Scientific News

Are you a lucid dreamer?

Lucid dreaming. It's like being transported into a parallel life, a life you choose, a life where the laws of physics and social norms no longer exist, or better yet are under your control. Very few people have the capacity to stay conscious while sleeping. So what are the prerequisites for being a lucid dreamer?

While you'll find all sorts of tips on experiencing lucid dreaming online, German researchers have discovered that the ability is related to our capacity for introspection.

But let's start with a few definitions. Lucid dreaming is above all an ability to perceive one is dreaming and even influence one's dream. It means dreaming while knowing you ...

Can empathy cause pain?

Did you know that the video game Rock Band® can be used as a tool for social bonding? And that empathy causes us to feel pain more strongly? Pretty strange, huh? Both the product of social psychology research, these two findings have allowed researchers to show that empathy cannot be felt in the presence of a stranger.

These results were first found in mice. Mice feel even more pain when confronted with a painful (but nevertheless moderate) stimulus if this stimulus is introduced in the presence of a familiar mouse, such as a cage mate, as compared to an unfamiliar mouse.

Naturally, the researchers wanted to know if the same effect could be observed in ...

Babies only retain the good memories

You spend some quality time with your infant child of only a few months. You speak and play, and the child in return appears to respond to your actions with his or her own movements and smiles. Yet you're convinced that between the two of you, only you will be able to remember this special moment: the infant's brain does not yet allow this memory to be imprinted in his or her mind. But can you really be so sure?

The choice between good and bad memories is an easy one for very young children. While adults struggle to let go of their unpleasant memories, babies can rely on their brains to automatically do the work for them. And if you're wondering if, farther down the line, ...

Want to stop smoking? Stay on top of your cycle!

Are you looking to stop or cut back on smoking during the new year? Sorry guys, this information is for women only. Ladies, these new findings may surprise you. According to a new study, tobacco cravings and menstruation are related. This knowledge could offer help for those of you looking to kick the habit...

One might wonder how it is that a research team came to investigate whether a woman's menstrual cycle has an influence on cigarette cravings. In any case, it was the question asked by Adrianna Mendrek's team from the University of Montreal and its affiliated institute of mental health. And the results indicate there is a correlation: "Our data suggests that the urge to ...

Why do we cry when we're happy?

When something good happens in our lives, many of us can't help but shed "tears of joy". The situations that provoke these tears vary greatly: parents seeing their child graduate from college, a couple reuniting after a long absence, or an athlete winning a contest. But why do we cry when we might expect to smile or laugh? There is a scientific explanation for tears of joy.

According to Oriana Aragon, crying after an experience of intense positive emotion allows us to regain emotional balance. The scientist and her team from Yale University carried out an experiment, the results of which will soon be published in Psychological Science.

In order to verify ...

Speak only one language and have a bilingual brain? It's possible.

You could be bilingual without knowing it, or rather your brain could. During the first years of life, the brain has an amazing learning capacity that leaves an indelible mark. In fact, scientists have discovered that people who only speak one language but were exposed to another language early in life present the same brain activity as bilinguals.

Lara Pierce's team from the University of Washington in Seattle wanted to know if our experiences during the early years of our lives leave long term traces in our brains. In this study, she was particularly interested in the impact of language.

This study involves Chinese-born children between the ages of 9 and ...

The brain's recipe for jokes

During a meal with friends, there is always someone who makes everyone laugh. Someone who has the gift of telling the funniest jokes, someone you listen to because you know you are going to have a good time. Maybe that person is you! But what do we know about the 'brain mechanisms of joking'? Which areas of the brain are required to tell the best jokes? Researchers have looked into the question.

Humor is not the most studied topic in neuroscience. However, this human specificity can teach us a lot about how our brains work, and it's a fun topic to explore. Researchers from the University of Southern California have tried to determine the mechanisms behind jokes. The brains ...

The stages of brain development - 2

In the previous newsletter, we explained the early stages of brain development when the embryo is only a few millimeters long. Do you remember? The neural tube extends along the entire length of the embryo and it is this structure that will later become the brain and spinal cord. Now let’s take a look at how the major areas of the nervous system develop.

At about 33 days after conception, the embryo is slightly larger at about 5 millimeters long. The cells that make up the neural tube differentiate into five major regions at the rostral end (head): the telencephalon, diencephalon, mesencephalon, metencephalon, and myelencephalon.

The first area, or ...

Charisma: a dominant or caring voice?

Charisma has the ability to make you credible, respected, and even admired when you speak. Charisma is based largely on a series of movements and stances; we often say that a charismatic person has a commanding presence. But charisma can also be manifested through speaking style, and it appears that certain innate predispositions may also be quite influential.

After suffering from a stroke, the Italian politician Umberto Bossi saw a real difference in the way audiences perceived his speeches. The authoritarian persona perceived prior to the stroke was replaced by a more caring perception. Rosario Signorello, a postdoc at the University of California, Los Angeles began ...

The stages of brain development - 1

Did you know that the brain is formed from the same embryological layer as the skin? And that it's shaped like a cylinder during the first stages of life? Like all other organs and tissue, the most complex organ in our body and source of our thoughts and emotions, comes from a single cell formed by the fertilization of an ovum by a sperm cell. Let's take a closer look at brain development for the sheer sake of satisfying our curiosity about this mysterious organ.

At the beginning, the embryo is little more than an elongated mass of cells. But even at this early stage, through successive multiplications and differentiations, these three layers of cells will one day become ...


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