Can’t resist temptation? That may not be a bad thing

TemptationResearchers from the University of Rochester suggest that children raised in poverty may have been mistakenly labeled as “maladapted” for what appears to be a lack of self-control. The new study finds that what looks like selfishness may actually be beneficial behavior that’s based on a child’s environmental context–that is to say, from being raised in a resource-poor environment.

The classic 1970s “marshmallow tests” assessed impulse control in preschoolers. Children were given a choice to take a single marshmallow immediately, or to wait several minutes and earn two of the puffy treats as a reward. Children who displayed an apparent lack of self-control–demonstrated by taking the single treat–were deemed “maladapted.” Follow-up studies identified children who are raised in poverty are far less likely to postpone such sweet temptations than their economically better-off counterparts.

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Couples study ties anger to heart problems, stonewalling to back pain

photodune-12526040-couple-arguing-xsIf you rage with frustration during a marital spat, watch your blood pressure. If you keep a stiff upper lip, watch your back.

New research from the University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University, based on how couples behave during conflicts, suggests outbursts of anger predict cardiovascular problem.

Conversely, shutting down emotionally or “stonewalling” during conflict raises the risk of musculoskeletal ailments such as a bad back or stiff muscles.

“Our findings reveal a new level of precision in how emotions are linked to health, and how our behaviors over time can predict the development of negative health outcomes,” said UC Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson, senior author of the study.

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Running barefoot improves working memory

Barefoot running on beach.Running barefoot is better than running with shoes for your working memory, according to a new study published by researchers at the University of North Florida.

The experiment, designed by lead researcher Dr. Ross Alloway, undertaken with Dr. Tracy Alloway, associate professor, both from the Department of Psychology at UNF, and Dr. Peter Magyari, associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Applied Movement Sciences at UNF, is the first to show that running barefoot leads to better cognitive performance than running with shoes.

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Men who can tell a good story are seen as more attractive and higher status

Man whispering to wifeStories can change how we think about the world, about the people they describe, and even ourselves. According to new research, they also influence our attitude to the storyteller, writes Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) for the BPS Research Digest.

An article published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that people portrayed as stronger storytellers are considered as higher status than those that aren’t – and this status can make them more romantically attractive, at least in the eyes of women. Cue editing of Tinder bios across the globe.

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Magic mushroom compound psilocybin could provide new avenue for antidepressant research

mushrooms laboratory analysisPsilocybin – a hallucinogenic compound derived from magic mushrooms – may offer a possible new avenue for antidepressant research, according to a new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry today.

The small feasibility trial, which involved 12 people with treatment-resistant depression, found that psilocybin was safe and well-tolerated and that, when given alongside supportive therapy, helped reduce symptoms of depression in about half of the participants at 3 months post-treatment. The authors warn that strong conclusions cannot be made about the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin but the findings show that more research in this field is now needed.

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How our emotions affect store prices

Shopping clothes on stall at the bazaarLet’s say you’ve just found a nice jacket in a store and are deciding whether to buy it. It’s a little pricey, so should you wait and hope it goes on sale in the future? Perhaps. Then again, the jacket might go out of stock before that happens, and you might never acquire it at all. Is it worth paying more now to avoid that feeling of regret?

For many people, evidently, it is. And as a paper co-authored by an MIT scholar suggests, not only do consumers tend to buy goods partly to avoid that feeling of regret, but some retailers fail to notice this behavioral quirk and thus miss an opportunity to increase their revenues.

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Relationship satisfaction depends on the mating pool, study finds

loversRelationship satisfaction and the energy devoted to keeping a partner are dependent on how the partner compares with other potential mates, a finding that relates to evolution’s stronghold on modern relationship psychology, according to a study at The University of Texas at Austin.

When it comes to mating, people choose partners whose collective qualities most closely reflect what they would prefer in an ideal mate. They prioritize from an array of traits such as intelligence, health, kindness, attractiveness, dependability and financial prospects.

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Mouse study finds link between gut bacteria and neurogenesis

This visual abstract depicts the findings of Möhle et al., which show the impact of prolonged antibiotic treatment on brain cell plasticity and cognitive function. They were able to rescue the decrease in neurogenesis by probiotic treatment, physical exercise, or transfer of Ly6Cpos monocytes. They propose that the Ly6Chi population is crucial for brain homeostasis and plasticity. CREDIT: Möhle et al./Cell Reports 2016

This visual abstract depicts the findings of Möhle et al., which show the impact of prolonged antibiotic treatment on brain cell plasticity and cognitive function. They were able to rescue the decrease in neurogenesis by probiotic treatment, physical exercise, or transfer of Ly6Cpos monocytes. They propose that the Ly6Chi population is crucial for brain homeostasis and plasticity.
CREDIT: Möhle et al./Cell Reports 2016

“We found prolonged antibiotic treatment might impact brain function,” says senior author Susanne Asu Wolf of the Max-Delbrueck-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. “But probiotics and exercise can balance brain plasticity and should be considered as a real treatment option.”

Wolf first saw clues that the immune system could influence the health and growth of brain cells through research into T cells nearly 10 years ago. But there were few studies that found a link from the brain to the immune system and back to the gut.

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Grill with caution: Wire bristles from barbecue brushes can cause serious injuries

David Chang, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology at the MU School of Medicine. CREDIT: MU Health

David Chang, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology at the MU School of Medicine.
CREDIT: MU Health

While many people view Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of the summer grilling season, they may not be aware of the dangers of eating food cooked on grills cleaned with wire-bristle brushes. A new study conducted at the University of Missouri School of Medicine identified more than 1,600 injuries from wire-bristle grill brushes reported in emergency rooms since 2002.

Loose bristles can fall off the brush during cleaning and end up in the grilled food, which, if consumed, can lead to injuries in the mouth, throat and tonsils. Researchers advise individuals to inspect their food carefully after grilling or consider alternative grill-cleaning methods.

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New study suggests rethink of dementia causes

photodune-8331416-dementia-xs

University of Adelaide researchers have developed a new theory for the causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, involving an out-of-control immune system.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the researchers have assembled strong evidence that the neurological decline common to these diseases is caused by ‘auto-inflammation’, where the body’s own immune system develops a persistent inflammatory response and causes brain cells to die.

“Dementia, including the most common form Alzheimer’s Disease, and related neurodegenerative conditions are dramatically rising in frequency as people live longer and our population ages,” says study lead Professor Robert Richards, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences. “Australia is predicting that by 2050 there will be almost double the number of people with dementia, and the United States similarly says there will be twice as many.

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