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New Discovery

How Do Kids and Grown-Ups Get Distracted in Everyday Situations?

The world is a distracting place – full of shapes and colors, sounds, and smells that constantly excite our senses. Sometimes, a single object can stimulate multiple senses at once. When the TV is on, moving images on the screen are accompanied by sounds. But you may have noticed that, as you grow older, you become better at ignoring distractions, and staying focused on what you are doing. Especially if what you are doing is very demanding, like reviewing a Young Minds article. Would you have done as well when you were six? Control over what and how you attend to improves with age, however, adults get distracted too. We found that, surprisingly, adults are worse at ignoring distractions involving both shapes and sounds than six-year-olds. By studying distractions engaging multiple senses, we can better understand how our attention works in everyday situations and how it grows as we grow.

Authors

Nora Turoman / Rebecca Merkley / Gaia Scerif / Pawel J. Matusz
Reviewed by Hebrew University High School
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Core Concept

Flu, Flu Vaccines, and Why We Need to Do Better

Influenza (or flu) is a huge global problem, 1 billion people – 1/7th of the world’s population get infected with it each year. The virus doesn’t only infect people, it infects many different animals including chickens and pigs and can have devastating effects on farms where these animals are raised. Our body has evolved ways (called the immune response) to kill the influenza virus if we are infected with it and to stop us getting re-infected with the same virus. Through the power of vaccines, we can harness the immune response to protect us against influenza. The problem with the influenza virus is that it is sneaky and can change its coat so our body doesn’t recognise it. Current research is looking at ways to overcome this sneaky virus and reduce the number of people who get sick from influenza.

Authors

John S. Tregoning
Reviewed by ITI Galileo Ferraris
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Core Concept

Art Materials Can Be Dangerous! How Can You Reduce Your Risk?

Art materials are used by individuals of all ages. Certain chemicals found in art materials have potential to cause health problems, especially if used over a long period of time. The risk can be certainly greater for children, individuals with mental or physical disability, and people with certain genetic diseases and/or unhealthy lifestyle. However, there are laws and regulations which serve to minimize these risks. In a recent publication1 we have proposed that potential health risks associated with art materials can be further reduced if the art material labels include toxicological review date. The purpose of this article is to share our findings with younger audiences and raise awareness that: 1) We should make an effort to know the potential health risks associated with a product, especially if it will be in our long term use; 2) We should use it in a responsible and careful way; 3) We should always read labels and collect information about the ingredients in a product and their possible effects on health.

Authors

Masood A. Shammas / Hira Shammas / Samiyah A. Rajput / Dildar Rajput Ahmad / Gulzar R. Ahmad
Reviewed by Alani
Reviewed by Aleah
Reviewed by Mathew
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Core Concept

Music: The Last Thing We Forget

Have you ever wondered what happens in your brain when you think about your favorite songs? Recent research has revealed an area of the brain that is active when we listen to music that we know. This musical memory area is separate from the parts of your brain you use to remember things you have learned in school, and details about events in your life. In this article, we will show you where the musical memory area is, and why our memory for music is often resilient to brain diseases that cause memory loss.

Authors

Francine Foo / Elizabeth L. Johnson
Reviewed by Amy
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New Discovery

Remembering or Forgetting: The Lifetime of Memories

If we walk on the street where we were once bitten by a dog, we feel fear. This is because our brains are great in creating associations. The street and the dog bite become linked in our brain’s information store. Our brain can even remember this association forever! But, how is the lifetime of memories adjusted? During the fearful experience, a trace will be recorded in a small group of neurons in our brain. Every memory has its own group, composed of different types of neurons. In the laboratory, we made experiments to artificially change the number of neurons in these groups. According to our results, in a particular brain region called hippocampus, the number of neurons is important for memory. Adding neurons improves memory while removing them accelerates forgetting. A special type of neuron in our brain controls the size of these groups. We think that this serves to adjust the lifetime of memories.

