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Serotonin plays a role in remembering new people

Targeted stimulation of the brain’s serotonin system could improve memories of new acquaintances, research with mice shows. As reported in Nature, the research team observed how the mouse brain forms a memory of a new acquaintance and demonstrated the ability to selectively dampen or enhance these social memories with targeted drugs. “We identified...

DIY ‘smart’ white cane works like a self-driving car

A new, affordable smart cane guides people with visual impairments safely and efficiently through their environments, say researchers. Most know the white cane as a simple but crucial tool that assists people with visual impairments in making their way through the world. Using tools from autonomous vehicles, the research team built the augmented cane,...

Imagined jazz improv changes the brain like real singing

Just imagining improvised performances can elicit the same flow-like states as when jazz musicians are singing, research finds. For the study, researchers recruited 21 advanced jazz musicians and prompted them to vocalize or imagine one of the four scores from the Bebop era of jazz based on a standard 12-bar blues chordal progression while undergoing...

Menstrual cycle length pre-menopause may signal heart risk

Near menopause, the menstrual cycle length often changes, becoming longer. The timing of that change could provide clues to a person’s risk of heart disease, researchers say. A new study, published in the journal Menopause, characterizes cycle-length changes over the menopause transition and found that women whose cycle increased in length two years...

More than half of survivors experience ‘long COVID’

More than half of the 236 million people diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide since December 2019 will experience post-COVID symptoms—commonly known as “long COVID”—up to six months after recovering. Governments, health care organizations, and public health professionals should prepare for the large number of COVID-19 survivors who will need care for...

Team makes most precise measurement of neutron lifetime

Physicists have announced the world’s most precise measurement of the neutron’s lifetime. The scientific purpose of the experiment is to measure how long, on average, a free neutron lives outside the confines of atomic nuclei. The results represent a more than two-fold improvement over previous measurements—with an uncertainty of less than one-tenth...

Physics outreach programs are a win-win for students, community

Although they sometimes get short shrift in terms of prioritizing, funding, and staffing, physics educational outreach programs are a solid investment with benefits far beyond the institutional bottom line, according to a new study. For the study, physicists and learning scientists spent roughly two years surveying and interviewing more than 100 undergraduate...

Earth could be alien to humans by 2500

Unless CO2 emissions drop significantly, global warming will make the Amazon barren, the American Midwest tropical, and India too hot to live in by 2500, according to a team of scientists. “We need to envision the Earth our children and grandchildren may face, and what we can do now to make it just and livable for them,” says Christopher Lyon, a postdoctoral...

Is the best planetary defense a good offense?

Researchers call for a more proactive way of dealing with dangerous extraterrestrial space debris. The project is called PI, which affectionately stands for Pulverize It. In February of 2013, skywatchers around the world turned their attention toward asteroid 2012 DA14, a cosmic rock about 150 feet (50 meters) in diameter that was going to fly closer...

Virtual reality and regular meditative breathing both ease pain

Two different kinds of meditative breathing—traditional mindful breathing and virtual reality, 3D-guided mindful breathing—reduce pain but do so differently, research finds. It’s long been known that meditative mindful breathing helps with various health conditions, including pain. The new findings indicate that the two types of meditative breathing...

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