College students lack scientific literacy

Most college students in the United States do not grasp the scientific basis of the carbon cycle – an essential skill in understanding the causes and consequences of climate change, according to research published in the January issue of BioScience.

Evidence lacking for widespread use of costly antipsychotic drugs

Many prescriptions for the top-selling class of drugs, known as atypical antipsychotic medications, lack strong evidence that the drugs will actually help, a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and University of Chicago has found. Yet, drugs in this class may cause such serious effects as weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, and cost Americans billions of dollars.

Chemical signal in tears reduces sexual arousal in men

Emotional crying is a universal, uniquely human behavior. When we cry, we clearly send all sorts of emotional signals. In a paper published online today in Science Express, scientists at the Weizmann Institute have demonstrated that some of these signals are chemically encoded in the tears themselves. Specifically, they found that merely sniffing a woman’s tears – even when the crying woman is not present — reduces sexual arousal in men.

Faulty ‘off-switch’ stops children with ADHD from concentrating

Brain scans of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have shown for the first time why people affected by the condition sometimes have difficulty in concentrating. The study, by experts at The University of Nottingham, may explain why parents often say that their child can maintain concentration when they are doing something that interests them, but struggles with boring tasks.

Standing tall is key for success

Show enthusiasm, ask questions and bring copies of a resume. These are just a handful of the most common interview tips for job seekers, but a person’s posture may also be a deciding factor for whether they land a coveted position – even when the person on the other side of the desk is in a more powerful role.

Gesturing while talking helps change your thoughts

University of Chicago psychological scientists Sian Beilock and Susan Goldin-Meadow are bringing together two lines of research: Beilock’s work on how action affects thought and Goldin-Meadow’s work on gesture. After a chat at a conference instigated by Ed Diener, the founding editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, they designed a study together to look at how gesture affects thought.

Trust your gut… but only sometimes

When faced with decisions, we often follow our intuition—our self-described gut feelings—without understanding why. Our ability to make hunch decisions varies considerably: Intuition can either be a useful ally or it can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that the trustworthiness of our intuition is really influenced by what is happening physically in our bodies.

Soldiers with ‘positive outlook’ function better when they encounter traumatic situations

In the first combat-zone study of its kind, a research team led by Michigan State University found that soldiers with a positive outlook in the most traumatic situations were less likely to suffer health problems such as anxiety and depression. The study, which surveyed Army troops fighting in Iraq, could have implications for police officers, firefighters and others who regularly deal with traumatic events such as death.

Uncovering the neurobiological basis of general anesthesia

The use of general anesthesia is a routine part of surgical operations at hospitals and medical facilities around the world, but the precise biological mechanisms that underlie anesthetic drugs’ effects on the brain and the body are only beginning to be understood. A review article in the December 30 New England Journal of Medicine brings together for the first time information from a range of disciplines, including neuroscience and sleep medicine, to lay the groundwork for more comprehensive investigations of processes underlying general anesthesia.

Prevention of bad lifestyle habits should be tackled before 13 years of age

Bad eating habits, ingestion of alcohol, sedentary lifestyles – all unhealthy life habits that are already being detected in early adolescence and that are especially predominant amongst women and young people between the ages of 19 and 26. The prevention campaigns should take very much into consideration these groups at risk and even take into account those less than 13 years.