Scientific News

Why do we mix up the days of the week?

It’s easy to remember when it’s Monday or Friday: one is depressing, the other exciting! These two days of the week are clearly identified, and we rarely confuse them with other days. But what about the middle of the week? It’s a bit hazy. We’re often lost. Especially when we’re on vacation! How many times have you said to yourself: “What day is it anyway?" Researchers have recently examined the question.

Mixing up the days of the week is a common phenomenon of daily life that occurs more frequently on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. During these three days, it isn't unusual to have the feeling we’re experiencing a particular day of the week when in reality ...

Controlling your mind to sharpen your senses

We may dream of having an owl's hearing or a cat's vision. But if certain senses are more highly developed in animals, it's largely thanks to their anatomy. However, we do know that it's possible to sharpen our senses, as is the case for the visually impaired, whose senses of hearing and touch are well above the norm. What if it were possible to sharpen our senses using only the power of the mind?

German researchers at Ruhr-Unviersity Bochum and Ludwig-Maximilians-University München used a group of meditators to study the impact of mental concentration on the sense of touch. The goal was to determine whether it would be possible to improve tactile perception through targeted ...

Playing Legos stifles creativity

If you watch a child building something with Legos, you can probably imagine what’s going through his or her mind: the frustration of the challenges encountered, the joy of placing that last piece, or the puzzlement of not knowing where to put a particular block. And you would probably guess that it's a beneficial activity that stimulates the brain and develops cognitive abilities. For the child, this is probably true, but it may not be equally true for you...

While children learn the basics of construction (and demolition) using Legos, the activity may actually put adults at a disadvantage. These are the findings of a study published in The Journal of Marketing Research. ...

Climbing trees improves memory

If someone asked you to touch your nose with your eyes closed, you would succeed without difficulty. This is possible thanks to a special ability, proprioception, which allows us to perceive the position of different body parts in space. And proprioception has an influence on our cognitive abilities, particularly working memory. This is one of the conclusions of a recent study demonstrating a drastic increase in memory following specific types of exercise.

Whether you are conscious of it or not, your brain is perpetually aware of the position of every part of your body. It’s much like a sixth sense, only unlike the other five, this sense involves the internal rather than ...

Got a tune stuck in your head?

Hearing just a few seconds of a song on the radio is enough for it to become stuck in your head for several hours. We’ve all experienced it at some point: that tune that keeps repeating in your mind, creating a rather unpleasant sensation for yourself and for your neighbors who can no longer stand you whistling the same tune over and over again. But where does this phenomenon come from? An imaging study reveals we don't all show the same patterns in response to this phenomenon.

At Goldsmiths, University of London, Dr. Nicolas Farrugia and his colleagues at the Music, Mind and Brain group study the cognitive and neural bases of listening to and playing music. They are ...

Why is screaming so easily detectable?

The human scream is highly specific. Not even the sound of a plane taking off can stop you from perceiving and recognizing nearby screaming. Screaming is an innate communication signal, shared by everyone, that has the ability to immediately draw attention. It's thanks to this feature that babies can instantly attract attention from parents. How are screams unique and how are they processed by the brain? A new study seeks to answer these questions.

In terms of auditory communication, several characteristics distinguish us as humans: in particular, distinguishing between male and female voices, differentiating human sounds from animal noises, and discriminating between vowels ...

Video games: virtual reality creates real fear

Are video games as scary as horror movies? Apparently yes… and we can't get enough of it! Frequently the subject of investigations into their violent nature, video games are now being scientifically examined based on their ability to arouse emotion. Fear, anxiety, enthusiasm, pleasure… what emotions are involved in increasingly realistic video games? And are these emotions more intense than those aroused by watching television?

Nicole Martin, assistant professor, and Teresa Lynch, a PhD student at the University of Indiana Media School conducted a survey on students about their experience with popular video games such as “Resident Evil,” “Call of Duty,” and ...

Cognitive function is sensitive to sugar and fat

Sorry if we've whetted your appetite. This enticing photo was chosen to illustrate the potential adverse effects of sugar and fat through their impact on intestinal bacteria. Everything is connected in the human body, and it's a well-known fact that these foods aren't recommended as part of a healthy diet. Less well known, is their effect on the brain. Why and through what mechanisms are they harmful? Kathy Magnusson, a professor of veterinary medicine tells us.

Obviously, it's no fun having to constantly monitor one's eating habits. So many foods are declared as being harmful to health that many of us no longer even pay attention. But this study is worth noting because it ...

Do you really know what you look like?

Who knows your face better than you do? The big nose, the too-thin lips, or those deep dimples: you know them all by heart. And yet, while these characteristics are an integral part of you, strangers that have seen you for barely a minute are actually better at recognizing you in photos. These results were published in The British Journal of Psychology thanks to the work of Dr. David White.

It turns out the many hours you spent gazing at yourself in the mirror have all been for nothing. You think you know every square inch of your face, but this simple study proves otherwise. In Australia, a team of researchers under the supervision of Dr. White carried out a fun experiment ...

Cat videos: proven to make us happier

Who hasn't at some point watched a cat video on the net? A cat surprised by its reflection in the mirror, another sleeping in an unusual position, or sliding down the side of a cabinet; cats apparently make us humans laugh and melt our hearts. There are thousands of videos on the web, and fans have compiled them to offer us the best clips. Why has this phenomenon taken on such proportions? According to scientists, these videos actually stimulate our positive emotions: a few explanations.

Two million cat videos on Youtube in 2014. Not a negligible number. And as soon as we start watching a few, it is inevitably difficult to stop, requiring a significant mental effort, even ...

Emotion or Reason: which brain do you have?

Does the rational mind prevail over the emotional mind, or it is just the opposite? It's a timeless debate. We can imagine those who, superior and arrogant, will say that reason counts above all and that only reason should be used to make important decisions. On the other side, others will tragically and sweetly invoke the emotional character of the situation. The two will perhaps never be reconciled. And what if this opposition had a neurological basis?

The brains of "rational" thinkers might be "manufactured" differently from the brains of "emotional" thinkers. It's a bit simplistic, but these are the overall results of work done by an Australian team from brain ...

