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Scientific News

Let’s take a walk in the woods...

Many studies have focused on the potential physical and psychological benefits of green spaces, but only a few studies have investigated their role in cognitive development. We have already highlighted some studies on the potential effects of green spaces, in particular on improving attention in young children or on the importance of spending time in nature for our physical and mental health. Recently, researchers from University College London and Imperial College ...

Can empathy improve creativity?

In the workplace, “soft skills” are becoming increasingly important and encouraged, and social and emotional skills can be counted among them. This awareness is nothing new; as the authors this study remind us, John Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist of the first part of the 20th century, understood the importance of teaching these skills from very early on. “There is no education when ideas and knowledge are not translated into emotion, interest and volition.” Nearly a century later, the research team at Cambridge (England) questioned whether teaching empathy could be beneficial for learning, and more specifically for creativity.

For the past two ...

The third thumb: how do our brains adapt to "augmented body" technology?

While many scientists are trying to develop technologies to "mend the living," others are trying to use technology to improve the comfort of those in good health, or even improve the capacities of the human body (such as human exoskeletons, for example). Several years ago, Dani Clode, a London designer developed the Third Thumb, an additional robotic finger. Apart from any debate on the merits of such an invention, the present research has the interest of asking the following question: how does the human brain adapt to this third thumb, to this augmented body?

It’s an important question indeed: if body augmentation devices can advance in great strides, it is important, even ...

Shall we sing?

While physical activity, healthy eating and cognitive stimulation have been the object of much research when it comes to healthy aging. However, research on the potential positive effects of musical activities has been largely limited to the practice of a musical instrument. The current study, published in the journal Plos One is thus rather unique as it investigates the benefits of choir singing on cognitive health.

Various research has already suggested that music can be a source of pleasure, learning and well-being. As the authors point out in their study’s introduction, musical training can also have positive repercussions on cognition through transfer effects on executive ...

Do we choose our friends more wisely as we age?

The findings are clear: as we get older, we tend to be more and more selective in friendship, choosing our circles of trusted friends and positive relationships. According to a study carried out by primatologists and psychologists at Harvard University, chimpanzees also show this same behavior. Could studying our "ancestors” help us to be better understand this social selectivity, which can potentially contribute to healthy aging?

Research has already shed light on the importance of social bonds throughout our lifetime; and, in particular, how they can help improve cognitive health. In humans, aging is characterized by an increased focus on pre-established positive and close ...

What's the best gift for kids? The latest video game or a family outing?

Because of the pandemic this year, Christmas was a little different from usual, but one thing didn't change. Kids of all ages received gifts: teddy bears and Legos for the little ones and the latest video game for the older ones. Have you ever wondered whether kids might actually prefer intangible gifts, like sharing time with family and friends?

Lan Nguyen Chaplin, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, Chicago and her colleagues at HEC Paris, and the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota set out to determine whether children and adolescents (ages 3 to 17) felt greater joy when receiving material gifts or by sharing an experience. Over the course of ...

How do our choices influence our preferences?

“If I picked it, I must like it, right?" What shapes our preferences? An American research team attempted to answer this question by studying how infants make choices. This study, published in Psychological science, shows that sometimes we may justify our decisions after the fact to avoid what is known as "cognitive dissonance."

We make choices on a daily basis (even if it is just deciding what to eat). Sometimes, we choose things we like, but other times, we like things because we have chosen them. According to L. Feigenson, who co-authored the article, this inverse reasoning could explain these unconscious inferences that we all make: the first: "I chose this so I must ...

Can kindness improve our well-being?

In recent years, a great deal of research has been devoted to something known as "prosociality:" our ability to care about others and help them, without expecting anything in return. Some of these studies have highlighted a positive relationship between prosocial behavior and the well-being of people who are particularly altruistic and kind. Using a meta-analysis, this study examines the strength of this correlation. Can caring about others and showing kindness towards them really do us good?

Generally, research on prosocial behaviors has suggested that people who engage in these behaviors are likely to have better mental and even physical health than those who spend less time ...

Can we control dreams?

Is the movie Inception really science fiction? Released in 2010, the film directed by Christopher Nolan features the character of Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), tasked with implanting an idea in an individual’s mind while they are dreaming in order to commit the perfect crime. But there’s no ulterior motive behind this study, which discusses the development of a device used to for what scientists call “targeted dream incubation.”

The research led by Adam Haar Horowitz (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT) aimed to demonstrate the possibility of manipulating people’s dreams during the first phase of sleep via an electronic device. This first phase ...

Do infants like being imitated?

The desire to imitate is generally considered a major driver of social cognition in infants. Nevertheless, this “finding” has been largely theoretical until now. The current study from Lund University in Sweden aimed to provide concrete evidence of the effects of imitation on social interaction between babies and adults. Do babies like being imitated?

For babies, the theoretical benefits of being imitated has been widely touted. Imitation by adults encourages the development of socio-cognitive skills, including self-awareness, theory of mind (understanding the intentions and mental states of others) and the acquisition of cultural norms. But as the authors of this study ...

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