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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 almost three decades of financial 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

Ayahuasca-induced personal death subjective experiences

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Is gratitude good for the heart?

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

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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.

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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.

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Do robots have to be human-like for us to trust them?

Recently published research assessed human trust when collaborating with eyed and non-eyed robots of the same type.

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What do near-death experiences and psychedelic experiences have in common?

Researchers analysed the similarities and differences between a near-death experience and the experience induced by a psychedelic drug.

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What interferes the most with our short-term memory?

Researchers performed experiments to explore the effects of changing-state vibrotactile sequences on short-term memory.

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Can childhood trauma cause insomnia in adults?

Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences result in more dysfunctional ways of shame coping and increase the severity of insomnia in adulthood.

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News

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.

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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".

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BIAL Award in Biomedicine 2023 distinguishes pioneering research in brain cancer

A team led by researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, won the BIAL Award in Biomedicine with a work focused on cancer neuroscience.

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President of the Republic honours the BIAL Foundation on its 30th anniversary

On 20th February, the President of the Republic conferred the insignia of Honorary Member of the Order of Merit upon the BIAL Foundation.

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The influence of environmental spatial references on vestibular self-motion

While navigating through the surroundings, we constantly rely on inertial vestibular signals for self-motion along with visual and acoustic spatial references from the environment. However, the interaction between inertial cues and environmental spatial references is not yet fully understood. To address this, Elisa Ferrè, principal investigator of research project 41/20 - Luminous dancing fairies in weightlessness: How gravity shapes conscious experiences, supported by the BIAL Foundation, aimed to investigate the influence of environmental visual and auditory spatial references on vestibular self-motion. A Vestibular Self-Motion Detection Task was administered to twenty-six healthy participants in which they were asked to detect brief self-motion sensations induced by low-intensity Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS). Participants performed this task either with or without a visual or acoustic spatial reference positioned directly in front of them. Results showed that the visual spatial reference increased sensitivity to detect vestibular self-motion. Conversely, the acoustic spatial reference did not influence self-motion sensitivity. This seems to suggest a specific interaction between visual and vestibular systems in self-motion perception. More information available in the paper Spatial Sensory References for Vestibular Self-Motion Perception published in the journal Multisensory Research.

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BIAL Award in Biomedicine 2023: award ceremony

The winning work of the BIAL Award in Biomedicine 2023, selected from 70 nominations, will be announced on February 20, 2024, at 6 p.m.

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The interplay between rhythm and motor skills

São Luís Castro, principal investigator of the research project 304/14 - The impact of music training on reading and mathematical abilities of normal and reading disabled children: a behavioral and neuroimaging longitudinal study, supported by the BIAL Foundation, aimed to study the interplay between rhythm and motor skills in the context of music training, at behavioral and brain levels. In a longitudinal study with children, it was explored whether the ability to perceive or reproduce rhythm (predisposition) modulates the motor improvements associated with music training, and identified brain regions implicated in the putative links between rhythm and motor learning. Fifty-seven 8-year-old children participated in a longitudinal study where they completed rhythm and motor tasks, as well as structural MRI scans before and after a 6-month music training (n= 21) or a sports program (n= 18), or no specific training (passive control group, n = 18). It was found that music training improved motor performance (and also rhythm), and that the magnitude of the improvement depended on the ability to perceive rhythm before training (i.e., better rhythm predisposition, more significant improvements). Music training also induced a loss of gray matter volume in the left cerebellum and fusiform gyrus, and volume loss correlated with higher motor gains. No such effects were found in the sports and control groups. These findings are presented in the paper Individual differences in rhythm perception modulate music‑related motor learning: a neurobehavioral training study with children published in Scientific Reports.

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How do blind individuals perceive emotional authenticity?

In the scope of the research project 148/18 - Voice perception in the visually deprived brain: Behavioral and electrophysiological insights, supported by the BIAL Foundation, the research team, led by Tatiana Conde, aimed to explore how blind individuals perceive emotional authenticity. Combining behavioural and ERP measures it was investigated authenticity perception in laughter and crying in individuals early-blind (n = 17) late-blind (n = 17), and sighted control participants (n = 51). Behaviourally, early-blind and sighted participants performed similarly well in emotional authenticity perception, but the late-blind group performed worse than sighted controls. In brain responses, all groups were sensitive to laughter authenticity at the P2 stage, and to crying authenticity at the early LPP stage. Nevertheless, only early-blind participants were sensitive to crying authenticity at the N1 and middle LPP stages, and to laughter authenticity at the early LPP stage. Furthermore, early-blind and sighted participants were more sensitive than late-blind ones to crying authenticity at the P2 and late LPP stages. Altogether, these findings suggest that prolonged visual deprivation with late-onset impairs the processing of emotional authenticity. For more information read the paper Blindness influences emotional authenticity perception in voices: Behavioral and ERP evidence published in the journal Cortex.

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Maria de Sousa Award 2024: applications are open

Applications are now open for the Maria de Sousa Award 4th edition - 2024, promoted by the Portuguese Medical Association and the BIAL Foundation.

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Prémio BIAL de Medicina Clínica 2024: applications are open

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

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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.

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Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship 2023: applications are open

Applications are now open for the Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship 2023, worth €25,000. Candidates must, at the time of application submission, be enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Medical Sciences at the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS). The applications are open until January 19, 2024.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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