Health & Wellness


Smells -- even smells we don't notice -- affect our judgment of others

I had a newspaper route up until I was in the ninth grade, and what I dreaded about the job was going door-to-door collecting subscription fees. The worst part was probably the odors in some of the houses. One house emanated a toxic mixture of Lysol, alcohol, pet dander, and cigarette smoke. These people inevitably were out of cash, so I had to return again and again until I finally was able to negotiate payment -- sometimes months overdue.

But maybe the smell was prejudicing my judgment. Lots of people couldn't pay me right away. Why should I only hate the ones with drinking/pet/smoking/air freshener problems? Other than the fact that they had all those problems, they weren't any better or worse than anyone else (aside from the nice old ladies who baked me cookies I could smell a half-block away).

Hmm... come to think of it, there's a lot a smell can tell you about a person. Are they overperfumed, undermouthwashed, sweaty, smoky, or infused with motor oil? Different scents clearly have different meanings.
Eye 2

Men really do see half naked women as 'objects', scientists claim

Researchers scanned the brains of certain men as they looked at a photograph of a woman in a bikini and discovered that sections of the brain that usually reacted to objects lit up. With men, who were known to have sexist tendencies, they also discovered that a part of the brain that usually turned on during social interaction actually de-activated when they saw the photograph.

Professor Susan Fiske, of Princeton University, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting that she believes that the results show that some men did not see sexualised women as a "human".

First case of child botulism in Greece

A 3-month-old baby was recovering in an intensive-care unit at a hospital in Rio, near Patras, yesterday after becoming one of only a handful of children in Europe to contract infant botulism during the last decade.

In the first reported case of the potentially fatal disease in Greece, a special drug, which is a human-derived botulism antitoxin, was flown in from California on Sunday.

British scientists condemn using children in GM food trials as unacceptable

Children in China and America were fed GM rice
© (posed)
Children in China and America were fed GM rice in a controversial trial
Children have been used as 'lab rats' in GM rice trials that were carried out in breach of ethics rules drawn up in response to the medical crimes of Nazi Germany, it is claimed.

Youngsters aged 6-10 were fed so-called Golden Rice, which has been modified to contain enhanced levels of beta carotene or vitamin A.

The rice is being developed to combat Vitamin A deficiency, which is linked to damage to the sight, poor brain development and immune system failure.

However high consumption can also have harmful toxic effects and cause birth defects.

Critics are furious that the GM rice was not put through animal feeding trials to ensure it was safe before being given to children.

Leukemia patients treated with arsenic, vitamin A

Hong Kong - Doctors appear to have safely and successfully treated patients with cancer of the blood and bone marrow with a combination of arsenic and vitamin A, according to long-term study in China.

In an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the doctors said they prescribed the regimen to 85 patients and monitored them for an average of 70 months.

Of these, 80 patients went into complete remission and the researchers did not find any associated long-term problems in their heart or lungs and there was no development of secondary cancers.

Many Children with Hearing Loss Also Have Eye Disorders

About one-fifth of children with sensorineural hearing loss also have ocular disorders, according to a report in the February issue of Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

An estimated one to three per 1,000 children have some degree of sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs as a result of damage to the nerves or the inner ear, according to background information in the article. Half of all cases in children result from environmental causes and half from genetic causes; one gene, GJB2, accounts for a large proportion of sensorineural hearing loss cases in white patients.

"Especially early in life, sensorineural hearing loss is associated with delays in language, speech, cognitive and social development," the authors write. "Given the effects of hearing impairment, children with sensorineural hearing loss are particularly dependent on other means of information acquisition. If these children were to have unrecognized ophthalmologic abnormalities that limited visual acuity, there could be further detrimental effects on development."

Can Blogging Make You Happier?

According to researchers in Taiwan, the answer is "Yes."

The researchers (Ko & Kuo, 2009) administered a 43-item self-report survey to 596 college students who were mostly between ages 16 and 22 and female (71 percent). The college students were young adults who had blogging experience, and specifically with blogging for the purpose of keeping a personal journal.

The researchers found support for deeper self-disclosure from bloggers resulting in a range of better social connections. These included things such as a sense of greater social integration, which is how connected we feel to society and our own community of friends and others; an increase in social bonding (our tightly knit, intimate relationships); and social bridging - increasing our connectedness with people who might be from outside of our typical social network.
Bad Guys

Voting Himself Rich: CDC Vaccine Adviser Made $29 Million Or More After Using Role to Create Market

Dr. Paul Offit of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) took home a fortune of at least $29 million as part of a $182 million sale by CHOP of its worldwide royalty interest in the Merck Rotateq vaccine to Royalty Pharma in April of last year, according to an investigation by Age of Autism. Based on an analysis of current CHOP administrative policies, the amount of income distributed to Offit could be as high as $46 million.

"Now You See It, Now You Don't"

Queen Mary scientists have, for the first time, used computer artificial intelligence to create previously unseen types of pictures to explore the abilities of the human visual system.

Writing in the journal Vision Research, Professor Peter McOwan, and Milan Verma from Queen Mary's School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science report the first published use of an artificial intelligence computer program to create pictures and stimuli to use in visual search experiments.

They found that when it comes to searching for a target in pictures, we don't have two special mechanisms in the brain - one for easy searches and one for hard - as has been previously suggested; but rather a single brain mechanism that just finds it harder to complete the task as it becomes more difficult.

Perception of Time Pressure Impairs Performance

Ask anyone working on a project, and the biggest complaint one hears is "There's not enough time." But instead of more time, maybe what they need is a change of perception.

"Research has shown that it's not necessarily the time pressure, but it's the perception of that time pressure that affects you," says Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student in psychology at Case Western Reserve University. "If you feel you don't have enough time to do something, it's going to affect you."

DeDonno recently studied 163 subjects performing the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a popular psychological assessment tool, to investigate the effect of perceived time pressure on a learning-based task. His study, the first to look at the relationship between perceived time pressure and IGT performance, was published in the December issue of Judgment and Decision Making.