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Natural vs transformed

«It can be considered an instance of ‘embodiment’ in which our brain interacts with our body». This is the comment made by Raffaella Rumiati, neuroscientist at SISSA in Trieste, on the results of research carried out by her group which reveals that the way we process different foods changes in accordance with our body mass index. With two behavioural and electroencephalographic experiments, the study demonstrated that people of normal weight tend to associate natural foods such as apples with their sensory characteristics such as sweetness or softness.

What happens when people hear voices that others don’t

People who hear voices — both with and without a diagnosed psychotic illness — are more sensitive than other subjects to a 125-year-old experiment designed to induce hallucinations. And the subjects’ ability to learn that these hallucinations were not real may help pinpoint those in need of psychiatric treatment, suggests a new Yale-led study published Aug. 11 in the journal Science. The research has been carried out by Philip Corlett and Al Powers, Yale University, and Chris Mathys, SISSA.

How to move objects at the nanoscale

To move a nanoparticle on the surface of a graphene sheet, you won’t need a “nano-arm”: by applying a temperature difference at the ends of the membrane, the nanocluster laying on it will drift from the hot region to the cold one. In addition, contrary to the laws ruling the world at the macroscale, the force acting on the particle – the so-called thermophoretic force – should not decrease as the sheet length rises, sporting a so-called ballistic behavior.

People with autism are less surprised by the unexpected

Dr Rebecca Lawson and Professor Geraint Rees from UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, and Dr Christoph Mathys from SISSA found that adults with autism were less surprised by unexpected images in a simple learning task than adults without autism, and those who were the least surprised had the most pronounced symptoms. The results suggests that differences in how people with autism build visual expectations may link to social difficulties. The study shed new light on our understanding of how people with autism see the world differently.

Ex SISSA student awarded by European Physical Society

Her work tools are paper, pen and a whiteboard to use «when she needs to share ideas with others, discuss problems and look for solutions». Computers? «Yes, sometimes». Laura Foini fills everything with formulas and calculations – what is needed to study «systems out of equilibrium, my research sector, encompassed by the environment of statistical physics». It is a field in which this young researcher, born in 1984 in Brescia province, excels.

Flashes of light on the dark matter

A web that passes through infinite intergalactic spaces, a dense cosmic forest illuminated by very distant lights and a huge enigma to solve. These are the picturesque ingredients of a scientific research – carried out by an international team composed of researchers from the International School for Adavnced Studies (SISSA) and the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, the Institute of Astronomy of Cambridge and the University of Washington – that adds an important element for understanding one of the fundamental components of our Universe: