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Why some words may be more memorable than others

Abstract concept illustration, letters in brain (stock image). Credit: © JEGAS RA / stock.adobe.com Thousands of words, big and small, are crammed inside our memory banks just waiting to be swiftly withdrawn and strung into sentences. In a recent study of epilepsy patients and healthy volunteers, National Institutes of Health researchers found that our brains…

Time on screens has little impact on kids’ social skills, study...

Children and tablet computers (stock image). Credit: © Syda Productions / Adobe Stock Despite the time spent with smartphones and social media, young people today are just as socially skilled as those from the previous generation, a new study suggests. Researchers compared teacher and parent evaluations of children who started kindergarten in 1998 -- six…

Babies mimic songs, study finds

Baby with microphone (stock image). Credit: © Africa Studio / Adobe Stock Researchers -- and parents -- have long known that babies learn to speak by mimicking the words they hear. But a new study shows that babies also might try to imitate the singing they hear in songs. As part of the study, scientists…

How does language emerge?

The word 'welcome' in different languages (stock image). Credit: © rosliothman / Adobe Stock How did the almost 6000 languages of the world come into being? Researchers from the Leipzig Research Centre for Early Childhood Development at Leipzig University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have tried to simulate the process of developing…

High amounts of screen time begin as early as infancy

Child using tablet device (stock image). Credit: © Elena / Adobe Stock Children's average daily time spent watching television or using a computer or mobile device increased from 53 minutes at age 12 months to more than 150 minutes at 3 years, according to an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the…

The difference between an expert’s brain and a novice’s

Neurons illustration (stock image). Credit: © whitehoune / Adobe Stock When mice learn to do a new task, their brain activities change over time as they advance from 'novice' to 'expert.' The changes are reflected in the wiring of cell circuits and activities of neurons. Using a two-photon imaging microscope and a wealth of genetic…

Brains of girls and boys are similar, producing equal math ability

Children with math on blackboard (stock image). Credit: © Tom Wang / Adobe Stock In 1992, Teen Talk Barbie was released with the controversial voice fragment, "Math class is hard." While the toy's release met with public backlash, this underlying assumption persists, propagating the myth that women do not thrive in science, technology, engineering and…

Screen-based media associated with structural differences in brains of young children

Child with tablet device (stock image). Credit: © click_and_photo / Adobe Stock A new study documents structural differences in the brains of preschool-age children related to screen-based media use. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, shows that children who have more screen time have lower structural integrity of white matter tracts in parts of the…

Better sleep habits lead to better college grades

Student sleeping surrounded by books (stock image). Credit: © THANANIT / Adobe Stock Two MIT professors have found a strong relationship between students' grades and how much sleep they're getting. What time students go to bed and the consistency of their sleep habits also make a big difference. And no, getting a good night's sleep…

Mechanisms of real-time speech interpretation in the human brain revealed

People having conversation (stock image). Credit: © Danon / Adobe Stock Scientists have come a step closer to understanding how we're able to understand spoken language so rapidly, and it involves a huge and complex set of computations in the brain. In a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,…

Are attitudes contagious? Nonverbal messages

Thumbs up and down (stock image). Credit: © fizkes / Adobe Stock If you were to meet two new people, and others seem to be more friendly toward one of those individuals, would that lead you to like that individual more than the other? A new Northwestern University study examined whether people can acquire attitudes…

Language-savvy parents improve their children’s reading development, study shows

Reading with child (stock image). Credit: © fizkes / Adobe Stock Some languages -- like English -- are tricky to pick up easily. Young children learning to read and write English often need to identify patterns in words to be able to read and spell them. For example, knowing the "Magic E" syllable pattern can…

What we think we know — but might not — pushes...

Curiosity concept. Credit: © xixinxing / Adobe Stock Spoiler alert if you haven't watched the "Game of Thrones" season finale. If you think you know the farm animal most closely related to T-Rex, or the American president who inspired the creation of blue jelly beans -- but aren't entirely sure -- you're more likely to…

Flexibility of working memory from random connections

Neurons illustration. Credit: © rolffimages / Adobe Stock A new article in Neuron from Princeton University neuroscientists Flora Bouchacourt and Tim Buschman presents a new model of working memory. Working memory is your ability to hold things 'in mind.' It acts as a workspace in which information can be held, manipulated, and then used to…

Teachers predict pupil success just as well as exam scores

Students writing an exam. Credit: © arrowsmith / Adobe Stock New research from King's College London finds that teacher assessments are equally as reliable as standardised exams at predicting educational success. The researchers say their findings, published today in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, question whether the benefits of standardised exams outweigh the…

Kids store 1.5 megabytes of information to master their native language

From infancy to young adulthood, learners absorb approximately 12.5 million bits of information about language. Credit: © makistock / Adobe Stock Learning one's native language may seem effortless. One minute, we're babbling babies. The next we're in school reciting Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech or Robert Frost's poem "Fire and Ice."…

Want to learn a new skill? Take some short breaks

In a study of healthy volunteers, NIH researchers found that taking short breaks, early and often, may help our brains learn new skills. Credit: Courtesy of Cohen lab, NIH/NINDS In a study of healthy volunteers, National Institutes of Health researchers found that our brains may solidify the memories of new skills we just practiced a…

Associating colors with vowels? Almost all of us do!

Vowel-color associations in two non-synesthete subjects (left) and in two synesthetes (right). Synesthetes more precisely chose the same color for a particular sound. However, all four participants created groups of sounds that lay close to a particular Dutch vowel, such as "ee" [i:] (upper left), and they all chose lighter colors for "ee" than for…

Experiences of nature boost children’s learning

Nature-based instruction leads to more engaged, attentive, self-motivated, disciplined children in a cause-and-effect manner, according to a critical review of current literature. Credit: University of Illinois Spending time in nature boosts children's academic achievement and healthy development, concludes a new analysis examining hundreds of studies. Ming Kuo, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources…

Singing for science: How the arts can help students who struggle...

In the arts-integrated chemistry class, students learned about states of matter by working in groups to physically demonstrate solid, liquid and gas particles. Credit: Mariale Hardiman/Johns Hopkins University Incorporating the arts -- rapping, dancing, drawing -- into science lessons can help low-achieving students retain more knowledge and possibly help students of all ability levels be…

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