Showing posts from March, 2016

FOMO? It's Killing Our Kids (And Us, Too)


No, it's some new cereal or chocolate drink.

And it's making millennials freak out and desperately try to avoid it.

It's Fear of Missing Out.

And this new behavior angst is quickly taking a toll on Generation Y—and it’s probably causing damage to your own life, according to

Do you have trouble sitting through a movie without obsessively checking your phone? Does your family complain about your constant social media habit? If you panic at the thought of not having a window to the world, you may be experiencing FOMO—which was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013.

Living our lives through this virtual filter isn’t really living at all—it only fuels an anxious mindset that we must be ‘missing out,' the web site reports.

But it's not just limited to millennials.  I find myself panicking, too, when I can't get to my email or my texts.  

With at least 24 percent of teenagers online ‘almost constantly,’ it’s no surprise that fear…

When Will You Die? Ask the Computer

I've always shied away from those Internet quizzes that make you answer questions to determine how old you are, not chronologically but healthwise.  Some of my half-century friends get in the 30s but I still stay away.

Now how would you like to know when you'll die?  I can't imagine anything more gruesome!

I've always lived my life based on serendipity -- you know, the things you never expect to happen but do, like meeting my husband after talking to a woman on a boat in the Bahamas who happened to live near me and going out on singles' weekends with her, then up to the Catskills to meet a husband for her, only I met mine.

Those kinds of things.

But a new study purports that a computer can tell you how old you will be when you die.

I'd kind of like it to be a surprise.

Maybe because I've fought cancer twice, death doesn't scare me so much (okay, maybe it's that I've been cancer-free for almost 10 years that does it).  But statisticians, computer…

Striving for Status May Limit Fertility

Want to get pregnant?  Don't shop so much.

Really. Competition for social status may be an important driver of lower fertility in the modern world, suggests a new study, as reported by

"The areas were we see the greatest declines in fertility are areas with modern labor markets that have intense competition for jobs and an overwhelming diversity of consumer goods available to signal well-being and social status," says senior author Paul Hooper, an anthropologist at Emory University. "The fact that many countries today have so much social inequality - which makes status competition more intense - may be an important part of the explanation."

Across the globe, from the United States to the United Kingdom to India, fertility has gone down as inequality and the cost of achieving social status has gone up. "Our model shows that as competition becomes more focused on social climbing, as opposed to just putting food on the table, people i…

Afraid of Dying? You'll Avoid Annuities

I can so relate to this.

A new study says that many of us baby boomers may not be able to retire at 65 and maintain our style of living because we're afraid to think about dying.

Say what?

Yup.  Roughly 52 percent of American households will not have enough retirement income to maintain their standard of living if they retire at 65.The reason? People are afraid of thinking about their own death, according to  

Fear of death tempts people to avoid making decisions about how to manage their savings during retirement.
Researchers from Boston College in Massachusetts decided to investigate why so few people choose to invest in annuities, a guaranteed steady stream of income during retirement. The public's lack of interest in annuities, known as the "annuity puzzle," has stumped researchers for decades.

The investigators explored a new solution to the annuity puzzle: What if people avoid this option because it evokes thoughts about mortality?

My husb…

Ever Make the "Not Face"?

Did you know there's a face everyone of every nationality recognizes?

It's the furrowed brow, pressed lips and raised chin, and because we make it when we convey negative sentiments, such as “I do not agree,” researchers are calling it the “not face.”  Or call it the frown, though it's not completely that scowling look.  It's more a pout, like when your kid says, "You're not the boss of me."

You've seen it.   The look proved identical for native speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL).

It's a universal facial expression that is interpreted across many cultures as the embodiment of negative emotion.

Researchers found that we all instinctively make the “not face” as if it were part of our spoken or signed language, according to What’s more, the researchers discovered that ASL speakers sometimes make the “not face” instead of signing the word “not”—a use of facial expression in ASL that was p…

Long Live the Sunbather!

Cows can read. Chocolate makes you lose weight.  Sunbathers live longer.

I know, I know.  If only.  But it's actually true..  Sunbathers live longer.

New research is looking into the paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer, reports.

An analysis of information on 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years revealed that longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and non-cancer/non-heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase.

Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to UV radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined, so researchers believe additional research is warranted.

