May/June 2014 Scientific American MIND News Ticker

Prions, the proteins made famous for their role in mad cow disease, also become active when your brain forms a long-term memory. 

Baboons use different kinds of yawns to send a social signal of either aggression or friendliness. 

In a recent survey, 87 percent of respondents said they would zap their brain with electricity if it could enhance their performance at school or work. 

Nicotine is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that currently known.

Brain scans can predict a child’s future working memory, a capacity similar to a mental scratch pad, which in turn predicts academic success. 

Why are dogs so into us? According to one study, it boils down to their oxytocin receptor gene. 

Child prodigies differ from regular kids not in their IQ but in their astounding working memory.

Environmental toxins and pollutants appear to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

Keeping different sleep schedules on work days and days off, known as social jet lag, might be as disruptive as flying across time zones. 

To develop a child's social reasoning skills, try to pepper your speech with “thought words” such as know, forget, think and understand. 

Asian elephants will console a distressed fellow elephant by touching the other animal with their trunk and chirping.

Not all happy lives are meaningful: researchers suspect happiness is about getting what we want, but meaningfulness is rooted in giving, effort and sacrifice. 

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