was an investigation of adult brain plasticity and whether we could reopen it through the use of a drug called valproic acid
. It's a mood-stabilizing drug. But we found that it also restores the plasticity of the brain
to a juvenile state. And during a two-week period on this pill or a controlled substance, a healthy cohort of young adult male subjects who were carefully screened not to have had musical experience early in life, they were asked to undertake a number of training tests online. And at the end of this two-week period, they were then tested on their ability to discriminate tones to see if the training had more effect than it normally would at this age."
: So, you actually gave people a pill and then you taught them to have perfect pitch
HENSCH: This is the result and it's quite remarkable, since there are no known reports of adults acquiring absolute pitch. [more inside]
The world's most extensive study of the drug trade has just been published in the medical journal BMJ Open, providing the first "global snapshot" of four decades of the war on drugs. To sum up their most important findings, the average purity of heroin and cocaine have increased, respectively, 60 percent and 11 percent between 1990 and 2007. Cannabis purity is up a whopping 161 percent over that same time. Not only are drugs way purer than ever, they're also way, way cheaper. Coke is on an 80 percent discount from 1990, heroin 81 percent, cannabis 86 percent. After a trillion dollars spent on the drug war, now is the greatest time in history to get high.
A new academic paper digging into presidential betting in the final weeks of the 2012 election finds that a single trader lost between $4 million and $7 million placing a flurry of Intrade bets on Mitt Romney—perhaps to make the Republican nominee’s chance of victory appear brighter. [more inside]
Online ‘Likes’ Herd Others to Similar Views
Researchers during the five-month study randomly altered the ratings of 101,000 comments. Those manipulated to be more positive were about one-third more likely than unaltered comments to receive a positive rating from the next viewer, and 30 percent more likely to achieve a high favorable rating. [more inside]
A layperson-friendly analysis
of a seminal (1100+ cites) study
on obesity that found no correlation between environment/upbringing and obesity, whilst finding very strong correlation between genetic heritage and obesity. To sum up: adopted children's body weight matches their biological parents, not their adoptive parents.
During the decade 2000-10 in the USA, for the first time the number of poor people in major metropolitan suburbs surpassed the number in cities. Between 2000 and 2011, the poor population in suburbs grew by 64% — more than twice the rate of growth in cities (29%). By 2011, almost 16.4 million residents in suburbia lived below the poverty line, outstripping the poor population in cities by almost 3 million people.
These are some of the grim findings of ‘Confronting Suburban Poverty in America’, a report by the Brookings Institution, and the implications of this report and its contents are that much more significant for Brookings is conservative in its outlook and advocacy. via
"Most American high schools are almost sadistically unhealthy places to send adolescents."
Does the "worst of adult America looks like high school because it’s populated by people who went to high school in America?" [more inside]
The American Assembly has released their much-anticipated and well-presented study on Copy Culture
. The random phone survey of 2303 Americans and 1000 Germans answers many questions about the demographics and public perception of file sharing and piracy. TorrentFreak pulls out some highlights
Why You Won’t Be the Person You Expect to Be (NYT)
: "When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same... They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.”" (via exp.lore) [more inside]
Tainted: Why Gay Men Still Can't Donate Blood
- "Since 1983, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines have disqualified men who have ever had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood... Uneven application of exclusion to at-risk individuals suggests that risk aversion disproportionately impacts MSMs. For example, a non-MSM individual who has had sexual contact with a commercial sex worker or HIV-positive partner is deferred for only twelve months... The fact that the U.S. upholds a lifetime ban on MSM donation while Australian policy allows MSM individuals to donate a year or less after contact reveals a glaring discrepancy. Both ethics and science point to a flaw in FDA policy. That I could have had sex with 365 partners this year and be a perfectly fine candidate for donating blood, while the MSM next to me wouldn't qualify, betrays a faulty line of logic." [more inside]
Flash cards are an effective study aid because they are founded on the principles of rote and memorization. With Flashcard Exchange
| Study Stack
and Flashcard Machine
, you can use web-based flashcard makers to create, share, export and print flashcards to assist your studying.