I run outside year-round so I'm probably …

Do We Really See What We Think We See? Guess Again

Do you really see what you think you see?

Guess what?  You don't.

Perception experts have long known that we see much less of the world than we think we do, according to A person creates a mental model of their surroundings by stitching together scraps of visual information gleaned while shifting attention from place to place. Counterintuitively, the very process that creates the illusion of a complete picture relies on filtering out most of what's out there.

Kind of like focusing on just what's in front of you when you're trying to ignore distractions.  

"The visual system really cares about objects," says postdoctoral fellow J. Eric T. Taylor, who is the lead author on the paper reporting this. "If I move around a room, the locations of all the objects - chairs, tables, doors, walls, etc. -- change on my retina, but my mental representation of the room stays the same."

Objects play such a fundamental role in how we focus ou…

Great. Now A Necklace Tells Me How Much I Eat

So we've tried the Fit Bit to see how much we exercise (and how many calories we burn when we do it).  Weight Watchers offers devices that count the points you rack up, entitling you to eat more.    

But what about a necklace that hears what you eat to help you track of it? 

Sounds quite bizarre but a new study is proving that it may work.

Carrots and apples not only taste different. They make distinct sounds when chewed.

This may seem like unnecessary knowledge, but it’s not in the laboratory of University at Buffalo computer scientist Wenyao Xu, who is creating a library that catalogues the unique sounds that foods make as we bite, grind and swallow them, according to

The library is part of a software package that supports AutoDietary, a high-tech, food-tracking necklace being developed by Xu and researchers at Northeastern University in China.

“There is no shortage of wearable devices that tell us how many calories we burn, but creating a device that reli…

Who does Donald Trump Really Hate? Himself.

It's interesting that plain old Americans are now doing what his powerful Republican brothers couldn't.
Dump Trump.
A recent anti-Trump rally blocked a highway into Phoenix, where he was scheduled to appear, for several hours. With his usual blindness to the facts (the truth, anyone?), he blithely ignored it later in his talk.
Let's not even mention all the times he's hinted at violence, and inspired his followers to commit it, then not accepting responsibility for it. Remember he was going to pay the fine for the man charged with assault at one of his rallies? You don't hear any more of that. Like everything else that a bully, secretly weak and powerless in his gut, he slithered right out of that one, too. (Of course, he was probably just too cheap.)
But what I hate most about Trump is his hate.
But it's not the Republican establishment, or the Hillary supporters, or even the Megyn Kellys who call him the foolish egotistical man that he is who he hates.

Candidates Talk to Us at a 6th to 8th Grade Level, Except Trump (5th Grade)

Pretty depressing.

We all know that many Americans are at a 5th grade level when it comes to education and knowing what's going on in the country.  But did you know that the presidential candidates speak at a 6th-to-8th grade level?

A readability analysis of presidential candidate speeches by researchers in Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute (LTI) finds most candidates using words and grammar typical of students in grades 6-8, though Donald Trump tends to lag behind the others (big surprise), according to

A historical review of their word and grammar use suggests all five candidates in the analysis - Republicans Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (who has since suspended his campaign), and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders - have been using simpler language as the campaigns have progressed. Again, Trump is an outlier, with his grammar use spiking in his Iowa Caucus concession speech and his word and grammar use plummetin…

Hear the Crunch When Eating Your Popcorn? May Make You Eat Less

Admit it.  The sound of your husband crunching his breakfast cereal sometimes makes you consider divorce.

But did you know the sounds you make when eating food affect how you eat?  According to researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University, the noise your food makes while you're eating can have a significant effect on how much food you eat.

The "Crunch Effect," as they call it, suggests you're likely to eat less if you're more conscious of the sound your food makes while you're eating. Therefore, watching loud TV or listening to loud music while eating can mask eating sounds that keep you in check.

"For the most part, consumers and researchers have overlooked food sound as an important sensory cue in the eating experience," says study coauthor Gina Mohr, an assistant professor of marketing at CSU, at

"Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense," adds Ryan Elder, assistant professor…

You Anxious? You See Things Differently Than Someone Who Is Not

I suppose it should come as no surprise.

But people who are anxious perceive things differently than those who are not.  It turns out, according to a new study, that people suffering from anxiety perceive the world in a fundamentally different way than others.

