Showing posts from October, 2015

Think You Can Only Get High on Mary Jane? The same chemical's in Your Brain, Too

Did you know when you're in love it's like smoking marijuana?

Well, maybe not exactly.  But the highs are similar, according to a new report. says that the hormone oxytocin, which has been associated with interpersonal bonding, may enhance the pleasure of social interactions by stimulating production of marijuana-like neurotransmitters in the brain, according to a University of California, Irvine study.

The research provides the first link between oxytocin – dubbed the “love hormone” – and anandamide, which has been called the “bliss molecule” for its role in activating cannabinoid receptors in brain cells to heighten motivation and happiness. 

Not to get too technical but the researchers discovered that social contact increased production of anandamide ( messenger molecule which plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility) in  the nucleus of the brain, which triggered cannabinoid receptors there to reinforce the pleasure of socializ…

Are You a Good Father? It May Affect Your Testosterone

Men, did you know being a good father can lower your testosterone levels?

What a bummer.  Just as we get to enjoy our partners pitching in to help with the kids, now they have a reason to stop.

All kidding aside, however, a new University of Michigan study found that when men saw their infants in distress, it lowered their testosterone.

Yes, when men are nurturing and caring for their children, their "maleness" declines.  While that might not make fathers very happy, I suspect it has to do with the law of the jungle, with male beasts preferring to shelter and protect their young rather than get bloody and torn up in fights with the others in the clan.  (Of course, this doesn't account for the fathers who eat their young.  But that's a story for another day.)

But now it looks like men may be decompensated for being a good father.

A crying infant can trigger certain emotions that may be accompanied by a corresponding hormonal response: empathy with decreased testost…

Women Having Memory Problems? 10 Years From Now, You May Have Alzheimer's

Uh oh.

Just when I thought I was getting out of the woods as a potential Alzheimer's patient, now a new study is saying that older women (ok, so I'm not over 70 or anywhere near it) with memory complaints may well be on their way to this dreaded disease.

According to, new research suggests that older women who complain of memory problems may be at higher risk for experiencing diagnosed memory and thinking impairment decades later.

I drew a complete blank when trying to come up with my allergist's name for another doctor.  Usually the name will come to me sometime over the next hours or days.  But this one didn't.  Then I panicked when my son and I were listening to music and I wanted to tell him about a singer who sounded just like the person singing.  And I couldn't for the life of me remember her name.

(I knew the first name, "Phoebe."  But the rest totally eluded me.  I came up with "Swann" but I knew that wasn't right.  Th…

Love 'CSI'? You Might Have a Higher Tolerance for Rape

This is really disturbing.

As if there weren't already enough reasons for sexual assault -- college frat parties "misreading" signals, and horrifyingly, in my town, a woman jogging at dawn at the beach -- a researcher has now found that ratings-buster shows like "NCIS" and "CSI" foster just these open kinds of attitudes toward sexual assault.

Reassuringly, "Law and Order" has brought people to a better understanding of what consent means, according to Emily Garrigues Marett, Mississippi State University instructor of management and information systems, at

But viewers of genre crime shows like "CSI" reported lower intentions to seek consent for sexual activity and a lower intention to respect a partner’s expression of consent, whereas "NCIS" was associated with lower likelihood of refusing unwanted sexual activity, Garrigues Marett says.

She surveyed 313 college freshmen at a large Northwestern university …

Gender- Equality in Your Country? Everyone's Happier

As if men don't have it good enough all on their own, now a new study says they do better when there's more gender equality.

Men living in highly gender equal societies have better quality of life than men in less gender equal societies, according to new research from Øystein Gullvåg Holter, as reported by

If you live in one of the more gender-equal countries in Europe, the chances of having high quality of life are about twice as big as for those living in one of the less gender equal counties.

Moreover, the chances of depression, divorce, or becoming a victim of violent death are smaller. This applies to both men and women.

Based on an examination of a major database of statistics gathered from various equality indexes, Øystein Gullvåg Holter is able to conclude that a high degree of gender equality has positive effects not only on women; it also benefits men.

I suppose that's true.  When you look at cultures that don't value women, nobody seem…

Poll: Could Oprah Make You Vote for a Candidate? Most Likely, Not

OK, so is Oprah going to do it?

Resurrect Weight Watchers, that is.  She bought a 10% stake in the company this week.

Not that it's going out of business, with all the fatties running around.  But paid memberships have been slowing down and I guess they needed something special to turn it around (although at my meeting, you can't get a seat!).

Yay, Oprah.  Yay, Weight Watchers.

But a new study has found that celebrity endorsements may hurt candidates more than help them. Of course, no one's running for Weight Watchers but in this hotly contested primary and nomination time, we've seen some famous people stumping for, well, other famous people.

Researchers asked 804 likely 2016 general election voters in Ohio if a particular celebrity, interest group, or newspaper endorsed a candidate for President, would it make the voter more likely or less likely to vote for that candidate.