Authors

Pablo Mendez
Reviewed by Eduardo
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Core Concept

Why Studying Rare Diseases Is So Important: Do You Know of This Disease?

Some diseases strike many people and are of course very bad. Some others strike just a few people and are called rare. This sounds like a good thing but… if you are one of the few people affected them this is not a consolation! It is also very bad because, often, pharmaceutical companies are not interested in developing a treatment because too few people would buy them. Federica will tell you about her experience in a rare disease and explain what causes it and what could be done, if anything, to cure this very nasty disease. We hope that you may help us to find a cure…

Authors

Federica Lupoli / Annalisa Pastore
Reviewed by Fábio
Reviewed by João Victor
Reviewed by Luiz Carlos
Reviewed by Marcos
Reviewed by Maria Fernanda
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Core Concept

What Does Tinnitus Have to Do with Hearing Loss?

Our sensory organs along with the brain give us a rich perception of the world around us. If something goes wrong with any of the sensory organs, it will affect our everyday functioning. This will be demonstrated with the example of hearing loss and tinnitus. Hearing loss is defined as the loss of auditory information due to damage to the hearing system. Tinnitus is the phantom perception, which often occurs as a result of hearing loss. People describe it as ringing, buzzing or hissing sound but there is no object around that is creating this sound. We describe some strategies, which can be used to protect our hearing such as: moving away from the sound source, protecting the ears and reducing the volume levels of the devices. There is no cure for tinnitus yet. We discuss how to manage tinnitus such as: educating yourself about tinnitus, relaxation and paying attention away from tinnitus and seeking professional assistance.

Authors

Winfried Schlee / Giriraj Singh Shekhawat
Reviewed by Parts and Crafts
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Core Concept

“Boiling Water Is Not Too Hot for Us!”—Preferred Living Spaces of Heat-Loving Microbes

Do you like to stay at the beach on a hot summer day? Sun bathing, chilling and playing beach games! If it is getting too hot, one can quickly refresh in the lukewarm ocean. Can you believe that there are living organisms on our planet that would still freeze on the hottest day of the year? These tiny creatures are heat-loving microbes, which do not grow at temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius, but feel most comfortable in boiling water near volcanoes at the ground of the ocean or in terrestrial hot springs. Because of their strength and endurance, they are of certain relevance for industrial and scientific applications. And can you imagine that most of these hot places are not located in deserts, but on volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean and near the North Pole?

Authors

Skander Elleuche / Carola Schröder / Nadine Stahlberg / Garabed Antranikian
Reviewed by Ecole Moser Genève
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Core Concept

Bacteriophages: The Enemies of Bad Bacteria Are Our Friends!

Some bacteria can enter the human body and make people ill. Usually, these diseases can be cured by antibiotics, but sometimes bacteria are resistant to them. In these cases, bacteria become very dangerous. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria but are harmless to humans. To reproduce, they get into a bacterium, where they multiply and finally, they break the bacterial cell to release the new viruses. Therefore, bacteriophages kill bacteria. Here, we explain how bacteriophages can be used to treat infectious diseases or to remove bacteria from other places where they are undesirable.

Authors

Diana Gutiérrez / Lucía Fernández / Beatriz Martínez / Ana Rodríguez / Pilar García
Reviewed by Anjishnu
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New Discovery

Itsy Bitsy Spider? It Depends…

You have probably heard it before, “the bug was huge!” (said your friend who is afraid of bugs), or “the needle was so big!” (said another friend who is afraid of shots). Can such statements be more than just a figure of speech? We asked if fear could change the way we estimate size. To answer that question, we asked people who were afraid of spiders, and people who were not, to estimate the size of pictures of spiders and other animals. We also asked how unpleasant each picture was to look at. People who were afraid of spiders estimated spider size to be larger compared to people who were not afraid of spiders. This result shows that things like our emotions can affect the way we evaluate the size of things around us. In other words, each of us experiences the world in his own special way.

Authors

Tali Leibovich / Noga Cohen / Avishai Henik
Reviewed by Ben and Nate
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