Scientific News

Can a person's empathy by predicted?

“Empathy is a cornerstone of mental health and well-being. It promotes social and cooperative behavior through our concern for others. It also helps us to infer and predict the internal feelings, behavior and intentions of others.” This is how empathy is defined by Dr. Marco Iacoboni. With his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Iacoboni is seeking to determine whether it's possible to detect and predict empathy in the brain.

Empathy is based in part on the brain’s ability to reflexively and unconsciously process the experiences of others, whether observed or inferred, the same way we do for ourselves; a phenomenon known as “neural ...

Do parrots control probability?

Keee-aa! This is the powerful call of the nestor kea or simply the “kea,” a species of mountain parrot (the only one in the world) that lives in New Zealand. This bird has recently surprised scientists by demonstrating its remarkable skills in the field of probability. Indeed, two researcher from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) have shed light on the kea's ability to make complex judgments based on statistical, physical, and social information.

Doctoral student Amalia Bastos and Professor Alex Taylor (the authors of the study) developed a three-part protocol to demonstrate that the parrots are able to draw logical inferences from the different types of ...

Is power masculine or feminine according to young children?

Generally, power is more highly associated with men in social representations. But what do these representations look like in children? The present study aimed to identify the emergence of these representations in preschoolers around the world. Do young children attribute more power to men or women? Here’s what they found out.

The researchers at the Institute for Cognitive Sciences - Marc Jeannerod (CNRS/Claude Bernard University Lyon 1) in collaboration with the Universities of Oslo (Norway), Lausanne and Neuchatel (Switzerland) conducted three experiments.

In the first, they showed an image of two non-gendered figures to over 400 children (ages 4 to 6) in ...

Can the brains of adults and babies synchronize?

In a previous article (Can we comfort others by simply holding their hands?), we saw that the brainwaves of two individuals can synchronize simply because they are near each other, regardless of whether or not they are touching. This new study conducted by researchers from Princeton University shows that adults and babies could also be on the same wavelength.

As the authors of this research point out, most of the earlier studies on so-called “neural coupling” were done with adults (for example, when watching movies together). Elise A. Piazza (from the Princeton ...

Fake news: can we create our own misinformation?

Research on misinformation is beginning to multiply, especially when it comes to the mechanisms of thought that explain why we are all potential victims of fake news. A recent study shows that, in addition to external sources (partisan media, for example), there’s also a more surprising source of misinformation: ourselves. Depending on our biases, our memory can sometimes play tricks on us…

Jason C. Coronel (a professor of communications at Ohio State University), Shannon Poulsen, and Matthew Sweitzer (all doctoral students at Ohio State) carried out a two-part study in order to shed light on the role of digital facts in misinformation and how it is spread.

In the ...

Can dogs encourage kids to read?

“Our study focused on whether a child would be motivated to continue reading longer and persevere through moderately challenging passages when they are accompanied by a dog.” This unusual line of research conducted by two Canadian academics led to an article in Anthrozoös, a multidisciplinary review of human-animal interactions. The research offers an opportunity to learn more about the impact of therapy dogs. Could they help motivate reading in children?

Camille Xinmei Rousseau (a doctoral student at British Columbia Okanagan, Canada) and Christine Yvette Tardif-Williams (Professor at Brock University Saint Catharines, Canada) investigated whether dogs could ...

Can board games help preserve cognitive function?

While there’s loads of research on the (positive and negative) effects of video games on the brain, far fewer studies have been conducted on the possible effects of board games on cognition. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom, posited that playing cards, chess, or bingo could help maintain cognitive abilities. Let’s take a look at this research carried out on participants who were only 11 years old when the research began, and who are now 79!

Among the various types of interventions that could potentially promote “successful cognitive aging,” scientists have already shown that enjoyable activities, like cards, crosswords, and sudoku can have ...

Neuroplasticity: does playing the drums change the brain?

Have you ever tried to tap a rhythm with your right hand while tapping a different rhythm with your left hand? Very few people are able to perform this complex task. In general, we have a so-called dominant hand for fine motor skills (writing, for example). A recent study sought to determine whether this preference can be modified. The scientists decided to look at the brains of drummers, who can play two distinct rhythms simultaneously.

As a preamble to the study, the authors indicate that for the past 5,000 years, over all continents, there has been a constant ratio of 90% right-handed to 10% left-handed people. Each hand is controlled by the contralateral motor cortex. The ...

A driver’s license for rats?

Can you imagine a rat driving a tiny car? This is the unusual experiment that neuroscientist K.G Lambert decided to run with colleagues at the University of Richmond. While it may seem outlandish, this research aimed to demonstrate that rats have much greater neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt and learn new tasks) than previously thought.

While the behavioral tasks generally used to assess cognitive processes provide interesting information, they tend to be overly simple and do not reflect the animal’s real cognitive potential. This is why the scientists in the present study wanted to assess behaviors that allow for the observation of various responses. According ...

Is a well-wrapped present better appreciated?

Holiday gift-giving is just around the corner… A recent study has just shown that there’s an important, but often overlooked factor that may affect how a gift is received: the wrapping. The data from this study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, could soon be very useful because it shows the effects of a well or poorly wrapped gift on the perception of the gift itself.

According to Jessica M. Rixom, a co-author of this study and professor of marketing at the University of Nevada, Reno: “When we receive a gift from a friend, we use the wrapping as a cue about the gift inside and form expectations […] If it's wrapped neatly, we set high expectations, ...

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