Imagination improves our performance

To improve our performance, particularly in sport, we often follow the old adage ‘practice makes perfect.’ It's known that frequently repeating the same actions can help us to become quicker and more efficient. However, according to certain scientists, mental visualization could be a better technique. For example, a goal keeper who imagines all of the different ways that the ball could arrive is more likely to respond appropriately when the time comes.

"The idea that we can train our brains to work better is all the rage across society, but our research suggests that the human brain may benefit as much, or even more, from imagining performing a task, than the brain does ...

An optical illusion explained

If you click on the photo you will discover a dress that was the object of much attention this winter. What colors do you see? This dress caused a stir on social networks this winter by creating two opposing groups: those who saw blue and black stripes and those who observed white and gold stripes. The debate caused so much controversy that researchers decided to try and find an explanation.

The team of Bevil Conway, a research professor at the ...

Does walking make us more creative?

A blank page... The worst fear of a writer or a student is when they can't find the ideas or the inspiration needed to start their work, and staring at a blank page does nothing to improve the situation. On the contrary, a blank page is likely to frustrate and provoke them even further (in this type of stand-off, the blank page always wins). However, a five minute stroll could be the answer to the dreaded writer's block.

After hearing about the advantages of sports and exercise for our intellectual capacity, walking has now come into the spotlight in particular for its creative benefits. And it's not even necessary to walk energetically, a leisurely stroll or aimless ...

What we wear influences how we think

Every morning it's the same old routine: breakfast, get dressed, get ready, and go. We do these things without thinking because we can't imagine that our clothes could have an influence on our thoughts. However, psychologists have confirmed that the way we dress not only has an impact on the way that we are perceived by others, but also on how we perceive ourselves. The clothes don't make the man….or do they?

Numerous factors have an influence on us, including the opinions of friends, teachers and even strangers. Advertising, films and books also have an impact. But who would have thought that our clothes change the way we think! These are the results of an American study ...

Sweating makes people around you happy

After reading this article, you may go easy on the deodorant... But before talking about smells, let's take a quick look at vision. It's a well-known fact that smiling and laughing are contagious. When someone smiles, you smile back. Vision thus comes into play in triggering a brain process: emotion. What if odors also had this same effect?

Because they realized that negative emotions such as fear or disgust could be transmitted from one individual to another through the smell of sweat, Gün Semin and his team at Utrecht University in the Netherlands examined the transmission of positive emotions through this same mechanism.

The experiment took place in two ...

You are probably more of an extrovert than you think you are

Do you think that your friends are more popular than you? Then you're not alone. Social psychology has found statistical evidence to support this view. Strangely, we often think that our friends have more friends than we do. This is a well-known phenomenon known as the friendship paradox.

Daniel C. Feiler and Adam M. Kleinbaum, both members of Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College, USA, conducted their research on a class of MBA students at the start of the academic year. The first study focused on the formation of social networks, while the second analyzed behavior, in particular the way that biased samples can affect decision making. Both researchers wanted to ...

Is being a mom a question of hormones?

In neuroscience, studying the impact of a molecule on behavior usually involves either adding or taking away the required molecule and observing the results. In this study, the role of oxytocin on maternal behavior was observed. Can a single hormone be responsible for the complex and varied reactions that we associate with motherhood?

When we speak about maternal behavior we automatically think of the protection and care that a mother gives her infant, behavior which is essential for many species for the survival of offspring. In this case, neuroscientists from NYU's Langone Medical Center studied the role of oxytocin on maternal behavior. Oxytocin is a hormone produced in ...

When the five senses collide

Didn't you know? It's possible to see and feel the texture of sound. It's even possible to taste a color or to hear the sound of a smell. Seems strange? For 99% of the population these statements are false. However, what happens in the brain of the other 1%? Synesthetes really experience these situations, and it's not caused by an overactive imagination.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition affecting approximately 1 in every 100 people, characterized by stronger connections between the senses. The majority of synesthetes automatically associate a letter or numbers with a color, but a wide variety of different associations are possible. This is an involuntary reaction ...

Predicting choice based on eye movement

Would you push one man off a cliff to save five others? It's an odd question… and it's actually one of the questions in the trolley problem, a famous moral dilemma in which we are forced to make a decision that inevitably leads to someone's death. Would you believe it if we told you that your response depends in part on what you’re viewing at the moment you make the decision?

Moral dilemmas and moral choice are largely used in psychology to study the criteria that influence decision-making. The response to these types of questions depends on many factors, such as cultural and individual values and the amount of time given to respond. It's less clear what influence ...

Laughter, the secret to making new friends

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” It's often easy to break the tension in an embarrassing situation or establish a connection with someone we like. Except that sometimes it doesn’t work. Is laughter really a factor in bringing people together? And to what extent?

A uniquely human faculty, laughter is an important component in our society, demonstrated not only by numerous quotes, but also through the development of laughter therapies. It puts us in a good mood by reducing pain and stress, and improves health by stimulating the immune system. It not only contributes to individual well-being, but also strengthens social ties between friends... and ...

Brain science: the powers of napping

We underestimate the powers of napping. We've all heard that napping has beneficial effects. Maybe, but between work, picking up the kids, and making dinner, who really has the time? What if we could prove that a short lunchtime nap can be amazingly powerful? Would you change your habits?

Many sites specializing in health and well-being advocate napping during the day, often for only twenty or thirty minutes. It's good for the brain, and especially for memory. Well it turns out they may be right. As proof, Sara Studte and her colleagues at the University of Saarland in Germany found that dozing off for 45 to 60 minutes can multiply your ability to memorize by 5.

Brain activity in lovers

Ah love! Timeless and true, that thing we desperately seek or have already found, that can make us so happy or hurt us so deeply. We've all known love like this, right? But often we have a hard time understanding it. Understanding is the work of scientists who observe the brain of you, the lovers, to finally understand the biology of love. What are the characteristics of a brain in love? Scientists have begun to answer the question…

If you're in love, you feel energetic, motivated, and remarkably confident. And you feel this unique energy even in ordinary situations, even when you're not in the company of your lover. It's as if you've been transformed. You could perhaps ...

Can meditation keep you young?

