Long distance love affair

Smart womanWhat people believe they want and what they might actually prefer are not always the same thing. And in the case of being outperformed as an element of romantic attraction, the difference between genuine affinity and apparent desirability becomes clearer as the distance between two people gets smaller.

In matters of relative performance, distance influences attraction. For example, someone of greater intelligence seems attractive when they’re distant or far away in your mind. But less so when that same person is right next to you, according to a new study by a University at Buffalo-led research team published in the latest edition of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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Whether you are territorial, a girlfriend stealer or a cross-dresser, it’s in your genes

Whether you’re territorial, a girlfriend stealer, or a cross dresser – when it comes to finding a partner, scientists have discovered that for some birds it’s all in the genes.

Individual animals usually exhibit flexibility in their behaviour, but some behaviours are genetically determined.

Using genome sequencing, researchers from the University of Sheffield have now identified the genes that determine the striking mating behaviour of the males of a wading bird known as the ruff.

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Quiet ‘epidemic’ has killed half a million middle-aged white Americans

Despite advances in health care and quality of life, white middle-aged Americans have seen overall mortality rates increase over the past 15 years, representing an overlooked “epidemic” with deaths comparable to the number of Americans who have died of AIDS, according to new Princeton University research.

The results are published in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesfrom Anne Case, the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, and Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and professor of economics and international affairs.

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Determining accurate life expectancy of older adults requires provider, patient discussion

Health care providers must have detailed discussions with their older adult patients to better determine their true life expectancy, as older adults do not accurately predict their own prognosis, a key factor in making decisions about future health interventions, according to researchers at UC San Francisco and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Their research letter appears online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“We thought older people would have a good sense of how long they had to live and have better estimates than a prognostic calculator that is based on things like age, gender and chronic diseases,” said lead author Rafael Romo, PhD, RN, doctoral graduate in the UCSF School of Nursing and VA Quality Scholars Nurse Fellow at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, “but we were wrong.”

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Lack of exercise linked to alcohol misuse

A large-scale survey of African-American men and women found that those who rarely or never exercised had about twice the odds of abusing alcohol than those who exercised frequently, a finding that could have implications across all groups.

The survey of 5,002 African-American men and women found that those who did not engage in physical activity at all or only occasionally had nearly double the chance — between a 84 percent and 88 percent higher odds — of abusing alcohol than those who regularly engaged in some form of physical activity. This was after adjusting for demographic factors such as income and neighborhood characteristics.

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Dartmouth ‘inner GPS’ study may aid diagnosis of brain diseases

A new Dartmouth study sheds light on brain cells in our “inner GPS,” which may improve understanding of memory loss and wandering behavior in people with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The findings, which appear in the journal Current Biology, contribute to our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying our ability to navigate our environment. A PDF is available on request.

In recent decades, researchers have discovered brain cells that establish our location (place cells), direction (head direction cells) and paths through the environment (grid cells), and that together guide our navigation. Place cells and grid cells are part of the brain’s “inner GPS,” which tracks our location within the environment. Specifically, grid cells fire relative to multiple locations and form a repeating grid-like lattice that covers the entire environment.

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Selective media coverage may cause us to forget certain health facts

The health facts presented by mass media in the midst of a disease outbreak are likely to influence what we remember about the disease — new research suggests that the same mass media coverage may also influence the facts that we forget.

The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicate that personal anxiety and mass media coverage interact to determine what people remember about a disease.

“The starting point for our study was the exaggerated coverage of Ebola in 2014 despite the absence of any serious consequences in the United States,” says psychological scientist Alin Coman of Princeton University. “The common sense intuition is that in situations like these, in which health risks are exaggerated by the media, the audience pays more attention to the information presented.”

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The smell of death can trigger fight or flight in humans

New research from a team led by a psychologist at the University of Kent suggests that humans, like other species, can perceive certain scents as threatening.

Dr Arnaud Wisman, of the University’s School of Psychology, found that putrescine, the chemical produced by decaying tissue of dead bodies, can produce a fight-or-flight response in humans.

In four different experiments, people were exposed consciously and non-consciously to putrescine.

The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, show that putrescine can serve as a (non-conscious) signal that initiates threat management responses. The researchers found that even brief exposure to putrescine increases vigilance, followed by the readiness to either escape (flight), or engage in aggressive readiness (fight) when escape is not possible.

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