When lovers touch, their breathing and heartbeat sync, pain floats away

June 21, 2017

Fathers-to-be, take note: You may be more useful in the labor and delivery room than you realize.

That’s one takeaway from a study released last week that found that when an empathetic partner holds the hand of a woman in pain, their heart and respiratory rates sync and her pain dissipates.

“The more empathic the partner and the stronger the analgesic effect, the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching,” said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder.

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Ill-gotten gains are worth less in the brain

May 1, 2017

The brain responds less to money gained from immoral actions than money earned decently, reveals a new UCL-led study.

The research, published in Nature Neuroscience and funded by Wellcome, helps explain why most people are reluctant to seek illicit gains by identifying a neural process that dampens the appeal of profiting at other people’s expense.

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Why do shorter men go bald more often?

March 8, 2017

Short men may have an increased risk of becoming bald prematurely. An international genetic study under the leadership of the University of Bonn at least points in this direction. During the study, the scientists investigated the genetic material of more than 20,000 men. Their data show that premature hair loss is linked to a range of various physical characteristics and illnesses. The work has now been published in Nature Communications.

It has already long been known that men with premature hair loss suffer from heart diseases and prostate cancer somewhat more often. The new genetic data now confirm suspicions that there are further connections to other characteristics and illnesses. In their study, the researchers analyzed genetic data from around 11,000 men with premature baldness. Around 12,000 men with no hair loss served as a control. The participants came from seven different countries.

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New research says we look like our names

February 27, 2017

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but we make instant judgments about people’s intelligence, trustworthiness or dominance based on their facial appearance. Now, researchers have investigated the reverse possibility: can the way people judge us influence how we look?

To answer this question, researchers led by Dr. Ruth Mayo and PhD candidate Yonat Zwebner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examined whether a person’s appearance can be influenced by their given name. To do this, they recruited independent observers and showed them color headshot photographs of complete strangers. Then they presented a list of names to the observers and asked them to choose the stranger’s real name based on his or her facial appearance.

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38,000 year-old engravings confirm ancient origins of technique used by Seurat, Van Gogh

February 26, 2017

IMAGE

CREDIT: PHOTO AND DRAWING BY R. BOURRILLON.

A newly discovered trove of 16 engraved and otherwise modified limestone blocks, created 38,000 years ago, confirms the ancient origins of the pointillist techniques later adopted by 19th and 20th century artists such as Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Roy Lichtenstein.

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The influences to our left or right-handedness revealed

February 17, 2017

A preference for the left or the right hand might be traced back to that asymmetry. “These results fundamentally change our understanding of the cause of hemispheric asymmetries,” conclude the authors. The team report about their study in the journal eLife.

Preference in the womb

To date, it had been assumed that differences in gene activity of the right and left hemisphere might be responsible for a person’s handedness. A preference for moving the left or right hand develops in the womb from the eighth week of pregnancy, according to ultrasound scans carried out in the 1980s. From the 13th week of pregnancy, unborn children prefer to suck either their right or their left thumb.

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Sex, drugs, and rock and roll do show similar chemistry in the brain

February 8, 2017

The same brain-chemical system that mediates feelings of pleasure from sex, recreational drugs, and food is also critical to experiencing musical pleasure, according to a study by McGill University researchers published today in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

“This is the first demonstration that the brain’s own opioids are directly involved in musical pleasure,” says cognitive psychologist Daniel Levitin, senior author of the paper. While previous work by Levitin’s lab and others had used neuroimaging to map areas of the brain that are active during moments of musical pleasure, scientists were able only to infer the involvement of the opioid system.

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Personality traits ‘contagious’ among preschool children

February 5, 2017

When preschoolers spend time around one another, they tend to take on each others’ personalities, indicates a new study by Michigan State University psychology researchers.

The study, published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests personality is shaped by environment and not just genes.

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Survey: 1 in 4 vacations includes a trip to the ER

November 21, 2016

If you’ve ever had to seek medical attention for an illness or an injury during a vacation, you’re not alone. A new national survey by Orlando Health finds one in four vacations includes a trip to the ER and doctors say many patients are simply not prepared for the situation.

“When you’re going on vacation the last thing you want to think about is a medical emergency, but with just a few simple steps, you can rest assured that you will be prepared for any situation” said Steven Corbett, MD, an emergency medicine physician with Dr. P. Phillips Hospital at Orlando Health.

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Science finds older dogs better at learning new tricks

November 8, 2016

Older adolescents and adults can learn certain thinking skills including non-verbal reasoning more effectively than younger people, finds new UCL (University College London) research.

The study, published in Psychological Science, also highlights the fact that non-verbal reasoning skills can be readily trained and do not represent an innate, fixed ability. Read more

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