Maria de Sousa Award 2024

Applications are open until May 31
View more

Grants for Scientific Research 2024/2025

Applications are open until August 31
View more

Prémio BIAL de Medicina Clínica 2024

Applications are open until August 31
View more

BIAL Foundation

For 30 years awarding and supporting those who seek to advance in science and knowledge in Portugal and around the world.
View more

Latest News

Read the Highlights and our Science Stories
View more



About us

View more



Awards

View more



Grants

View more



Symposia

View more

News

Top Stories

The impact of after-death communication in bereavement

A study with 70 participants who experienced after-death communication with deceased partners reveals that the majority found it comforting and helpful in their bereavement.

Know more

Can experienced meditators voluntarily turn off their consciousness?

A study reveals that experienced meditators are able to voluntarily modulate their state of consciousness during meditation.

Know more

What do we remember from a movie varies with age?

Researchers evaluated how young adults and middle-aged recall detailed information from a movie after one week.

Know more

News

Does autosuggestion modulate our reality?

Autosuggestion posits that individuals can influence their own mental and physiological states through the repetition of a thought, a so-called suggestion. The research team led by Elena Azañón tested whether autosuggestion can alter participants’ somatosensory perception at the finger. In three separate experiments, participants were asked to modulate the perceived intensity of vibrotactile stimuli at the fingertip through the inner reiteration of the thought that this perception feels very strong (Experiment 1, n = 19) or very weak (Experiments 2, n = 38, and 3, n = 20), while they were asked to report the perceived frequency. Notably, an increase in the intensity of vibrotactile stimuli, keeping the frequency constant, can lead either to an increase or a decrease in its perceived frequency. Whereas the direction of this effect is different between people, it is usually constant within one individual and can therefore be used to test for the effect of autosuggestion in a within-subject design. It was observed that the task to change the perceived intensity of a tactile stimulus via the inner reiteration of a thought modulates tactile frequency perception. This study was conducted in the scope of the research project 296/18 - The power of mind: Altering cutaneous sensations by autosuggestion, supported by the BIAL Foundation, and published in the paper How the inner repetition of a desired perception changes actual tactile perception in the journal Scientific Reports.

Know more

Inter-individual differences in fear extinction

In the scope of the research project 85/18 - Role of NT3/TrkC in the regulation of fear, supported by the BIAL Foundation, Mónica Santos and colleagues, using a behavioural model of fear extinction, assessed mice that successfully extinguish fear and those that fail. Inter-individual differences in the ability to extinguish fear have a dual outcome: first on setting the vulnerability to develop anxiety and fear-related disorders, and second on determining the effectiveness of exposure therapy towards patients in this group of disorders. Indeed, fear extinction mechanisms that support exposure therapy principles are often impaired in patients with fear-related disorders. The formation of fear memories and their extinction is dependent on synaptic plasticity events occurring at amygdalar fear and extinction microcircuits. Using the aforesaid model, the team identified a key role for the NT3-TrkC system in fear extinction, through modulation of amygdalar NMDAR composition and synaptic plasticity. This study validates the TrkC pathway as a potential therapeutic target for individuals with fear-related disorders and reveals that combining exposure therapies with drugs that enhance synaptic plasticity may represent a more effective and lasting way of treating anxiety disorders. To know more read the paper The amygdala NT3-TrkC pathway underlies inter-individual differences in fear extinction and related synaptic plasticity published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Know more

The oxytocin’s (OT) role in human cognition

In the scope of the research project 292/16 - Oxytocin: On the psychophysiology of trust and cooperation, supported by the BIAL Foundation, the research team led by Diana Prata conducted a double-blind, between-subjects, placebo-controlled pharmaco-EEG aimed to test whether intranasal OT (inOT) affects the neural processing time-course of salience attribution processing of social stimuli (expressing fearfulness) and non-social stimuli (fruits) made relevant via monetary reinforcement. The main highlights of the study were: intranasal OT affected early ERPs regardless of (fearful) social or reward contexts; OT’s role in fear-related early salience attribution, may be social/reward-independent; the partially support the tri-phasic model of OT, which posits OT enhances salience attribution in an early perception stage regardless of socialness. To know more, read the paper Oxytocin modulates neural activity during early perceptual salience attribution published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Know more