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Animal behaviour: Dogs may have body-awareness and understand consequences of own actions
Dogs may be able to recognize their own body as an obstacle and also understand the consequences of their own actions, according to a study involving 32 pet dogs published in Scientific Reports. (2021-02-18)

I, the obstacle -- dogs show body-awareness, a new component of mental self-representation
Dogs understand the relationship between their body and the environment in a problem solving task. Researchers found that dogs can recognise their body as an obstacle, which ability is one of the basic manifestations of self-representation in humans. Self-representation is the ability of holding information in one's own mental model about themselves. In humans this capacity reached an extremely complex form, called self-consciousness. (2021-02-18)

Study: Preschoolers with higher cardiorespiratory fitness do better on cognitive tests
Researchers report that 4-6-year-old children who walk further than their peers during a timed test - a method used to estimate cardiorespiratory health - also do better on cognitive tests and other measures of brain function. Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the study suggests that the link between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive health is evident even earlier in life than previously appreciated. (2021-02-18)

How the 'noise' in our brain influences our behavior
The brain's neural activity is irregular, changing from one moment to the next. To date, this apparent ''noise'' has been thought to be due to random natural variations or measurement error. However, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development have shown that this neural variability may provide a unique window into brain function. (2021-02-17)

Predicting words' grammatical properties helps us read faster
Psycholinguists from the HSE Centre for Language and Brain found that when reading, people are not only able to predict specific words, but also words' grammatical properties, which helps them to read faster. Researchers have also discovered that predictability of words and grammatical features can be successfully modelled with the use of neural networks. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. (2021-02-16)

Algorithm that performs as accurately as dermatologists
A study has now been presented that boosts the evidence for using AI solutions in skin cancer diagnostics. With an algorithm they devised themselves, scientists at the University of Gothenburg show the capacity of technology to perform at the same level as dermatologists in assessing the severity of skin melanoma. (2021-02-12)

Brain activity can reveal the severity of autistic traits
A team of researchers from Russia and Israel applied a new algorithm to classify the severity of autistic personality traits by studying subjects' brain activity. The article 'Brief Report: Classification of Autistic Traits According to Brain Activity Recoded by fNIRS Using ε-Complexity Coefficients' is published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. (2021-02-11)

Young and restless, old and focused: Age-differences in mind-wandering
Research from Trinity College Dublin suggests that adults can be more focused, less impeded by anxiety and less mentally restless than younger adults, providing new insight into the influence of the natural ageing process on mind-wandering. (2021-02-10)

Center for BrainHealth researchers create virtual reality cognitive assessment
Virtual reality isn't just for gaming. Researchers can use virtual reality, or VR, to assess participants' attention, memory and problem-solving abilities in real world settings. By using VR technology to examine how folks complete daily tasks, like making a grocery list, researchers can better help clinical populations that struggle with executive functioning to manage their everyday lives. (2021-02-05)

Blink! The link between aerobic fitness and cognition
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found evidence that spontaneous eye blink activity, which reflects activity in the dopaminergic system, explains the connection between fitness and cognitive function. This is the first study to indicate that dopamine has an essential role in linking aerobic fitness and cognition. These findings open the door to new research regarding the mechanisms by which exercise improves brain function, and may lead to novel fitness strategies for enhancing cognition. (2021-02-03)

The quick choice might be a choice-overload avoidance strategy
Making a choice quickly might appear effortless, but University at Buffalo research that measured cardiovascular responses in the moment of making a choice, rather than after-the-fact, suggests that the apparent swift certainty might instead be a defense from having to think too deeply about the choices being presented to them. (2021-02-03)

How does pain experienced in everyday life impact memory?
A new study conducted out of the University of Miami indicates that brain systems related to emotional distress could underlie the negative impacts of pain on memory in healthy individuals. (2021-02-03)

USPSTF recommends against screening for asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis in general population
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against screening for asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis in the general adult population. Carotid artery stenosis is the narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the brain. This recommendation applies to adults without a history of transient ischemic attack, stroke or other neurologic signs or symptoms related to the carotid arteries. (2021-02-02)