Escaping from daily stress, finding yourself in religion, achieving enlightenment: these are all reasons people may practice meditation, a widespread tradition in Eastern cultures. Meditation is also a very interesting subject for scientists who see it as a highly effective way of developing the brain, and more recently as a way to fight the effects of aging. Stay young through meditation? Why not?

A team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) studied the impact of meditation on the brain using an MRI and two groups of volunteers who either did or did not engage in the practice. In the first group, the participants had been practicing meditation for several ...

Your dog recognizes that smile on your face

You walk by many different dogs and cats in an animal shelter, some look healthy, lively, and energetic. You see a dog in the corner of its pen looking sad and lonely. All this goes to show that you have the ability to distinguish emotions in another species. But does your animal share this ability? Do you know whether it's able to recognize when you're sad, happy, or angry? Recent science shows that it may indeed be possible...

Some people would say yes without hesitation, particularly longtime dog owners. It's difficult to put into words, but dogs know when we're sad or happy, and it's what makes human/dog relationships so special. Others might say just the opposite ...

Want to foster learning? Shake that body!

According to the popular stereotype, Italians are unable to speak without gesticulating. If this is true, this cultural particularity could be a real advantage in improving their ability to memorize. Movement, along with sight, smell, and touch appear to facilitate learning. Are we on a new track to better learning?

At school, nothing is more boring than learning a long list of words and their translations by heart, simply by repeating them again and again... and again. Not only is this method terribly dull, but it most likely won't provide the desired results. To improve things, we've since added a few pictures next to the words as illustrations, because involving the ...

What palm reading can tell us about fidelity

Put your hand at the center of your field of vision, fingers locked and together, and observe. Amongst the latest scientific findings, there are a large number of studies whose degree of relevance may be called into question. And you may wonder how this particular study could possibly represent a major advancement. As it turns out, this research is both surprising and perhaps disturbing. And it's for just this reason that we'd like you to take a moment to discover whether your morphology reveals a tendency for cheating...

Take a look at your hand. Do you see a significant difference between the length of your ring and index fingers? Why does it matter? Because this ...

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 ...

Media: Multitasking linked to decreased cognitive performance

Watching television while playing solitaire on your tablet. Looking for a pot roast recipe while talking to a friend on the phone. Do you multitask by juggling your various digital devices, computer, television, smartphone and tablet?

Multitaskers are often positively described for their ability to do several things all at once. But it appears that using several forms of media simultaneously can actually be harmful to the brain. Prior research had already shown a correlation between engagement in multitasking and a decline in cognitive control, along with decreased academic performance and increased depression and anxiety. Researchers wanted to determine if biological ...

Exercise: a natural remedy for depression

The benefits of exercise continue to multiply. Staying slim, losing unwanted pounds, and sculpting your abs are often cited as motivations. And more recently, it seems that the brain too can be a target for exercise thanks to several studies demonstrating its beneficial effects on cognitive performance. A new study has shown that exercise has a positive impact on depression. But how? What exactly is the relationship between exercise and mental illness?

In the brain, neurons communicate with each other via specific molecules known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are released by one neuron, the sender, and act on an adjacent neuron, the receiver. Neurotransmitters ...

At 24, she discovers she has no cerebellum

After complaining of nausea and dizziness, a young Chinese woman underwent medical examinations only to discover a strange cavity inside the skull where her cerebellum should have been. Until now, only 8 other such cases had been reported worldwide. This surprising story is an excellent illustration of the brain’s capacity for adaptation.

The cerebellum is the portion of the brain located at the back of the skull, just below the brain. Because of its shape and structure, it is often called the little brain. But don’t let its small size fool you! It contains a significant number of neurons and plays an essential role in motor control. The cerebellum is critical in ...

Is it possible to measure intelligence in children?

Your child’s current abilities don’t predict future performance. New research led by Professor Richard Cowan has found that a child’s current abilities in mathematics, English or any other subject has no bearing on success or difficulties during adolescence or adulthood.

The development of intellectual abilities in children is complex and can advance rapidly. For example, the intellectual differences between a five and 10-year-old are much greater than the differences between a 10 and 15-year-old. For these reasons, Professor Cowan compares testing a child’s intellectual ability to having your car inspected. Unlike testing a child’s blood type, which remains ...

Romantic feelings or sexual attraction?

When someone looks at you, it can be difficult to tell whether their attraction to you is based on love or lust. But now these intentions can be identified through body language, and more specifically by studying the person’s gaze. In the first case, the person will focus on the face, whereas in the second, they will focus on the body. This all takes place in less than half a second, so you’ll need to pay close attention!

To uncover the difference between these two types of desire, researchers from the universities of Chicago and Geneva studied the eye patterns of students during two experiments. The volunteers were first presented with a series of photos each ...

Does no really mean no?

You ask someone to do you a favor and they decline; what do you do next?
According to two experiments carried out by Boster and other researchers, most people ask “why not?” and then try to deal with the objections (Boster et al., 2009). The trick is to transform the “no” of the refusal into an obstacle which can be overcome. By dealing with with this obstacle, your request is more likely to be granted.

Boster and his researchers tested this approach in comparison with three other methods which are known to improve the chances of obtaining a request. -Door-in-the-face: this involves making a significant request initially, which has a good chance of being refused. ...

You smile at me...nor do I

One might say smiling is unique to humans. And though smiling is most often a manifestation of our humanity and our sincerity, some smiles are decidedly "fake." Why? Probably because, as American and European scientific teams have demonstrated, we can now make miniature replicates of a person’s smile. Invisibly tiny muscle contractions in our face attest to the authenticity of our smile.

During a discussion, we are often compelled to smile or to acknowledge the smile of our interlocutor. Our smiles may reveal sincerity, betray boredom, or in the worst case, may even convey ridicule. A smile can thus relate a wide range of different expressions. Researchers at the University of ...

Sound-sensitive plants: can they hear us?

Scientists at the University of Missouri have made a surprising discovery: the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, well-known in pharmaceutical laboratories, is actually capable of hearing sounds. Indeed, this plant can detect the acoustic vibrations of caterpillars chewing nearby leaves, and as a result it emits a chemical product that deters the caterpillar. Let’s take a closer look at this discovery.

