Category Archives: Human nature

Optimize your naps

It turns out that there may be an optimal time and length for the best nap.

New research involving 3,000 Chinese seniors suggests that naps soon after lunch, lasting about about an hour, were the best. Good naps let the seniors function as if they were 5 years younger.

The difference in overall cognition associated with these napping groups was similar to or greater than the decline in cognition associated with a 5-year increase in age.”

Source: The Best Nap Time For Big Mental Health Boost – PsyBlog

Avoiding mental rabbit holes

How can you stay calm under pressure? Are there mental techniques you can use to help you cope under stress? A recent article provides some interesting answers based on interviews with a bomb disposal technician.

Something’s going wrong. You’re worried and your mind starts to race. Your old friend Panic is nuzzling up to you and wants to snuggle. Your brain starts asking, “What if X happens? What if Y happens? What if? What if? What if?”

Navy [bomb disposal] techs refers to this as “the rabbit hole.” And if you go down it, things are going to get very bad very fast.

Source: How To Be Calm Under Pressure: 3 Secrets From A Bomb Disposal Expert

More research questioning brain training

Can playing games increase your skills at sports and other tasks? Some research and commercial products suggest that they can, but other researchers are skeptical. A recent article in the NY Times examines a neurological game said to increase athletic performance.

But the notion that practice at one task could effectively bolster abilities in another — called transfer — has long been disputed. In 1906, the psychologist Edward L. Thorndike found that rigorous practice helped students’ ability to estimate the areas of rectangles, but it did not help them estimate the areas of other shapes. Another century’s worth of research has continued to reshape and redefine, expand and restrict this line of thinking. Sir Charles Sherrington, the Nobel Prize-winning neurophysiologist, also believed that “acquisition of a habit is not transferable beyond its application.” K. Anders Ericsson’s seminal study on expertise — the so-called 10,000 hours rule — emphasized training that was specific to the skill. This meant that memorizing an extraordinary amount of numbers is not likely to yield improvement in your recall of names. Practicing Tetris can improve your ability to play Tetris, but it probably won’t help you get better at juggling.

Source: Keep Your Eye on the Balls to Become a Better Athlete

When is brain development finished?

This is an interesting article on how the brain develops, and whether it ever finishes. There is also an interesting discussion of teenage thinking and emotions.

The human brain reaches its adult volume by age 10, but the neurons that make it up continue to change for years after that. … The pruning in the occipital lobe, at the back of the brain, tapers off by age 20. In the frontal lobe, in the front of the brain, new links are still forming at age 30, if not beyond.

Source: You’re an Adult. Your Brain, Not So Much. – The New York Times

Tattoos make men more attractive … to men

Men with tattoos are likely to provide serious competition for a woman’s attention, at least in the eyes of other guys, but women themselves actually aren’t that impressed. … the female participants didn’t rate the tattooed gentlemen as more attractive; moreover, they considered them worse prospects as partners and parents.

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/12/21/men-think-women-will-be-impressed-by-a-tattoo-but-theyre-not/

 

Wear the red dress?

Are women really more attractive if they wear red? Research results used to say “yes”, but replicating those studies is proving to be difficult.

… nothing, it seems, is straightforward in psychology any more. A team of Dutch and British researchers has just published three attempts to replicate the red effect in the open-access journal Evolutionary Psychology, including testing whether the effect is more pronounced in a short-term mating context, which would be consistent with the idea that red signals sexual availability. However, not only did the research not uncover an effect of mating context, all three experiments also failed to demonstrate any effect of red on attractiveness whatsoever.

Source https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/12/12/wardrobe-malfunction-three-failed-attempts-to-replicate-the-finding-that-red-increases-attractiveness/

 

The science of gift shopping – Don’t try so hard

Research has been done on what gifts people like to receive. It turns out that simple and straight forward is often the best approach.

Social scientists bear glad tidings for the holiday season. After extensively observing how people respond to gifts, they have advice for shoppers: You don’t have to try so hard. You’re not obliged to spend hours finding just the right gift for each person on your list. Most would be just as happy with something quick and easy. This may sound too good to be true, but rest assured this is not a ploy by some lazy Scrooges in academia.

Source: The Perfect Gift? It’s the One They Asked For – The New York Times

Death by selfie

Here is interesting research on the growing phenomenon of getting yourself killed while trying to shoot a selfie. Apparently, the goal is to build a kind of this-is-a-dangerous-selfie warning app.

In 2014, 15 people died while taking a selfie; in 2015 this rose to 39, and in 2016 there were 73 deaths in the first eight months of the year. That’s more selfie deaths than deaths due to shark attacks. That raises an interesting question—how are these people dying, and is there a way to prevent these kinds of accidents?

Source: Data Scientists Chart the Tragic Rise of Selfie Deaths

and the research paper can be found at https://lnkd.in/fpdiVwx

 

Correlations and milk

Another example of the importance of understanding the relationship between correlation and causation.

In a study of more than 2,700 children aged one to six, Toronto researchers found that those who drank whole milk had a body mass index score almost a full unit lower than kids who drank one per cent or two per cent milk.That’s comparable to the difference between having a healthy weight and being overweight, said Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital who led the study.

Did drinking whole milk make the kids thinner, or are heavier kids drinking low-fat milk because they are heavier?

Source: Kids who drink whole-fat milk are leaner, study finds – Macleans.ca

On Facebook and happiness

Here is another study that explores the relationship between Facebook and emotions.

People’s emotional life improves significantly when they quit Facebook for 1 week… Millions of hours are spent on Facebook each day. We are surely better connected now than ever before, but is this new connectedness doing any good to our well-being? According to the present study, the answer is no…

Source: If You Want to Be Happy, Quit Facebook? – Neuroskeptic