News

Science Stories

 

It is our mission being accomplished. Since 1994, the BIAL Foundation has approved for funding 865 projects, involving more than 1700 researchers from 30 countries. There are three decades of support to Scientific Research Projects oriented towards the neurophysiological and mental study of the human being, in the areas of Psychophysiology and Parapsychology.

Discover the stories behind the science.

Science Stories

Is it possible to regulate the feeling of disgust by imaginary placebo pill intake?

A study compared the effects of a placebo pill and an imaginary pill in reducing visually induced disgust.

Know more

Web-based mindfulness intervention improves memory and attention in the elderly

A research team assessed cognitive, psychological and physiological outcomes of a mindfulness-based intervention in healthy older adults.

Know more

Identification of a molecule involved in fear extinction opens avenues for new therapies for anxiety

The discovery of mediator responsible for altering fear memories could contribute to the creation of new therapies for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Know more

Does blindness affect the way we perceive whether an emotion is authentic or posed?

The results showed that the late-blind participants performed worse in the assessment of emotional authenticity.

Know more

Ayahuasca-induced personal death subjective experiences

Researchers analysed studies on self-reported experiences related to the sensation of death during ayahuasca ceremonies.

Know more

Could we have psi abilities if our brains didn't inhibit them?

Research tests a novel neurobiological model and concludes that the frontal lobes of the brain act as a filter to inhibit humans' innate psi abilities.

Know more

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

Is gratitude good for the heart?

A study reveals that gratitude may buffer the negative physiological consequences of stress and overall improve cardiovascular outcomes.

Know more

People with more peace of mind are better at regulating emotions?

Research shows that people with higher levels of peace of mind are better at reinterpreting situations to regulate their emotions, rather than suppressing them.

Know more

Mother's stress during pregnancy can impact children’s sleep in childhood

Study shows that mothers' psychosocial stress during pregnancy has negative associations with their children's sleep that persist across childhood.

Know more

News

Grants for Scientific Research 2024/2025: applications are open until August 31

With the aim of encouraging research into the healthy human being, both from the physical and spiritual point of view, the BIAL Foundation now opens a new call for its Grants Programme for Scientific Research 2024/2025 in the areas of Psychophysiology and Parapsychology.

Know more

Prémio BIAL de Medicina Clínica 2024: applications are open until August 31

Applications are now open for the 21st edition of the Prémio BIAL de Medicina Clínica. The deadline for applications is August 31.

Know more

Maria de Sousa Award 2024: applications are open until May 31

The Maria de Sousa Award aims to award and support young Portuguese researchers, aged 35 or under, with scientific projects in Health Sciences.

Know more

BIAL Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary

Today, the BIAL Foundation celebrates 30 years of patronage activity in three areas with the aim of stimulating new discoveries and contributing to the improvement of human life.

Know more

Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship 2023 already has a winner

João Moura, a student in the doctoral programme in ICBAS, is the winner of the 2nd edition of the Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship with a research project on encephalitis.

Know more

14th "Behind and Beyond the Brain" Symposium: registrations now open

Registrations are now open for the 14th "Behind and Beyond the Brain" Symposium, which will debate the theme of "Creativity", from 3 to 6 April, in Porto.

Know more

Effects of a web-based mindfulness intervention

In the scope of the research project 104/18 - Effect of mindfulness on EEG brain activity for cognitive and psychological well-being in the elderly, led by Samantha Galluzzi, the research team aimed to assess both short and long-term cognitive, psychological, and physiological outcomes of an adapted 8-week mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) delivered through live web-based videoconferencing among a group of healthy older adults. The findings, published in BMC Geriatrics, in the article Cognitive, psychological, and physiological effects of a web-based mindfulness intervention in older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: an open study indicate that participants improved in various domains, including verbal memory, attention switching and executive functions, interoceptive awareness, and rumination both pre-to-post MBI and at 6-month follow-up (T6). Notably, the most significant changes, with medium effect sizes, were observed in immediate verbal memory and self-regulation in interoceptive awareness, and these improvements were sustained at T6. Furthermore, the study revealed changes in EEG alpha1 and alpha2 activity modulation, which correlated with improvements in attention switching, executive function and rumination.