Arabidopsis thaliana is, in the world of laboratory science, the botanical equivalent of a rat. Researchers came to realize that the plant could perceive the acoustic signals produced by caterpillars chewing its leaves. These vibrations reverberate at the heart of the plant via stems ...

Master Yoda, are you really so wise?

Everyone knows “Star Wars,” the space-age saga originally produced by George Lucas. And there’s hardly any need to introduce Master Yoda, the small green guru who teaches Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight. In each opus of the saga, Yoda wisely gives his philosophy of life including his theory on emotions and self-control. But how true are these theories? Dr. Nakia Gordon, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, has analyzed selected clips from the films.

“Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.”
Humans are made to “search.” Our nervous system incites our need to explore, and exploration ...

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 ...

Researchers that can mind read

“What are you thinking about?” Mind reading like science fiction characters is fascinating, but is just make-believe. In everyday life, when we are facing somebody, we can't know what that person is thinking or who that person is thinking about without asking. But what if researchers told you the opposite was true?

Alan S. Cowen (University of California Berkeley), Marvin M. Chun (Yale) and Brice A. Khul (New York University), all three of whom are researchers, carried out a study recently on the reconstruction of images from brain activity, therefore of thoughts. This is a huge first in the research field!

The volunteers for this project were shown 300 faces ...

Education is the brain's ally, even years later!

Studying is of course excellent for the brain, but for how long? Researchers have studied this question, and have revealed evidence of the positive long-term effect of education. Several decades after leaving the benches of learning, older people were still benefiting from an improvement in their cognitive functions.

The team of Nicole Schneeweis, a researcher at the University of Linz (Austria), studied the brain capacities of a group of seniors of the same age but with differing levels of education.

The data used came from the SHARE survey (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe). The information used was related to individuals of around 60 years of age ...

What if your dog could understand your emotions?

When your dog hears the sound of your voice, he recognizes you. There’s no doubt about that. Occasionally, you may speak to your dog, though you are aware that he doesn’t understand what you’re saying. This is now partly contested. It would seem that dogs are able to recognize the type of emotion conveyed by the voice. The expression “Dogs are Man’s best friend” makes total sense.

The study carried out in Hungary by the researcher Attila Andics was not easy. The first stage was to train the 11 dogs taking part in the study to remain still in the MRI machine while wearing headphones. The aim was to study the areas of their brain sensitive to the human voice. To do ...

"It goes in one ear and out the other!"

We all know this because despite our best efforts, we can't remember everything that is said to us. But remember this: this well-known expression now has a scientific basis. It would seem that auditory memory has its limits. But there’s nothing to worry about: we just have to combine it with our visual and tactile memory.

At the University of Iowa (United States), researchers wanted to compare three of our senses, namely hearing, touch and sight, in order to make conclusions on the ability of each of these senses to aid memorization.

To do this, the study conducted by Amy Poremba (professor of psychology and neuroscience) used around one hundred student ...

Coffee stimulates not only your mind, but your memory too

“What I've taken from this is that I should keep drinking my coffee”, states the neuroscientist Michael Yassa who carried out a study on coffee. The ability to tell the difference between different objects, patterns or situations may be crucial in everyday life, and coffee could turn out to be a significant ally in this task.

The team of Michael Yassa at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore described how people who had drunk coffee after looking at images turned out to be better than others in identifying these same images from similar images on the following day.
The study included 44 volunteers who were not big coffee-drinkers. They were asked to not drink any ...

Can we trust our memory?

We often recall memories in our everyday life, and yet our memory could be playing tricks on us. According to recent results, the same zone of the brain is activated, regardless of whether the memory being recalled is right or wrong. What is even more surprising is that our memory travels through time in its own way.

Donna J. Bridge, a neuroscientist at the Northwestern University, carried out a study on how our memory can be consolidated or even changed. Seventeen subjects were asked to memorize the location of dozens of objects that were briefly shown to them on a standard computer screen.
First, they had to find the original locations, using their computer mouse to drag ...

First step towards language comprehension

When we listen to somebody speaking, our brain receives a large amount of different sounds that it can process instantaneously, turning them into words and sentences with meaning. Recently, neuroscientists have put their finger on what could be the first stage of this complex process that is language comprehension.

With a real-time brain study, a team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and linguists led by the neurosurgeon Dr Edward Chang has extended the knowledge on the interpretation of human voices.

To do this, 6 subjects were invited to listen to 500 sentences in their native tongue (English) recorded by 400 different speakers. ...

Why do we sometimes resist temptation?

Hesitating between a piece of fruit and a cake – who has never been faced with this kind of situation? However, we don’t all react in the same way; some of us resist immediate gratification, while others tend to give in more easily. A team of researchers explains why.

Economic theory states that we attribute a value to each of the options that are presented to us in order to choose one of those options. In neuroscience, studies suggest that the regions of the brain involved in forming memories, such as the hippocampus, are involved in thinking up new situations. The team of Mathias Pessiglione (Brain and Spinal Cord Institute, France - ICM) started out with the following ...

Classical music: what if we were to improvise?

It’s a fact: improvisation is not a common practice in classical music concerts. And yet, according to a British study, musicians could find it useful in order to better engage the public. Researchers studied the electrical activity of the brain of a chamber music trio and their public (only two people) while listening to a composition with or without improvisation.

The electrical signals were recorded using electrodes on the participants' scalp. The public also filled in a questionnaire.

The results clearly demonstrated that there was a difference in activity between the concert with improvisation and the prepared one. In the musicians, the scientists ...

The side-effects of television

Television has a hypnotic effect, doesn’t it? We often find ourselves sprawled out on the settee, too captivated by the program we are watching to bother to tend to our natural needs. The very colorful images and constant movement keep us enthralled, and this applies to both adults and children. But what is the effect of these hours spent in front of the television screen during our childhood?

While many studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of television on the development of some cognitive capacities, in particular verbal, a Japanese team looked into the effects on the structure of the developing brain.

The researchers measured the volume of grey ...

Brain training is effective. Did you doubt it?

We are convinced that brain training as a method works; especially since our own statistical analyses confirm it: exercising your brain using a varied and regular program helps to maintain, even improve your cognitive capacities. However, we understand that some of our users still have doubts, especially given the contradictory information that can be found here and there.