If the Cleveland Plain Dealer did, 14.7% said it might make it more likely, while 8.4% said…

Want to Change a Woman? Run an Ad Based on Fear

Eating tofu gives you cancer.  If you're a woman, that will scare you enough to stop eating it.  If you're a man, maybe not so much.

A new study has found that fear-based appeals appear to be effective at influencing attitudes and behaviors, especially among women, according to a comprehensive review of over 50 years of research on the topic, published by the American Psychological Association, reported by

"There are very few circumstances under which they are not effective and there are no identifiable circumstances under which they backfire and lead to undesirable outcomes,” quotes Dolores Albarracin, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an author of the study.

Fear appeals are persuasive messages that emphasize the potential danger and harm that will befall individuals if they do not adopt the messages’ recommendations. While these types of messages are commonly used in political, public…

Hate It When Your Kids Talk Back to You? Don't

You coulda fooled me.

But did you know kids who talk back wind up being more successful in life?  At least, that's what a new study has found.  In my house it always resulted in a smack, or a sip of soap.

The experts agree, this behavior is actually developmentally healthy for kids,  according to Clinical psychologist Kelly M. Flanagan explains there that “the inability to say "No” — the inability to set personal boundaries — is one of the most common, insidious causes of human suffering.“

 At its core, when kids push back at our authority, they’re trying to exert some sense of control over their own lives. They’re practicing that skill — flexing that muscle — with us.

I'm one of those people who has a hard time saying no.  I've had to learn it very slowly.  I was raised to be a good girl and good girls don't say no.  Ever.  This led to some relationships I'd been better off not having, and jobs where I started every day underpaid, overworked a…

Think Hands-Free Frees Your Mind? Think Again

So everyone thought all we had to do to make driving while talking on a cell phone safer was to remove our hands.  Big joke.

It's our minds that we have to remove when we're doing that.  I always wondered why the big deal about hands-free cell phones when it's the talking that's distracting, not the damn holding of the phone.  And it appears it's not limited to calls, but sending texts with Apple Siri or Google Now smart phone personal assistants.  Even just speaking into your phone to give a command slices our attention in half.

Now a study has finally found that it takes up to 27 seconds to regain full attention after issuing voice commands, according to  University of Utah researchers discovered this in a pair of new studies for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

I mean, it makes sense.  When I'm talking to someone -- whether in person or on a cell -- I'm totally in the conversation.  I don't notice if a car is about to sideswipe …

Bereaved, Take Heart: Dreaming of Death While Dying is Comforting

I wish I had known this when my best friend from childhood's husband was dying last week.  But a new study shows that it's not uncommon for people to have extraordinary dreams or visions in the final weeks of their lives. Accounts of pre-death visions span recorded history, according to

I would feel greatly comforted if John had these.  Diagnosed in June with stage IV cancer, he was dead the second week in October.  At the end he chose no more treatment but to go quietly with his family by his side at his home.  I'd really love to think he was having a vision of Heaven and God welcoming him with open arms.
“These dreams and visions may improve quality of life and should be treated accordingly,” says Professor James P. Donnelly, PhD, associate professor of counseling and human services and director of measurement & statistics for the Institute of Autism Research at Canisius College. 

His team's research showed that these visions and dreams are an intrinsi…

Want Your Kid to Graduate from High School? Don't Move

Even moving up can harm your kids.

According to a new study, students experiencing at least one move over a twelve-month period have a roughly 50 percent decreased likelihood of obtaining a high school diploma by age 25.

And it's true whether you make a cross-town move or one to a more affluent area.

"Our findings support prior research that demonstrates the strain mobility places on academic attainment after accounting for other academic risk factors,” says lead author Molly Metzger, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, at “Evidence suggests that mobility in adolescence hampers chances of high school graduation regardless of whether youth move to a relatively poorer or less-poor neighborhood."

As part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative survey that followed seventh- to 12th-graders in the mid-1990s into their young-adult years, researchers asked stude…

Stress Really CAN Kill You

You've got that deadline glaring down your neck.  Your boss keeps looking over at you.  You're late to pick your kid up from soccer.  And who knows what's going to happen for dinner?

We've all been there.  Workplace stress is a killer.  And now it might literally be, too.  Did you know work stress can cause a stroke?

According to an analysis of studies, having a high-stress job may be linked to a higher risk of stroke.

"Having a lot of job stress has been linked to heart disease, but studies on job stress and stroke have shown inconsistent results,” says Dingli Xu, MD, with Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, at “It’s possible that high-stress jobs lead to more unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, smoking and a lack of exercise.”

The analysis looked at all of the available research on job strain and stroke risk. The six studies analyzed involved a total of 138,782 participants who were followed for three to 17 years.

Don't Ignore Your Whining Kid at Check-Out, Experts Now Say

I don't know about you but when my son was little and carrying on about something, the advice was to ignore him.

