Learning to play a musical instrument doesn’t make you smarter, study finds

There seems to be a general belief, especially among parents, that if you send children to music lessons the experience will make them smarter. However, a group of researchers at  University of Toronto, intrigued  by this highly thrown about, yet never proven, link between the two conducted a study to see if this belief genuinely holds. Their findings suggest, in the authors’ own words,

How the brain tackles tongue-twisting words and why it’s important

Can you imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie? Sorry about that folks – that was a bit twisted right? Just earlier you’ve used your  lips, tongue, jaw and larynx in a highly complex manner in order to render these sounds out loud. Still, very little is known of how the brain actually manages to perform this

Biological marker for dyslexia found. Good news: reading can be improved

Researchers at Northwestern University claim they have uncovered the mechanisms that lead to difficulty in reading. Apparently, there is a direct correlation between one’s ability to encode speech sound in the brain and ease of reading. The scientists also devised an experiment and saw that children with reading impairment significantly improved after being fitted with a listening device. It’s rather

How seals sleep with only half their brain

A new study led by an international team of biolgoists has shown just some brain chemicals allow seals to sleep with only half of the brain. “Seals do something biologically amazing — they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake. Seals sleep this way while

Babies can tell two languages apart as early as seven months-old

A new study by scientists at University of British Columbia and Université Paris Descartes found that babies growing up in bilingual environments are more than well equipped to tackle the challenge of distinguishing between the two from a very early age – as young as seven months old according to the findings. Scientists, linguistics and neurologists mostly, have always been

Obama funds brain mapping, interesting questions arise

This week, the Obama administration has announced plans to pursue a 10-year, $3 billion research effort aimed at mapping the human brain in “its entirety”. The project, called the Brain Activity Map, is designed to help scientists better understand how the ~100 billion neurons interact in our brains. Initially, the announcement was met with applause, as  the study could prove

Professional athletes learn faster than University students

There’s a common stereotype that depicts athletes as being grunts that are all brawn and no brain. In reality, the truth couldn’t be farther. Athletes, the good ones at least, seemingly posses an above average intelligence, and a recent study by cognitive scientists at University of Montreal adds further weight to this statement. In the study professional and amateur athletes bested university

The making of a bully – childhood trauma is key

They say that the bully is actually the victim – and studies on adolescent rats seem to support this idea; younger rats subjected to a stressful environment turn out to be aggressive adults, behaviors that may be explained by accompanying epigenetic changes and altered brain activity. Whoa, let’s slow down a little. Much like humans, rats are also vulnerable to

Graphene and brain research get biggest research prize ever – $2 billion [shorties]

Research into the new wondermaterial graphene and the neurochemistry of the human brain will be given up to two billion euros ($2.68 billion) in funding – the largest research grant in official, recorded history, the European Commission said on Monday. The two areas are the beneficiaries of the Future Emerging Technology (FET) Flagship programme, described as an “X-Factor for science”;

Yoga helps reduce symptoms of most major psychiatric diseases

It’s a well known fact that yoga does good to the mind and body, but the extent of that benefit is something still debated. Now, yoga supporters have just gotten a big hand from a study conducted by psychiatrists. “Yoga has also become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and consumers to differentiate legitimate claims

People remember facebook updates better than faces or quotes from books

There are some 30 million facebook updates pushed on the massive social network every hour, so it might seem like common  sense for most of us to dismiss these as trivial. Scientists at University of Warwick and UC San Diego however chose not to ignore these fleeting, yet direct text updates and actually found some interesting conclusions as part of a

Spiders on drugs – see how they web

In 1995, scientists working at NASA took a break from the usual cosmic research to tackle a much different problem: getting spiders stoned. Their experiments have shown that common house spiders spin their webs in different ways according to the psychotropic drug they have been given; the more toxic the drug, the more deformed the web. Surprisingly enough, spiders on

Parkinson treatment unlocks latent creativity

Many Parkinson experts across the world have been reporting a surprising, remarkable phenomenon: many patients treated with drugs that increase dopamine activity in the brain exhibit new creative talents, including painting, sculpting, writing, and many more. Prof. Rivka Inzelberg of Tel Aviv University‘s Sackler Faculty of Medicine first noticed something was weird when instead of bringing her gifts like flowers

As we age learning is hampered because our brains can’t filter useless information as before

Children are veritable knowledge sponges that can appropriate an intense amount of skills in a short amount of time. As we age, starting from the end of puberty, people seem to loose their ability of learning new skills as intense as children do. For instance, if a 30 year old French man decided to starting learning English, even if he

Eye color and face shape influence trustworthiness

People with brown eyes appear more trustworthy than those with blue eyes, unless the man has a broad face. What – is this for real? According to a study conducted by Karel Kleisner and colleagues from Charles University in the Czech Republic – the answer is ‘Yes’. The point of the study was to determine what makes us trust somebody

Drinking hot chocolate from an orange or creme colored cup makes it taste better

A group of researchers from Polytechnic University of Valencia and Oxford University asked study participants to sample hot chocolate contained in variously colored cups. Their results suggest that drinking hot chocolate and other similar brews from orange or creme colored containers enhances its flavor. The scientists asked the 57 participants to taste the same hot chocolate from four differently colored cups

Simulated manned mission to Mars yields valuable information: boredom key problem

In case you didn’t know, there was a big pretend manned mission to Mars going on in 2010 and 2011, organized by the Russian Academy of Science in conjunction with the European and Chinese space agencies. The experiment, Mars500, placed six people in a simulated spaceship en route to Mars for 520 days, in order to find out problems which

NASA to test sleep-aid coloured light bulbs

Space flight insomnia is quite a common issue, one for which space agencies don’t have a definite answer yet – but they’re working on it; one thing NASA plans to do is swap a fluorescent panel with a solid-state lighting module (SSLM) containing LEDs which produces a blue, whitish or red-coloured light depending on the time. Some studies concluded that

Mind over matter: paralyzed woman controls robotic arm with her thoughts

Doctors in Pittsburg are stunned by the ability of a patient who reached a never seen before mental control level of a robotic arm. The human part Jan Scheuermann, 53, who is paralyzed neck down, was able to move, grasp and release a variety of common household items with the same ability as with a normal arm. Experts in the

Making brain cells from urine

Some of the human waste we flush out each day could become valuable research material – a potent source of brain cells to analyze, something extremely important for neurodegenerative diseases studies. The technique, described in Nature Methods doesn’t involve embryonic stem cells, which have serious drawbacks when transplanted such as the risk of developing tumours. Instead, the method uses ordinary