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Pea-sized region of the brain linked to pessimism

A tiny part of the brain could play a part in a pessimistic outlook and teach people to expect the worst, scientists believe.

A tiny part of the brain known as the habenula could make people pessimistic. Credit: PA

The habenula, an evolutionarily ancient part of the brain half the size of a pea, plays an important role in learning from bad experiences research from University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience has found.

In some people, they think an over-active habenula may be linked to depression, pessimism and a negative outlook.

Lead researcher Dr Jonathan Roiser said: "The habenula tracks our experiences, responding more the worse something is expected to be."

He added: "In this study we showed that the habenula doesn't just express whether something leads to negative events or not; it signals quite how much bad outcomes are expected."

Dr Roiser said the findings, published in the latest edition of the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, may point the way towards new treatments.


Mystery 'blob' emitting cosmic rays discovered

Scientists have found an unusual "hot spot" centered just below the best-known star constellation visible from Earth, the Plough, which could help explain a decades-long mystery.

The 'blob', situated two hand-widths below the "handle" of the Plough, an arrangement of seven stars within the Great Bear constellation, may shed new light on the origin of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, scientists said.

This map, created by the University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, shows where the "hot spot" is in the northern sky. Credit: PA

While lower energy cosmic rays come from stars, the origin of the highest energy rays still cannot be fully explained.

"All we see is a blob in the sky, and inside this blob there is all sorts of stuff - various types of objects that could be the source," said US astronomer Professor Gordon Thomson, from the University of Utah.

"Now we know where to look," added Prof Thomson.

Scientists: The answer to string 'spontaneously' knotting

Scientists have shown that cable roughly the length of a set of headphones cannot help but tangle itself into a knot.

Experiments carried out by school pupils in Coventry, proved that the longer the length of a piece of string, the more likely it was to form a knot, if jangled at random.

Scientists have proved that after a day of being at the bottom of your bag, headphone cable will weave itself into a knot. Credit: PA

But Robert Matthews, a physicist at Aston University, Birmingham, has come up with a solution after formally testing the theory with the help of pupils from Coundon Court school, near Coventry, who carried out 12,000 tests.

"Simply clipping together the two ends of the cords makes the cable less likely to form a knot, saving the frustration of having to untangle it before plugging in," he told The Times.

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