So, it is very interesting when researchers (independent of HAPPYneuron) carry out studies on the subject. In this case, it’s an experiment, published in January in the scientific journal “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society”, carried out by G. Rebok, a doctoral student specializing in the ...

Reading novels stimulates the brain more than you think

Imagine this scene: in the evening, on getting home after a day at work, you settle down comfortably on your couch and forget all the problems of the day by starting a new novel. Straight away, you get lost in the story; you imagine the scenes and situations, and while you are reading, you become somebody else, the narrator of the story.

The expression “put yourself in somebody else’s boots”, frequently used when reading a novel, could be more real than you might think. Indeed, according to a study carried out by Prof. Berns, the brain activity observed while the person is reading a novel continues for several days afterwards, even when that person is no longer ...

Starting a new activity is good for the brain!

According to Dr Denise Park, engaging in new and mentally stimulating activities has a significant impact on the brain functions in those aged over 60. This is what this neuroscience researcher’s team from the University of Texas in Dallas concluded after carrying out a study that was published in the Psychological Science journal. This study is a part of a wider project – the Synapse project – the aim of which is to test the influence of various conditions on cognitive health in people aged between 60 and 90 years of age.

Several groups of participants were set up for the purposes of the study. The first three groups engaged in activities that were demanding of the ...

Dementia delayed by 4.5 years thanks to bilingualism

A lot of research has been carried out on dementia, which is characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities; it exists in various forms in a number of diseases, including the well-known Alzheimer’s disease. There is a wide range of causes for these diseases, and often several factors are involved when a patient suffers from one of them.

A team of researchers took an interest in the effect of bilingualism on the age at which dementia sets in. A panel of 648 patients was included to analyze the influence of bilingualism along other factors that could affect the results. The study, which was published in the journal Neurology, showed that the age at which the first ...

What makes babies laugh so much?

Babies laugh a lot, but do they really understand the joke? Very little research has been carried out into the laughter of babies, but a British team led by Caspar Addyman, doctor of developmental psychology, has placed it at the heart of his research. According to him, studying things that make babies and small children laugh may teach us a lot about their cognitive and social development.

The scientific literature has already given us a few clues. It has already been noticed that the creation and the understanding of humor follows cognitive development from a very young age, and that a baby’s sense of humor becomes more sophisticated as it grows up. Dr Addyman wanted to ...

The brain "cleans itself" during sleep

Sleep not only serves to consolidate memory and to fulfill a rest function, it would seem that it also plays a biological role of flushing out waste that has built up in the brain while we’re awake.

To protect themselves from any toxic molecules, nerve cells are not directly irrigated by the blood. The blood is filtered so that toxins do not come into contact with the neurons. One of these barriers is the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which flows through specific channels around and inside the brain. This fluid protects the brain from shocks and infections and carries nutrients to the brain.

Researchers assumed until now that the waste produced by the brain ...

Why don't ballerinas get dizzy?

To understand why classically trained ballerinas can do pirouettes one after another without getting dizzy, researchers studied eye reflexes and the parts of the brain that became activated in dancers.

The participants were put in a revolving chair that the scientists spun around in the dark. The results compared with a control group (young women rowers) showed that dancers did not feel dizzy for as long. The images obtained using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) also showed that the zone of the cerebellum receiving the dizzy signals is smaller in dancers.

The authors of the study assume that this zone gets smaller over many years of dancing, so that ...

Mirror neurons: the motor areas regenerate through observing actions

The motor cortex covers the entire area of the brain responsible for movement. Within these motor areas, there are some quite special neurons that become activated when an action is carried out and also when this same action carried out by a third party is perceived (since the motor cortex is connected to the muscles as well as to the visual system).

In a recent experiment carried out by a Franco-Italian team, an arm and a hand of each of thirty volunteers were immobilized for 10 hours causing atrophy of part of the motor cortex in charge of manual prehension. Then, these subjects were split into two groups. One group has seen videos of natural landscapes, while the other ...

How to boost problem-solving skills under stress

Stress not only generates health problems, it also impairs problem-solving skills and creativity. A recent study led by J. David Creswell from the Carnegie Mellon University has now brought evidence that self-affirmation ("the process of identifying and focusing on one's most important values") can improve problem-solving in stress situations. The researchers asked college students to rank-order a set of values such as business or family and friends based on their personal importance. The students also had to indicate their levels of chronic stress. They were then asked to write a short text justifying their number one ranked value. The participants who had been under high chronic stress for ...

Searching And Finding - How The Brain Does It

Researchers from the University of Berkeley recently discovered how the brain proceeds when searching for something. In order to be as efficient as possible the brain calls upon brain regions which are usually in charge of other tasks and categories. As an example, when you are looking for someone (object category "People") it also involves neurons which normally respond to other categories such as animals or plants. These neurons are then temporarily assigned to the category "People". This is the brain's very high flexibility proven all over again...

How Your Emotions Are Influenced By Your Heart

So it turns out that many idioms using the word "heart" may well be true... A British team has shown that processing emotions such as fear greatly depends on the heart's cycle. According to the researchers, fearful images seen during systole (when the heart is pumping) are considered more intense than during diastole (relaxation stage). The level of anxiety felt by the subject also greatly impacts how the heart and the brain interact. The team from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School hopes that their findings will lead to new therapeutic options for very anxious people.

Mindfulness Training: Improved Working Memory Skills And Less Mind-Wandering

A new study by researchers from the UC Santa Barbara showed that only two weeks of mindfulness training (Mindfulness is defined as "a state of non-distraction characterized by full engagement with our current task or situation") could improve a person's reading comprehension, working memory capacity as well as their ability to focus. Led by graduate student researcher in psychology Michael Mrazek, the team worked with 48 students who were either assigned to a mindfulness practice class or to a nutrition class. The students were tested for verbal reasoning and working memory skills, during which mind-wandering was also measured. A week after the classes had ended, both groups were tested ...

