Learn how to fly a plane from expert-pilot brainwave patterns

Dr. Matthew Phillips and his team of investigators from HRL’s Information & System Sciences Laboratory used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in order to improve learning and skill retention. “We measured the brain activity patterns of six commercial and military pilots, and then transmitted these patterns into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an airplane in a realistic flight simulator,” he says.

The study, published in the February 2016 issue of the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities. “We measured the average g-force of the plane during the simulated landing and compared it to control subjects who received a mock brain stimulation,” says Phillips.

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Researchers find association between oral bacteria and esophageal cancer

Jan Potempa, Ph.D., D.Sc., David A. Scott, Ph.D., Richard J. Lamont, Ph.D., and Huizhi Wang, M.D., Ph.D. CREDIT UofL

Jan Potempa, Ph.D., D.Sc., David A. Scott, Ph.D., Richard J. Lamont, Ph.D., and Huizhi Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
CREDIT: UofL

Findings represent the first direct evidence that P. gingivalis could be a risk factor for esophageal cancer.

University of Louisville School of Dentistry researchers have found a bacterial species responsible for gum disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is present in 61 percent of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). The findings, published recently in Infectious Agents and Cancer, only detected P. gingivalisin 12 percent of tissues adjacent to the cancerous cells, while this organism was undetected in normal esophageal tissue.

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Outgoing people lead happier lives

Friends togetherResearch from the University of Southampton has shown that young adults, who are more outgoing or more emotionally stable, are happier in later life than their more introverted or less emotionally stable peers.

In the study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, Dr Catharine Gale from the Medical Research Council’s Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton and a team from the University of Edinburgh and University College London, examined the effects of neuroticism and extraversion at ages 16 and 26 years on mental wellbeing and life satisfaction at age 60 to 64 and explored the mediating roles of psychological and physical health.

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New catalyst makes hydrogen peroxide accessible to developing world

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) moleculeHydrogen peroxide is one of the most common and versatile of household products. In dilute form, it can disinfect wounds and bleach hair, whiten teeth and remove stains from clothing, clean contact lenses and kill mold and algae.

In high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can be catalytically decomposed into oxygen and steam and used as a propellant or as an explosive itself.

Hydrogen peroxide is typically made in a multi-step, energy-intensive process that requires it to be produced in large quantities and shipped and stored in a highly concentrated form.

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Memory replay prioritizes high-reward memories

Why do we particularly remember the high points of experience? Using functional MRI, UC Davis neuroscientists were able to able to identify a signal in the hippocampus associated with a rewarding memory, in this case related to a photo of a basketball court. CREDIT: Charan Ranganath

Why do we particularly remember the high points of experience? Using functional MRI, UC Davis neuroscientists were able to able to identify a signal in the hippocampus associated with a rewarding memory, in this case related to a photo of a basketball court.
CREDIT: Charan Ranganath

“Rewards help you remember things, because you want future rewards,” said Professor Charan Ranganath, a UC Davis neuroscientist and senior author on the paper. “The brain prioritizes memories that are going to be useful for future decisions.”

It’s estimated that we only retain detailed memories for a small proportion of the events of each day, Ranganath said. People with very detailed memories become overwhelmed with information. So if the brain is going to filter information and decide what to remember, it makes sense to save those memories that might be most important for obtaining rewards in the future.

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Why people oppose same-sex marriage

UCLA's Martie Haselton and David Pinsof. CREDIT: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

UCLA’s Martie Haselton and David Pinsof.
CREDIT: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

UCLA psychology study points to self-interest as a leading cause.

“Many people who oppose same-sex marriage are uncomfortable with casual sex and feel threatened by sexual promiscuity,” said David Pinsof, a UCLA graduate student of psychology and lead author of the study.

Such people often marry at a younger age, have more children and believe in traditional gender roles in which men are the breadwinners and women are housewives.

“Sexual promiscuity may be threatening to these people because it provides more temptations for spouses to cheat on one another,” Pinsof said. “On the other hand, for people who are comfortable with women being more economically independent, marrying at a later age and having more sexual partners, sexual promiscuity is not as much of a threat because women do not depend on men for financial support.” The researchers measured people’s attitudes, regardless of their accuracy.

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Common antibiotics may be linked to temporary mental confusion

Antibiotic MedicationAntibiotics may be linked to a serious disruption in brain function, called delirium, and other brain problems, more than previously thought, according to a “Views and Reviews” article published in the Feb. 17, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, a medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Delirium causes mental confusion that may be accompanied by hallucinations and agitation. Medications are often the cause of delirium, but antibiotics are not necessarily the first medications doctors may suspect.

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The couple that sings together stays together

FairWren_Tim_LamanThe courtship and mating behaviors of the perky Australian red-backed fairy-wren have evolved into nothing short of a free-for-all. The rampant promiscuity of both sexes is legendary.

What’s a fairy-wren to do to keep from wasting energy raising another male’s chicks? New research from scientists at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology provides a surprising answer: Sing with your mate.

“The result was not expected at all,” said Daniel Baldassarre, an author of the study published Feb. 24 in the journal Biology Letters. He was a Cornell graduate student at the time of the study and is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami. “In fact, we were actually looking into whether more aggressive males did better at preventing extra-pair matings with their mate than more timid males. We thought the aggressive males would be cuckolded less often.”

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Virtual reality therapy could help people with depression

Immersive Virtual Reality GesturesAn immersive virtual reality therapy could help people with depression to be less critical and more compassionate towards themselves, reducing depressive symptoms, finds a new study from UCL (University College London) and ICREA-University of Barcelona.

The therapy, previously tested by healthy volunteers, was used by 15 depression patients aged 23-61. Nine reported reduced depressive symptoms a month after the therapy, of whom four experienced a clinically significant drop in depression severity. The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open and was funded by the Medical Research Council.

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Honeybee hive collapse mystery rooted in hive size

honeybeeUniversity of Idaho professor Brian Dennis is helping scientists understand a baffling but vitally important puzzle: What is causing the decline of honeybees? Working in collaboration with William Kemp, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist and UI alumnus, Dennis has built a mathematical model that lays the blame squarely on the bees themselves.

“The tightly organized social lives of honeybees, once such an amazing adaptation for success in the world, turns out to lack resilience against the numerous environmental degradations contributed by humans across the landscape,” said Dennis, who has a joint appointment in the UI College of Science and College of Natural Resources.

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