Scientific News

Eating with your eyes

From the earliest age, young children are naturally drawn to things that they find attractive, and food is no exception. Indeed, we often choose a dessert or a meal which is well presented or has appealing colors, but does this have an impact on the taste? Research has found the answer.

The study took place at Oxford University and was carried out by Charles Michel, a French-Columbian chef and trainee experimental psychologist and Charles Spence, a professor in experimental psychology. A sample group of 30 men and 30 women were given one of three different types of salad. All of the salads had the same ingredients but they were presented differently: the first was inspired by ...

What are the origins of human language?

Human language builds on birdsong and the language of primates. This is the hypothesis of a new academic study, according to which man learned the melody of birdsongs as well as the more pragmatic, content-carrying primate language. Roughly 100,000 years ago, these capacities fused into the form of human language we know today.

On the island of Java, the silvery gibbon is a unique example of a primate that sings: 14 different note types, which allow it to mark its territory and communicate with others in its group. This unusual animal could help us understand how language evolved. It’s clearly difficult to say how human language emerged. But we can nevertheless draw analogies ...

Does the moon really have an impact on our sleep?

There are many popular beliefs about the moon and its influence on us. You’ve probably heard that more babies are born during a full moon or that our hair grows faster. Many people also report having trouble sleeping when the moon is full. A team of researchers has focused on this phenomenon in an attempt to determine if the moon really does affect our sleep.

Until recently, studies in this field had only used a small group of approximately ten volunteers, which meant that the findings were difficult to confirm. In this new study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute analyzed the sleep patterns of 1,265 volunteers for over 2,097 nights, making it more likely to yield ...

The group effect: are you capable of evil?

According to a new study, being part of a group modifies the moral expectations and beliefs of each of the group’s members. Groups can initiate significant social changes that a single individual could never implement alone. But such alliances also have their downsides: belonging to a group can potentially make members more aggressive when faced with those who are viewed as outsiders.

While mankind generally shows strong preferences for fairness and morality and condemns violence under most circumstances, individual priorities may change depending on whether or not the individual belongs to a group. It’s a question of “us” vs. “them.” This is the essential message ...

Watch out! How does the brain stay focused?

While you are concentrating on your book, totally engrossed in the story, so much so that you could almost see the setting and the characters with your own eyes, somebody suddenly brings you back to reality: your children are fighting in the next room; your partner speaks to you and your telephones starts to vibrate in your pocket. You know what it is to be distracted, don't you?

And yet, your brain appears to have its own "anti-distraction" system as observed by John McDonald and John Gaspard, professor and doctoral student in psychology at the University of Vancouver. While previous studies showed that the ability not to be distracted by disturbances depended on the level of ...

The beats of your heart improve your sight!

Place your index finger and middle finger on your neck over the carotid artery and relax. Can you feel your pulse? Next time you have difficulty seeing something, because it's dark, because it's far away or for any other reason, take your pulse and concentrate on what you're looking at with every heart beat. Do you see the connection? Sight and heartbeats appear to be connected…

Since the brain receives signals from all the body's organs and in particular those signals from the heart, researchers at INSERM had the idea of testing the hypothesis that some signals may influence our sensory, cognitive or behavioral abilities. To be more precise, they measured the visual acuity of ...

Why don't we have any memories before the age of three?

When you think about it, it is true that recalling our first steps, the first candle we blew out, or our first teeth coming through is impossible. Our family is there to remind us about these important events from our childhood, but despite that, whatever we do we can't remember these events. This known phenomenon, called infantile amnesia, may be explained by a recent study.

Katherine Akers, from the Toronto hospital for sick children, carried out this study on mice and guinea pigs with the aim of studying how neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons, might affect our memories. To do this, the team of researchers trained mice to fear a particular environment with little ...

Marijuana: Harmful Effects even in Small Doses

"I'm not at risk; I only smoke once a week!" Many people who use marijuana react this way to reassure themselves, their friends and family. Until now, we knew about the harmful effects of using marijuana on a regular basis, but recently researchers have studied the effects of occasional consumption of this substance and the results are not reassuring.

The study recently published in the Journal of Science was carried out by researchers from the North-western University (United States), based on forty volunteers, of whom twenty smoke marijuana, and twenty who don't, all aged between 18 and 25.
The smokers were asked about their consumption over the past three months, then ...

A world first in medical imaging

2015 will be an important year for research and in the long term for human beings. An unusual MRI machine is to be commissioned at the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commissariat) in Saclay in France. Its level of effectiveness will be exceptional, and should solve a number of mysteries about our brain.

The "Iseult" project consists in making a very powerful magnet and was launched by a request for proposal fifteen years ago by Pierre Védrine, an engineer at the CEA. Thanks to a partnership in 2005 between France and Germany, this project was able to come to fruition, involving the CEA and the company Guerbet alongside the University of Freiburg and Siemens.

From a ...

How can you tell whether someone is lying to you?

Knowing whether or not someone is telling the truth is a recurring problem. Usually, we pay attention to details such as the facial expression or the attitude to try to recognize a lie, but it’s still difficult. Yet, a new study confirms that the lie-detector is actually you.

To come to this conclusion, the scientific team of Leanne ten Brinke (University of California) included 72 participants in the following protocol. Each participant watched simulations of suspects being interrogated. Some of them had stolen money, while others were innocent. All the suspects, whether guilty or not, had to say during the interrogation that they hadn’t stolen the money.
Then, the ...

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