A Stimulating Environment To Protect Your Brain

A recent study by Harvard researcher Dennis Selkoe suggested new findings on the brain mechanisms activated by stimulating environments. The team exposed mice for a longer period of time to an enriched environment. The results showed that the activation of certain adrenalin receptors allowed to prevent amyloid beta protein from "weakening the communication between nerve cells" in the hippocampus. This very part of the brain plays a major role in short and long-term memory.

March 11-18 Is Brain Awareness Week

This week is international Brain Awareness Week. For this occasion, we would like to look back on various studies from the year 2012.

Effectiveness Of Brain Training
How effective are computerized brain fitness programs for older adults? Two studies looking into the matter where the topic of one of last August's newsletters. The first study from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA showed that seniors who regularly train with a computerized brain fitness program can considerably improve their language and memory skills. The second was a meta-analysis from John Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School. It indicated that computerized brain ...

Professional football players at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease

At HAPPYneuron, our online brain training method is obviously our most central project but we also have other topics of interest. As an example, we are currently working on a cognitive remediation tool called G.A.M.E. (Gradually Adaptive Mental Exercise). It is designed for athletes like ice hockey or football players who can experience multiple concussions during their career. G.A.M.E. is the response to various recent studies in sports.

Thus, last September, a team of Doctors from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati published in the online issue of the medical journal Neurology the results of a long-term study with almost 3500 former football ...

Tips for Singles

It's almost Valentine's Day but we haven't forgotten those of you who are still single! According to a recent French study, flirting may be a lot more successful when the sun shines... at least if you're seeking a long-term relationship! The researchers found out that the weather plays an important role in how women react to advances from men and that they were more inclined to a positive reaction when the sun was shining. Always worth a try if you're single! Check out the weather forecast and get out and flirt as soon as you can!

Martin Luther King Day

This coming Monday is the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a United States federal holiday which was signed into law in 1983 and first observed federal holiday observed since 1986. It is for Americans the opportunity to honor Martin Luther King's legacy, life and achievements.
Several states long resisted observing this holiday and it wasn't observed in all 50 states before 2000.
Today, it is celebrated all over the United States. It is a "Day of Service" and gives citizens of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities the opportunity to honor Martin Luther King's legacy through service.

The Need To Reset Your Inner Food Clock

So the Holidays are over, we've all eaten too much and we all feel like a good diet would do us a lot of good... Why not try to go back to normal eating habits first?... Finding it hard? That's because your inner food clock has been completely unsettled over the last few weeks: too much of everything, and usually at irregular times...
This feeling is also well-known by people who are jet-lagged, work at night, by night owls, i.e. people tending to live more at night than during the day, and by "late-night snackers".
Our food clock is tied to multiple sites throughout the body and helps us make the most of our nutritional intake. "It controls genes that help in everything from the ...

Less New Year's Resolutions?

Like most people, you have probable made a list of new year's resolutions. Among the most popular you can find losing weight, more physical exercise or simlpy finding more time for the people you love. But do you really always stick with your resolutions? And how do you make them work? How do you choose them? Find out here how to follow your new year's resolutions and how to choose them!

Older adults and fraud, a common association

Scientists from UCLA have investigated the reasons why older adults are more often fraud victims than younger people. According to the results, elderly people are not or less able to recognize dishonesty or untrustworthiness in a person's face. Using brain scans, the researchers also found out that a certain brain region linked to disgust is less active in older adults, thus blocking so called "negative gut feelings" which often protect us from being fraud victims. This is indeed considered a huge problem as in 2010, over 60 years olds lost a total of $2.9 billion dollars through financial fraud, with fraud types ranging from repair services to complex financial scams.

How Mental Activity Can Impact Our Brain Structure

It's not only a recurrent and important topic at HAPPYneuron, it's also a proven scientific fact: Your brain enjoys a little mental activity - and even lots of it! A new study shows that mental activities such as reading, writing, or playing not only have a positive impact on the brain but also help preserve the brain's white matter in elderly people. Mental activities can be anything ranging from reading the newspapers, writing a letter or an email, going to the library, or playing chess.

Dopamine To Boost Your Memory

A German study has recently shown that the neurotransmitter dopamine, also known as the "feelgood hormone", improves long-term memory. It is released by the brain when we feel happy or pleased. It has already been shown in animal studies that the brain has to release dopamine to store experiences permanently. It has now been shown that dopamine has a positive impact on episodic memory, a part of our long-term memory we use to remember events in which we were personally involved. The researchers worked with test subjects between the age of 65 and 75. Half of the group was given Levodopa, a substance that is converted into dopamine by the brain, while the other half was given a placebo. Both ...

It's Halloween!

Halloween was originally influenced by the Celtic culture. The word Halloween is a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening", which is the day before All Saints' Day. Halloween is famous for its carved pumpkins called Jack-o'-Lanterns. Today, Halloween is mainly celebrated in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, and Australia and has also began spreading to other European and Asian countries.

Poor decisions in a room full of people

The more carbon dioxide there is in a room, the worse your decisions might be! This is the result of a new study according to which our decision-making skills are greatly affected in closed rooms. The team from the State University of New York examined whether high CO2 exposure at school or at work could have a negative impact on our mental skills. The tests showed that the subjects' decision-making had already worsened at 1.000 ppm, compared to subjects in a room with 600 ppm CO2. (Typical outdoor concentration = ca. 380 ppm, indoors ca. 1.000, packed rooms = up to several thousand ppm.) Results were particularly impacted at 2,500 ppm.

Reconsidering the Marshmallow Study

Researchers from the Rochester University have recently revisited the 1972 Marshmallow study for which children were offered a marshmallow under particular conditions. They were told that they could eat straight away or wait and then get another one. Most children could hardly resist, which was explained with naturally low self-control.

The team from the University of Rochester first gave the children old crayons and a sheet of paper to draw on. The children were told that they would get new crayons if they waited. Only some of the children who waited actually got the new crayons, the others were put off. During the second stage of the experiment, the children then went through ...

How altruistic are you?

Some researchers would examine your brain anatomy to answer this question... and it's exactly what a team of scientists from the University of Zurich in Switzerland have done. The researchers conducted a study to investigate the neurobiological causes of altruistic behavior. To do so, participants were asked to share some money with a stranger. The team found that the most altruistic subjects, i.e those who shared the most money, were also those with more gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobes. These results help the scientists understand which biological factors determine a person's tendency to altruism. Nonetheless, it is not to forget that such behavior can ...