What makes people want more self-control?
A new study shows that people differ greatly in their desire to increase their self-control, and that merely having low self-control is not sufficient to induce a strong desire for better self-control. Desire for better self-control shows most potently after people acknowledge the relevance of self-control for their present needs. As such, the findings explain why so many self-control interventions fail, and direct future efforts to improve self-control. (2021-02-01)

Football and inclusion: It all comes down to the right motivational climate
Playing football has the potential to promote the inclusion of young people who are not from the predominant culture of a country, i.e. young migrants. Crucially, the feeling of belonging and being accepted depends on the trainer's approach to training - or more precisely, the motivational climate they create. Task-oriented training is significantly more suitable than training that is geared towards performance and competition. (2021-01-29)

Listening to the call of the wild: Tracking deer movements using sound
Researchers from The University of Tokyo built a prototype system for monitoring deer populations in the wild using sound recording devices in a grid formation. As the sound recording devices are powered by solar panels and synchronize their internal clocks with GPS satellites, they are suitable for unmanned monitoring. Two trials of the system indicated that it is more accurate and convenient than previous methods of monitoring deer and other ungulates. (2021-01-28)

Working memory can help tailor educational development
Imagine a 7-year-old and a college student both take a break from their virtual classes to get a drink of water. When they return, the 7-year-old has difficulty restarting the assignment, while the college student resumes working as if the break never occurred. Nelson Cowan, an expert in working memory at the University of Missouri, believes understanding this developmental age difference can help younger children better adjust to a virtual learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2021-01-27)

Hypnotic suggestions can make a complex task easy by helping vision fill in the blanks
New research demonstrates that hypnosis--the process of focusing a person's attention on a specific task or sensation--can turn a normally difficult visual task into a far easier one by helping individuals mentally ''fill in the gaps'' of missing visual cues. (2021-01-27)

Can dogs rapidly learn words?
A new study found that talented dogs can learn new words after hearing them only four times. While preliminary evidence seems to show that most dogs do not learn words (i.e. names of objects), unless eventually very extensively trained, a few individuals have shown some exceptional abilities. (2021-01-26)

Where do our minds wander? Brain waves can point the way
Anyone who has tried and failed to meditate knows that our minds are rarely still. But where do they roam? New research led by the University of California, Berkeley, has come up with a way to track the flow of our internal thought processes and signal whether our minds are focused, fixated or wandering. (2021-01-19)

Special interests can be assets for youth with autism
COLUMBIA, Mo. - When he was in middle school, teachers would give Sam Curran a list of words to type in a computer to practice his vocabulary. (2021-01-15)

Good results for groin hernia operations not performed by doctors in Sierra Leone
In countries with a severe shortage of surgeons it is common for some operations to be done by medical staff with lower formal qualifications. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, have led a study on the safety and efficacy of a common surgical procedure. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, shows that inguinal hernia operations performed by associate clinicians at a Sierra Leone hospital were just as safe and effective as those performed by doctors. (2021-01-11)

In shaky times, focus on past successes, if overly anxious, depressed
The more chaotic things get, the harder it is for people with clinical anxiety and/or depression to make sound decisions and to learn from their mistakes. On a positive note, overly anxious and depressed people's judgment can improve if they focus on what they get right, instead of what they get wrong, suggests a new University of California, Berkeley, study. (2020-12-22)

A new means of neuronal communication discovered in the human brain
An international research group has discovered in the human brain a new functional coupling mechanism between neurons, which may serve as a communication channel between brain regions. (2020-12-17)

Computational model reveals how the brain manages short-term memories
Salk scientists have developed a new computational model showing how the brain maintains information short-term using specific types of neurons. Their findings, published in Nature Neuroscience on December 7, 2020, could help shed light on why working memory is impaired in a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, as well as in normal aging. (2020-12-17)

