Open scientists in the shoes of frustrated academics part I: Open-minded scepticism

Last week I was in Oslo, invited by the organising committee of Eurodoc2017, to give an introductory talk on Open Science [1]. One thing that became apparent during this two-day event was that, although irresistibly trendy, Open Science remains an elusive concept. Many continue to confuse Open Science with Open Access, not to mention that almost everyone still thinks Open Access is equivalent to publishing in open access journals. In this series of posts, I will discuss a few issues that will hopefully help clarify the meaning of Open Science, why is it important, and how individual scientists can make a difference.

Our two recent papers uncover a novel relation between neural and cardiac indices of enhanced attention in young athletes

In two recent papers, published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine, and in Scientific Reports, we showed that young athletes perform better in a sustained attention task compared to their sedentary counterparts. Interestingly, the benefits of exercise on attention are observed only during the first 30 minutes of the 1-hour task. After that, there are no differences in the performance of the two groups. We observe that during this enhanced attention period, athletes also exhibit significantly different EEG and heart period event-related potentials (ERPs). This novel finding points towards a previously unrecognised brain-heart interaction in the mediation of cognitive benefits induced by physical exercise. These interesting results on the role of regular exercise on attention have also attracted the attention of Spanish popular science journals.

Our new paper about stress in crisis managers published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine

In this recently published study we compared 30 experienced crisis managers with 30 managers from other disciplines, in terms of self-reported stress, health status and psychophysiological reactivity to crisis-related and non-specific visual and acoustic aversive stimuli and cognitive challenge. Crisis managers reported lower stress levels, a more positive strain-recuperation-balance, greater social resources, reduced physical symptoms, as well as more physical exercise and less alcohol consumption. They exhibited diminished electrodermal and heart rate responses to crisis-related and non-specific stressors.

The Laboratory for Network Physiology launches its official website

The Laboratory for Network Physiology directed by Plamen Ch. Ivanov recently launched its official website. Professor Ivanov, with whom I collaborate closely for the past six years, is leading a unique team of statistical physicists, neuroscientists, applied mathematicians and biomedical engineers that have as their mission to understand how organ systems dynamically interact and collectively behave as a network to produce health or disease. This coordinated effort proposes a new scientific field, Network Physiology, to probe the network of interactions among diverse physiologic systems.

Losing money is more stressful than bribing! Our new Frontiers article explores the physiology of corrupt behavior

In our recently article published in “Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience”, we show that high emotional arousal is not solely associated to unethical economic behavior —such as tax evasion— as previous research had revealed. Instead, people get emotionally aroused also when making ethical choices if these choices imply the loss of monetary reward. In other words, it seems to be more stressful for someone to lose money than to make an unethical decision that causes a loss of money to others. This means that, in certain circumstances, our bodies reward unethical decisions in order to minimise the unpleasant feeling produced by decisions that cost us money. This behavior is inverted when the possibility of punishment exists. In that case corrupt decisions become more stressful than ethical ones.