Showing posts from December, 2014

Your Child Likely to Share His Toy? Maybe, Say Experts

Did you know there are places in our children's brains that tell whether they will be generous or not?

According to a new study, University of Chicago developmental neuroscientists have found specific brain markers that predict generosity in children. Those neural markers appear to be linked to both social and moral evaluation processes, reports.

Although young children are natural helpers, their perspective on sharing resources tends to be selfish.  I remember when my son was little, I don't remember too many times when he gave away his prized Lego figures to his friends, or vice versa. More likely, it was snatch and grab, and then screaming. 

"We know that generosity in children increases as they get older,” said study co-author Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the university.   “The results of this study demonstrate that children exhibit both distinct early automatic and later more controlled patterns of neura…

Express Your Religion at Work? Go for it, Experts Say

Who knew?  Employees who are open about religion are happier, this from a new study, as reported by

The study also found that it may be beneficial for employers to not only encourage office Christmas parties but also celebrate holidays and festivals from a variety of religions, according to a Kansas State University researcher.

Researchers discovered that employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not.

"For many people, religion is the core of their lives," said study author Sooyeol Kim, doctoral student in psychological sciences. "Being able to express important aspects of one's life can influence work-related issues, such as job satisfaction, work performance or engagement. It can be beneficial for organizations to have a climate that is welcoming to every religion and culture."

Now, I find this hard to believe.  I'm sure the study did n…

Christmas and Materialism? A Good Fit

It's the Christmas season and materialism is rearing its ugly head.

According to two psychologists who studied the subject, materialism tends to be associated with treating others in more competitive, manipulative and selfish ways, as well as with being less empathetic. It 's associated with people making a lot of money and being able to buy a lot of things.  And did you know that TV makes us more materialistic?

"Research shows two sets of factors that lead people to have materialistic values," says Tim Kasser, Ph.D., a professor of psychology Knox College in Galesburg, IL. "First, people are more materialistic when they are exposed to messages that suggest such pursuits are important, whether through their parents and friends, society, or the media. Second, and somewhat less obvious -- people are more materialistic when they feel insecure or threatened, whether because of rejection, economic fears, or thoughts of their own death,"

 I have a shoppin…

Does Your Kid Lie? Don't Punish Him, Researchers Say

I remember the last time my son lied to me.  Actually, it was last night.  He went in to take a shower and ran the water, then came out.  This morning I noticed that the tab that releases the shower spray wasn't up, the way it always is when he showers (and then splashes down all over me when I get in our shower tub to take mine).

"Did you take a shower?" I demanded.

"Ye-e-e-e-s," he said in that nasty teenage voice, when they're angry you're asking (and afraid you've caught them). 

Of course I can't prove it but he hates taking a shower (what is it with boys?) and would do just about anything to get out of it.

So what did I do?  The usual.  Nothing.  I took him at his word, even though I knew he most likely was not telling the truth.

Now a new study is saying that maybe I did the right thing, after all.  Researchers have found that punishing kids for lying just doesn't work.

If you want your child to tell the truth, it’s best not to threate…

Torn Meniscus? There's Hope. Thank a Sheep.

This is going to make my husband very happy.

The news today that meniscus -- that pesky knee tissue that rips so easily -- can now be regrown using a 3D printed imprint.

Say what?  I fail to see how a piece of paper produced in a computer printer can do anything more than, well, rip itself.  But researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have devised a way to replace the knee’s protective lining, called the meniscus, using a personalized 3D-printed implant, or scaffold, infused with human growth factors that prompt the body to regenerate the lining on its own, according to

The therapy, successfully tested in sheep, could provide the first effective and long-lasting repair of damaged menisci, which occur in millions of Americans each year and can lead to debilitating arthritis.

My husband, a star athlete in his youth, tore his meniscus about 15 years (and 5,000,000 complaints) ago, forcing him to give up his beloved tennis (where he was an eternal tournament …

Almost Half of US Kids Exposed to Violence, Traumatic Situations in Their Homes

This is truly shocking.

