Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Understanding


The present paper provides an overview of research concerning both acute and chronic effects of exposure to noise on children’s cognitive performance. Experimental studies addressing the impact of acute exposure showed negative effects on speech perception and listening comprehension. These effects are more pronounced in children as compared to adults. Children with language or attention disorders and second-language learners are still more impaired than age-matched controls. Noise-induced disruption was also found for non-auditory tasks, i.e., serial recall of visually presented lists and reading. The impact of chronic exposure to noise was examined in quasi-experimental studies. Indoor noise and reverberation in classroom settings were found to be associated with poorer performance of the children in verbal tasks. Regarding chronic exposure to aircraft noise, studies consistently found that high exposure is associated with lower reading performance. Even though the reported effects are usually small in magnitude, and confounding variables were not always sufficiently controlled, policy makers responsible for noise abatement should be aware of the potential impact of environmental noise on children’s development.

Concepts: Present, Psychology, Understanding, Cognition, Toxicology, Perception, Confounding, Noise pollution


Dog walking is a popular everyday physical activity. Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, but some rarely walk with their dog. The strength of the dog-owner relationship is known to be correlated with dog walking, and this qualitative study investigates why. Twenty-six interviews were combined with autoethnography of dog walking experiences. Dog walking was constructed as “for the dog”, however, owners represented their dog’s needs in a way which aligned with their own. Central to the construction of need was perceptions of dog personality and behaviour. Owners reported deriving positive outcomes from dog walking, most notably, feelings of “happiness”, but these were “contingent” on the perception that their dogs were enjoying the experience. Owner physical activity and social interaction were secondary bonuses but rarely motivating. Perceptions and beliefs of owners about dog walking were continually negotiated, depending on how the needs of the owner and dog were constructed at that time. Complex social interactions with the “significant other” of a pet can strongly motivate human health behaviour. Potential interventions to promote dog walking need to account for this complexity and the effect of the dog-owner relationship on owner mental wellbeing.

Concepts: Psychology, Understanding, Sociology, Mind, Behavior, Motivation, Social relation, Walking


Human perception is invariably accompanied by a graded feeling of confidence that guides metacognitive awareness and decision-making. It is often assumed that this arises solely from the feed-forward encoding of the strength or precision of sensory inputs. In contrast, interoceptive inference models suggest that confidence reflects a weighted integration of sensory precision and expectations about internal states, such as arousal. Here we test this hypothesis using a novel psychophysical paradigm, in which unseen disgust-cues induced unexpected, unconscious arousal just before participants discriminated motion signals of variable precision. Across measures of perceptual bias, uncertainty, and physiological arousal we found that arousing disgust cues modulated the encoding of sensory noise. Furthermore, the degree to which trial-by-trial pupil fluctuations encoded this nonlinear interaction correlated with trial level confidence. Our results suggest that unexpected arousal regulates perceptual precision, such that subjective confidence reflects the integration of both external sensory and internal, embodied states.

Concepts: Understanding, Cognition, Perception, Sense, Mind, Unsolved problems in neuroscience, Philosophy of perception, Sexual arousal


Social relationships have profound effects on health in humans and other primates, but the mechanisms that explain this relationship are not well understood. Using shotgun metagenomic data from wild baboons, we found that social group membership and social network relationships predicted both the taxonomic structure of the gut microbiome and the structure of genes encoded by gut microbial species. Rates of interaction directly explained variation in the gut microbiome, even after controlling for diet, kinship, and shared environments. They therefore strongly implicate direct physical contact among social partners in the transmission of gut microbial species. We identified 51 socially structured taxa, which were significantly enriched for anaerobic and non-spore-forming lifestyles. Our results argue that social interactions are an important determinant of gut microbiome composition in natural animal populations-a relationship with important ramifications for understanding how social relationships influence health, as well as the evolution of group living.

Concepts: Scientific method, Archaea, Human, Evolution, Understanding, Sociology, Explanation, Group action


To determine the appropriate punishment for a harmful action, people must often make inferences about the transgressor’s intent. In courtrooms and popular media, such inferences increasingly rely on video evidence, which is often played in “slow motion.” Four experiments (n = 1,610) involving real surveillance footage from a murder or broadcast replays of violent contact in professional football demonstrate that viewing an action in slow motion, compared with regular speed, can cause viewers to perceive an action as more intentional. This slow motion intentionality bias occurred, in part, because slow motion video caused participants to feel like the actor had more time to act, even when they knew how much clock time had actually elapsed. Four additional experiments (n = 2,737) reveal that allowing viewers to see both regular speed and slow motion replay mitigates the bias, but does not eliminate it. We conclude that an empirical understanding of the effect of slow motion on mental state attribution should inform the life-or-death decisions that are currently based on tacit assumptions about the objectivity of human perception.

