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31 news posts in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience


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28 Jun 2023

That essential morning coffee may be a placebo

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/ Scientists testing coffee against plain caffeine found that plain caffeine only partially reproduces the effects of drinking a cup of coffee, activating areas of the brain that make you feel more alert but not the areas of the brain that affect working memory and goal-directed behavior. For many people, the day doesn’t start until their coffee mug is empty. Coffee is often thought to make you feel more alert, so people drink it to wake themselves up and improve their efficiency. Portuguese scientists studied coffee-drinkers to understand whether that wakefulness effect is dependent on the properties of caffeine, or whether it’s about the experience of drinking coffee. “There is a common expectation that coffee increases alertness and psychomotor functioning,” said Prof Nuno Sousa of the University of Minho, corresponding author of the study in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience and Field Chief Editor of the journal. “When you get to understand better the mechanisms underlying a biological phenomenon, you open pathways for exploring the factors that may modulate it and even the potential benefits of that mechanism.” A caffeine kickstart The scientists recruited people who drank a minimum of one cup of coffee […]

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14 Jun 2023

Slightly lost bumblebees use scent to find their way home

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Researchers have shown that returning foragers of buff-tailed bumblebees use their own passively laid out scent marks, as well as visual information from landmarks, to find their way back to the nest entrance. These results highlight the importance of both vision and odor for guiding the navigation of bumblebees Put yourself in the exoskeleton of a bumblebee for a moment: your world would be a riot of colors and scents, both essential to guide your search for pollen and nectar. Bumblebees have excellent vision: they have a pair of compound eyes that can distinguish UV and most colors except red, plus three additional simple eyes specialized in detecting polarized light. Their sense of smell dwarfs ours: approximately 100 times more sensitive, and capable of sniffing out illegal drugs or explosives at airports, confirming pregnancy in women, or detecting cancers and diabetes in early-stage patients. Now, researchers have shown that bumblebees can also use their sense of smell to locate their nest. This is especially important when the landscape suddenly changes, for example when familiar visual landmarks are blown away by wind. The results are published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. “Here we show that […]

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06 Mar 2023

Bees follow linear landmarks to find their way home, just like the first pilots

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Scientists have shown that honeybees retain a memory of the dominant linear landscape elements in their home area like channels, roads, and boundaries. When transported to an unfamiliar area, they seek out local elements of this kind, compare their layout to the memory, and fly along them to seek their way home. This navigation strategy is similar to the one followed by the first human pilots. In the earliest days of human flight, before the invention of the first radio beacons and ground-based electronic systems, and modern GPS, pilots commonly navigated by following roads and railways – striking linear landscape elements at ground level that guide towards a destination of interest. Enter the honeybee. A century of research has shown that honeybees are navigators par excellence. They can navigate by their sense of smell, the sun, the sky’s pattern of polarized light, vertical landmarks that stand out from the panorama, and possibly the Earth’s magnetic field. They are also clever learners, able to recognize associations between disparate memories in order to generalize rules. Now, scientists have shown that honeybees tend to search for their way home by orienting themselves in relation to the dominant […]


16 Feb 2023

From microplastic waste to large, ancient squirrels: Five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. UK seafloor sediments rich in microplastics For years, plastics have made up a large portion of the debris polluting the marine environment. Much of this plastic consists of particles under 5mm in any dimension. Writing in Frontiers in Marine Science, an international team of researchers from the UK and Norway examined the occurrence and abundance of microplastics in UK seafloor sediments between 2013 and 2021. The scientists used a fast-screening approach for the detection and quantification of microplastics in sediment samples. They detected microplastics in every sample collected from 15 sites around the UK, which supports the argument that seafloor sediments are suitable matrices for the long-term monitoring of microlitter. The adoption of seafloor sediments as a common indicator for microlitter for the north-east-Atlantic region would allow for future assessments at a regional level as well as regional action plans rather than isolated national remediation measures, the researchers pointed out. The […]

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27 Sep 2022

4 articles you need to check out on the future of behavioral neuroscience

By Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image: How mice and rats help study depression Mice and rats are key model animals that help us understand how depression works and how to treat it. A huge number of people around the world live with this devastating disorder, but its causes and symptoms are so varied that it is hard to test new treatments and to reproduce experiments to prove those treatments work. Scientists writing in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience reviewed the evidence for rodent models of depression and found that models imitating social stress or a disrupted early life have had some success. Meanwhile, models with behavioral stressors designed to induce helplessness are easily compared to other labs’ work but aren’t complex enough to model depression. A key element of depression is anhedonia, struggling to enjoy life, but this is extremely difficult to model in nonhuman animals. The most popular options available test preference for sweet tastes. The team concluded that the best option is to provide mice with a more naturalistic setting to live in, with more space to socialize and to follow their own inclinations. This helps avoid experimenter influence and allows spontaneous behavior from the mice […]