Why Alfred Hitchcock grabs your attention

The movies of Alfred Hitchcock have made palms sweat and pulses race for more than 65 years. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have now learned how the Master of Suspense affects audiences' brains.

Sleep makes our memories more accessible, study shows

SleepSleeping not only protects memories from being forgotten, it also makes them easier to access, according to new research from the University of Exeter and the Basque Centre for Cognition, Brain and Language. The findings suggest that after sleep we are more likely to recall facts which we could not remember while still awake.

In two situations where subjects forgot information over the course of 12 hours of wakefulness, a night’s sleep was shown to promote access to memory traces that had initially been too weak to be retrieved.

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Know it's a placebo? CU-Boulder study shows the 'medicine' could still work

FlowerofLifeYinYangYou don’t think you’re hungry, then a friend mentions how hungry he is or you smell some freshly baked pizza and whoaaa, you suddenly feel really hungry. Or, you’ve had surgery and need a bit of morphine for pain. As soon as you hit that button you feel relief even though the medicine hasn’t even hit your bloodstream.

These are two examples of the oft-studied placebo effect that demonstrate the amazing and still somewhat confounding powers of the human brain.

Now, CU-Boulder graduate student Scott Schafer, who works in Associate Professor Tor Wager’s Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, has conducted an intriguing piece of research to advance knowledge about how and when the placebo effect works – or doesn’t.

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If you're using drugs, scientists want to help you avoid addiction

smoking a joint at partyAbstinence is the best way to avoid drug addiction. But in many societies, drug use is the norm, not the exception, especially by youth. What keeps the majority of users from becoming addicted? How drugs are taken has something to do with it, according to pharmacology researchers at the University of Montreal. “Why do some drug users become addicts?

The amount of drugs they take over time is one factor, but the speed with which the substance enters and exits the brain can be just as important,” explained Professor Anne-Noël Samaha, who supervised the study into how pharmacokinetic factors govern addiction.

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Prescription for medical students: A day at the art museum?

With the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s disease, understanding their care is vital for doctors. Yet medical students often just learn the facts and may only see people with advanced disease who are at the hospital or nursing home. A study shows a new way to help medical students learn about the disease–at the art museum.

For the study, which was published in the July 29, 2015, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, 19 medical students attended a 90-minute museum art program designed for people with dementia and their caregivers.

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Could a sugar tax help combat obesity?

Adding sugar with a spoon.

Following the BMA’s call for a 20% sugar tax to subsidise the cost of fruit and vegetables, experts in The BMJ this week debate whether a sugar tax could help combat obesity.

Sirpa Sarlio-Lähteenkorva, adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland, says that a specific tax on sugar would reduce consumption. “Increasing evidence suggests that taxes on soft drinks, sugar, and snacks can change diets and improve health, especially in lower socioeconomic groups,” she writes.

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