- Generation X More Loyal to Religion
- Drink Water to Curb Weight Gain? Clinical Trial Confirms Effectiveness of Simple Appetite Control Method
- Capacity for Exercise Can Be Inherited: Finding Suggests Pharmaceutical Drugs Can Be Used to Alter Activity Levels in Humans
- Do-Gooders Get Voted Off Island First: People Don't Really Like Unselfish Colleagues
- 'Charitable' Behavior Found in Bacteria
- Attention, Couch Potatoes! Walking Boosts Brain Connectivity, Function
- Starvation Keeps Sleep-Deprived Fly Brain Sharp
- Eating Berries May Activate the Brain's Natural Housekeeper for Healthy Aging
- Roots of Gamblers' Fallacies and Other Superstitions: Causes of Seemingly Irrational Human Decision-Making
Generation X More Loyal to Religion: Generation X, the set of Americans who came of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is often branded as a rules-rejecting, authority-questioning group. But when it comes to religion, new research has revealed that Gen-Xers are surprisingly loyal to their faith -- a finding that also suggests the rising non-religious tide in the United States may be leveling off. A new study showed that Gen-Xers are, in comparison with their Baby Boomer predecessors, far more likely to adhere to their religion. In fact, Boomers are 40 to 50 percent more likely than Gen-Xers to "disaffiliate" from their faith. As Generation X continues to grow older, this loyalty may translate into a more stable nation in terms of its religiosity, he said.
Though Generation X's religious adherents are relatively durable, the generation as a whole is still more likely than previous ones to be raised with no religious preference, according to the research. Religious non-affiliation in the United States grew from between 6 percent and 8 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to nearly 16 percent by 2006.
Drink Water to Curb Weight Gain? Clinical Trial Confirms Effectiveness of Simple Appetite Control Method: Scientists report results of a new clinical trial confirming that just two 8-ounce glasses of water, taken before meals, enables people to shed pounds. "We found in earlier studies that middle aged and older people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories during that meal. In this recent study, we found that over the course of 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake."
"People should drink more water and less sugary, high-calorie drinks. It's a simple way to facilitate weight management." ...Water may be so effective simply because it fills up the stomach with a substance that has zero calories. People feel fuller as a result, and eat less calorie-containing food during the meal. Increased water consumption may also help people lose weight if they drink it in place of sweetened calorie-containing beverages.
Diet soda pop and other beverages with artificial sweeteners may also help people reduce their calorie intake and lose weight. However, she advised against using beverages sweetened with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup because they are high in calories. A 12-ounce can of regular soda pop, for instance, contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Davy noted that that nobody knows exactly how much water people should drink daily. The Institute of Medicine, an agency of The National Academies, which advises the Federal Government on science, says that most healthy people can simply let thirst be their guide. It does not specify exact requirements for water, but set general recommendations for women at about 9 cups of fluids - from all beverages including water - each day, and men at about 13 cups of fluids. And it is possible to drink too much water, a situation that can lead to a rare, but serious, condition known as water intoxication.
Capacity for Exercise Can Be Inherited: Finding Suggests Pharmaceutical Drugs Can Be Used to Alter Activity Levels in Humans: Biologists have found that voluntary activity, such as daily exercise, is a highly heritable trait that can be passed down genetically to successive generations. Working on mice in the lab, they found that activity level can be enhanced with "selective breeding" - the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Their experiments showed that mice that were bred to be high runners produced high-running offspring, indicating that the offspring had inherited the trait for activity.
"Our findings have implications for human health. Down the road people could be treated pharmacologically for low activity levels through drugs that targeted specific genes that promote activity. Pharmacological interventions in the future could make it more pleasurable for people to engage in voluntary exercise. Such interventions could also make it less comfortable for people to sit still for long periods of time."
Do-Gooders Get Voted Off Island First: People Don't Really Like Unselfish Colleagues: You know those goody-two-shoes who volunteer for every task and thanklessly take on the annoying details nobody else wants to deal with? That's right: Other people really can't stand them. Four separate studies have found that unselfish workers who are the first to throw their hat in the ring are also among those that coworkers most want to, in effect, vote off the island. They found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they "raise the bar" for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad. It doesn't matter that the overall welfare of the group or the task at hand is better served by someone's unselfish behavior. What is objectively good, you see as subjectively bad."
The do-gooders are also seen as deviant rule breakers. It's as if they're giving away Monopoly money so someone can stay in the game, irking other players to no end. The researcher would now like to look at how the do-gooders themselves react to being rejected. While some may indeed have ulterior motives, it's more likely they actually are working for the good of an organization. Excluded from the group, they may say, "enough already" and simply give up. "But it's also possible that they may actually try even harder."
'Charitable' Behavior Found in Bacteria: In studying the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, the researchers found that the populations most adept at withstanding doses of antibiotics are those in which a few highly resistant isolates sacrifice their own well being to improve the group's overall chance of survival. This bacterial altruism results when the most resistant isolates produce a small molecule called indole. Indole acts as something of a steroid, helping the strain's more vulnerable members bulk up enough to fight off the antibiotic onslaught. But while indole may save the group, its production takes a toll on the fitness level of the individual isolates that produce it. "We weren't expecting to find this. Typically, you would expect only the resistant strains to survive, with the susceptible ones dying off in the face of antibiotic stress. We were quite surprised to find the weak strains not only surviving, but thriving." The fact that the full complexity of bacteria strains can now be more accurately understood has significant ramifications for the medical community. "Now, when we measure the resistance in a population, we'll know that it may be tricking us. We'll know that even an isolate that shows no resistance can put up a stronger battle against antibiotics thanks to its buddies."