On World Alzheimer's Day, Test your Memory for Free with MemTrax

September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day. Various associations dedicated to helping Alzheimer's patients and their friends and families are organizing events to raise awareness of the disease. Today Alzheimer's disease affects 5.4 million Americans, while the cost for Alzheimer's related care represented around $200 billion in 2012.

To show their commitment to the fight against Alzheimer's disease, HAPPYneuron and the SBT group have chosen World Alzheimer's Day 2012 as a very special day to offer MemTrax, their memory test, for free. MemTrax is a 3-minute test which should be repeated every month. Its objective is to regularly assess both short-term memory and learning skills in ...

Green tea is good for your memory

Epigallocatechingallat... Yes, you heard me! EGCG, in short, is a substance found in green tea which has long been known for its antioxidant values and its role in neurogenesis (generation of neurons). A team of Chinese scientists could recently show that, thanks to EGCG, green tea could have a positive impact on the memory function as well as on spatial awareness and thus also on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Express Yourself: Mastering Fears and Emotions

Scared of spiders? Researchers from the University of Los Angeles recently showed that it is possible to master fears and emotions by speaking them out. The team worked with subjects suffering from arachnophobia, i.e. fear of spiders. At the start, they were only supposed to slowly approach the spider. In a second stage they were shown spider images. The subjects were then divided into three groups who either had to express their negative feelings towards the spiders, use neutral words to describe them, or choose a completely different topic to talk about. By the end of the study, the phobia in the first group had been greatly reduced.

Brain science : new evidence for effectiveness of brain training

Today we would like to mention two new studies on a most essential topic for HAPPYneuron: How effective are computerized brain fitness programs for older adults? The first study (conducted by Dr. Karen Miller and Dr. Gary Small from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA) was only published in early August and showed that seniors who regularly trained with a computerized brain fitness program could considerably improve their language and memory skills. The second represents a meta-analysis from researchers at John Hopkins University und Harvard Medical School and indicated that computerized brain training programs could be an excellent way to stimulate your brain.

Conditions for maximizing effects of HAPPYneuron brain training

Following several requests from our users, the HAPPYneuron scientific team decided to look into the optimum using conditions for your favourite brain training program. The study was conducted over the first 3 months of training of a representative sample of members in 3 different languages (French, English and German), of different age ranges and different genders. In order to avoid any kind of bias, the subjects were also chosen according to their training habits. As an example, they had to be regular players, training all cognitive areas.
The results of various analyses showed that the users who trained regularly could see a significant increase of their performances, with no regard ...

Bigger brains with team work

According to a study from the Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, team work may have lead to increasing brain size during the evolution. The researchers used a quite original method to observe the impact of social interactions on brain size. Indeed, they created computer models of artificial organisms with artificial brains. They made them played against each other in competition games like the classic Prisoner's Dilemma. Then, they let them evolve in their model and showed that a cooporative society has bigger brains. This study is very interesting as it provides new elements on our origins by means of a new technologies.

HAPPYneuron proven to increase cognitive performance

In 2010 the Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning in Bremen, Germany, was commissioned to assess the impact of cognitive training for unemployed adults over the age of 50. After several cognitive training solutions had been evaluated, HAPPYneuron was chosen based on its effectiveness, easy handling and scientific background. Over a period of 3 months the voluntary participants took part in 3 training sessions of 45 minutes each per week. The results showed increased performances in the trained tasks as well as a transfer effect for certain tasks. The study mainly resulted in a major increase in self-confidence, thus also increasing participants' employability.

The younger you feel, the healthier your brain

How do you feel about your age? Positively, or rather negatively? As a new study shows, this question seems to have far greater consequences than you might think! Researchers conducted a study to examine the impact of autosuggestion and positive thinking on cognition...

Better Health with Telemedecine

Telemedecine is the use of technology to overcome the barriers of distance and improve a patient's health, but also a means of communication between health professionals. Telemedecine was developed in the 80s. New technologies such as mobile apps or the internet allow patients to receive health care. Patients who live far off or are bedridden can thus keep their appointments or start a therapy despite the distance.

Telemedecine is also used for cognitive stimulation as it can be done via computers and tablet PCs. This is how the SBT PRO cognitive remediation platform allows health professionals to monitor their patients throughout their cognitive therapy.

Music exercises increase gray matter in the brain

Last week, on June 21, France celebrated World Music Day, a day that has been important for the past 30 years and has also been adopted by several other countries and states in the United States... Street performers, free concerts and all sorts of music related events! So why are we talking about music now? Isn't HAPPYneuron all about the brain? Yes but... A study by researchers of the University Hospital San Raffaele found that only two weeks of piano lessons or music exercises increase gray matter in the brain. After the training stage the researchers detected better coordination and more balanced action between both brain hemispheres. The subjects also had improved motor skills, with a ...

Physical exercise is good for you!

You'll never hear it enough: Physical exercise is essential for both your body and your brain! This summer may just be the right time to start exercising! If you are still a little reluctant, don't forget that there is no need for extreme changes, like suddenly taking up long and tiring hikes... Keeping your body in shape can only take 30 minutes of your daily time, with simple exercise such as going for a walk, swimming, or riding your bike. Are you wondering why HAPPYneuron seems to find exercising so important? Not only does it only keep you fit but it also protects your brain and your cognitive functions! As a recurrent topic in our newsletters, blog, or even our website, physical ...

Nutrition: How sugar affects your memory

Most people are aware of how high sugar intake can affect your body. But what about your brain? A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology showed the negative effect a long-term high-fructose diet has on the brain. The study was conducted on rats and indicated that drinking soft drinks or eating sweets on a regular basis affects our learning and memory skills. Indeed, the study dealt with high-fructose corn syrup, not with...

Physical and mental exercise for the good of your brain

Last week, we told you about staying active after retirement. Today you will find a few clues as to how to achieve this. A recent study conducted by Yonas E. Geda, M.D., MSc of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona shows that the combination of physical exercise and computer use is an excellent way to reduce the risks of cognitive decline. Previous researches had already studied the effect of physical exercise or computer activity alone but it seems that combining both may have a synergistic interaction on brain functions.

