Human sounds convey emotions clearer and faster than words

ScreamBrain uses ‘older’ systems/structures to preferentially process emotion expressed through vocalizations.

It takes just one-tenth of a second for our brains to begin to recognize emotions conveyed by vocalizations, according to researchers from McGill. It doesn’t matter whether the non-verbal sounds are growls of anger, the laughter of happiness or cries of sadness. More importantly, the researchers have also discovered that we pay more attention when an emotion (such as happiness, sadness or anger) is expressed through vocalizations than we do when the same emotion is expressed in speech.

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Scientists discover how we play memories in fast forward

When we think about past or future events, we use a special brain wave frequency that allows us to play them in fast forward, although at a lower resolution. CREDIT Illustration by Juliette Pepperell

When we think about past or future events, we use a special brain wave frequency that allows us to play them in fast forward, although at a lower resolution.
CREDIT
Illustration by Juliette Pepperell

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered a mechanism that may explain how the brain can recall nearly all of what happened on a recent afternoon — or make a thorough plan for how to spend an upcoming afternoon — in a fraction of the time it takes to live out the experience.

The breakthrough in understanding a previously unknown function in the brain has implications for research into schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders where real experiences and ones that exist only in the mind can become distorted.

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It’s a 3-D printer, but not as we know it

photodune-8330903-3d-printer-xs3D printing techniques have quickly become some of the most widely used tools to rapidly design and build new components. A team of engineers at the University of Bristol has developed a new type of 3D printing that can print composite materials, which are used in many high performance products such as tennis rackets, golf clubs and aeroplanes. This technology will soon enable a much greater range of things to be 3D printed at home and at low-cost.

The study published in Smart Materials and Structures creates and demonstrates a novel method in which ultrasonic waves are used to carefully position millions of tiny reinforcement fibres as part of the 3D printing process. The fibres are formed into a microscopic reinforcement framework that gives the material strength. This microstructure is then set in place using a focused laser beam, which locally cures the epoxy resin and then prints the object.

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Eating less meat might not be the way to go green, say researchers

Eating Meat QuestionsReduced meat consumption might not lower greenhouse gas emissions from one of the world’s biggest beef producing regions, new research has found. The finding may seem incongruous, as intensive agriculture is responsible for such a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

According to research by University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), reducing beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado could actually increase global greenhouse gas emissions. The findings were published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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Use small plates to lose weight

buffetThere are small easy steps that we can take to tackle the burgeoning problem of obesity. One of those solutions is surprisingly simple: use smaller plates.

There have been over 50 studies examining whether or not smaller plates help in reducing consumption. Despite all these studies, there is surprisingly little consensus on the effect of smaller plates. Some find that smaller plates help reduce consumption, but others do not.

New research published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research examines all these prior research projects together and finds that overall, smaller plates can help reduce consumption under specific conditions.

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The way you sound affects your mood

106504_webResearchers can now modify the emotional tone of people’s voices while they are talking, to make them sound happier, sadder or more fearful. And then the that’s what the people feel.

“Very little is known about the mechanisms behind the production of vocal emotion”, says lead author Jean-Julien Aucouturier from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France.

“Previous research has suggested that people try to manage and control their emotions, for example hold back an expression or reappraise feelings. We wanted to investigate what kind of awareness people have of their own emotional expressions.”

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Valuing your time more than money is linked to happiness

AshleyFullValuing your time more than the pursuit of money is linked to greater happiness, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

In six studies with more than 4,600 participants, researchers found an almost even split between people who tended to value their time or money, and that choice was a fairly consistent trait both for daily interactions and major life events.

“It appears that people have a stable preference for valuing their time over making more money, and prioritizing time is associated with greater happiness,” said lead researcher Ashley Whillans, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of British Columbia. The findings were published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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People face subconscious urges to over-eat in Winter, research shows

Boy Eating Chocolate Bar Wearing Winter ClothesPeople have evolved to have subconscious urges to over-eat, and limited ability to avoid becoming obese, especially in winter, a University of Exeter study has found.

There is not yet an evolutionary mechanism to help us overcome the lure of sweet, fatty and unhealthy food and avoid becoming overweight for understandable and sensible reasons, according to researchers.

This is because in our past being overweight has not posed a significant threat to survival compared to the dangers of being underweight. The urge to maintain body fat is even stronger in winter when food in the natural world is scarce. This explains why we enjoy eating so much at Christmas, and our New Year’s resolutions to lose weight usually fail.

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The ugly consumer: Ridiculing those who shop ethically

Fair Trade Indicates Purchase Environment And MerchandiseWhen you don’t seek out ethical products, you denigrate those who do.

No one wants to knowingly buy products made with child labor or that harm the environment.

But a new study shows that we also don’t want to work too hard to find out whether our favorite products were made ethically. And we really don’t like those good people who make the effort to seek out ethically made goods when we choose not to.

In fact, we denigrate consumers who act more ethically than we do, seeing them as less fashionable and more boring. Worst of all, seeing others act ethically when we don’t undermines our commitment to pro-social values.

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Are you a ‘harbinger of failure’?

Study: Some consumers have an unerring knack for buying unpopular products.

Diet Crystal Pepsi. Frito Lay Lemonade. Watermelon-flavored Oreos. Through the years, the shelves of stores have been filled with products that turned out to be flops, failures, duds, and losers.

But only briefly filled with them, of course, because products like these tend to get yanked from stores quickly, leaving most consumers to wonder: Who exactly buys these things, anyway?

a young man with several bags and enough money, this shoppingNow a published study co-authored by two MIT professors answers that question. Amazingly, the same group of consumers has an outsized tendency to purchase all kinds of failed products, time after time, flop after flop, Diet Crystal Pepsi after Diet Crystal Pepsi. The study calls the people in this group “harbingers of failure” and suggests they provide a new window into consumer behavior.

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