Animals, Mind & Brain, News

Rats Remember Who’s Nice to Them—and Return the Favor

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Rats remember acts of kindness done by other rats, and are more helpful to individuals who previously helped them. It’s not clear if they do this because they are grateful or if they are trying to make sure that they will get helped in the future as well, but their behavior gives scientists a new understanding of animal social behavior.

Mind & Brain, News

Decisions are reached in the brain by the same method used to crack the Nazi Enigma code

Alan Turing Enigma

The highlight of the award winning film, “The Imitation Game”, is when Alan Turing and colleagues devise an ingenious statistical method that eventually helped decipher the Nazis’ Enigma code. This breakthrough allowed Allied intelligence to read previously unavailable German military positions and actions, vastly shortening World War II. Interestingly, a team of neuroscientists at Columbia University found that more or less the same statistical method applied by Turing and co. is used by the brain to make any kind of decision, be it going left instead of right in an intersection or placing a higher bet during a high raise power game instead of folding.

Genetics, Mind & Brain, News

Big-brained mice engineered using human DNA

mouse brain

In the quest to understand what are the crucial differences between human and chimpanzee brains, scientists have isolated a stretch of DNA, once thought to be “junk”, near a gene that regulates brain development in mice. The engineered mouse embryos grew significantly larger brains. Those which received human brain DNA strands had 12% larger brains than those bred with chimp brain DNA. Research like this, though ethically controversial, might help identify which DNA sequences give a brain human characteristics, but also aid in findings treatment or cures for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Mind & Brain, News

Use of Psychedelics Could Reduce Suicide Rates

Image via Wine and Bowties.

Suicide rates have generally remained the same for decades, with slight increases in some areas of the world. Basically, scientists and medics don’t really know how to effectively tackle this issue, so they’re considering more unorthodox approaches. A new study has found that classic psychedelic use may reduce suicidal thinking, ultimately dropping suicide rates. “Despite advances in mental health treatments,

Animals, Mind & Brain, News

Dogs can tell when you’re happy or upset, study shows

The experimental setup used for testing the dogs' ability to distinguish between emotions. CREDIT: ANJULI BARBER, MESSERLI RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Science confirms what every dog owner has known in his heart: our canine friends can tell when we’re happy or upset. The discovery represents the first solid evidence that an animal other than humans can discriminate between emotional expressions on other species.

Mind & Brain, News

Cannabis Consumption Might Make You Bipolar

Image via Agora Media.

After reviewing existing literature and statistics, researchers from the University of Warwick have found evidence which suggests a significant relationship between cannabis consumption and the onset (or exacerbation) of mania symptoms. We’ve presented quite a few studies on cannabis here on ZME Science. Our general impression is that due to legal constraints (which are somewhat debatable), the medical potential of

Mind & Brain, News

No two autistic brains are alike – each has unique connections

Image: The networks in your brain. Credit: NIH

For most people, brains are pretty similar – our connections follow the same pattern, and while there are certainly exceptions, you could say that our brains are connected in pretty much the same way. But for autistic people, things are very different. A new study has found that each autistic brain has unique, highly idiosyncratic connections. We’re only starting to