Attention, Couch Potatoes! Walking Boosts Brain Connectivity, Function: Even moderate exercise -- in this case walking at one's own pace for 40 minutes three times a week -- can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks. Previous studies have found that aerobic exercise can enhance the function of specific brain structures, Kramer said. This study shows that even moderate aerobic exercise also improves the coordination of important brain networks. "The higher the connectivity, the better the performance on some of these cognitive tasks, especially the ones we call executive control tasks -- things like planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity, working memory and multitasking." These are the very skills that tend to decline with aging.
Starvation Keeps Sleep-Deprived Fly Brain Sharp: As anyone who has ever struggled to keep his or her eyes open after a big meal knows, eating can induce sleepiness. New research in fruit flies suggests that, conversely, being hungry may provide a way to stay awake without feeling groggy or mentally challenged. ...The findings add a new wrinkle to the complex relationship between sleep and dietary metabolism. Scientists recognized about a decade ago that inadequate sleep results in obesity and contributes to the development of diabetes and coronary disease. Until now, no one had connected genes linked to lipids with regulation of the need for sleep. Like humans, flies deprived of sleep one day will try to make up for it by sleeping more the next day, a phenomenon referred to as sleep debt. Sleep-deprived flies also perform poorly on a simple test of learning ability.
Studies in other labs have shown that starvation or, in the case of human volunteers, fasting leads to less sleep. More recent research has also shown that starvation can change the activity levels of genes that manage storage and use of lipids. Scientists tested the starving, sleepless flies for two markers of sleep debt: an enzyme in saliva and the flies' ability to learn to associate a light with an unpleasant stimulus. Both tests showed that the starving flies were not getting sleepy. "From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. If you're starving, you want to make sure you're on the top of your game cognitively, to improve your chances of finding food rather than becoming food for someone else."
Eating Berries May Activate the Brain's Natural Housekeeper for Healthy Aging: Scientists have reported the first evidence that eating blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help the aging brain stay healthy in a crucial but previously unrecognized way. Their study concluded that berries, and possibly walnuts, activate the brain's natural "housekeeper" mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline. Previous research suggested that one factor involved in aging is a steady decline in the body's ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage. This leaves people vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders. "The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline."
...Their past studies, for instance, showed that old laboratory rats fed for two months on diets containing 2 percent high-antioxidant strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract showed a reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior that involves learning and remembering. In the new research, they focused on another reason why nerve function declines with aging. It involves a reduction in the brain's natural house-cleaning process. Cells called microglia are the housekeepers. In a process called autophagy, they remove and recycle biochemical debris that otherwise would interfere with brain function. "But in aging, microglia fail to do their work, and debris builds up. In addition, the microglia become over-activated and actually begin to damage healthy cells in the brain. Our research suggests that the polyphenolics in berries have a rescuing effect. They seem to restore the normal housekeeping function. These findings are the first to show these effects of berries."
The study provides further evidence to eat foods rich in polyphenolics. Although berries and walnuts are rich sources, many other fruits and vegetables contain these chemicals ― especially those with deep red, orange, or blue colors. Those colors come from pigments termed anthocyanins that are good antioxidants. He emphasized the importance of consuming the whole fruit, which contains the full range of hundreds of healthful chemicals. Frozen berries, which are available year round, also are excellent sources of polyphenolics.
Roots of Gamblers' Fallacies and Other Superstitions: Causes of Seemingly Irrational Human Decision-Making: Gamblers who think they have a "hot hand," only to end up walking away with a loss, may nonetheless be making "rational" decisions. The study finds that because humans are making decisions based on how we think the world works, if erroneous beliefs are held, it can result in behavior that looks distinctly irrational. "The overarching idea is that there is typically structure in the world, and it makes sense that when we make decisions, we try to understand the structure in order to exploit it. One of the simplest kinds of 'structure' is when the outcome that just occurred tells you something about what is likely to happen next. Where people go astray is when they base their decisions on beliefs that are different than what is actually present in the world. In the coin example, if you toss a coin five times and all five times are heads, should you pick heads or tails on the next flip? Assuming the coin is fair, it doesn't matter - the five previous heads don't change the probability of heads on the next flip - it's still 50 percent - but people nevertheless act as though those previous flips influence the next one."
When things are actually independent over time, meaning they don't have any structure, people will interpret results through possible structures, a way of thinking often seen among gamblers. For example, gamblers who win three hands in a row, may believe themselves to be "hot" and thus more likely to win the next hand. The research showed that similar behaviors are seen even in an optimal, fully rational computer learner given similar incorrect beliefs about the world. Furthermore, when the context of the task was changed so that subjects understood that the outcomes were actually independent, a drastic shift in their behavior was noted, with subjects all doing the "right" thing for the way the world actually worked. "This demonstrates that given the right world model, humans are more than capable of easily learning to make optimal decisions."