Younger Americans' Reading and Library Habits:
"The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has taken a special look at readers between the ages of 16 and 29... This report examines how they encounter and consume books in different formats. It flows out of a larger effort to assess the reading habits of all Americans ages 16 and older as e-books change the reading landscape and the borrowing services of libraries."
You can accurately judge a person just by looking at their shoes, psychologists say.
"Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person's shoes." Virginia Postrel responded
: "The study made a solid contribution to research on first impressions, but it was hardly earthshaking. By getting so much attention, however, it demonstrated a sociological truth: People love to talk about shoes. Even those who dismissed the research as silly often felt compelled to call radio stations or comment on websites, providing details about their own choices. Why this fascination with footwear? " [more inside]
In 2008, the National Journal
released The Hidden History of the American Electorate
, an analysis of exit poll demographics conducted by multiple news organizations from US presidential elections between 1988 and 2004. The study looked for "pressure points in the electorate": trends which were likely to decide the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. They've released an update for 2012, by adding exit poll results from the 1980, 1984, and 2008 presidential elections
. It gives a more comprehensive look at voting trends over a 32 year period of the groups whom they believe are likely to influence the outcome in November. Charts: Voting Preferences of the American Electorate, 1980-2008
Super-Resolution From a Single Image
presents interactive examples from a 2009 study of methods for increasing the resolution of digital images. [more inside]
Mangajin was created in the early 90's as a monthly English publication for students of the Japanese language. Unlike most text books that focused solely on teaching people Japanese through boring text, Mangajin was different in that it focused on showing readers a page of manga and then a page of English translations. As great of an idea that this sounds today, it didn't catch on in the 90's and Mangajin ended in 1996. Now manga in America is as popular as ever, which is why I have decided to put Mangajin onto this web site. Fans of Japanese manga and who are looking to learn Japanese will undoubtedly find Mangajin very useful!
Consumer Reports May 2012: What to reject when you're expecting
(10 procedures to think twice about during your pregnancy; 10 things you should do during your pregnancy; 5 things you should do before you become pregnant
). Mentioned in particular is the conclusion found in a federal study: Babies Take Longer To Come Out Than They Did In Grandma's Day
."One big implication: Today's obstetricians may be rushing to do cesarean sections too soon because they're using an out-of-date yardstick for how long a 'normal; labor should take... The definition of a 'normal' labor — the range of times when a woman in labor reaches certain milestones — was laid down in the 1950s. Contemporary obstetricians still use that 'labor curve.'"
"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets."
After an extensive
, months-long debate
, one of two controversial
papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published
today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research
" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed.
's special report
has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has released its analysis
of 17 de-classified documents captured during the Abbottabad raid where Osama Bin Laden was killed. They also released the documents themselves, available in the original Arabic as well as in English translation. A Pastebin version
of the English translations has been posted for easy searching.
...Failed Simulations & the Surprising Psychology of Impressiveness
: "Accomplishments that are hard to explain can be much more impressive than accomplishments that are simply hard to do", posits Cal Newport of Study Hacks
("Decoding Patterns of Success" - at work
, at school
). (via AskMeFi)
Also from the blog: The Passion Trap
("How the Search for Your Life’s Work is Making Your Working Life Miserable") and Beyond Passion
("The Science of Loving What You Do"). [more inside]
Light marijuana use doesn't harm lung function, study found
: "Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn't harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn't do the kind of damage tobacco does."
"Teens love text messages--and those texts may help them lose weight, if they're done right. A study tested out various types of weight management-themed text messages on overweight teens to see what they liked, finding that they favored positive messages but disliked thoughtful questions." [more inside]
"Researchers at McMaster University have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behaviour.
[...] To confirm that bacteria can influence behaviour, the researchers colonized germ-free mice with bacteria taken from mice with a different behavioural pattern. They found that when germ-free mice with a genetic background associated with passive behaviour were colonized with bacteria from mice with higher exploratory behaviour, they became more active and daring. Similarly, normally active mice became more passive after receiving bacteria from mice whose genetic background is associated with passive behaviour." [more inside]
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest prospective study of mental and physical well-being ever conducted. For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been following 824 individuals through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Designer Laura Javier
took ten of those cases and visualized them in the Elements of Happiness
. [via flowingdata]
The Beer Archaeologist.