Know more

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

The perception of visual motion

Everyday interactions with the environment require a correct estimation of both self- and object- motion velocities. Perception of object-motion speed is essential to approach or avoid them properly. In many circumstances, object-motion perception is complicated by concomitant self-motion. One of the main challenges for the visual system is to determine the source of the movement that generates the flow pattern: self-motion, object-motion, or their combination. Thus, the research team led by Valentina Sulpizio aimed to establish (1) the sensitivity of several motion-related cortical regions (egomotion regions) to different visually induced motion conditions, including both self- and object-displacements and a combination of them; and (2) whether the activity of these regions was affected by the velocity of both self- and object-motion, thus providing new insight into their role in discriminating between different self- and object-motion velocities. A differentiated profile emerged among the egomotion regions (cingulate sulcus visual area, posterior cingulate sulcus area, posterior insular cortex [PIC], V6+, V3A, IPSmot/VIP, and MT+) during a visual motion stimulation including self- and object-displacements and a combination of them. All the egomotion regions (except area PIC) responded to all the possible combinations of self- and object-motion and were further modulated by the self-motion velocity. Interestingly, only MT+, V6+, and V3A were further modulated by object-motion velocities, hence reflecting their possible role in discriminating between distinct velocities of self- and object-motion. These findings are detailed in the paper Neural sensitivity to translational self- and object-motion velocities published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, in the scope the research project 24/20 - World-relative object motion: How the brain detects object motion while we are moving, supported by the BIAL Foundation.

Know more

Luís Portela honoured with Prémio Universidade de Lisboa

Luís Portela was awarded in recognition of the "social impact, innovative personality, unique entrepreneurship and visionary leadership".

Know more

Looking for collaboration

The quest of physiological markers for the experience of pain

Researcher: Elia Valentini - Department of Psychology & Centre for Brain Science, University of Essex Summary: The aim of this project is to improve measurement of the human experience of pain by investigating a combination of psychophysical and physiological responses during mild noxious stimulation. More specifically, we want to investigate how sensitive and specific to pain the brain oscillatory responses are. We use EEG as the main technique, but we are keen to collaborate with neuroscientists using fMRI, autonomic measures and brain stimulation as well as with computational neuroscientists. A clinical collaborator would also be very much welcome.

Know more

EEG investigation of hypnosis and decision-making

Researcher: Rinaldo Livio Perri - University Niccolò Cusano Rome, Italy Summary: I work in the field of hypnosis and cognitive neuroscience. In particular, I adopt the event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the effect of the hypnotic suggestions on sensory processing and cognitive performance. I am an expert in decision-making and proactive brain processes before the stimulus administration (e.g., the perceptual, prefrontal and premotor readiness during the expectancy stage). I could help colleagues to properly analyze the ERP signal in the pre-stimulus stage of processing. Also, I would be happy to share my EEG data for re-analyzing them in the frequency domain (e.g., wavelet or coherence analysis in the hypnosis research). Feel free to contact me for any question! More information on my papers: https://scholar.google.it/citations?user=-8e_V64AAAAJ&hl=it Possible collaborations: neuroscientist with experience in the EEG frequency analysis Email: perri.rinaldo@gmail.com

Know more

Transparent Psi Project - looking for collaborators

Summary: We are running a fully transparent, expert consensus-base multilab replication of Bem’s (2011) experiment 1. The project features state of the art methods to maximize transparency and study integrity. The study involves a computerized experiment taking about 20 minutes per session. Group testing is possible in a computer lab, no specialized equipment needed. Labs are expected to recruit at least 100 participants. Participants will be exposed to images with explicit erotic/sexual content in the experiment. No financial compensation is required for the participants. Data collection is expected to take place in the 2020 fall semester. Every material is provided for ethics/IRB submissions and data collection in English (translation of materials might be necessary by the collaborators). The study is pre-registered and the manuscript is accepted in principle for publication in the journal Royal Society Open Science. All collaborators who meet the minimum sample size criterion will get authorship on this paper reporting the results of the replication study. More information in the preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/uwk7y/ Indicate interest in the collaboration via the following form: https://tinyurl.com/tpp-labs With any question contact the lead investigator: Dr. Zoltan Kekecs, kekecs.zoltan@gmail.com

Know more

Cognitive control and learning

Researcher: Ignacio Obeso, Ph.D. / CINAC - HM Puerta del Sur Summary: The aim of our projects is to understand the behavioral and neural mechanisms used to learn how humans establish adaptive behaviour in changing contexts. More specifically, we want to decipher how stopping abilities are initially learned and later executed under automatic control. We use task-related fMRI, brain stimulation and clinical models to test our predictions in laboratory settings as well as online home-based paradigms. Possible collaborations: computational scientist Email contact: i.obesomartin@gmail.com https://iobesomartin.wixsite.com/cognitivecontrol

Know more