Scientific News

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 ...

Are babies altruistic?

We define altruistic behavior as helping others even when it comes at a cost to ourselves. And sometimes this may mean giving up food! Researchers at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington (I-LABS, Seattle) developed an experimental protocol to find out if toddlers were willing to sacrifice part of their snack for the benefit of a stranger. It was an opportunity to see if the spirit of giving begins at a very young age…

For the moment, only humans have been shown to offer food to someone in need even when the giver himself may need it. Of course, in many circumstances, bonobos will share food, but they will not spontaneously give a valuable ...

If we know the right choice, why don’t we always make it?

On your way home from work you hit a traffic jam caused by a broken down truck. You decide to take a different route that turns out to be faster and you're home even earlier than usual! Will you take the new route the next day even though your usual route is better most of the time? A study conducted at the University of Ohio looked at our decision-making when it comes to choosing between what worked yesterday and what normally works best. What if your most recent experiences were preventing you from making good decisions?

As Ian Krajbich, one of the study’s co-authors explains, the study was designed to explore “this tension between doing what you should do, at least from ...

Can a person's empathy by predicted?

“Empathy is a cornerstone of mental health and well-being. It promotes social and cooperative behavior through our concern for others. It also helps us to infer and predict the internal feelings, behavior and intentions of others.” This is how empathy is defined by Dr. Marco Iacoboni. With his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Iacoboni is seeking to determine whether it's possible to detect and predict empathy in the brain.

Empathy is based in part on the brain’s ability to reflexively and unconsciously process the experiences of others, whether observed or inferred, the same way we do for ourselves; a phenomenon known as “neural ...

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