Concepts: Causality, Understanding, Cognition, Perception, Sense, Mind, Concepts in metaphysics, Philosophy of perception


People sometimes experience a strong emotional response to artworks. Previous studies have demonstrated that the peak emotional experience of chills (goose bumps or shivers) when listening to music involves psychophysiological arousal and a rewarding effect. However, many aspects of peak emotion are still not understood. The current research takes a new perspective of peak emotional response of tears (weeping, lump in the throat). A psychophysiological experiment showed that self-reported chills increased electrodermal activity and subjective arousal whereas tears produced slow respiration during heartbeat acceleration, although both chills and tears induced pleasure and deep breathing. A song that induced chills was perceived as being both happy and sad whereas a song that induced tears was perceived as sad. A tear-eliciting song was perceived as calmer than a chill-eliciting song. These results show that tears involve pleasure from sadness and that they are psychophysiologically calming; thus, psychophysiological responses permit the distinction between chills and tears. Because tears may have a cathartic effect, the functional significance of chills and tears seems to be different. We believe that the distinction of two types of peak emotions is theoretically relevant and further study of tears would contribute to more understanding of human peak emotional response.

Concepts: Psychology, Understanding, Perception, Emotion, Respiration, Emotions, Sadness, Crying


The incorporation of data sharing into the research lifecycle is an important part of modern scholarly debate. In this study, the DataONE Usability and Assessment working group addresses two primary goals: To examine the current state of data sharing and reuse perceptions and practices among research scientists as they compare to the 2009/2010 baseline study, and to examine differences in practices and perceptions across age groups, geographic regions, and subject disciplines. We distributed surveys to a multinational sample of scientific researchers at two different time periods (October 2009 to July 2010 and October 2013 to March 2014) to observe current states of data sharing and to see what, if any, changes have occurred in the past 3-4 years. We also looked at differences across age, geographic, and discipline-based groups as they currently exist in the 2013/2014 survey. Results point to increased acceptance of and willingness to engage in data sharing, as well as an increase in actual data sharing behaviors. However, there is also increased perceived risk associated with data sharing, and specific barriers to data sharing persist. There are also differences across age groups, with younger respondents feeling more favorably toward data sharing and reuse, yet making less of their data available than older respondents. Geographic differences exist as well, which can in part be understood in terms of collectivist and individualist cultural differences. An examination of subject disciplines shows that the constraints and enablers of data sharing and reuse manifest differently across disciplines. Implications of these findings include the continued need to build infrastructure that promotes data sharing while recognizing the needs of different research communities. Moving into the future, organizations such as DataONE will continue to assess, monitor, educate, and provide the infrastructure necessary to support such complex grand science challenges.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Understanding, Science, Perception, Knowledge, Scientist, Scientists


Meta-analyses of continuous outcomes typically provide enough information for decision-makers to evaluate the extent to which chance can explain apparent differences between interventions. The interpretation of the magnitude of these differences - from trivial to large - can, however, be challenging. We investigated clinicians' understanding and perceptions of usefulness of 6 statistical formats for presenting continuous outcomes from meta-analyses (standardized mean difference, minimal important difference units, mean difference in natural units, ratio of means, relative risk and risk difference).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Understanding, Medical statistics, Relative risk, Perception, Mean, Absolute risk reduction, Number needed to treat


Enthusiasts for telehealth extol its potential for supporting heart failure management. But randomised trials have been slow to recruit and produced conflicting findings; real-world roll-out has been slow. We sought to inform policy by making sense of a complex literature on heart failure and its remote management.

Concepts: Understanding, Randomized controlled trial, Perception


Aquaculture is developing rapidly at a global scale and sustainable practices are an essential part of meeting the protein requirements of the ballooning human population. Locating aquaculture offshore is one strategy that may help address some issues related to nearshore development. However, offshore production is nascent and distinctions between the types of aquatic farming may not be fully understood by the public-important for collaboration, research, and development. Here we evaluate and report, to our knowledge, the first multinational quantification of the relative sentiments and opinions of the public around distinct forms of aquaculture. Using thousands of newspaper headlines (Ntotal = 1,596) from developed (no. countries = 26) and developing (42) nations, ranging over periods of 1984 to 2015, we found an expanding positive trend of general ‘aquaculture’ coverage, while ‘marine’ and ‘offshore’ appeared more negative. Overall, developing regions published proportionally more positive than negative headlines than developed countries. As case studies, government collected public comments (Ntotal = 1,585) from the United States of America (USA) and New Zealand mirrored the media sentiments; offshore perception being particularly negative in the USA. We also found public sentiment may be influenced by local environmental disasters not directly related to aquaculture (e.g., oil spills). Both countries voiced concern over environmental impacts, but the concerns tended to be more generalized, rather than targeted issues. Two factors that could be inhibiting informed discussion and decisions about offshore aquaculture are lack of applicable knowledge and actual local development issues. Better communication and investigation of the real versus perceived impacts of aquaculture could aid in clarifying the debate about aquaculture, and help support future sustainable growth.

Concepts: Understanding, United States, Developed country, Perception, New Zealand, Developing country, Sustainability, Human Development Index