Just 5 per cent of the world’s land untouched by human activity

Just 5 per cent of the world’s land is untouched by human activity, highlighting the importance of conserving areas other than pristine wilderness, a study suggests. Continue reading “Just 5 per cent of the world’s land untouched by human activity”

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How our brains distinguish between self-touch and touch by others

Our brains seem to reduce sensory perception from an area of our skin when we touch it ourselves, according to a new study from Linköping University published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS. The finding increases our understanding of how the brain distinguishes between being touched by another person and self-touch. Continue reading “How our brains distinguish between self-touch and touch by others”

Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life

Early adult general cognitive ability (GCA) — the diverse set of skills involved in thinking, such as reasoning, memory and perception — is a stronger predictor of cognitive function and reserve later in life than other factors, such as higher education, occupational complexity or engaging in late-life intellectual activities, report researchers in a new study publishing January 21 in PNAS. Continue reading “Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life”

New insights into magnetic quantum effects in solids

Atoms and molecules in crystalline solids are arranged in regular three-dimensional lattices. The atoms interact with each other via various forces, finally reaching a state of minimum energy. Near absolute zero, the lattice oscillations freeze, so that interactions between electron spins dominate. A particularly interesting case occurs when the spins cannot all align at the same time to reach a state of lowest energy. This results in a frustrated system in which the spins are almost completely disordered and are therefore referred to as a spin liquid. Continue reading “New insights into magnetic quantum effects in solids”

How does the brain learn by talking to itself?

Human beings, like other animals, possess an enormous learning capacity that allows for the apprehension of new sensory information to master new skills or to adapt to an ever-changing environment. However, many of the mechanisms that enable us to learn remain poorly understood. One of the greatest challenges of systems neuroscience is to explain how synaptic connections change to support adaptive behaviours. Continue reading “How does the brain learn by talking to itself?”

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