Clenching your muscles increases willpower

The next time you feel your willpower slipping as you pass that mouth-watering dessert case, tighten your muscles. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says firming muscles can shore up self-control.

Large gaps found in public understanding of climate change

Sixty-three percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why, according to a national study conducted by researchers at Yale University.

Happier to give than receive?

Is there a correlation between a nation’s contributions to international aid programs and the happiness of its citizens? According to a study of nine European donor countries, there is a direct relationship between the level of foreign aid and level of happiness in the UK and France but for other European countries there seems to be no link.

Study confirms: Whatever doesn’t kill us can make us stronger

We’ve all heard the adage that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but until now the preponderance of scientific evidence has offered little support for it. However, a new national multi-year longitudinal study of the effects of adverse life events on mental health has found that adverse experiences do, in fact, appear to foster subsequent adaptability and resilience, with resulting advantages for mental health and well being.

Babies treat “social robots” as sentient beings

Babies are curious about nearly everything, and they’re especially interested in what their adult companions are doing. Touch your tummy, they’ll touch their own tummies. Wave your hands in the air, they’ll wave their own hands. Turn your head to look at a toy, they’ll follow your eyes to see what’s so exciting.

Need a study break to refresh? Maybe not, say Stanford researchers

It could happen to students cramming for exams, people working long hours or just about anyone burning the candle at both ends: Something tells you to take a break. Watch some TV. Have a candy bar. Goof off, tune out for a bit and come back to the task at hand when you’re feeling better. After all, you’re physically exhausted.

One in five children meet criteria for a mental disorder across their lifetime

Mental disorders in children are often difficult to identify due to the myriad of changes that occur during the normal course of maturation. For the first time, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health have reported on the prevalence data on a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents, which show that approximately one in five children in the U.S. meet the criteria for a mental disorder severe enough to disrupt their daily lives.

ADHD more common in offspring of mothers with genetic serotonin deficiencies

Children whose mothers are genetically predisposed to have impaired production of serotonin appear more likely to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in life, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Faith-based interventions can encourage exercise in older African-American women

In a randomized controlled study based in Los Angeles, California, encouraging African-American women aged 60 or over to exercise, in conjunction with scripture reading and group prayer, led to a 78% increase in steps per week, equivalent to about three extra miles. This increase was four times greater than in the control group who were also encouraged to exercise but with no faith based interventions. The results are published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Serotonin uses specialized signaling pathway distinct from pathways used by N-methyltryptamines

Scripps Research Institute scientists have shown for the first time that the neurotransmitter serotonin uses a specialized signaling pathway to mediate biological functions that are distinct from the signaling pathways used by hallucinogenic substances. The new findings could have a profound effect on the development of new therapies for a number of disorders, including schizophrenia and depression.

A thirst for excitement is hidden in your genes

Sensation seeking—the urge to do exciting things—has been linked to dopamine, a chemical that carries messages in your brain. For a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, scientists analyzed genes in the dopamine system and found a group of mutations that help predict whether someone is inclined toward sensation seeking.