Positive attitude toward math predicts math achievement in kids, Stanford study finds

For the first time, scientists have identified the brain pathway that links a positive attitude toward math to achievement in the subject. In a study of elementary school students, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that having a positive attitude about math was connected to better function of the hippocampus, an important memory center in the brain, during performance of arithmetic problems. The findings will be published online Jan. 24 in Psychological Science. Educators have long observed higher math scores in children who show more interest in math and perceive themselves as being better at it. But it has not been clear if this attitude simply reflects other capacities, such as higher intelligence. The new study found that, even once IQ and other confounding factors were accounted for, a positive attitude toward math still predicted which students had […]

Mosquitoes remember human smells, but also attempts to kill them

Your grandmother’s insistence that you receive more bug bites because you’re ‘sweeter’ may not be that far-fetched after all, according to pioneering research from Virginia Tech scientists which shows that mosquitoes remember human smells. The study, published Jan. 25 in the journal Current Biology, shows that mosquitoes can rapidly learn and remember the smells of hosts and that dopamine is a key mediator of this process. Mosquitoes remember human smells and incorporate this information with other stimuli to develop preferences for a particular vertebrate host species, and, within that population, certain individuals. However, the study also proved that even if an individual is deemed delicious-smelling, a mosquito’s preference can shift if that person’s smell is associated with an unpleasant sensation. Hosts who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behaviors may be abandoned, no matter how sweet. Clément Vinauger, an assistant […]

Phone Addiction In Teens Is A Cause Of Unhappiness

Happiness is not a warm phone, according to a new study exploring the link between adolescent life satisfaction and screen time. Teens who have a phone addiction with eyes that are habitually glued to their smartphones are markedly unhappier, said study lead author and San Diego State University and professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge. To investigate this link, Twenge, along with colleagues Gabrielle Martin at SDSU and W. Keith Campbell at the University of Georgia, crunched data from the Monitoring the Future (MtF) longitudinal study, a nationally representative survey of more than a million U.S. 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders. The survey asked students questions about how often they spent time on their phones, tablets and computers, to assess phone addiciton, as well as questions about their in-the-flesh social interactions and their overall happiness. On average, they found that teens […]

How very low birth weight affects brain development

Every year, one in ten babies worldwide are born too early. That’s roughly 15 million children, according to the World Health Organization. When children are born too soon, they are at higher risk of mental and physical disabilities, especially if they weigh less than 1500 grams at birth. While three-quarters of these preterm births are thought to be preventable, sometimes it’s simply not possible. That last fact has researchers like Alexander Olsen, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), working to better understand the consequences of very low birth weights on cognitive development. Olsen is director of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory at the university, which focuses on investigating the consequences of brain injury and disease, in part by using advanced neuroimaging. Olsen is also a specialist in clinical neuropsychology and holds a position at St. […]

The creative brain is wired differently

It’s often said that creative people see the world differently than the rest of us — and a Harvard researcher is providing one answer why. Scientists studying brain scans of people who were asked to come up with inventive uses for everyday objects found a specific pattern of connectivity that correlated with the most creative responses. Researchers were then able to use that pattern to predict how creative other people’s responses would be based on their connections in this network. The study is described in a January 15 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What this shows is that the creative brain is wired differently,” said Roger Beaty, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Psychology and the first author of the study. “People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together. We […]

Tractor beams paving the way for levitating humans

Acoustic tractor beams use the power of sound to hold particles in mid-air, and unlike magnetic levitation, they can grab most solids or liquids. For the first time University of Bristol engineers have shown it is possible to stably trap objects larger than the wavelength of sound in an acoustic tractor beam. This discovery opens the door to the manipulation of drug capsules or micro-surgical implements within the body. Container-less transportation of delicate larger samples is now also a possibility and could lead to levitating humans. Researchers previously thought that acoustic tractor beams were fundamentally limited to levitating small objects as all the previous attempts to trap particles larger than the wavelength had been unstable, with objects spinning uncontrollably. This is because rotating sound field transfers some of its spinning motion to the objects causing them to orbit faster and […]

Promising New Malaria Treatment Tested

An international research team has conducted successful phase II clinical tests of a new anti-malaria medication. The treatment led to a cure in 83 cases. The new combination of drugs was developed by Professor Peter Kremsner of the Tübingen Institute of Tropical Medicine and the company DMG Deutschen Malaria GmbH. The study was recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and is freely accessible. In the study, the researchers tested the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a combination of the drugs Fosmidomycin and Piperaquine. The twofold medication was administered for three days to patients aged one to thirty who were infected with malaria via the Plasmodium falciparum pathogen. In the 83 evaluable cases, there was a 100% cure rate. Patients tolerated the treatment well, and it led to a swift reduction of clinical symptoms. Safery issues were limited to changes in electrocardiogram readings, […]