Now we're learning that just may not be the way to do it.

According to a new study, parents who intentionally ignore children’s negative emotions may actually increase their children’s expressions of anger, aggression, and disproportionate emotional behaviors, reports.

Oh boy.

Ignoring children’s emotional outbursts is a strategy commonly employed by parents with a wide range of psychological know-how, drawing on their intuition, family tradition, modeling, or simple desperation.  

"For whatever reason, the folks who are developing questionnaires to assess these kinds of behaviors didn’t focus on ignoring responses,” notes Scott P. Mirabile, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland at the web site.

Here's what researchers found: If a child is begging for candy in the checkout aisle and starts to cry, a comp…

Trump a Risk-Taker? Not So Much

I found this pretty interesting.

A new study has found that not all narcissists are risk-takers.  Donald Trump immediately came to mind.

Experts say he will drop out of the presidential race before the primaries because he won't take any chances of losing, or going down in the polls.  I think that's a good call.  At heart, he's a quitter.

Many studies have found that narcissists often make volatile and risky decisions, possibly because they tend to have inflated views of their own abilities and achievements, according to

But in a series of three experiments, researchers found that people who scored higher on measures of narcissism were no more likely than others to make risky choices in lab-based tasks.

 “I thought that narcissists, given that they are impulsive and have high opinions of themselves, would take bigger risks. That’s what other research would have suggested,” says one of the researchers.“But any association between narcissism and risk-tak…

Want to Get Pregnant? Have More Sex!

It may seem pretty obvious but for years, fertility specialists suggested that couples refrain from too much sex to give sperm a chance to regenerate.

Now a new study is showing the complete opposite. 

According to, sexual activity causes immune system changes that increase chances of conception.

Here's how it works: sexual activity triggers physiological changes in the body that increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, even outside the window of ovulation.

It's a common recommendation that partners trying to have a baby should engage in regular intercourse to increase the woman’s changes of getting pregnant -- even during so-called 'non-fertile' periods -- although it’s unclear how this works, researchers say. "This research is the first to show that the sexual activity may cause the body to promote types of immunity that support conception," says lead author Tierney Lorenz, a visiting research scientist at the Kinsey Institute. It…

Why Do You Go To Church? This May Surprise You

Do you go to church?  Synagogue?  Mosque?

Do you know the reason why?  Some go because it's a social event, meeting people you know and like.  Others, because they've lost a job, or a loved one and need comfort.  Even others, like me, because they are desperately hoping for something they don't have and want (a child).

When my prayers were finally answered, yes, I became more spiritual.  But it didn't take long to forget about this miracle.  Then I was diagnosed with cancer, twice, and God (or what I call God) came back into my life.

But a new study has found that while all these reasons may be what's compelling us, there's something else going on we don't even know about.

Researchers say it's because religion satisfies all of the 16 basic desires that humans share.  Say, what? That's right.  Acceptance, curiosity, eating, family, honor, idealism, independence, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility…

Kids' Memories? Seems They Improve, with Time

I certainly know it's better than mine.

But did you know that kids can remember tomorrow what they forgot today.  I can't even remember today what I forgot today.  My teenager often has to remind me, "Mom, you went into the kitchen for orange juice."

A new study has revealed that small children can remember a piece of information better days later than they can on the day they first learned it.

Researchers discovered this by showing a video game to 4- and 5-year-olds.  The object was to 
 remember associations between objects.  The kids who re-played the game after a two-day delay scored more than 20 percent higher than kids who re-played it later the same day.

“An implication is that kids can be smarter than we necessarily thought they could be,” says Kevin Darby, a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University and co-author of the study, at “They can make complex associations, they just need more time to do it.”

Now I don't kno…

Stressed out? Go Wash Some Dishes

I don't really believe this but did you know that washing dishes can cancel out that horrendous, five-mile back-up commute home?

According to a new study, it can be stress-relieving.  Student and faculty researchers at Florida State University have found that mindfully washing dishes calms the mind and decreases stress.

It's that old (or new) trend, being in the moment.  And I have to say, for me, it works.

The study looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness — a meditative method of focusing attention on the emotions and thoughts of the present moment, reports.

“I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher,” says Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program and one of the study’s authors. “I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in l…

Like Red Wine with Dinner? Maybe Think Again

First it was rice.  Now it's red wine.

Arsenic, anyone?

According to a new study, arsenic is found in many red wines, even some in the metro New York region.   A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America's top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what's allowed in drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic. The wine samples ranged from 10 to 76 parts per billion, with an average of 24 parts per billion.

But a companion study concluded that the likely health risks from that naturally-occurring toxic element depend on how many other foods and beverages known to be high in arsenic, such as apple juice, rice, or cereal bars, an individual person eats. Want to be really scared?  The highest risks from arsenic exposure stem from certain types of infant formulas, the…