Scientific News

Do bees understand zero?

Beekeepers have been denouncing the neurotoxic products that threaten our bee populations for years, and for good reason. In addition to their crucial role in pollination, bees also make terrific subjects for animal cognition research. A team of Franco-Australian researchers recently studied these insects' understanding of the concept of zero. More broadly, they wanted to answer the question: are bees capable of mathematical abstraction?

According to the study’s authors, "zero" is a mathematical concept that's not easy to understand. They remind readers that it takes children several years to master. Indeed, the “void” isn’t naturally associated with a mathematical concept; ...

Does stress affect our cognitive abilities?

At reasonable levels, stress can be a motivator and a means to excel. But you have to be able to manage in order to reap the benefits. A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently examined the effects of anticipated stress on cognition. In concrete terms, the scientists measured whether, beginning upon waking, stressing about what might happen to us during the day had an impact on cognitive abilities.

General Adaptation Syndrome, or GAS (the scientific name for stress), was clearly identified in 1936 by Professor Hans Selye. According to the endocrinologist, GAS is a set of physiological responses the body goes through when subjected to environmental ...

Which human emotions are dogs most sensitive to?

Through contact with humans, dogs have developed socio-cognitive skills that allow them to communicate with us. For example, they are able to distinguish different emotions on our faces. A recent study carried out by the University of Bari (Italy) tried to determine whether dogs were more “sensitive” to particular emotions. Are dogs more “receptive” to a face that demonstrates fear, surprise, anger or sadness? Read on to find out.

Research has already demonstrated that canines process human faces in the same way we do: by analyzing facial features (mostly the eyes, nose, and mouth). This is how they are able to recognize familiar faces, distinguish neutral or emotional ...

Is feeling young good for the brain?

Sure, we all age. But each of us perceives the passing years very differently. For example, are you one of those people who feels younger than their age? If you are, the “rejuvenation” you feel could be beneficial to your brain. For the first time, a South Korean study has highlighted the link between our subjective age and brain aging. Does feeling younger than we really are support cognitive health?

Why do some people feel younger or older than their real age? This is the question behind the research conducted by a team of scientists from the departments of psychology and sociology at the National Universities of Seoul and Yonsei in South Korea. The age we feel, or our ...

Are social ties the keys to cognitive health?

Having a large social network is one of the factors that may contribute to a healthy brain. But the benefits of maintaining or expanding social connections hasn’t received much research attention. One study has recently done just this by examining these ties between our social network and cognitive health. While it focuses on mice, it may still offer interesting information on one of the possible keys to brain health in humans.

Few animal studies have looked into the potential neuroprotective effects of a social network. Moreover, the little research that does exist mostly compares socially isolated animals to those living in groups. Until now, in both rodents and humans, ...

Can animals mentally replay past events?

It’s the end of the day: you’re going home, but when you’re about to open the front door, you can't find your keys! Don’t worry, thanks to your episodic memory, you’ll be able to recall all of the specific events you experienced today. And by going back in time, you'll eventually find your keys and return home. We humans are indeed able to replay past episodes from our lives. But what about animals? Research has revealed that rats also share this ability.

As you know, memory comes in many forms, and our episodic memory allows us to mentally travel in time; our episodic memories are characterized by the repetition of several unique events in sequential order. And the ...

Is our brain like a bee colony?

Besides the need to protect them because they play a fundamental role in pollination (which is essential to the survival of many plant and animal species), bees can tell us a lot about how our brains work. A research team from Sheffield studied their behavior and discovered analogies to the way our neurons interact during the decision-making process. How can a colony of bees be related to the human brain?

A colony of honeybees works as a whole; each of its members depends on the others for survival. This specificity, also found in ants, intrigued scientists, especially those interested in psychophysics. This science studies the links between physical stimuli and the resulting ...

Does working on the top floor of a building increase risk-taking?

Tell me which floor your office is on and I’ll tell you how risky your investment proposal is! While we might prefer otherwise, we all know that investment and legal decisions aren't always completely objective, especially because they are linked to the personalities of the actors involved. And a new and unexpected factor has just been unveiled in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology: the altitude at which we make a financial decision. Let’s see the full details.

The research team led by Sina Esteky, an assistant professor of marketing at Miami University’s business school, first looked at data from more than 3,000 hedge funds from 2013 (500 ...

Can virtual reality improve learning?

Welcome to the virtual palace of memory. In this special place, you may meet Michael Jackson, Napoleon Bonaparte, Donald Duck or even Martin Luther King Jr. There are two ways to visit: on a computer screen where you move around using your mouse; or using a virtual reality headset where you are completely immersed in the environment. And if at the end of the visit, we asked you to remember where you had seen the different characters, in which one of these visiting modes do you think you would remember best?

Virtual reality is a computer technology that allows users to physically dive into an artificial environment that reproduces sensory experiences, including sight, sound, touch ...

How does a soccer fan's brain work?

With the FIFA World Cup taking place in Russia, we thought it was an appropriate time to take a look at this study published in Scientific Report in November 2017. Whether you’re a soccer fanatic or not, discover what happens in the brain of a soccer fan who feels they're part of a group, a family. What sorts of altruist behavior do they show?

Belonging to a group is considered to be a basic human need. Research has shown that humans have a tendency to favor their ingroup, or the group to which one belongs. In this area, soccer fans provide extraordinary research subjects. Their behaviors show their strong attachment to the group, their real and constant solidarity. But ...

Can we transfer memories from one living being to another?

