Scientific News

Can infants distinguish a good leader from a bully?

“Bed time!” Imagine 21-month-old babies watching a short cartoon where characters interact with someone who asks them to go to bed. This protagonist may be depicted either as a good leader or as a despot. From this experiment, the researchers tried to determine if infants are capable of distinguishing between a good leader and a bully.

The study, carried out by researchers from the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science at the University of Trento (Italy) and from the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois (USA) focused on the distinction between these two major types of social power. One is based on authority, the other on intimidation. Previous studies ...

Learning music: a good way to develop executive function?

While at the beginning it may be painful to the ears of those around us, learning to play a musical instrument can not only offer personal fulfillment, it may also be beneficial to our brains. A new study published in the review Plos One has shown that early musical training could even optimize the development of executive function in children. Let’s take a look at the research.

Executive functions are complex cognitive functions that help us manage voluntary and organizational behaviors. They come into play when we are facing a novel or non-routine situation and involve three processes: inhibition (to prevent or stop us from producing a response), flexibility (to change from one ...

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 ...

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