Keeping your brain active slows cognitive decline

Aging is unavoidable. However, it doesn't mean that our mental performance is doomed to deteriorate completely. According to a new study published in Cell Press, the best way to maintain a fit brain is to remain active, especially when you are retired. OK, but how? Here's the answer: Simply choose varied activities like cooking, reading, playing an instrument, or doing sports. The easiest way to prevent cognitive decline and thus keep a fit brain is to stay mentally, socially and physically fit.

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Can Berries Contribute to a Healthy Brain?

This question was raised by a team of researchers in a study seeking to identify the real effects of berries on the human brain. The results showed that certain substances that can be found in berries such as blueberries, black currants, or raspberries had a protective effect on the brain and helped improve cognitive functions such as the memory.

In this context it can be said that age-related neurodegenerative diseases are related to an increase in oxidative stress and inflamed brain cells. Berries were found to protect the brain cells thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

While this study brings new evidence on the positive effects of berries ...

International Mother Language Day

In the context of foreign languages and cultures promotion, we would like to inform you that the International Mother Language Day will be celebrated on February 21. This special day was announced in November 1999 by UNESCO and aims to promote and preserve the practice of all languages used around the world and to encourage everyone to multilingualism. The count of all languages spoken in the world is very difficult to achieve, however it is estimated that more than 6000 languages are used!

Neurobiology: The FKBP52 molecule is giving hope for the fight against Alzheimer's disease

Dementia type tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease are accompanied by an accumulation of abnormal form of tau protein in the brain. By interacting with the filaments called microtubules, this protein plays an important role in non-pathological conditions as it helps the neurons to function correctly. The French team of Etienne-Emile Baulieu recently demonstrated that another protein may be involved...

Learn about Labor Day

Observed on the first Monday of September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States where the average American worked 12-hour days and 7-day weeks in order to earn a basic living. Thus on September 5 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day Parade in U.S. history. This day became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, barbecues, parades and athletic events.

Exercise is beneficial for the brain!

Two studies have shown that the practice of physical activity has beneficial effects on the brain. In the first study, the Canadian team, led by Professor Laura Middleton, reveals that being active, including walking around the house or doing household chores protect us from cognitive decline. The second one, led by Marie-Noel Vercambre, shows that 30 minutes of daily walking decrease the risk of developing cognitive impairment.

The Internet may Influence Memory Skills

The Internet is a well known tool used to access knowledge quickly and easily. But did you know that using it could affect the way our brain stores information?
A team of scientists led by Betsy Sparrow, assistant professor in psychology at Columbia, analyzed the impact of the huge accessibility of data from the Internet on memory skills. One of the experiments consisted in typing one sentence in a computer and testing if the typists remembered it. The results showed that people were more likely to forget what they wrote if they knew that the data was saved. Furthermore, easy access to data may also affect what we precisely remember. Indeed, in the experiment, subjects memorized better ...

Does gender have an influence on collective intelligence?

A team of researchers worked on factors improving collective intelligence and have found out a surprising factor: the more women in a group, the smarter it gets. Contrarily to all expectations, high individual IQ scores or highly motivated and "happy" groups did not perform better. The ones with more women did, however. And this only stopped at the extreme end, that is, when no more males were in the team, then only did the performance start to decrease. A real revolution, since all groups can benefit from this : family, team activities, business, politics. Maybe worth considering adding a few women colleagues in that Board in September?

HAPPYneuron Science: the guarantee for high quality training

HAPPYneuron is always one step ahead when it comes to improving its solutions. Two weeks ago, we were present in New York at the annual conference in Cognitive Remediation in Psychiatry to share experiences with top world scientists in order to prepare the best brain training solutions for you! The work we have done over the last few years was also recognized when several speakers used our games as examples of effective cognitive tools! We are also proud to share with you that 4 posters out of the 12 presented cited scientific studies based on the use of our computerized cognitive remediation products.

HAPPYneuron games in the Brain Gym program: fight against age-related diseases!

Four years ago, Dr Bender and his team of doctors and researchers conducted a study showing that their Brain Gym program had reliable effects on brain health. This program includes regular training sessions and contains 6 essential points to fight against Alzheimer's disease: a low fat diet, meditation, stress reduction, physical exercises, socialization... and last point, and one of the most important, the stimulation of cognitive functions with HAPPYneuron program recommended by Dr Bender!

Last week, the Iowa local television station "Who TV" took an interest in a group of people who have adopted this program...

Retirement and cognitive stimulation

A recent article mentioned a study by researchers from the RAND center for the Study of Aging showing that the age of retirement has an impact on the natural brain decline observed during aging. This phenomenon would be linked to the cessation of brain stimulating activities and social interaction during retirement. Thus do not hesitate to make a "mental plan" as well and start now to stimulate your neurons with HAPPYneuron games!

For the Good of Your Brain, Learn about chocolate !

At this time of year, you’ll probably be subject to the temptation of eating excessive amounts of chocolate. But don’t feel too guilty about it! Scientists demonstrated that this coveted food has several benefits on health and more particularly on the cognitive functions. So, stimulate your neurons by eating chocolate and practicing HAPPYneuron games!

National Nutrition Month®

March is also National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for this year is "Eat Right with Color".

Treating Depression and Anxiety with Video Games

A study from East Carolina University has recently shown the effectiveness of casual video games to treat depression and anxiety. The researchers worked with 60 subjects suffering from depression, half the group representing control subjects. The team recorded an average decrease of 57% of depression symptoms, found that the subjects had become less anxious, and noticed that their mood had also improved.

Changing Your Fitness Habits

So we've read it in many studies: Physical exercise is important and contributes to a healthy life style. It has also been shown to be essential for cognitive health, helping us not only to remain physically fit but also to maintain mental sharpness.

Today, however, researchers find that it is not enough to inform people. This solely informative approach is not sufficient and motivating enough to get people to change their life styles accordingly and become more active.

This applies not only to physical fitness but also to cognitive fitness. HAPPYneuron is therefore taking the step and offering you ways to improve your cognitive fitness habits.


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