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Global task force of researchers investigates the universe of emotions

Feelings or emotions have not yet been systematically described in neuroscience. The best-known theories on why emotions significantly influence our brain and how they arise were put forward at the end of the 1970s. The Human Affectome Project has now presented a comprehensive and integrated model for emotions and feelings that is intended to serve as a common concept for affective research. Together with over 170 researchers from more than 20 countries, Matthias Schroeter and his team from MPI CBS report in the journal "Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews" on, among other things, which brain regions are involved in social emotions.

"An open culture of welcome is essential for science"

Visit of Saxony’s premier Kretschmer at MPI CBS

How our brain evaluates options for decision making

In most decision-making situations we need to plan well ahead as values of choice options often change over time. How does our brain manage to make good predictions in such situations and select the best option for the future? Alexander Nitsch and Christian Doeller from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) investigated this together with Nicolas Schuck from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in their recent study published in Nature Communications.

Learning a second language is transforming the brain

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have unearthed fascinating evidence that the brain undergoes important changes in wiring when we embark on the journey of learning a new language in adulthood. They organized a large intensive German learning program for Syrian refugees and studied their brains using advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), uncovering dynamic modulations in the wiring of crucial language regions that enabled them to communicate and think in the new language.

Heart over head? Stages of the heart’s cycle affect neural responses

Optimal windows exist for action and perception between the two consecutive heart beats, according to a study published in PLOS Biology by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig. The sequence of heart contraction and relaxation is linked to changes in the motor system and its ability to respond to stimulation, and this could have implications for treatment of depression and stroke.  

How our brain processes language over time

"I'll have another coffee!" During an everyday conversation, listeners need to quickly and efficiently extract different types of information from what is being said in order to understand the message being conveyed. The complex process of language processing is controlled by the interaction between widely distributed regions in the brain. But how exactly do the processes in our language network work? In a multi-part study, Joëlle Schroën and her colleagues at the MPI CBS have found evidence of coordinated temporal interaction within the human language network.

Can we read minds spontaneously?

One of the most important human abilities is to understand what other people are thinking. The perspective of others seems to influence us even when it is completely irrelevant to us. Katrin Rothmaler and Charlotte Grosse Wiesmann from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig (MPI CBS) have now investigated in a study to what extent the perspective of others actually influences our thinking subliminally.

Brain development shapes the acquisition of native sounds

The human brain is not fully developed at birth. Above all, it is still quite slow. Rapid brain activity, and thus the ability to process fast signals, only matures in the first years of life. In a study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig (MPI CBS) have shown for the first time that the slowness of the baby brain is crucial for the course of language acquisition.

The menstrual rhythm of the brain

Central learning and memory hubs change in response to sex hormones. A new study in Nature Mental Health by Rachel Zsido and Julia Sacher of MPI CBS and the University of Leipzig Medical Center links rhythmic oscillations in ovarian hormone levels in women during the menstrual cycle to changes in brain structure.

Evolution of language-relevant brain areas uncovered

Language is one aspect that makes us human. Other animals can learn words or calls and communicate, but the ability to generate an infinite number of utterances based on a small number of syntactic rules is unique to humans. A team of researchers led by Angela Friederici from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, together with scientists from the Universities of Texas and Washington (USA), have now published a study in the journal PLOS Biology in which they directly compared the region in the human brain responsible for language with its homologous region in the chimpanzee brain using MRI data. The study shows that the area responsible for syntactic processes in humans is the result of a large expansion in the left hemisphere. Such expansion of Broca’s area in the brain during the course of evolution could be the root of humans' ability to speak.

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