Scientific News

How can we be moved by a work of art?

Has a painting ever given you a wave of emotion? Have you ever had chills from listening to a piece of music? Jean-Pierre Changeux tries to explain why we answer yes to these questions in his book La Beauté dans le cerveau (The Beauty in the Brain, Odile Jacob). Interviewed in L'Obs, the neurobiologist reviews research in the field of “art neurosciences” on understanding aesthetic emotion. So what happens in our brains when we're presented with a work of art?

The work of J.P. Changeux, an honorary professor at the Collège de France, is presented as a summary of twenty years of research, particularly on the neural mechanisms involved in aesthetic perception. When ...

Aversion to cheese: is the brain to blame?

Cheese or dessert? For most of the French population, it's not an easy choice! But while France may be the country of cheese (boasting nearly 1,600 varieties), some of its inhabitants are disgusted by it. Researchers at the Neuroscience Research Center in Lyon and the Paris-Seine Neurosciences Laboratory wanted to understand this aversion. What they found is surprising… It appears that the brains of people disgusted by cheese work differently.

So why would researchers choose cheese in order to study the phenomenon of aversion? Intuitively, the researchers figured that a fair number of people hate cheese. So they carried out a study on a sample of 332 subjects (145 men ages ...

Why do young children prefer flawless heroes?

Young children love Manichaean worlds where the lives of archetypal characters (real good and real evil) unfold and where doubts, temptations and cracks are forbidden. In stories, good guys should only do good and bad guys should only do evil. In a study published in Psychological Science, the authors explain the reasons behind this preference for perfect heroes; and much of the explanation comes from understanding brain development in children. To what extend does the brain play a role in how children perceive a character?

Christina Starmans and Paul Bloom, researchers in the Department of Psychology at Yale wanted to study how children perceived inner moral conflicts. To do ...

Can a pinch of cinnamon stimulate your brain?

Prized for its delicious scent, cinnamon holds a prominent place amongst spices with known health benefits. Rich in antioxidants, it is also known for its antispasmodic (also supports digestion), antiviral and antiseptic properties. After a recent American study, this natural spice can also boast positive effects on memory and brain plasticity among its many benefits. How did researchers reveal cinnamon's ability to boost memory capacity, promote learning, and limit cognitive decline?

To study the potential impact of cinnamon on the brain, researchers from Rush University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago tested rats by placing food at the exit to a maze. This ...

What can yawning tell us about the brain?

Seven seconds: the average length of a human yawn. While you've probably never had the urge to time the ‘activity’ yourself, after reading this article, you may change your mind... Indeed, researchers from the psychology department at the New York State University at Oneonta had the absurd idea of comparing the length of yawns in different mammals. And they discovered a surprising connection to the brain… so what does yawning tell us?

A powerful opening of the jaw, inhalation, a brief period of intense muscular contraction and a passive closing of the jaw with a short exhalation. That’s the definition of a yawn. Although the purpose of yawning has never been clearly ...

Can primates help us better understand OCD?

Check to make sure the front door is locked, look to see if your cell phone is in your purse, make sure the keys to the car are in your pocket, recheck the front door... We pay little attention to these daily micro-tasks, but some French researchers at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) wanted to understand them better by studying primate brains. What are the brain mechanisms used in these micro-checks?

For the purposes of the study published in the journal Nature Communications, a group of researchers from the Stem Cell and Brain Institute (SBRI) attached electrodes to monkeys in order to record their brain activity. More precisely, Emmanuel Procyk ...

Is late retirement the secret to long life?

While there’s much debate about retirement age, research conducted by Chenkai Wu, a doctoral student in public health at the University of Oregon has shown that pushing back retirement age could increase life expectancy. The researcher explained his work during an interview with Nicole Torres for the Harvard Business Review (HBR) in October 2016. Why would ‘late’ retirement have an impact on longevity?

Working with professors Robert Stawski and Michelle Odden (University of Oregon), along with Gwenith Fisher (University of Colorado), C. Wu based his research on a longitudinal study (carried out between 1992 and 2010) on health and retirement. The study evaluated 2,956 ...

How does hypnosis affect the brain?

You are getting sleepy, very sleepy… Besides these ‘entertaining,' spectacular, and often funny (but equally frightening) aspects, hypnosis is also a real medical approach used to reduce pain or as a cure for phobias. But hypnosis remains an enigma. A study published in the British review Cerebral Cortex is helping to uncover part of the mystery. So what happens in the brain during hypnosis?

For their study, researchers from Stanford first gave a test to 545 students and then selected 57 for further experimentation. Among them, 36 were considered to be easily hypnotizable, while the others (n=21) were considered to be insensitive to hypnosis. According to psychologist and ...

A new map of the brain unveiled

Until today, 83 brain areas had been identified. You can now double this number because we’ve just discovered 97 others! It goes to show that the brain hasn’t finished revealing all of its mysteries. Scientists have taken yet another step toward understanding its complexity. The new map of the brain has just been published in Nature. How did researchers come upon this major neurobiological discovery?

To develop this new brain map, the research team of neurologists, engineers and computer scientists used data from the Human Connectome Project, a huge program in which highly sophisticated scanners recorded the brain activity of 1200 participants. With this partnership, the ...

How do you explain a false scare?

You’re calmly walking along in the forest and all of the sudden you jump and scream at the sight of a snake... that is actually only a stick. It’s this type of split-second reaction that an international team of scientists wanted to study, under the hypothesis that the fear response could be activated in our brains even before we’re aware of what triggered it. What happens in our heads? Let’s find out.

To explain the “false scare,” neurobiologist Constantino Méndez-Bértolo and colleagues from the universities of Madrid and Geneva (the study was directed by researchers at the Campus de Excelencia Internaciol Moncloa) hypothesized (on the basis of a previous study ...

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