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.
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.
Offering Economic Incentives to Attract Blood Donations Should Be Encouraged, Researchers Write in Science
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Parents know the unparalleled joy and wonder of hearing a beloved child’s first words turn quickly into whole sentences and then babbling paragraphs. But how human children acquire language-which is so complex and has so many variations-remains largely a mystery. Fifty years ago, linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky proposed an answer: Humans are able to learn language so quickly because some knowledge of grammar is hardwired into our brains. In other words, we know some of the most fundamental things about human language unconsciously at birth, without ever being taught. Now, in a groundbreaking study, cognitive scientists at The Johns Hopkins University have confirmed a striking prediction of the controversial hypothesis that human beings are born with knowledge of certain syntactical rules that make learning human languages easier.
In the today’s online issue of Current Biology, a Johns Hopkins team led by neuroscientists Ed Connor and Kechen Zhang describes what appears to be the next step in understanding how the brain compresses visual information down to the essentials. They found that cells in area “V4”, a midlevel stage in the primate brain’s object vision pathway, are highly selective for image regions containing acute curvature. Experiments by doctoral student Eric Carlson showed that V4 cells are very responsive to sharply curved or angled edges, and much less responsive to flat edges or shallow curves.
It’s commonly accepted that we appreciate something more if we have to work hard to get it, and a Johns Hopkins study bears that out, at least when it comes to food. The study — led by Johns Hopkins psychologist Alexander Johnson — seems to suggest that hard work can even enhance our appreciation for fare we might not favor, such as the low-fat, low calorie variety. At least in theory, this means that if we had to navigate an obstacle course to get to a plate of baby carrots, we might come to prefer those crunchy crudités over the sweet, gooey Snickers bars or Peanut M&Ms more easily accessible via the office vending machine. The study appeared this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy B.