Brain

Good from bad smells - how your brain knows

Good from bad smells - how your brain knows

Whether an odor is pleasant or disgusting to an organism is not just a matter of taste. Often, an organism's survival depends on its ability to make just such a discrimination, because odors can provide important information about food sources, oviposition sites or suitable mates. However, odor sources can also be signs of lethal hazards. Scientists from the BMBF Research Group Olfactory Coding at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found that in fruit flies, the quality and intensity of odors can be mapped in the so-called lateral horn.

Why do ants show left bias when exploring mazes?

Why do ants show left bias when exploring mazes?

Temnothorax albipennis ants explore nest cavities and negotiate through branching mazes and show bias when doing it, finds a new study.

They found that ants were significantly more likely to turn left than right when exploring new nests. Such left bias was also present when the ants were put in branching mazes, though this bias was initially obscured by wall-following behavior.

So why do the majority of rock ants turn left when entering unknown spaces?

Riluzole may prevent foggy 'old age' brain

Riluzole may prevent foggy 'old age' brain

Forgetfulness, it turns out, is all in the head. Scientists have shown fading memory and clouding judgment, the type that comes with advancing age, show up as lost and altered connections between neurons in the brain. But new experiments suggest an existing drug, known as riluzole and already on the market as a treatment for ALS, may help prevent these changes.

Using light to understand the brain

Using light to understand the brain

UCL researchers have developed an innovative way to understand how the brain works by using flashes of light, allowing them to both 'read' and 'write' brain signals.

Political extremists less susceptible to common cognitive bias than moderates

People who occupy the extreme ends of the political spectrum, whether liberal or conservative, may be less influenced by outside information on a simple estimation task than political moderates, according to psychologists.

Thanks to smartphones, your thumbs are developing superpowers

When people spend time interacting with their smartphones via touchscreen, it actually changes the way their thumbs and brains work together, according to a report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 23. More touchscreen use in the recent past translates directly into greater brain activity when the thumbs and other fingertips are touched, the study shows.

This holiday, have kids play Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker' and their brains may improve

Children who play the violin or study piano could be learning more than just Mozart, finds a child psychiatry team. They say that musical training might also help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety.

Cardiorespiratory fitness improves memory in older adults

Older adults who have greater heart and lung health also have better memory recall and cognitive capabilities. The study, which appears online in the Journal of Gerontology, examines the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), memory and cognition in young and older adults.

Aging is associated with decline in executive function (problem solving, planning and organizing) and long-term memory for events. CRF has been associated with enhanced executive function in older adults, but the relationship with long-term memory remains unclear.

iPads and other Light-emitting e-readers detrimentally shift circadian clock

You may think your e-reader is helping you get to sleep at night, but it might actually be harming your quality of sleep, according to researchers. Exposure to light during evening and early nighttime hours suppresses release of the sleep-facilitating hormone melatonin and shifts the circadian clock, making it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.

E-books before bedtime can adversely impact sleep

Use of a light-emitting electronic device (LE-eBook) in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness, and the circadian clock which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental time cues, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) who compared the biological effects of reading an LE-eBook compared to a printed book. These findings of the study are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 22, 2014.