That means that people diagnosed with anxiety are less able to distinguish between a neutral, “safe” stimulus (in this case, the sound of a tone) and one that had earlier been associated with gaining or losing money. In other words, when it comes to emotionally charged experiences, they show a behavioral phenomenon known as “over-generalization,” the researchers say, reports.

“We show that in patients with anxiety, emotional experience induces plasticity in brain circuits that lasts after the experience is over,” says Prof. Rony Paz of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. “Such plastic changes occur in primary circuits, and these later mediate the response to new stimuli. The result is an inability …

Schedule Less, Enjoy More

I'm not a planner.  Now it looks like I'm right.

A new study has found that scheduling takes the fun out of things.  Vacations.  Parties. 

Scheduling, whether keeping a calendar, a to-do list or setting a smartphone reminder, is a saving grace for many people trying to accomplish as much as they can, as efficiently as they can.

But new research from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis suggests it is best to ditch that to-do list when it comes to having fun.

Research has shown that assigning a specific date and time for leisure can have the opposite intended effect, making it feel much like a chore. Additionally, researchers found that both the anticipation of the leisure activity and enjoyment from it decreased once it was scheduled.

“Looking at a variety of different leisure activities, we consistently find that scheduling can make these otherwise fun tasks feel more like work and decrease how much we enjoy them,” Gabriela Tonietto, a doctora…

Stop Texting At Red Lights. Put Your Phone Down When I'm Talking to You. Parents' Demands? No, Kids'

So you've taken your kid's phone away for using it during dinner.  Shut down computer use because he didn't do his homework.  Threatened him with dire consequences for texting while you're talking to him.

I've seen it all.

But now kids are telling their parents what they want them to stopdoing, technology-wise.

Not surprisingly, it's, put your phone away when I’m talking to you. Don’t text while you’re driving — not even at red lights. Stop posting photos of me without my permission.

Who can't relate?

These are some of the rules for Internet and smartphone use that kids would set for their parents, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Washington and University of Michigan, according to

The researchers surveyed 249 families with children between the ages of 10 and 17 about their household's most important technology rules and expectations, as well as what made those rules easier or harder to follow. 

Kids wer…

Keep Your Brain Young -- Take the Stairs

Okay.  So you wanna know the next news-breaking way to stay young?

Climb stairs.

That's just what a new study found at Concordia University.  Taking the stairs is normally associated with keeping your body strong and healthy. But new research shows that it improves your brain’s health too — and that education also has a positive effect, according to

Scientists at Concordia University’s Montreal-based PERFORM Centre have found that the more flights of stairs a person climbs, and the more years of school a person completes, the “younger” their brain physically appears.

The researchers found that brain age decreases by 0.95 years for each year of education, and by 0.58 years for every daily flight of stairs climbed — i.e., the stairs between two consecutive floors in a building.

There already exist many ‘Take the stairs’ campaigns in office environments and public transportation centres, say researchers. This study now shows that older adults need to be doing …

Think You Know How Someone Is Feeling? No, You Have to Feel It, Too

Think you understand someone?  It doesn't really help unless you feel it, too.

That's the conclusion of some new research is that, in the absence of caring, understanding alone doesn't cut it when stressful situations arise.

When stress sets in, many of us turn to a partner to help us manage by being a sounding board or shoulder to cry on. Your odds of actually feeling better are much improved if they're both those things.

My partner isn't very good at listening, or understanding.  He just wants to solve it.  I understand that that's men's way of reacting to a crisis.  They want action.  But it would be so much more helpful if they let us feel it, then felt it, too.

New research by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara reveals that simply understanding your partner's suffering isn't sufficient to be helpful in a stressful situation; you've got to actually care that they're suffering in the first place.

Now that doesn't mean your partne…

Want Advice? Ask a 60-Year-Old. They're Dying to Give It to You

I didn't listen much to my mother when I was growing up.  Nobody does.

But now it's turning out that people in their 60s may actually benefit from giving advice.  Maybe that's why our moms did.

A new study, however, also found that few people are willing to receive it.


The new study reveals that individuals in their 60s who give advice to a broad range of people tend to see their lives as especially meaningful, according to At the same time, this happens to be the age when opportunities for dispensing advice become increasingly scarce. 

