I am 22 when it first occurs to me that migraines will impede my projected path through life. It is the first week of my first real job. My business card says Rural Reporter, which distinguishes me from the Education Reporter and the Business Reporter and the Crime Reporter, but really we are all rural reporters, at a tiny newspaper in a town you’ve never heard of, tucked away in the foothills of the Washington Cascades. Thanks to a nearby spearmint factory, which refines the sweet oil used in candies and toothpaste, the whole town smells like a pack of gum left on a car dashboard on a hot summer [...]
When I was three years old, my mom used to take me to the library, find me a pile of books, and let me sit and read for up to an hour while she went and browsed the stacks. When I was 14 years old, I made my mom paint my room black, and I spent a lot of time watching The X-Files and being mortified by her. But she never forgot that I could also be that first kind of patient, inquisitive girl, even when I insisted on listening to Walkmen tapes of Queen’s Greatest Hits while hiking in Glacier Park.
Like so many of us, I didn’t fully [...]
First, the experimenters induced nostalgia by playing hit songs from the past for some people and letting them read lyrics to their favorite songs. Afterward, these people were more likely than a control group to say that they felt “loved” and that “life is worth living.” Then the researchers tested the effect in the other direction by trying to induce existential angst. They subjected some people to an essay by a supposed Oxford philosopher who wrote that life is meaningless because any single person’s contribution to the world is “paltry, pathetic and pointless.” Readers of the essay became more likely to nostalgize, presumably to ward off Sartrean despair. Moreover, when [...]
On Monday, Angelina Jolie quietly published an op-ed in the New York Times in which she admitted to undergoing a preventative double mastectomy. Jolie, whose mother died from breast cancer, carries the "faulty" BRCA1 gene, which increases the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Our own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She had radiation and chemotherapy and has now been cancer-free for more than five years, but last year she tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation, and she is petrified that she has passed it on to us (we're 26 and 30 years old). She desperately [...]
Women, already twice as likely to suffer from chronic migraines as men, may also require different treatment for their bouts; Harvard scientist Nasim Maleki suggests we even consider men's and women's migraines "different diseases altogether." From Scientific American:
In women with chronic migraines, the posterior insula does not seem to thin with age, as it does for everyone else, including male migraineurs and people who do not have migraines. The region starts thick and stays thick.
We don't know yet whether the thickening of the insula is something the brain is doing to protect itself or something that worsens women's migraines, Maleki says. Yet the evidence is mounting [...]
From the Washington Post:
Do verified haters tend to hate everything else they stumble upon? Yes, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People who tend to hate things they already know about are (surprise!) more disposed to hate things they have not yet come in contact with.
To test out this theory, a team of psychologists asked study participants how they felt about a number of mundane and unrelated subjects that included (but was not limited to) architecture, health care, crossword puzzles, taxidermy and Japan.
From Scientific American:
New research by two Yale University psychologists details how the sight of something cute brings out our aggressive side. Rebecca Dyer and Oriana Aragon investigated “cute aggression” by showing study participants slide shows of either cute, funny or normal animal photographs. As they watched, the participants held bubble wrap. The researchers, attempting to mimic the common desire to squeeze cute things, told subjects to pop as many or as few bubbles as they wished. People watching the cute slide show popped significantly more bubbles than those viewing the funny or control pictures, according to results presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual [...]
Researchers from the University of Montreal are getting to the bottom of the perverse I-just-wanna-eat-you-up reaction we hormonal wrecks sometimes feel in the presence of babies. From the CS Monitor:
Apparently it has something to do with the way babies smell. A paper published in the current issue of Frontiers in Psychology describes how researchers in Dresden, Germany, imaged the brains of two groups of 15 women while the women sampled the odors of other parents' newborns. One group was composed of women who had given birth within the past six weeks. The other group was made up of women who had never given birth. The scientists collected [...]
The Wall Street Journal starts with a shocker:
Eating so-called comfort foods with large amounts of fat and sugar has been shown to vastly improve people's moods.
And then goes on to say:
A report in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science suggests that drawing pictures of unhealthy food can also have positive effects on mood.
Oh really! Here is how this knowledge rained down. In a very small study, researchers in upstate New York took 61 mostly "slightly overweight" college students and had them draw, not literally on an empty stomach but while in a state of relative hunger, pictures of four specific things: pizza (high-fat, low-sugar), cupcakes (high-fat, [...]
Think you do just fine on five or six hours of shut-eye? Chances are, you are among the many millions who unwittingly shortchange themselves on sleep.
Here is one of those internet stories that you start reading, with genuine curiosity, hoping to learn more about your own sleeping issues and how you can be a better, healthier person from here on out. "I am among the many millions who unwittingly shortchange themselves on sleep!" you think, brightly. "This is just the thing for me." And then, right off the bat, it gets bleak:
Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten [...]