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New research suggests that the brain displays a similar pattern of chaotic activity during meditation as it does during the psychedelic experience. The findings, published in the journal Neuroscience, indicate that meditation is associated with increased brain entropy. “We are currently witnessing a major psychedelic renaissance, both in science and society. Psychedelics are being reconsidered as comparatively safe tools to investigate the relationship between brain, mind and consciousness, as well as promising clinical alternatives to…

A small quantity of caffeine accelerates the reading speed of text, according to new research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The observed improvements in reading speed were also accompanied by a change in the overall perception of visual stimuli. “While studying the cause of developmental dyslexia — the inability to acquire adequate reading abilities — we observed that children with dyslexia show a specific deficit in the analysis of whole visual images, showing a…

New research published in Social Neuroscience sheds light on the neural responses related to endorsing positive and negative words about oneself. The findings could have implications for the development of depression in adolescence. “The idea of the ‘self’ is a fascinating subject. How do we form our identities and learn who we are? This is a process that can become very sensitive in the adolescent years (just think of teenagers interacting with social media content…

Viewing landing scenes appears to activate the “Mirror Neuron” system in pilots more than it does in non-pilots, according to preliminary research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The “Mirror Neuron” system is a network of neurons that are activated both during a motor action and also when observing a similar action performed by another person. In the study, 9 pilots and 8 individuals with no piloting experience viewed landing scenes as researchers monitored their…

Mothers show heightened neural activity in response to boys playing with feminine toys compared to girls playing with masculine toys, according to new research published in Biological Psychology. “Parents have different expectations about the characteristics, interests, future roles, and behaviors of boys and girls, starting from the moment they are born,” said study author Joyce J. Endendijk of Utrecht University. “For example, parents expect boys to be more athletic and interested in sports than girls.…

Teens who bully their peers tend to display a different pattern of brain activity in response to certain facial expressions, according to new research published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. The findings shed light on the neurological underpinnings of bullying behaviors and could help lead to new interventions to combat bullying. “Bullying is fairly common during adolescence, with about 25-50% of teenagers in the U.S. reporting that they have bullied or been a victim…

New scientific research published in the journal Memory & Cognition provides evidence that a brief mindfulness meditation exercise can enhance verbal learning. “A number of studies have shown that mindfulness can improve cognitive abilities, including certain verbal abilities. However, little research has examined how mindfulness can affect verbal learning and memory. Furthermore, no research has examined the mechanism by which mindfulness may improve learning and memory,” said study author Adam Lueke, an assistant teaching professor…

Two brain networks appear to play a key role in creativity, according to new research published in the journal NeuroImage. The findings confirm past research that suggested increased cooperation between brain regions linked to both cognitive control and spontaneous processes is associated with heightened creative ability. “My lab is interested in how the anterior hippocampus might contribute ‘gist-like’ memories that make practical contributions to behaviour. We imagined these might also contribute to creative processes, although…

New research indicates that fidget spinners can be harmful to learning in classroom settings. The study was recently published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. “A few years ago, the discussion about the efficacy of fidget objects was suddenly a national conversation. In light of this debate, some of my students asked me if I thought fidget spinners might help with classroom learning and attention. So, I decided to gather some data to help answer…

How interesting would it be to be able to move someone else’s hand? Turns out scientists can do this with the use of an electrical current. A recent paper published this month in Scientific Reports shed some light on the parameters of the Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation – tRNS technique. In the past years, researchers worldwide have been using stimulation techniques that involve passing a small electric current through the head of the participant. tRNS has…

New research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology casts doubt on the idea that awareness of negative stereotypes substantially and systematically impair the performance of certain groups. “I was originally interested in stereotype threat because of its potential effects on test-takers. My advisor and I decided to start this meta-analysis after two individual studies on the topic were retracted due to data fabrication,” said study author Oren Shewach, a research scientist at the Human…

It is typically hard to change implicit attitudes, which happened automatically with little conscious thought. But new research provides evidence that a single hypnosis session can help people change implicit attitudes in response to contradictory information. The findings have been published in the journal Psychological Science. “People’s more spontaneous or automatic behavior can sometimes be in conflict with their more controlled behavior (e.g., we may say that we like someone but spontaneously avoid that person).…

English is the language used around the world by civil aviation professionals, including pilots, flight dispatchers, and air traffic controllers. New research suggests that words — as opposed to numbers — are a more frequent source of errors among pilots with English as a second language. The findings appear in The International Journal of Aerospace Psychology. For their study, the researchers analyzed and systematically coded 18 hours of communications from Tower, Approach and Departure frequencies…

At our English boarding school in the 1990s, my friends and I would spend hours immersed in roleplaying games. Our favourite was Vampire: The Masquerade, and I can well remember experiencing a kind of psychological hangover after spending an afternoon in the character of a ruthless undead villain. It took a while to shake off the fantasy persona, during which time I had to make a conscious effort to keep my manners and morals in…

German students who knowingly took inactive placebo pills tended to report lower levels of test anxiety two weeks later, according to a new pilot study published in Scientific Reports. “Open-label placebos are very interesting because they offer a new way to treat, for example, allergic rhinitis or pain,” said study author Michael Schaefer, a professor of neuropsychology at Medical School Berlin. In the study, the researchers explained the potentially powerful effect of placebos to 58…