About Johns Hopkins

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.

 

The Science Behind the Appeal of Pumpkin Spice

Fall is still days away but at coffee shops and grocery stores, it’s already peak autumn thanks to the arrival of a certain flavor that has come to signal the season’s unofficial start. Everyone knows, it’s pumpkin spice time.

But why?

Johns Hopkins University perception researchers can say a key to understanding why people love pumpkin spice is the smell of it. Those notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger trigger deeply rooted cozy memories of autumn.

Blind People Can’t See Color but Understand It the Same Way as Sighted People

People born blind have never seen that bananas are yellow but Johns Hopkins University researchers find that like any sighted person, they understand two bananas are likely to be the same color and why. Questioning the belief that dates back to philosopher John Locke that people born blind could never truly understand color, the team of cognitive neuroscientists demonstrated that congenitally blind and sighted individuals actually understand it quite similarly.

Handwriting Beats Typing and Watching Videos for Learning to Read

Though writing by hand is increasingly being eclipsed by the ease of computers, a new study finds we shouldn’t be so quick to throw away the pencils and paper: handwriting helps people learn certain skills surprisingly faster and significantly better than learning the same material through typing or watching videos.

Team Find Brain Mechanism That Automatically Links Objects in Our Minds

When people see a toothbrush, a car, a tree — any individual object — their brain automatically associates it with other things it naturally occurs with, allowing humans to build context for their surroundings and set expectations for the world.

By using machine-learning and brain imaging, researchers measured the extent of the “co-occurrence” phenomenon and identified the brain region involved. The findings appear in Nature Communications.

Motivation at an Empty Olympics? Johns Hopkins Expert Available On Mental Aspects of Top Athletic Performance

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which officially begin today, will be held without fans because of COVID-19. A Johns Hopkins University expert on the types of motivation that influence performance is available to discuss how that might affect outcomes at the games.

Vikram Chib, an associate professor in Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, has studied the neural aspects behind performance, including what happens when people choke under pressure, and how having an audience can make you perform better.

The Most Curious Babies Years Later Maintain Cognitive Edge

A first-of-its-kind longitudinal study of infant curiosity found that months-old babies most captivated by magic tricks became the most curious toddlers, suggesting a pre-verbal baby’s level of interest in surprising aspects of the world remains constant over time and could predict their future cognitive ability.

Mimes Help Us ‘See’ Objects That Don’t Exist

When we watch a mime seemingly pull rope, climb steps or try to escape that infernal box, we don’t struggle to recognize the implied objects — our minds automatically “see” them, a new study concludes.

To explore how the mind processes the objects mimes seem to interact with, Johns Hopkins University cognitive scientists brought the art of miming into the lab, concluding that invisible, implied surfaces are represented rapidly and automatically. The work appears today in the journal Psychological Science.

This is Your Brain on Code: JHU Deciphers Neural Mechanics of Computer Programming

By mapping the brain activity of expert computer programmers while they puzzled over code, Johns Hopkins University scientists have found the neural mechanics behind this increasingly vital skill.

Brain Region Tracking Food Preferences Could Steer Our Food Choices

Researchers discovered that a specific brain region monitors food preferences as they change across thirsty and quenched states. By targeting neurons in that part of the brain, they were able to shift food choice preferences from a more desired reward (think: chocolate cake) to a less tasty one (think: stale bread).

Researchers Run ‘Philosophy Experiment’ in a Lab to Test Objectivity of Vision

Johns Hopkins University researchers who study the mind and brain used methods from cognitive science to test a long-standing philosophical question: Can people see the world objectively?

ADVISORY: Expert Available on Altered Sense of Time During Pandemic

COVID-19 has affected people differently, yet many feel the pandemic has radically affected their sense of time. For some, time drags. For others it passes much too fast. And almost everyone is having trouble remembering what day it is. Ian Phillips, a Johns Hopkins University professor who studies how humans experience time, is available to discuss what’s causing this common but very disconcerting experience.

JHU: What We Can’t See Can Help Us Find Things

Anyone who’s ever tried to find something in a hurry knows how helpful it is to think about the lost item’s color, size and shape. But surprisingly, traits of an object that you can’t see also come into play during a search, Johns Hopkins University researchers found.

ADVISORY: Expert Available to Discuss How Racism, Xenophobia Can Spread in Tandem with Coronavirus

A sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University is available to discuss how the racist and xenophobic treatment of people of Chinese ancestry often escalates during outbreaks of disease such as the current coronavirus that began in China and is spreading worldwide.

Babies Understand Counting Years Earlier Than Believed

Babies who are years away from being able to say “one,” “two,” and “three” actually already have a sense of what counting means, Johns Hopkins University researchers have discovered.

The findings reveal that very early on, years earlier than previously believed, babies who hear counting realize that it’s about quantity.

JHU: How Some Older Brains Decline Before People Realize It

Some older adults without noticeable cognitive problems have a harder time than younger people in separating irrelevant information from what they need to know at a given time, and a new Johns Hopkins University study could explain why.

Flamingoes, Elephants and Sharks: How Do Blind Adults Learn About Animal Appearance?

They’ve never seen animals like hippos and sharks but adults born blind have rich insight into what they look like, a new Johns Hopkins University study found.

Study: Treats Might Mask Animal Intelligence

Rewards are necessary for learning, but may actually mask true knowledge, finds a new Johns Hopkins University study with rodents and ferrets.

JHU Mind Games: Researchers Get Humans to Think Like Computers

Computers, like those that power self-driving cars, can be tricked into mistaking random scribbles for trains, fences and even school busses. People aren’t supposed to be able to see how those images trip up computers but in a new study, Johns Hopkins University researchers show most people actually can.

Owls Help JHU Scientists Unlock Secret of How the Brain Pays Attention

By studying barn owls, scientists at Johns Hopkins University believe they’ve taken an important step toward solving the longstanding mystery of how the brain chooses what most deserves attention.

Scientists Find Brain Signal That Might Help Us Judge the Holiday Buffet

At holiday buffets and potlucks people make quick calculations about which dishes to try and how much to take of each. Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists have found a brain region that appears to be strongly connected to these food preference decisions.

Gambling Monkeys Help Scientists Find Brain Area Linked to High-Risk Behavior

Monkeys who learned how to gamble have helped researchers pinpoint an area of the brain key to one’s willingness to make risky decisions.

ADVISORY: Johns Hopkins Hurricane Experts Available

Johns Hopkins Hurricane Experts Available.

What Would Your Dog Do to Help If You Were Upset? Quite a Bit, Study Finds

Dogs are thought to be very aware of people’s emotions, but if a pup’s owner was really upset, would it actually go out of its way to offer help and comfort? Some not only will, a new study found, they’ll overcome obstacles to do it.

When There’s an Audience, People’s Performance Improves

Often people think performing in front of others will make them mess up, but a new study led by a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist found the opposite: being watched makes people do better.

JHU Records Brain Activity of a Free-flying Bat

Johns Hopkins University researchers have developed a way to study the brain of a bat as it flies, recording for the first time what happens as an animal focuses its attention.