“This association between advice giving and life meaning is not evident for other age groups,” says Markus H. Schafer, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto and the lead author of the study. “Overall, we interpret these findings to suggest that the developmental demands of late midlife—particularly the desire to contribute to others’ welfare and the fear of feeling ‘stagnant’—fit poor…

Stay Mentally Competent Till Your 100's? Use a Computer

Okay.  So if you read my blog yesterday, you learned that stress erodes our memories.

So now a new study is saying, using a computer and social activity helps our memory.  Huh?

Keeping the brain active with social activities and using a computer may help older adults reduce their risk of developing memory and thinking problems, reports.  Now we've known this for some time.  That's why you see people in nursing homes doing puzzles and crossword puzzles (and grabbing the nurse's skirt, do they wear skirts anymore? -- but that's for another time).

The bottom line is, these kinds of activities keep the mind healthier, longer.

For the study, researchers followed 1,929 people, age 70 and older, who were part of the larger Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Rochester, Minn. The participants had normal memory and thinking abilities at recruitment to the study. They were then followed for an average of four years until they developed mild cognitive impairment or r…

Beware: Don't Take a Job Beneath You, It Can Hurt You Later

Who hasn't done this -- or thought about it -- in these tough employment times?

Taking a job below your skill level.  A new study shows that, rather than proving you're a go-getter and persevering one, you may actually come out a loser.

Researchers have found that doing this can have a negative impact on your career.

Accepting a job below one’s skill level can be severely penalizing when applying for future employment because of the perception that someone who does this is less committed or less competent, according to new research from a sociologist at The University of Texas at Austin.

I know I've had to accept fees way below what I would have considered acceptable years ago.  But it's a different game today.

To make ends meet in the short term, many workers may accept part-time positions, seek work from temporary agencies, or take jobs below their skill level. But a study by UT Austin sociologist David Pedulla,  shows that some of these employment situations …

New Stress Danger: It Can Steal Our Memories

We know that stress can harm relationships, make us ill, even make us sad or depressed.  But did you know it can also erode your memories?

A new study says that, sustained stress erodes memory, and the immune system plays a key role in the cognitive impairment, according to a new study from researchers at The Ohio State University, reports.

 “This is chronic stress. It’s not just the stress of giving a talk or meeting someone new,” says lead researcher Jonathan Godbout, associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State.

Mice that were repeatedly exposed to an aggressive intruder had a hard time recalling where the escape hole was in a maze they’d mastered prior to the stressful period.

 They also had measurable changes in their brains, including evidence of inflammation brought on by the immune system’s response to the outside pressure. This was associated with the presence of immune cells, called macrophages, in the brain of the stressed mice.

The research team …

Beware of Your Cell Phone: It May Make You Depressed

Your mobile phone.  It links you with friends, lets you know about events, even tells you the (bad) news that Trump's probably going to win the Republican nomination for president.

But did you know using it can also cause lead to anxiety and depression?  According to, a new study from the University of Illinois finds that addiction to, and not simply use of, mobile technology is linked to anxiety and depression in college-age students.

 Researchers surveyed over 300 university students with questionnaires that addressed the students' mental health, amount of cellphone and Internet use, and motivations for turning to their electronic devices. Questions included: "Do you think that your academic or work performance has been negatively affected by your cellphone use?" and "Do you think that life without the Internet is boring, empty and sad?"

 "People who self-described as having really addictive style behaviors toward the Internet a…

Be Good to Your Womb - It May Determine Age Your Baby Will Live To

Scientists are finding out more and more about how important the womb is, when it comes to healthy babies.  A whole new school of thought has been raised about how critical the environment for the fetus is as it's growing inside a woman. Some even believe it's more important than the quality of the egg.

Now it may even determine how old your baby gets, and how well he ages, according to

New studies are finding that aging begins in the womb.  Now let me explain this.

And the offspring of mothers with lower levels of oxygen in the womb - which, in humans, can be a consequence of smoking during pregnancy or of pregnancy at high altitude - aged more quickly in adulthood.

The researchers found that adult rats born from mothers who had less oxygen during pregnancy had shorter telomeres than rats born from uncomplicated pregnancies, and experienced problems with the inner lining of their blood vessels - signs that they had aged more quickly and were predisposed to…