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“Too Cute to Handle”: Why We Want to Squish Adorable Things

We’ve all experienced it: Faced with an infant’s chubby cheeks or a puppy’s wagging tail, we feel the powerful urge to pinch, squish, or even bite the adorable subject. “Cute aggression” is a seemingly bizarre phenomenon, but one that science suggests serves a very real purpose.  According to research published within the last decade, the […]

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What Rats Can Teach Us About the Importance of Play — And How to Incorporate More Into Your Life

Science has long shown that play is beneficial to humans: In children, the behavior aids in emotional and cognitive development, and in adults, playfulness has been linked to an increased ability to cope with stress. Now, a recent study has added to that body of research by investigating which neural circuits are involved in play

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From Science to Humanity’s Well-Being: 9 Extraordinary Examples of the Power of Music

Anyone who listens to music — which is around 90% of the population — has likely experienced its power to soothe, stir up emotion, connect, and jog memories. Whatever the mood or moment, the soundtrack possibilities are endless. But the power of music stretches far beyond merely comforting or entertaining its listener — studies show

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Chemical Imaging Reveals “Hidden Mysteries” of 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Tomb Paintings

Archaeological secrets from thousands of years ago in northeast Africa have been unearthed thanks to modern-day scientific innovations. A process known as chemical imaging recently revealed “hidden mysteries” about ancient Egyptian paintings located in tomb chapels close to the Nile River — and portable devices made it possible to analyze the 3,000-year-old art on-site in

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“Our Jaws Dropped”: The Small Protein Restoring Youth to Older Brains

Scientists have identified the common denominator behind three different processes that all boost brain function. Injections of the anti-aging hormone klotho, infusions of young blood, and exercise have each been shown to promote cognitive rejuvenation in older mice, but until now, researchers didn’t know precisely why. On August 16, three teams — two from the

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What Baby Babble Can Teach Adults About Learning New Languages

Linguistically, an infant’s “goo goo, gaga” may not command the same respect as, say, a Shakespearean soliloquy, but the study of how babies talk could shed light on our understanding of language learning in adults.  At UCLA’s Language Acquisition Lab, director Megha Sundara and a team of colleagues investigate all things baby babble: when and

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How Old Memories Help Us Learn New Things, According to Science (and Snails)

It’s often said that we’re “learning by experience” when we try new things, practice skills, and make mistakes. In other words, our memories of past experiences can shape our perceptions of ourselves, the world, and even the future. Though we can all probably think of examples that back up this phenomenon, how this works in

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Human brain covered with green grass with sprout growing on colored background.

S’more Chocolate, Please: The Science Behind Roasting the Perfect Ooey-Gooey Campfire Treat

Summertime is in full swing, and for many, that means the sweet arrival of s’mores season: the perfect treat for beach bonfires, nights spent camping beneath the stars, or capping off backyard barbecues.  S’mores, a favorite campfire snack, combine gooey marshmallows, melted chocolate, and crunchy graham crackers. Everyone has their own preferences for what makes

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The Shape of the Brain Influences How It Works More Than Neural Activity Does: Study

For over a hundred years, scientists have believed that the connections between the 86 billion neurons in the human brain — think of an electric spark traveling along a spiderweb — form the basis for our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Up until now, little importance has been placed on the actual shape of the brain,

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