"Biomolecular archaeologist" Dr. Patrick McGovern
has unearthed millennia-old
alcohol recipes and ancient medicinals
, "by analyzing residues in ancient pottery. Now he's working with brewer Sam Calagione, (of Discovery Channel's Brew Masters, (autoplaying video)
) whose pub Dogfish Head
serves up beers
based on recipes that are thousands of years old." (Via) [more inside]
a few articles discussing
Dr. Pessler's new study (.pdf)
. The researcher says that “food is the main cause of ADHD.”
One in every 8 babies born in the US is premature
. A new study (pdf/via)
published online Wednesday in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
indicates that vaginal progesterone gel can help women who are pregnant for the first time and at risk of premature birth extend their pregnancies, reduce potential complications and boost the health of their newborns
. [more inside]
Epidemiology: Study of a lifetime.
"In 1946, scientists started tracking thousands of British children born during one cold March week. On their 65th birthday
, the study members find themselves more scientifically valuable than ever before." [more inside]
The Like Log Study: [SLVimeo]
What can we learn from Facebook reactions to online news? Sortable statistics from a study on Facebook "Likes" of major news sites and stories.
Homelessness: Cutting out the middle men (Economist)
"The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them". [more inside]
What distinguishes great entrepreneurs?
"Discussions of entrepreneurial psychology typically focus on creativity, tolerance for risk, and the desire for achievement—enviable traits that, unfortunately, are not very teachable." So Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy (Caution, autoplaying video)
of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business created a case study to try to determine how they think, "with the goal of transferring that knowledge to aspiring founders." [more inside]
Invasive amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling (CVS) tests are commonly used to determine the chromosomal, structural and genetic abnormalities in fetuses. But could they eventually become obsolete? A Chinese study
has found that a complete copy of the fetal genome exists in the mother's blood, suggesting many prenatal diagnoses could potentially be performed noninvasively. [more inside]
From the NYT Economix
blog: Are good-looking people more likely to get jobs? That depends whether you’re talking about men or women, according to a new working paper
Job applicants in Europe and in Israel increasingly imbed a headshot of themselves in the top corner of their CVs. We sent 5,312 CVs in pairs to 2,656 advertised job openings. In each pair, one CV was without a picture while the second, otherwise almost identical CV contained a picture of either an attractive male/female or a plain-looking male/female. Employer callbacks to attractive men are significantly higher than to men with no picture and to plain-looking men, nearly doubling the latter group. Strikingly, attractive women do not enjoy the same beauty premium. In fact, women with no picture have a significantly higher rate of callbacks than attractive or plain-looking women. We explore a number of explanations and provide evidence that female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace is a primary reason for the punishment of attractive women.
The Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, has investigated in 2009 sexual practices in the USA. The results are reported in this month's Special Issue
of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. (The full text
is available behind a short anonymous online survey.) [more inside]
Albert Einstein once articulated what many scholars have felt in their own work:
The history of scientific and technical discovery teaches us the human race is poor in independent thinking and creative imagination. Even when the external and scientific requirements for the birth of an idea have long been there, it generally needs an external stimulus to make it actually happen; man has, so to speak, to stumble right up against the thing before the right idea comes.
The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University [html][pdf] [more inside]
is a free iPhone app that allows you to keep track of your happiness. It's also a research tool for London School of Economics scholars Susana Mourato
and George MacKerron
, who are using it to learn "how people's feelings are affected by features of their current environment—things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces
." [more inside]
In a pilot Phase II study
of PTSD sufferers with a median of 19 years since diagnosis, MDMA-assisted therapy resulted in 10 out of 12 patients no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria. [more inside]
What counts as sex?
A group of researchers at the University of Kentucky-Lexington, thinks that Bill Clinton’s famous assertion
that he “did not have sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky may be the reason so many young people today don’t consider oral sex to count as doing the deed.
The study "Sex Redefined: The Reclassification Of Oral-Genital Contact"PDF
which was conducted in 2007 and published this month in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, surveyed 477 students enrolled in a human sexuality course at a large state university about their views on sex. What they found was that only 20 percent of those students considered oral-genital contact to be sex, compared with nearly 40 percent of a similar group of students surveyed in 1991.