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Posts Tagged ‘proceedings of the national academy’

The White Noise of Smell

November 24th, 2012 11:21 admin View Comments

Science

Frosty P. writes “Scientists have discovered a new smell, but you may have to go to a laboratory to experience it yourself. The smell is dubbed ‘olfactory white,’ because it is the nasal equivalent of white noise, researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Just as white noise is a mixture of many different sound frequencies and white light is a mixture of many different wavelengths, olfactory white is a mixture of many different smells. In a series of experiments, they exposed participants to dozens of equally mixed smells, and what they discovered is that our brains treat smells as a single unit, not as a mixture of compounds to break down, analyze and put back together again.”

Source: The White Noise of Smell

Physical Pain and Emotional Pain Use Same Brain Networks

June 7th, 2011 06:34 admin View Comments

Medicine

Antipater writes “To the brain, heartbreak and emotional torment are no different from having hot coffee spilled on your hand, reports CNN. They cite a recent study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which 40 recently-dumped men and women underwent fMRI scans while having their arm burned or being shown a picture of their ex. The stimuli produced nearly identical brain reactions.”

Source: Physical Pain and Emotional Pain Use Same Brain Networks

Social Influence and the Wisdom of Crowd Effect

May 18th, 2011 05:30 admin View Comments

Social Networks

formfeed writes “A lot has been written lately on the crowd effect and the wisdom of crowds. But for those of us who are doubtful, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has published a study showing how masses can become dumber: social influence. While previous studies show how groups of people can come up with remarkably accurate results, it seems ‘even mild social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect in simple estimation tasks.’ Social influence ‘diminishes the diversity of the crowd without improvements of its collective error.’ In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden.”

Source: Social Influence and the Wisdom of Crowd Effect

Does a Dose of Testosterone Make Trusting Women More Skeptical?

May 24th, 2010 05:44 admin View Comments

face-collageAll it takes for some people to be a little less trusting of their fellow humans is a little more testosterone, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers led by Jack van Honk of the Netherlands used a sample of 24 women in their study. The team showed photos of 150 strangers’ faces to the women and asked them to rate the faces for trustworthiness, using a scale from -100 to +100. The scores women gave after receiving a placebo became their “baseline” score. The women also completed a trustworthiness survey after being given an increase in testosterone instead of placebo (they weren’t told when they received which).

Scientists found that women were not so easily taken in by a stranger’s face after receiving a dose of the hormone…. Women who appeared the most trusting after receiving the “dummy” placebo reduced their scores by an average of 10 points when their testosterone was boosted [Press Association].

Why? The researchers point to the social advantages testosterone can confer:

The study also adds support to the idea that testosterone influences human behavior, not necessarily by increasing aggression, but by motivating people to raise their status in the social hierarchy or become more socially dominant. Testosterone might boost social watchfulness, making those who are most trusting a little more vigilant and better prepared for competition over rank and resources, the researchers say [LiveScience].

This sample size isn’t terribly large and the explanation is something of a just-so story, but it’s at least a plausible one. The study authors say that testosterone’s effects specifically could balance out those of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” which previous studies have suggested could increase feelings of trust, or make men want to cuddle.

One curious detail of this study, though, is that the skepticism effect showed up only in the most trusting women. The ones who scored as the least trusting after the placebo test didn’t drop their scores lower and become extremely distrusting after a testosterone dose; they just stayed the same. Why should they stand pat instead of descending into testosterone-induced misanthropy?

Image: flickr / luc legay

Source: Does a Dose of Testosterone Make Trusting Women More Skeptical?

HP Reports Memory Resistor Breakthrough

April 7th, 2010 04:44 admin View Comments

andy1307 writes “Hewlett-Packard scientists on Thursday will report advances demonstrating significant progress in the design of memristors, or memory resistors. The researchers previously reported in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they had devised a new method for storing and retrieving information from a vast three-dimensional array of memristors. The scheme could potentially free designers to stack thousands of switches on top of one another in a high-rise fashion, permitting a new class of ultra-dense computing devices even after two-dimensional scaling reaches fundamental limits.”

Source: HP Reports Memory Resistor Breakthrough

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