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New Discovery

The Jump-Roping Brain

Different parts of the brain work together to help us solve problems, play, and pay attention in school. Every task we do is broken down into smaller tasks that different parts of your brain are responsible for completing. To successfully accomplish these tasks, the different parts of your brain need to work together to ‘share’ information. We were interested in how information was shared while rats played a memory game, specifically information relating to where things are and what was last seen. We found that two parts of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, had to work together for the rats to play the game correctly. When the rats played the game well, these two brain areas were synchronized, but when rats did not play the game well and got the problems wrong, these two areas were out of sync and thus could not ‘share’ their information.

Authors

Kate R. Zha / Jennifer Hyman / James M. Hyman
Reviewed by Jacob
Reviewed by Kalamity
Reviewed by Matthew
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New Discovery

Can Teenagers Feel the Pain of Others? Peeking into the Teenage Brain to Find Empathy

Empathy is important for our lives and for our society. What happens in our brains when we feel empathy to someone else in pain? We presented to teenagers pictures of different people in pain (for example, accidentally hitting the knee) and used a machine that can measure their brain in action. The machine focused on an area in the brain which is responsible for empathy. It showed that teenagers felt empathy towards people in pain who are from the same background as them. But it also showed that there was less empathy to people in pain who are from different background as them. These results are similar to results from research on adults. This means that empathy functioning in the brain is also present in teenagers. This study shows that science can be used to let us peek into the brain of teenagers to find brain activity reflecting empathy in different situations.

Authors

Jonathan Levy / Ruth Feldman
Reviewed by Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum
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Core Concept

Why Babies Born Early Can Be Really Sick

The human body is really complex. Different parts of the body form before and after birth. Sometimes babies are born early. When a baby is born early they can be very sick because their body has not finished forming. Doctors take special care of these babies to help them live and grow. To make these babies better, it is important to understand what is making them sick. Babies who are born early can have problems with important parts of their body like their brains, eyes, lungs, heart, and intestines. Doctors and scientists work together to learn more about what is making these babies sick and to figure out how to help them so that these babies can grow up to be kids who can run, play, and do well in school.

Authors

Jessie Newville / Maria C. Ortega / Jessie R. Maxwell
Reviewed by Chloe
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Core Concept

How Do Plants Deal with Dry Days?

Plants regularly face dry conditions. Not having enough water poses a serious threat to a plant’s ability to grow and develop or even just survive! If plants die we will not have enough food to eat! How do plants manage to survive during water shortages? They must somehow be able to sense, respond and adapt to changes is water availability. They do this through a range of adaptations that allow for a plant to combat water shortages. A plant’s morphological armour is mainly focused on decreasing water loss and increasing water storage. Their physiological and biochemical responses however are very complex. These can include changes regulating their actual growth and the ability to protect themselves against toxic compounds accumulating during dry periods. Inevitably all of their responses are directly controlled by the plant’s genes. If we can unravel the genetic code involved in protecting plants against drought we might in the future make genetically modified crops that can withstand global warming and climate changes.

Authors

Christell van der Vyver / Shaun Peters
Reviewed by Hana
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Core Concept

Who Is Afraid of Math? What Is Math Anxiety? And What Can You Do about It?

Mathematics is a necessary skill that people use throughout their lives, such as when they travel, use money, or keep track of time. Therefore, mathematics is an important skill to learn at school. Unfortunately, many children and adults feel stressed and anxious when having to do math. People who experience feelings of stress when faced with math related situations are experiencing ‘math anxiety’. Math anxiety affects many people and is related to poor math ability in school and later during adulthood. Researchers have studied how math anxiety first appears, what is happening in the brain when people experience math anxiety, and how to best help people who are suffering with math anxiety.

Authors

H. Moriah Sokolowski / Daniel Ansari
Reviewed by Christina Seix Academy
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New Discovery

Invasion of the Chinese Pond Mussels—What Makes These Harmless-Looking Animals So Dangerous?

Imagine what you would do if someone transferred you far away from your home to a completely unknown and unfamiliar place? Guess you would do your best to stay alive. In the same way any living being, such as an animal or a plant, would react. And so far this has happened to many of them because people transported them, knowingly or unknowingly. Some of those living beings started to like their new home so much that they spread all around and while doing so, they endangered “native” inhabitants. Because of that, they are considered dangerous and are scientifically called “invasive species.” One of them is the Chinese pond mussel. Scientists still don't understand what makes this seemingly harmless animal turn into a dangerous villain? So, we created a scientific experiment to find out!

Authors

Ivana Babić / Sandra Hudina / Ana Bielen
Reviewed by Tess
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New Discovery

We Are What We Eat: True for Bacteria Too

Bacteria are present everywhere – all around and within us. Are you scared of them? Don’t be, as most bacteria are beneficial for us. Only a small number of them can occasionally cause infections, making us sick. Bacteria do this by dividing quickly inside the human body, that is, by becoming two from one at a fast pace. To fuel growth and division, bacteria need to find their favourite food and be able to process it correctly. Like humans love to eat candies, one of the favourite food choices of bacteria is the simple sugar ‘glucose’. We have found that when glucose is not processed correctly, bacteria cannot divide properly. We want to understand the link between food processing and division in bacteria – especially during infection – so that we can stop them from dividing by either supplying them with a food choice they don’t like or making them process their preferred food choice incorrectly. This will kill the bacteria and prevent them from making us sick.

Authors

Riti Mann / Leigh G. Monahan / Elizabeth J. Harry / Amy L. Bottomley
Reviewed by Aine
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Core Concept

Grateful People Are Happy and Healthy—But Why?

What are you grateful for today? Scientists have found that people who feel grateful more often are also happier, get better grades, and are more satisfied at school. They also sleep better, have less pain, and do not get sick as often. One explanation for this is that grateful people think about the world in a more positive way. Another explanation is that grateful people have better friendships, because they offer more help and receive more help in return. Thinking more positively about things that happen to you, and having better friendships, can both increase your happiness and improve your physical health. The good news is that practicing gratitude is a skill that you can get better at by simply writing down a few things that you are grateful for each day.

Authors

Anna Alkozei / Ryan Smith / William D. S. Killgore
Reviewed by Jack and Addy
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Core Concept

Do Teenagers Really Make Bad Decisions?

Scientific research provides evidence to show that a specific area of the human brain, known as the prefrontal cortex, continues to develop much longer than other brain regions. This area is involved in a number of complex functions and actions, including our decision making abilities. As the areas involved in making decisions do not reach full maturity until early adulthood, and undergo major structural changes throughout adolescence, the way in which we make decisions can differ greatly between our teenage years and adulthood.

Authors

Stacey A. Bedwell
Reviewed by Manchester Grammar
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New Discovery

Waves of Perception

We experience the world around us as continuous. But how does our brain achieve that? Here we suggest that the brain samples our environment in discrete snapshots. We demonstrate that brain waves work just like a flipbook, where the rapid stream of related pictures creates the illusion of a continuous movie. We present results from a recent experiment that show how brain waves capture our visual world. These brain waves occur approximately 10 times per second and are called ‘alpha oscillations’. Here we provide an overview how these brain waves were discovered, how they can be measured, what they mean and how they help to create our perception from the world around us.

Authors

Bhargavi Ram / Randolph F. Helfrich
Reviewed by Krishna
Reviewed by Darius
Reviewed by Wyatt
Reviewed by Schuyler
Reviewed by Sybille
Reviewed by Paceyn
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