Music makes beer taste better

Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. CREDIT Dr. Felipe Reinoso Cavalho

Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
CREDIT: Dr. Felipe Reinoso Cavalho

Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Their findings suggest that a range of multisensory information, such as sound, sensation, shape and color, can influence the way we perceive taste.

The Brussels Beer Project collaborated with UK band The Editors to produce a porter-style beer that took inspiration from the musical and visual identity of the band.

The ale had a medium body and used an Earl Grey infusion that produced citrus notes, contrasting with the malty, chocolate flavors from the mix of grains used in production. This taste profile was designed to broadly correspond to The Editors latest album, ‘In Dreams’.

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Selfie righteous: New tool corrects angles and distances in portraits

Princeton researchers invented a tool that corrects distortions in "selfie" photographs, which often present a skewed sense of noses, foreheads and ears. Animated .gifs showing original and modified images are available at http://www.princeton.edu/engineering/news/archive/?id=16974 CREDIT: Image courtesy Ohad Fried/Princeton University

Princeton researchers invented a tool that corrects distortions in “selfie” photographs, which often present a skewed sense of noses, foreheads and ears. Animated .gifs showing original and modified images are available at http://www.princeton.edu/engineering/news/archive/?id=16974
CREDIT: Image courtesy Ohad Fried/Princeton University

Ever taken a selfie? Around the world, people snap tens of millions of these self-portraits every day, usually with a mobile device held at arm’s length. For all their raging popularity, though, selfies can often be misrepresentative, even unflattering. Due to the camera’s proximity, selfies render subjects’ noses larger, ears smaller and foreheads more sloping.

To tackle this issue, as well as explore the basic science of digital photo manipulation, Princeton researchers have unveiled a new method for transforming individual selfies. The method can modify a person’s face to look as though it were photographed from farther away, like at the distances opted for by professional photographers. The editing tool can also alter someone’s apparent pose, as if the camera were placed higher, lower, or at an angle. When superimposed, images adjusted in this manner can further be used to generate 3-D head shots. Down the road, the researchers said, it may even be possible to make “live” photos that seem to move uncannily, like the portraits hanging in the Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter franchise.

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Lack of sleep increases a child’s risk for emotional disorders later

Clinical psychologist Candice Alfano is the director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston, a clinical research center at the University of Houston focused on helping children, adolescents and adults manage and overcome their sleep and emotion-related problems. CREDIT: Thomas Campbell

Clinical psychologist Candice Alfano is the director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston, a clinical research center at the University of Houston focused on helping children, adolescents and adults manage and overcome their sleep and emotion-related problems.
CREDIT: Thomas Campbell

When asked how lack of sleep affects emotions, common responses are usually grumpy, foggy and short-tempered. While many jokes are made about how sleep deprivation turns the nicest of people into a Jekyll and Hyde, not getting enough shut-eye can lead to far more serious consequences than irritability, difficulty concentrating and impatience.

Candice Alfano, a clinical psychologist and associate psychology professor at the University of Houston, says children who experience inadequate or disrupted sleep are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders later in life. Funded by a grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the study seeks to determine the precise ways inadequate sleep in childhood produces elevated risk for emotional disorders in later years.

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Breastfeeding associated with better brain development and neurocognitive outcomes

Mother breast feeding her baby

A new study, which followed 180 pre-term infants from birth to age seven, found that babies who were fed more breast milk within the first 28 days of life had had larger volumes of certain regions of the brain at term equivalent and had better IQs, academic achievement, working memory, and motor function.

The findings were published online Friday, July 29, in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“Our data support current recommendations for using mother’s milk to feed preterm babies during their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization. This is not only important for moms, but also for hospitals, employers, and friends and family members, so that they can provide the support that’s needed during this time when mothers are under stress and working so hard to produce milk for their babies,” says Mandy Brown Belfort, MD, a researcher and physician in the Department of Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lead author.

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Certain type of training can improve driving skills of older adults

Senior driverOlder drivers can see their driving abilities improve by participating in certain types of training that improves the brain’s processing speed and how the mind reacts when attention is divided, according to a new study by a researcher from the University of South Florida and colleagues from several other universities.

The research team designed a study to assess the effects of cognitive “speed of processing” training (SPT) among older adult drivers and determined that training not only improved mental quickness and attention, but also had the potential to help prevent declines in a range of driving skills (driving mobility) among older drivers.

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Replication project investigates self-control as limited resource

Self ControlA new research replication project, involving 24 labs and over 2100 participants, failed to reproduce findings from a previous study that suggested that self-control is a depletable resource.

The findings are published as part of a Registered Replication Report in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Over the last twenty years, numerous studies have provided evidence supporting the idea that our capacity for self-control is finite – using self-control on one task reduces an individual’s ability to exert self-control on a subsequent task. But recent analyses have challenged the strength of this so-called ego depletion effect.

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Dull and dirty: Your workplace could affect brain function

Dirty Construction Site. Building Remodeling in Progress.

A new study by a Florida State University researcher shows that both a lack of stimulation in the workplace and a dirty working environment can have a long-term cognitive effect on employees.

“Psychologists say that the brain is a muscle, while industrial hygienists point to chemicals in the work environment that may cause decline,” said Joseph Grzywacz, the Norejane Hendrickson Professor of Family and Child Sciences and lead researcher on the study.

“There are real things in the workplace that can shape cognitive function: some that you can see or touch, and others you can’t. We showed that both matter to cognitive health in adulthood.”

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Come on baby, (re)light my fire

CoupleMany couples find that their sexual desire has dwindled over time. It’s not unusual for partners who could not keep their hands off each to gradually lose interest. But new research indicates that there are ways that couples can sustain–or relight–their passion.

“Our research shows that partners who are responsive to each other outside the bedroom are able to maintain their sexual desire,” says Gurit Birnbaum, psychology professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. Birnbaum and her coauthors also found that women’s desire is more strongly affected by their partner’s responsiveness than men’s desire–although men report a boost, as well.

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When it comes to empathy, don’t always trust your gut

EmpathyIs empathy the result of gut intuition or careful reasoning? Research published by the American Psychological Association suggests that, contrary to popular belief, the latter may be more the case.

“Cultivating successful personal and professional relationships requires the ability to accurately infer the feelings of others – that is, to be empathically accurate. Some are better at this than others, a difference that may be explained in part by mode of thought,” said Jennifer Lerner, PhD, of Harvard University, a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Until now, however, little was known about which mode of thought, intuitive versus systematic, offers better accuracy in perceiving another’s feelings.”

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After-hours email expectations negatively impact employee well-being

Professor Belkin is a coauthor of a study, described in an article entitled "Exhausted, but unable to disconnect: the impact of email-related organizational expectations on work-family balance" -- the first to identify email-related expectations as a job stressor along with already established factors such as high workload, interpersonal conflicts, physical environment or time pressure. CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Lehigh University

Professor Belkin is a coauthor of a study, described in an article entitled “Exhausted, but unable to disconnect: the impact of email-related organizational expectations on work-family balance” — the first to identify email-related expectations as a job stressor along with already established factors such as high workload, interpersonal conflicts, physical environment or time pressure.
CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Lehigh University

Earlier this year, France passed a labor reform law that banned checking emails on weekends. New research–┬ápresented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management–suggests other countries might do well to follow suit, for the sake of employee health and productivity.

A new study–authored by Liuba Belkin of Lehigh University, William Becker of Virginia Tech and Samantha A. Conroy of Colorado State University–finds a link between organizational after-hours email expectations and emotional exhaustion, which hinders work-family balance. The results suggest that modern workplace technologies may be hurting the very employees that those technologies were designed to help.

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