Brain

Skull amplification: Baleen whales hear through their bones

Skull amplification: Baleen whales hear through their bones

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. New research by San Diego State University biologist Ted W. Cranford and University of California, San Diego engineer Petr Krysl reveals that the skulls of at least some baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to their ear bones.

Infants create new knowledge while sleeping

Infants create new knowledge while sleeping

There is no rest for a baby's brain - not even in sleep. While infants sleep they are reprocessing what they have learned. Working with researchers from the University of Tübingen, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have discovered that babies of the age from 9 to 16 months remember the names of objects better if they had a short nap. And only after sleeping can they transfer learned names to similar new objects. The infant brain thus forms general categories during sleep, converting experience into knowledge.

Abnormal: Violent psychopaths can't understand punishment

Abnormal: Violent psychopaths can't understand punishment

Psychopathic violent offenders have abnormalities in the parts of the brain related to learning from punishment, according to an MRI study led by Sheilagh Hodgins and Nigel Blackwood of the University of Montreal.

"One in five violent offenders is a psychopath. They have higher rates of recidivism and don't benefit from rehabilitation programs. Our research reveals why this is and can hopefully improve childhood interventions to prevent violence and behavioral therapies to reduce recidivism," explained Hodgins.

Subliminal: Ads are effective even while multitasking

Subliminal: Ads are effective even while multitasking

Those video ads playing in the corner of your computer screen, in the midst of your multitasking, may have more impact than you realize. They may be as effective as the ads you're really watching, such as those during the Super Bowl, says a University of Illinois researcher.

It depends on how you perceive and process media content - whether your processing "style" is to focus more on one thing or to take it all in, according to Brittany Duff, a professor in Illinois' Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising.

Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking, awareness of dreaming

Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking, awareness of dreaming

To control one's dreams and to live out there what is impossible in real life - a truly tempting idea. Some persons - so-called lucid dreamers -can do this. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich have discovered that the brain area which enables self-reflection is larger in lucid dreamers. Thus, lucid dreamers are possibly also more self-reflecting when being awake.

Linguistics: Tonal languages need humid climates

Linguistics: Tonal languages need humid climates

The weather impacts not only upon our mood but also our voice. An international research team including scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Psycholinguistics, Evolutionary Anthropology and Mathematics in the Sciences has analyzed the influence of humidity on the evolution of languages. Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions.

Brain study sheds light on how children with autism process social play

Brain scans confirm significant differences in play behavior, brain activation patterns and stress levels in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as compared with typically developing children.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Vanderbilt University examined social play exchanges on multiple levels, revealing associations among brain regions, behavior and arousal in children with ASD. The results were released in the journal Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience.

Not just language: Cochlear implant users can hear and feel the beat in music too

People who use cochlear implants for profound hearing loss do respond to certain aspects of music, contrary to common beliefs based on limited scientific research. Writing in Hearing Research, a team says exposure to the beat in music, such as drums, can improve the emotional and social quality-of-life of cochlear implant users and may even help improve their understanding and use of spoken language.

Pain from shots shows up in infant brain activity too

It's no surprise that pain shows up in brain scans but a new study finds distinct, consistent patterns of brain activity in response to needles used in vaccinations.

The researchers performed elecroencephalography (EEG) in 15 healthy babies receiving routine vaccinations. A noninvasive and painless procedure, EEG is done to measure electrical activity in the brain, using electrodes placed in specific locations on the scalp.

12 infants were tested during vaccinations at age one to two months, and five at age 12 months.

Genetic links to size of brain structures discovered

Five genetic variants that influence the size of structures within the human brain have been discovered by an international team that included a Georgia State University researcher.