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December 17, 2012 at 12:39 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

The Mind Science Round-Up: Dec 1-15, 2012

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

Hey, Mindfull readers!

I’m trying something new and if you people like it, I’ll make it a regular thing.

I’ve been digging through Science Daily’s Mind Science trenches, pulling out the best of the many, many, MANY  (*wipes forehead* Whew! No joke!) new studies being published so that you, my fellow science nerds, don’t have to.

These are my favorite finds.

DEC. 12: Nature, Hiking, and Removal from Technology Boosts Creativity By 50%!

The Gist: There have been many studies conducted before on the benefits of nature for our mental health (as detailed in a previous blog I wrote, "Ecotherapy: Nature as Medicine"), but this latest one adds a creativity boost to the list. Apparently, backpackers were scored on a tests as being 50% more creative after hiking and giving up technology for just 4 days compared with their pre-hike creativity scores.

Written By: University of Utah

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DEC. 11: Research Shows Sitting Up Helps Babies Learn Faster – Even If They Need Help to Do It

babyThe Gist: Apparently, whether a baby does it on their own steam or somebody helps prop them up, infants learn things like patterns and the difference between objects more quickly when sitting up. Experts hypothesize that this is because they can more easily reach for, pick up and play with objects from this position.

Written By: North Dakota State University

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DEC. 10: Occasionally Missing Meals Makes Kids 33% Less Likely To Have Cognitive Problems Later in Life

The Gist: While a poor economic background and stress associated with a lack of food would have suggested otherwise, scientists found that occasionally going hungry may actually be good for us. The 5.8% of senior participants that said they “sometimes missed meals” as children and the 8.4% of senior participants who said they were “significantly thinner than others” at age 12, were both 33% less likely to be suffering from cognitive decline. This finding both points to the dangers of obesity to brain health and harkens to a growing pool of evidence which suggest human bodies have not yet adapted to modern lifestyles (as opposed to most of human history where people occasionally went hungry).

Written By: American Academy of Neurology

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DEC. 3: Lithium May Prove an Effective Treatment for Down Syndrome!

mouseThe Gist: Scientists have been testing Lithium (commonly used for depression, bipolar and similar mood disorders) on mice with Down-syndrome  and have had some very promising results. While Down syndrome naturally reduces the production of new neurons and neuron connections, mice taking the drug showed improvement in both of these areas! As a result, they tested better in measures of contextual learning, spatial memory and object discrimination.  Next up will be human trials! (Check out my buddy Wollof's blog "Down Syndrome" for info on an interesting study involving the Wii gaming system's benefits for Down Syndrome.)

Written By: Istituto Italiano di Tecnolgia in Genova, Italy

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DEC. 3: Cold Climates Make Us Feel More Nostalgic - And Nostalgia Makes Us Feel Warmer!

The Gist: Whether outdoors or in, compared with hot and comfortable temperatures, study participants felt significantly more nostalgic in the cold – and there may be a reason for that. In subsequent studies, heart-warming memories were found to literally make people feel warmer. When asked to think of either an ordinary or nostalgic event from their past, participants thinking nostalgically estimated the room was warmer on average compared with the others. Further, people thinking of fond memories showed a stronger resistance to cold and could leave their hands on a block of ice longer than people simply remembering a previous time.

Written By: University of Southampton

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DEC. 3: The Pinocchio Effect is Discovered

pinocchio effectThe Gist:  A thermography study has revealed trends in facial temperatures depending on our thoughts. When we are busy problem solving or thinking hard, our facial temperature drops, but when we are feeling stressed or anxious - as most of us will while lying - our facial temperature rises – particularly in our eyes and nose. This has amusingly been dubbed the “Pinocchio Effect.” (Check out my blog "Catch a Lie in 20 Seconds" for more on physical lie giveaways.)

Written By: University of Granda

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The DUH! Studies

While absolutely packed with fascinating, well-written, ground-breaking studies, Science Daily also has more than its fair share of DUH! Studies – studies that go to prove things you didn’t actually think anyone needed a study to prove.

The gems from Dec 1 -15, 2012:

What do you think, readers? Should I make this a regular, twice a month thing?

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  • Wow! These studies are chocked full of "Duh-ness," but they're all the more entertaining for their obviousness!

    Also, mice can have Down's? Who knew?

  • I know, right?! haha

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