Origin of cultural learning: babies imitate because they are imitated

ENG: A new study led by Professor Markus Paulus, Chair of Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, highlights the foundational role of imitation in early childhood as the basis for cultural learning and the evolutionary success of the human species. It demonstrates that children’s ability to imitate is not innate, but rather developed through interactions with their caregivers.

Credit: Pavel Danilyuk, Pexels
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A Step Closer to Digitizing the Sense of Smell: Monell Center, Osmo Model Describes Odors Better than Human Panelists

ENG: A main crux of neuroscience is learning how our senses translate light into sight, sound into hearing, food into taste, and texture into touch. Smell is where these sensory relationships get more complex and perplexing. To study this domain, a research team co-led by the Monell Chemical Senses Center and start-up Osmo, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company spun out of machine-learning research at Google Research, are investigating how airborne chemicals connect to odor perception in the brain. To this end they discovered that their model has achieved human-level proficiency at describing, in words, how chemicals might smell. This collaboration moves the world closer to digitizing odors to be recorded and reproduced. It also may identify new odors for the fragrance and flavor industry that could not only decrease dependence on naturally sourced endangered plants, but also identify new functional scents for such uses as mosquito repellent or malodor masking.

Credit:  Monell Chemical Senses Center
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Breathe! The shape-shifting ball that supports mental health

ENG: A soft ball that ‘personifies’ breath, expanding and contracting in synchronicity with a person’s inhalations and exhalations, has been invented by Alexz Farrall, a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath. The ball is designed to support mental health, giving users a tangible representation of their breath to keep them focused and to help them regulate their emotions.

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AI-guided brain stimulation aids memory in traumatic brain injury

ENG: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has disabled 1 to 2% of the population, and one of their most common disabilities is problems with short-term memory. Electrical stimulation has emerged as a viable tool to improve brain function in people with other neurological disorders. Now, a new study in the journal Brain Stimulation shows that targeted electrical stimulation in patients with traumatic brain injury led to an average 19% boost in recalling words.

Credit: University of Pennsylvania
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