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Recent news from The Johns Hopkins University

This section contains regularly updated highlights of the news from around The Johns Hopkins University. Links to the complete news reports from the nine schools, the Applied Physics Laboratory and other centers and institutes are to the left, as are links to help news media contact the Johns Hopkins communications offices.

 

Johns Hopkins Researcher Finds People Born Blind Perceive Sight Similar to Those With Vision

With the use of verbal stories, a researcher from Johns Hopkins University has found that the brains of people born blind respond to situations similarly to the way people with sight do.

Are You Smarter Than a 5-Year-Old? Preschoolers Can Do Algebra, Psychologists Find

Millions of high school and college algebra students are united in a shared agony over solving for x and y, and for those to whom the answers don’t come easily, it gets worse: Most preschoolers and kindergarteners can do some algebra before even entering a math class.

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now: JHU Researchers Find Caffeine Enhances Memory

For some, it’s the tradition of steeping tealeaves to brew the perfect cup of tea. For others, it’s the morning shuffle to a coffee maker for a hot jolt of java. Then there are those who like their wake up with the kind of snap and a fizz usually found in a carbonated beverage. Regardless of the routine, the consumption of caffeine is the energy boost of choice for millions to wake up or stay up. Now, however, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University have found another use for the stimulant: memory enhancer.

Testosterone In Male Songbirds May Enhance Desire To Sing But Not Song Quality

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have found that introducing testosterone in select areas of a male canary’s brain can affect its ability to successfully attract and mate with a female through birdsong. They also found that enhancing song activity based on testosterone in one brain area can change the size of a separate brain area that regulates song quality.

Offering Economic Incentives to Attract Blood Donations Should Be Encouraged, Researchers Write in Science

Three researchers including Carey Business School Assistant Professor Mario Macis say economic incentives can motivate members of the public to increase their donations of much-needed blood, the economists write in the May 24, 2013, issue of Science.

Exposure to Light at Night May Cause Depression, Learning Issues, JHU Biologist Says

For most of history, humans rose with the sun and slept when it set. Enter Thomas Edison, and with a flick of a switch, night became day, enabling us to work, play and post cat and kid photos on Facebook into the wee hours. However, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins biologist Samer Hattar, this typical 21st- century scenario comes at a serious cost: When people routinely burn the midnight oil, they risk suffering depression and learning issues, and not only because of lack of sleep. The culprit could also be exposure to bright light at night from lamps, computers and even iPads.

Johns Hopkins Receives $7.4 Million Grant to Boost STEM Education in Baltimore City

Supported by a five-year $7.4 million National Science Foundation grant, experts at The Johns Hopkins University are partnering with teachers and administrators in Baltimore City Public Schools on a program to enhance teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and math in city elementary schools by making STEM a community affair. The program, called STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools – SABES for short — not only will benefit more than 1,600 students in grades three through five in nine city elementary schools, but could also become a national model for science, technology, engineering and math education.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Creative: Social Rejection Can Fuel Imagination, JHUCarey Researcher Finds

A new study by a Johns Hopkins University business professor finds that social rejection can inspire imaginative thinking, particularly in individuals with a strong sense of their own independence.

Citizen Science: Johns Hopkins Study Allows Thousands to Test Gut Sense for Numbers

A first-of-its kind study using the World Wide Web to collect data from more than 10,000 study subjects ages 11 to 85 found that humans’ inborn “number sense” improves during school years, declines during old age, and remains linked throughout the entire lifespan to academic mathematics achievement. The study, led by psychologist Justin Halberda of The Johns Hopkins University and published in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of June 25, is groundbreaking for presenting a picture of how our basic cognitive abilities may change across our lifetime.

Reducing Brain Activity Improves Memory After Cognitive Decline, Johns Hopkins Team Finds

A study led by Michela Gallagher of The Johns Hopkins University and published in the May 10 issue of the journal Neuron suggests a potential new therapeutic approach for improving memory and interrupting disease progression in patients with a form of cognitive impairment that often leads to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.

Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Shifts Focus to Business of Healthcare

The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School has reorganized to focus its degree programs on the study of business issues related to healthcare and the life sciences, Interim Dean Phillip Phan has announced. “We’re making this move not just because we are Johns Hopkins, with the best medical institutions in the world, but also because health care is an increasingly important part of the economic discussion in the United States,” said Phan.

Johns Hopkins First in R&D Expenditures for 32nd Year

The Johns Hopkins University performed $2 billion in medical, science and engineering research in fiscal 2010, making it the leading U.S. academic institution in total research and development spending for the 32nd year in a row, according to a new National Science Foundation ranking. The university also once again ranked first on the NSF’s separate list of federally funded research and development, spending $1.73 billion in FY2010 on research supported by NSF, NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

New Show Invites Visitors to “Please Touch” and Hold

At the “Touch and the Enjoyment of Sculpture: Exploring the Appeal of Renaissance Statuettes” exhibition — an exhibition at the Walters Art Museum through April 15 – visitors are invited to disregard the usual rule against touching. In fact, handling the objects d’arts – which include replicas of famous 16th century statuettes that are part of the Walters’ collection – is one of the reasons behind the exhibition, explains neuroscientist Steven Hsiao of the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, which is partnering with the Walters on this show – the fourth in a series of projects between the museum and Johns Hopkins.