Almost half the kids in this country have been exposed to violence or a traumatic situation in their families in their childhoods.

According to, nearly 50% of all children in the United States are exposed to at least one social or family experience that can lead to traumatic stress and have an impact on their healthy development – be it having their parents divorce, a parent die or living with someone who abuses alcohol or drugs – increasing the risk of negative long-term health consequences or of falling behind in school, suggests new research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

 Growing up, parents were expected to hit their kids, some with belts, others (like my mom) with whatever was handy!  And we've all heard the outcry, right or wrong, against Adrian Peterson.  Today we know better, supposedly.  But looking at the results of this study, clearly, it still happens.

 The good news is, maybe we're handling i…

Religion and Marriage, Mixed. Can It Work?

I admit, this distressed me.

Adolescents who attend religious services with one or both of their parents are more likely to feel greater well-being, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. Ours does not.

Now,our son, who is 13, might have a better excuse than most.  His father is Jewish, his mother, Christian, and though he was bar-mitzvahed, he also celebrates Christmas (Christmas Eve in church) and Easter.  My rules.  (He was also baptized, but my husband doesn't really know what that means.  Just blame it on my Catholic cousins who taught me that those babies who aren't, and die, go to Purgatory, and even though it's undoubtedly untrue, I wasn't taking any chances).

The study looked at how spiritual beliefs or behaviors have appeared to strengthen generally happy marriages and how a person’s religious and/or spiritual functioning may influence that of his or her family members.

Sadly, once kids have their bar mitzvahs, many if …

Bigger Baby at Birth? Probably Do Better in School, Too, New Study Says

My son weighed one ounce less than nine pounds when he was born, a week early.  The doctors took him at 39 weeks because they were afraid he'd be 10 or 11 pounds if he went full-term.

Now a new study is saying that a higher birth weight can mean better performance in school.

It's really a no-brainer, in the end. It’s no secret that low-birth-weight babies face significantly greater risks for certain health problems early on, such as respiratory distress or infection. Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Florida (UF) and Northwestern University shows that lower weights at birth also have an adverse effect on children’s performance in school, which is likely due to the early health struggles small babies often face.

Studying birth and school records of almost 2 million children in Florida from 1992 to 2002, researchers found the higher the weight at birth, the better children performed on reading and math tests in school. I'm bragging, I admit, but …

How They See Faces May Positively -- or Negatively -- Influence People with ASD

It doesn't explain why Adam Lanza slaughtered 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary almost two years ago to the day, but a new study has found that autism changes the way that people with the disorder see faces.

The way people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) gather information – not the judgment process itself – might explain why they gain different perceptions from peoples’ faces, according to a new study from Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies and the University of Montreal, as reported by

"The evaluation of an individual's face is a rapid process that influences our future relationship with the individual," said Baudouin Forgeot d'Arc, lead author of the study. "By studying these judgments, we wanted to better understand how people with ASD use facial features as cues. Do they need more cues to be able to make the same judgment?" 

When photographic images of neutral faces were presented to two groups, the judgment…

Jogging Keeps You Young

It's the greatest news I've heard in a while.

Jogging keeps you young.

But then I read the article through and sure enough, it was a bit of a come-on.  Turns out that  those who run at least 30 minutes, three times a week were less likely to experience age-related physical decline in " walking efficiency" than those who simply walked.

Big deal.

Though, I suppose, when I'm 80, that will mean a lot.

“What we found is that older adults who regularly participate in high aerobic activities—running in particular—have what we call a lower metabolic cost of walking than older, sedentary adults. In fact, their metabolic cost of walking is similar to young adults in their 20s,” said Justus Ortega, a Kinesiology Professor at Humboldt State and director of HSU’s Biomechanics Lab. 

Now that, I'll buy.

But here's the kicker. Decline in walking ability is a key predictor of morbidity in older adults.

I've been jogging for over 30 years, most recently at a clip peopl…