Scientific News

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 ...

Can we predict a person s creative potential?

In the arts and sciences, but also in everyday life, creative thinking is central. Recently studies in psychology and neuroscience have identified the regions of the brain involved in creativity. A new international study more precisely reveals the neural architecture behind a highly creative brain. It’s an opportunity to answer the question: why are certain people more creative than others?

For their study, Roger E. Beaty (a psychologist at Harvard) and his Austrian and Chinese colleagues focused on the neurocognitive characteristics of highly creative people. They wanted to find out whether there is a specific profile of brain connectivity in these individuals and whether ...

Can we comfort others by simply holding their hands?

Holding someone’s hand when they’re feeling stressed is a natural and often instinctive act, but not an insignificant one. A Franco-Israeli-American research team has just demonstrated the comforting power of human touch, in particular because it synchronizes the brain waves of the sufferer with those of the comforter. How can holding someone’s hand be helpful?

Today, the analgesic powers of social interaction, empathy, and physical contact remain unclear. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) was carried out by researchers at the Universities of Colorado (US), Haifa (Israel), and Paris Diderot (France) with the goal of testing ...

When do infants start to perceive fear?

Emotionally and socially, being able to perceive facial emotions is very important. It’s a skill that involves a great number of neural circuits. Normally, frightened faces aren’t a common sight in an infant’s environment. But, researchers from the psychology and neurocognition laboratory at the University of Grenoble (France) wanted to study the perception of fear in babies. At what age were they able to detect fear on a face?

In children, the capacity to classify certain facial emotions, and particularly fear, appears at about 5-7 months. Eyes wide, eyebrows raised, mouth open: these stimuli tend to hold the baby’s attention. The researchers hypothesized that fearful ...

Can happiness be taught?

300 students enrolled in the first course and… 1200 in the second. A new record! The former record was held by a course entitled "Psychology and the Law,” taken by 1050 students in 1992. Taught since January 2018 by Laurie Santos, “Psychology and the good life” is praised by Yale students. But why the success?

In an interview with NBC News, Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology, tells us that her class was created in reaction to the alarming research on students’ emotional health. This research made her aware of the feelings of anxiety and stress experienced by the students, many of whom feel overwhelmed by the university’s academic load, something that risks ...

Why is proper breathing so important to the brain?

Just like our heartrate, breathing is traditionally thought of as an automatic process governed by our ancestral reptilian brain (the brainstem). But by observing what happens in the brains of people that practice breathing techniques, a recent study from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research (New York) has just demonstrated the brain benefits of controlled breathing. How does good breathing influence our mental health?

For a very long time, consciously controlled breathing has been used as part of therapeutic techniques (cognitive-behavioral) whose underlying mechanisms remain largely uninvestigated. This research, published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, was designed ...

Dog versus cat: who is the smartest?

Just to be clear from the start: there is no objective measure of intelligence. But an international team of researchers has come up with a method to quantify the number of brain neurons, particularly in the cerebral cortex, in various carnivorous species. Starting from the premise of “the higher the number of neurons, the smarter the animal,” the scientists were able to determine which of the two was smarter: cats or dogs?

Carnivores were chosen as the subjects for this neuroanatomy study for two reasons: the wide range of their brain sizes, and the fact that they come in both wild and domesticated varieties. Indeed, for S. Herculano-Houzel (Vanderbilt University, Nashville) ...

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