JHU Rethinks University-Level Science Teaching

On Friday, Jan. 20, The Johns Hopkins University will hold a daylong meeting of nearly 300 faculty members, academic leaders, staff members and outside experts to consider innovative, more effective alternatives to traditional large lecture/lab introductory science classes for undergraduates, graduate students and professional students.

Will There Be Blood? Yes, Especially If Donors Are Compensated, New Research Shows

Economic incentives can significantly increase blood donations from the public, according to a new study co-authored by a Johns Hopkins business professor.
The findings also suggest that similar methods could be used to build up life-saving supplies of human bone marrow, organs, and body parts for transplantation.

Babies Remember Even As They Seem to Forget, JHU Psychologist Finds

A new study led by Melissa Kibbe, a Krieger School psychologist and child development expert reveals that even though very young babies can’t remember the details of an object that they were shown and which then was hidden, the infants’ brains have a set of built in “pointers” that help them retain a notion that something they saw remains in existence even when they can’t see it anymore. The study results were published in a recent issue of the journal, Psychological Science.

Untrusting Negotiators End Up ‘Paying a Price’

Why do people from different cultures negotiate in different ways? New research shows that different levels of trust account for these divergent strategies, with negotiators from less trusting cultures engaging in behaviors that lead to poor outcomes.

Fear and Loathing in the Stock Market: Johns Hopkins Expert Available

Lawrence Raifman, who teaches in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University, views current market trends through a psychological lens, providing insights into the central role that emotions such as anxiety, greed and fear play in investor behavior and can comment on the impact that human psychology has on market fluctuations.

It Takes Two: Brains Come Wired for Cooperation, JHU Neuroscientist Asserts

When legal commentator Nancy Grace and her partner danced a lively rumba to Spandau Ballet’s 1980’s hit, “True,” on a recent “Dancing With the Stars,” more was going on in the legal commentator’s brain than concern over a possible wardrobe malfunction. Deep in Grace’s cortex, millions of neurons were hard at work doing what they apparently had been built to do: act and react to partner Tristan MacManus’s movements to create a pas de deux that had the dancers functioning together (for the most part) like a well-oiled machine. That is because the brain was built for cooperative activity, whether it be dancing on a reality television show, constructing a skyscraper or working in an office, according to a study led by Johns Hopkins behavioral neuroscientist Eric Fortune and published in the November 4 issue of the journal Science.

Johns Hopkins Researchers Study Artistic Aspect of Illustrator’s Illness

In an effort to unlock the secrets of the brain and creativity, Johns Hopkins cognitive scientists Barbara Landau and Michael McCloskey are studying Lonni Sue Johnson, an artist who contracted viral encephalitis in 2007.

You Can Count on This: Math Ability is Inborn, Johns Hopkins Psychologist Finds

We accept that some people are born with a talent for music or art or athletics. But what about mathematics? Do some of us just arrive in the world with better math skills than others? It seems we do, at least according to the results of a study by a team of Johns Hopkins University psychologists. Led by Melissa Libertus, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the study – published online in a recent issue of Developmental Science – indicates that math ability in preschool children is strongly linked to their inborn and primitive “number sense,” called an “Approximate Number System” (ANS.)

Social Acumen Equals Spatial Skills, Psychologist Finds

People who are socially skilled – who are adept at metaphorically putting themselves in someone else’s shoes – are also more proficient when it comes to spatial skills, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins University psychologist Amy Shelton, of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
The study, published online in today’s Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that the more socially accomplished a person is, the easier it is for him or her to assume another person’s perspective (literally) on the world.

Drug Improves Brain Function in Condition that Leads to Alzheimer’s

An existing anti-seizure drug improves memory and brain function in adults with a form of cognitive impairment that often leads to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study led by neuroscientist Michela Gallagher of The Johns Hopkins University. The findings raise the possibility that doctors will someday be able to use the drug, levetiracetam, already approved for use in epilepsy patients, to slow the abnormal loss of brain function in some aging patients before their condition becomes Alzheimer’s.

Attention Please: “Rewarding” Objects Can’t Be Ignored, JHU Expert Says

Led by neuroscientist Steve Yantis, a team from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School has found that insignificant objects that have come to be associated with a “reward” of some kind inadvertently capture people’s attention. The research, published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may eventually contribute to the development of more effective treatments for addiction, obesity and ADHD.

As Time Goes By, It Gets Tougher to “Just Remember This”

It’s something we just accept: the fact that the older we get, the more difficulty we seem to have remembering things. We can leave our cars in the same parking lot each morning, but unless we park in the same space each and every day, it’s a challenge eight hours later to recall whether we left the SUV in the second or fifth row. Or, we can be introduced to new colleagues at a meeting and will have forgotten their names before the handshake is over. We shrug and nervously reassure ourselves that our brains’ “hard drives” are just too full to handle the barrage of new information that comes in daily. According to a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist, however, the real trouble is that our aging brains are unable to process this information as “new” because the brain pathways leading to the hippocampus-the area of the brain that stores memories-become degraded over time. As a result, our brains cannot accurately “file” new information (like where we left the car that particular morning), and confusion results. A study on the subject appeared in the May 9 Early Online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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