David Glanzman expects to see a lot of surprise and skepticism in response to the study discussed here. He and his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles have managed to transfer memories from one sea snail to another. Their experiment raises questions about our conception of memory, something which was little debated in the (neuro) scientific community until now. Let’s take a look at why this transfer of memory in mollusks should be approached with care.

Before delving into the experimental details and the debate they provoke, it should be noted that the research conducted by Glanzman focuses on the study of the engram, a biological trace of memory in the ...

Can friendship be seen in the brain?

Birds of a feather flock together. Can this popular saying be seen in the brain? Empirically speaking, sociology has shown that we associate with people that are like us; something known as (social) homophily. American researchers have studied this phenomenon on a neural level. As incredible as it may seem, they were able to identify a person’s friends by analyzing their reactions in the brain while watching video clips! Let’s take a closer look.

The intuition that we tend to choose friends who are like ourselves has been confirmed through research on homophily. The sociological variables that help forge social ties include social origin, age, education, place of ...

Do jazz and classical pianists' brains work the same way?

It may be an anachronism, but if Duke Ellington and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had to play the same piece of music, do you think their brains would show similar activity? According to a study published in NeuroImage, the brains of jazz pianists don't operate quite the same way as their classical counterparts. But why would a musician's brain activity change depending on the kind of music they play?

Playing music requires highly developed brain structures with complex interactions between various abilities, and musical training induces sensorimotor plasticity. Previous research has already established that, for certain tasks, the brains of musicians work differently than those of ...

Can neuroergonomics optimize airplane pilot training?

In just a few years, planes may be able to use an interface to assess the cognitive and emotional states of their pilots and "act" accordingly to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and flight attendants. Carried out by the ISAE Aeronautics and Space Insititute (Toulouse, France), a recent study has demonstrated the potential benefits of monitoring brain activity in pilots during real flight conditions. It’s an opportunity to discover how neuroergonomics can optimize human-machine interactions.

There is growing interest in the use of tools to monitor individuals’ cognitive performance in their work environment and daily lives. Known as neuroergonomics, this area of ...

When it comes to advertising, do monkeys and humans have the same taste?

While we humans may be used to seeing a scantily clad man or woman touting the bottle of perfume of a particular brand, how do monkeys feel about sex and notoriety in advertising? Sure, amongst the ranks of crazy research, this study certainly has its place, but it does nevertheless raise an interesting question: can we induce brand preferences in monkeys, as we can in humans?

As a preamble to their study, researchers at the Universities of Stanford, Colorado – Boulder, Durham and Pennsylvania remind us that sexual representations and social status are always a reliable means of arousing consumer desire. Many experiments have shown that explicit sexual content in an ad increases ...

Can we guess what someone is thinking?

I’m thinking of someone right now. Can you guess who it is? Probably not! Yet, incredible as it may sound, we’re now able to read into people's brains. Through a new process developed by a team of researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Scarborough (Canada), we’re now able to digitally recreate the image of the person someone is thinking about. How is this possible?

According to Dan Nemrodov, a co-author of the article published in eNeuro: “When we see something, our brain creates a mental percept, which is essentially a mental impression of that thing. We were able to capture this percept using EEG to get a direct illustration of what’s ...

Do numbers come naturally to newborns?

In humans, the representation of numbers and space are deeply intertwined. We create mental representations of numbers on a line from left to right, with the smallest numbers on the left and the largest numbers on the right. Italian researchers have shown that hours after birth, newborns already have a rudimentary sense of numbers. Their study raises the following question: is the mental spatial representation of numbers innate?

In the preamble to their study, Rosa Rugani and her collegues (Universities of Padua and Trento, Italy) present recent research that calls into question the belief that humans represent numbers on a mental number line (MNL) based on their reading/writing ...

Can having the right color jersey help you win the match?

Have you ever heard an athlete complain that they weren't wearing their lucky jersey after losing a game? Athletes are often superstitious, and sometimes they may focus on the color of their uniform. But lots of people think that an athlete's chances of winning depend on the color they're wearing. A study on judo looked into just this question. To win a fight, is it better to have a blue or white judogi?

Evolutionary psychologists are interested in the influence of color on athlete performance during competition. For example, they consider what are called “red effects:" (empirical) evidence of the positive influence of wearing red in a competition. They attribute these effects ...

Why are green vegetables good for the brain?

"Spinach? Gross!” Do you remember saying this as a kid? Maybe you love it now that you’re an adult? If broccoli and other veggies are fairly popular today; this wasn’t always the case. In addition to their digestive benefits, a recent American study shows that regularly consuming green vegetables could delay cognitive decline. Why are these foods good for our brains?

Good nutrition may contribute to good cognitive health. Martha Clare Morris and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago wanted to study the effects of the primary and bioactive nutrients found in leafy, green vegetables (salad, cabbage, celery, etc.); namely vitamin K (phylloquinone), lutein, ...

Love at first sight: what happens in the brain?

Two pigeons smooching on a branch; aren’t they adorable? How did the two of them fall in love? Actually, much like us: suddenly, unpredictably, and automatically. The experience of falling head-over-heels in love intrigues us because we don’t really know what’s happening. Yves Agid, a professor and researcher in neurology and neuroscience is helping us to better understand love at first sight. What happens in our brain when we suddenly fall in love?

A racing pulse, sweating, a feeling like an electric current, etc.: these physical “symptoms” are the manifestation of intense, yet uncontrolled emotions that each of us have felt in the presence of a perfect stranger. In an ...


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