How reward and daytime sleep boost learning

Female hand writing notes. Concept of learning.

Female hand writing notes. Concept of learning.

A new study suggests that receiving rewards as you learn can help cement new facts and skills in your memory, particularly when combined with a daytime nap.

The findings from the University of Geneva, to be published in the journal eLife, reveal that memories associated with a reward are preferentially reinforced by sleep. Even a short nap after a period of learning is beneficial.

“Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning,” says lead researcher Dr Kinga Igloi from the University of Geneva.

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Patients with recurrent depression have smaller hippocampi

The brains of people with recurrent depression have a significantly smaller hippocampus - the part of the brain most associated with forming new memories - than healthy individuals, a new global study of nearly 9,000 people reveals.

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

Researchers have found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.

‘Delayed remembering’: Kids can remember tomorrow what they forgot today

Child boy looking at finger tied string knot memory reminderFor adults, memories tend to fade with time. But a new study has shown that there are circumstances under which the opposite is true for small children: they can remember a piece of information better days later than they can on the day they first learned it.

While playing a video game that asked them to remember associations between objects, 4- and 5-year-olds who re-played the game after a two-day delay scored more than 20 percent higher than kids who re-played it later the same day.

“An implication is that kids can be smarter than we necessarily thought they could be,” said Kevin Darby, a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University and co-author of the study. “They can make complex associations, they just need more time to do it.”

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Larger brains do not lead to high IQs

Abstract image - Glowing Head - Intelligence - Thinking

Abstract image – Glowing Head – Intelligence – Thinking

As early as 1836, the German physiologist and anatomist Friedrich Tiedemann, in an article in the Philosophical Transactions, expressed his opinion that “there is undoubtedly a connection between the absolute size of the brain and the intellectual powers and functions of the mind”. With the advent of brain imaging methods (e.g., MRI, PET), reliable assessments of in-vivo brain volume and investigations of its association with IQ are now possible.

Now, an international team of researchers, led by University of Vienna researchers Jakob Pietschnig, Michael Zeiler, and Martin Voracek from the Faculty of Psychology, together with Lars Penke (University of Göttingen) and Jelte Wicherts (Tilburg University), published a meta-analysis examining correlations between in-vivo brain volume and IQ in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. Based on the data from 148 samples comprising over 8000 participants, they report a robust but weak association between brain size and IQ. This association appeared to be independent of participant sex and age.

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Survey of 5,000 reveals people’s ‘happy habits’

Happiness is more than just a feeling; it is something we can all practise on a daily basis. But people are better at some ‘happy habits’ than others. In fact, the one habit that corresponds most closely with us being satisfied with our lives overall – self-acceptance – is often the one we practise least.

If you made money buying a first home in 2000s, you probably weren't black

In the tumultuous real estate market of the 2000s, some U.S. homebuyers found wealth while others took big hits. But no matter when they bought, most black first-time homeowners lost money, a Johns Hopkins University study found.

In a study published in the journal Real Estate Economics, public policy professor Sandra J. Newman and researcher C. Scott Holupka found that race was a key determinant of which low- and moderate-income people who bought first homes during the decade made money. During the Great Recession, white homebuyers on average lost money but black ones lost considerably more. Even during the boom years, when white buyers on average increased their wealth by 50 percent, black buyers lost 47 percent of their wealth.

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