Go ahead and gossip

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A new study says gossiping is not a character flaw. It is instead a highly developed social skill and competitive tactic.

Women tend to comment on each others’ appearance. Men, on the other hand, gossip about each others’ wealth and athleticism.

The study’s author Adam Davis of the University of Ottawa doesn’t seem to regard the men’s gossip in the same light as that of women. He seems to think it is only women whose gossip is designed to undermine rivals for a potential mate’s attention.

Personally, it sounds the same to me. Women assume men are more interested in a more attractive mate, so they try to make other women seem less attractive. Men assume women want a rich partner or at least a physically fit one who can presumably protect them.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

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A new study by Rubin Naiman, PhD, a sleep and dream specialist at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, warns that lack of dreams is leading to many health concerns.

When we fall asleep, we first experience the deep sleep that our bodies prioritize. Dreams, however, occur during REM, rapid eye movement, sleep that typically comes late at night or early morning. Naiman says health concerns are usually attributed to sleep loss might actually be  caused by dream loss.

Personally, I don’t usually remember my dreams. Does this mean I am not dreaming enough? Should I be worried?

Eat more amino acids to lose weight

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If you, like me and millions of others, are overweight, a new study offers a possible solution.

Researchers at the University of Warwick found that tanycytes, cells in the part of the brain that controls energy, detect nutrients in food such as  amino acids. Two amino acids, arginine and lysine, react the most with these tanycytes and thus make you feel more full. Large concentrations of arginine and lysine are found in pork shoulder beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocados, lentils, and almonds.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to add more of these foods to my diet ASAP.

Medical “arts”

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Now here is a study I can get behind.

A group of 36 first-year medical students from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia took a class in art observation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They looked at paintings and then discussed what they saw using creative questioning and reasoning. The six 90 minute sessions were taught by professional art educators using the “Artful Thinking” teaching approach, which emphasizes introspection and observation before interpretation.

As a result, the students became better observers with patients. Making a diagnosis when presented with complex visual clues is difficult. These students learned to use a structured approach that they began putting into practice immediately. This training is particularly applicable with ophthalmology, dermatology, and radiology, where diagnosis and treatments plans are based primarily on direct observation. The students also felt they had increased their empathy, although this was not verified by pre- and post -testing.

As a singer, I wonder if teaching music appreciation skills might have a similar effect. After all, doctors have to listen to patients as well as observe them. Just one more reason to support education in the arts.

Dance to keep your brain healthy

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Ladies, is your husband, like mine, one of those men who refuses to get out on the dance floor? A new study may provide you with some ammunition.

Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany, is the lead author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. She recruited senior citizens, average age 68, for eighteen months. Half of them undertook weekly repetitive strength and endurance exercises such as cycling. The other half learned dance routines that were changed up every other week. Different genres, rhythms, arm movements, and patterns kept participants on their toes physically and mentally.

Although all physical activity can slow, or even reverse, brain decline, those who danced saw greater benefits as well as better balance.

Good luck at getting that man of yours off the couch.

 

 

Marriage 101

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A study done by psychologists at Carnegie Mellon University has left me going “Duh.” It seems that people with a supportive spouse are more likely to take on challenges and subsequently more likely to continue to have supportive relationships. Oh, really?

The researchers rounded up 163 married couples and gave two options. One person in each couple could either solve a relatively easy puzzle or could make a speech that might win them a prize. Supportive spouses gave encouragement and conveyed confidence and enthusiasm.

Those who took on the greater challenge were studied again six months later and found to have more personal growth and  better relationships. They were happier.

How else would you attain personal growth except by challenging yourself?  And of course they were happier. They were still married to someone who built them up instead of putting them down. Professor Brooke Feeney, lead author of the study, states the obvious, “Significant others can help you thrive through embracing life opportunities.”

The lesson here is pretty clear. Choose your spouse wisely.

What do you say when you talk to yourself?

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One of the facets of emotional intelligence is the ability to control one’s emotions. Researchers at Michigan State College and the University of Michigan have discovered a simple technique.

Talk to yourself in third person. There is a name for this–illeism. Who knew?

For example, when I’m stressed, instead of my thinking “Why am I upset?” I should think “Why is Fran upset?” You know how it’s always easier to think clearly about someone else’s problems? This works the same way. Isn’t that genius? Just that tiny bit of psychological distance apparently does the trick.

This has all sorts of implications. Could it be used to treat those with PTSD? Or what about addictions?

My suggestion: if you try this at home, do the talking silently. Referring to yourself in the third person out loud is a wee bit pretentious.