Studies linking green space to lower suicide risk are ‘just a snapshot’

When assessing the link between surroundings and mental health, researchers need to look at people's entire lives, says Dr Helbich.

Research suggests that where we live can affect our mental health but Dr MarcoHelbich, an urban geographer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, believes these studies only offer a limited snapshot of our lives. Using a smartphone app and register data, he is tracking people through their daily routines and their residential history to see … Read more

Genetic error led humans to evolve bigger, but more vulnerable, brains

The skull of a Australopithecus sediba, a species of Australopithecines, who were our ancestors and whose brains started to grow two to three million years ago. Image credit - Australopithecus sediba by Brett Eloff, courtesy Profberger and Wits University is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Newly-discovered genes that helped supersize human brains along with DNA retrieved from extinct humans, which can still be found in people living today, are expanding scientists’ understanding of how our species evolved. One of the major features that distinguish humans from other primates is the size of our brains, which underwent rapid evolution from about … Read more

New fathers may undergo hormonal, neural and behavioural changes

The hormone oxytocin, which derives its name from ancient Greek and means ‘swift birth’, likely plays a role in fathering. Image credit — Pxhere/JohnsonGoh, licensed under CC0

Fathers’ hormone levels and brain activity may change when they spend time with their children, helping them adapt to parenthood in a way that has been overlooked until now, according to Professor Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg, who studies children and family relations at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and was until recently at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She … Read more

How focusing on emotions helps diffuse political tension

Workshops focusing on intergroup emotions are showing how deeply-rooted beliefs can be changed to support conflict resolution. Group interventions, each lasting just five hours, broadened dozens of Israelis’ views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a study published in January showed. The study explored how in unyielding conflicts, the belief that one group can change their views motivates the … Read more

Theory of predictive brain as important as evolution – Prof. Lars Muckli

State-of-the-art functional brain imaging techniques allowed Prof. Muckli to investigate the human brain at sub-millimetre resolutions.

Our brains make sense of the world by predicting what we will see and then updating these predictions as the situation demands, according to Lars Muckli, professor of neuroscience at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Glasgow, Scotland. He says that this predictive processing framework theory is as important to brain science as evolution is … Read more

Simple blood test could reveal epilepsy risk

It is difficult for doctors to diagnose epilepsy as they usually do not observe the symptoms in a patient, but a blood test could overcome this challenge.

A finger-prick blood test to diagnose epilepsy could be available within five years, according to scientists who are using tell-tale molecules called biomarkers to overcome current diagnostic problems and guide treatment. More than 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide. However, diagnosing the disease remains challenging and treatments are often unsuccessful: only 70% of patients taking … Read more