Teaching artificial intelligence to adapt
Getting computers to 'think' like humans is the holy grail of artificial intelligence, but human brains turn out to be tough acts to follow. Now, Salk researchers have used a computational model of brain activity to simulate this process more accurately than ever before. The new model mimics how the brain's prefrontal cortex uses a phenomenon known as 'gating' to control the flow of information between different areas of neurons. (2020-12-16)

USPSTF statement on screening for hepatitis B virus infection in adolescents, adults
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for hepatitis B virus infection in adolescents and adults at increased risk for infection.  (2020-12-15)

Losing money causes plastic changes in the brain
Researchers at the HSE Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience have shown experimentally that economic activity can actively change the brain. Signals that predict regular financial losses evoke plastic changes in the cortex. Therefore, these signals are processed by the brain more meticulously, which helps to identify such situations more accurately. The article was published in Scientific Reports. (2020-12-15)

Restoring a rudimentary form of vision in the blind
Restoration of vision in blind people through a brain implant is on the verge of becoming reality. Recent discoveries at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) show that newly developed high-resolution implants in the visual cortex make it possible to recognize artificially induced shapes and percepts. The findings were published in Science on 3 December. (2020-12-03)

Shrinking massive neural networks used to model language
Deep learning neural networks can be massive, demanding major computing power. In a test of the ''lottery ticket hypothesis,'' MIT researchers have found leaner, more efficient subnetworks hidden within BERT models. The discovery could make natural language processing more accessible. (2020-12-01)

How automated vehicles can impede driver performance, and what to do about it
A University of Toronto Engineering study is underscoring the importance of drivers keeping their eyes on the road -- even when they are in an automated vehicle (AV). The findings, published recently in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, revealed that drivers can become over-reliant on AV technology. This was especially true with a type of in-vehicle display the team coined as takeover request and automation capability (TORAC). (2020-12-01)

Psychology research shows 'water cooler talk' can have big benefits
In settings where people are working together on a task, making time for small talk allows for a newly-described behavior called ''reciprocity in conversation,'' which is associated with higher levels of task enjoyment. (2020-12-01)

Head in the game
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba find that blind soccer players rotate their heads downward when trapping an incoming pass. This work may lead to an improved understanding of the sensory changes that can manifest in visually impaired individuals. (2020-11-24)

USPSTF recommendation on behavioral counseling to promote healthy diet, activity for adults with risk of CVD
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends offering or referring adults with cardiovascular disease risk factors to behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthy diet and physical activity. (2020-11-24)

Be mindful: Study shows mindfulness might not work as you expect
If dispositional mindfulness can teach us anything about how we react to stress, it might be an unexpected lesson on its ineffectiveness at managing stress as it's happening, according to new research from the University at Buffalo. When the goal is ''not to sweat the small stuff,'' mindfulness appears to offer little toward achieving that end. (2020-11-13)

USPSTF statement on screening for high blood pressure in children, adolescents
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to make a recommendation about screening for high blood pressure in children and adolescents. High blood pressure (both primary and secondary) occurs in 3 to 4 percent of children and adolescents in the United States. (2020-11-10)

Two motivational artificial beings are better than one for enhancing learning
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found that offline consolidation of a motor task was enhanced by praise delivered by robots, whether they were presented on a screen or were physically present. Further, simultaneous praise from two agents had a stronger effect than praise from just one, regardless of whether the agents were physically present or virtual. Such effects could be helpful for facilitating education and for general enhancement of human-robot interactions. (2020-11-05)

Pinning down how the brain predicts the consequences of choices
Learning to predict the outcomes of actions happens through two separate cognitive processes. Though distinct, it is frequently difficult to tell which scheme an individual is executing at any given instance. A new study in mice implements a novel experimental approach that untangles the two, and pins down how a specific brain structure represents the various features involved in the decision making process. (2020-11-04)

Brain region implicated in predicting the consequences of actions
A new study highlights the sophisticated mental machinery that helps the brain simulate the results of different actions and make the best choice. (2020-11-04)

Scientists identify specific brain region and circuits controlling attention
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that norepinephrine-producing neurons in the locus coeruleus produce attention focus and impulse control via two distinct connections to prefrontal cortex (2020-11-02)

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