Scientific News

Why don’t soccer fans see the same match?

You’ll likely agree that criticizing the calls made by the referee is quite common among soccer fans. Team A’s fans think that the guy in black hasn’t called enough fouls against the players of the opposing team, and the same goes for Team B’s fans! British researchers have taken a closer look into this phenomenon. Using brain imaging, they tried to explain how fans can have such widely diverging opinions on the same match.

The study carried out by Timothy J. Andrews and his colleagues at the University of York’s Department of Psychology wanted to explore the neural basis of these group differences under natural conditions. The aim was to determine whether these ...

How does our brain suppress the desire for revenge?

Who wants to play the “Inequality game?” The winner is whoever succeeds in causing a feeling of injustice (and therefore anger) in his or her opponents. Several participants tested out this rather original “game” as part of a Swiss study. The experiment aimed to better understand the cerebral mechanisms that underlie anger and the desire to punish those responsible for putting us in this state. Discover how our brain manages to control its desire for revenge…

Few studies have investigated the neuronal functions involved in disassociating angry feelings from the regulation of aggressive reactions (responses or punitive behaviors). As specified by the study’s authors, ...

Why does the brain become more efficient during adolescence?

Adolescence… we’ve all lived through this period characterized by profound physical, emotional, and cognitive changes… a period that’s also marked by a great potential for neuroplasticity. To shine greater light on brain development during this period, researchers at the University of Oslo (Norway) studied fMRI data from more than 700 people. Read on to discover the changes that take place in a teenager’s brain.

To characterize age-related differences in functional connectivity in the adolescent brain, Norwegian researchers studied fMRI data recorded during a state of rest and during a cognitive task designed to solicit working memory. The data came from a previous ...

Can a poorly knotted tie be dangerous to your health?

Has the tie become a dangerous gift to give to a man? We’re not talking about whether it’s his style, but indeed whether it poses a real danger to his health. Neurologists at the Schleswig-Holstein University Hospital in Germany conducted a study to evaluate the effects of this clothing accessory on the brain. Can wearing a tie really be dangerous?

“The knot is to the tie as the brain is to the man,” said François de La Rochefoucauld. But you still have to know how to tie it! The Windsor knot (the most common) was chosen for the study reported here. The German researchers recruited 30 young men and divided them into two groups: “necktie” and “no necktie.” ...

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 ...

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 ...


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