A. Fernandes demonstrated that drawn information is better memorized than written information. Why do we retain images better than words?

In order to compare memorization by drawing versus writing, the researchers from the University of Waterloo (Canada) implemented 7 protocols.

In experiments 1 and 2, ...

How did a quadriplegic man regain control of his hand?

Six years after a diving accident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, Ian Burkhart, a young American man, can now perform complex movements with his right hand using a microchip implanted in his brain. In this study published in Nature, the researchers explain that he is now able to grasp objects and even stir his coffee. But how could this promising first success be possible?

Ian Burkhart was a 19 year-old student when he broke his neck diving in shallow water, leaving him quadriplegic. When Chad E. Bouton's team at the Feinstein Institute for medical research asked him to participate in a study aiming to restore his lost motor functions, Ian seized the opportunity. ...

What does the brain tell us about our generosity?

Our generosity may be motivated in two ways: we can give out of empathy (to someone who has deeply touched us, for example) or out of reciprocity (to someone who has done us a favor). A team of psychologists and neuroscientists led by Grit Hein and Ernst Fehr at the University of Zurich has managed to distinguish these two types of motivation for giving by using brain imaging. How are compassion and gratitude seen in the brain?

In psychology, motivation is considered to be independent from human behavior. These mental constructions cannot be directly observed. As a result, they are generally deduced from individual behavior. But different motives can lead to an identical ...

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