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Headlines added December 2, 2008

Newborns exposed to maternal smoking more irritable, difficult to soothe
New research by the Miriam Hospital reveals that babies exposed to tobacco in utero are less likely to self-soothe and are more aroused and excitable than newborns whose mothers didn't smoke during pregnancy.  12/2/08
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Headlines added earlier

Social first graders more likely to become good readers
Society for Research in Child Development | EurekAlert!
This study examined the connection between academic performance and aggressive behavior in low-income children over the course of six years. The findings connected poor literacy achievement in early grades and aggressive behavior in later grades. Similarly, positive social behavior was found to promote positive academic behavior. Since social development and academic development are linked, attention needs to be given to improvements in each domain to improve development in both areas. 2/8/2006
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Parental conflict may affect children's behavior and learning by disrupting their sleep
Society for Research in Child Development | EurekAlert!
A new study conducted at Auburn University and Brown University found that parental conflict might negatively affect children by disrupting their sleep. The sleep patterns of 54 children were assessed as well as conflict among the parents. Children in higher conflict homes went to sleep about the same time as other children, yet slept less and didn't sleep as well. The findings have implications for how parents manage conflict and help children cope with it. 2/8/2006
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Parental conflict produces more than fleeting distress for children
University of Rochester | EurekAlert!
Six-year-olds whose parents displayed frequent disagreements in their relationship responded to subsequent parental conflicts with elevated distress and negative thoughts, according to a team of researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of Notre Dame. 2/9/2006
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Which holds more: A tall, thin glass or a short, fat one?
University of Chicago Press Journals | EurekAlert!
A fascinating new study from the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explores how our senses interact to gauge volume, with important implications for perception of consumer products and consumption patterns. Specifically, the article argues that "elongation effect" - the common tendency to think that a tall, thin glass holds more than a short, stout glass of equal volume - is reversed when touch is used instead of sight to evaluate how much a container holds. 2/9/2006
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Study supports limiting television time for children
University of Texas at Austin | EurekAlert!
Children who spend more time watching television spend less time interacting with their family and playing creatively, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard Children's Hospital in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers also found that older children who spent more time watching television spent less time on homework. Television did not interfere with reading or playing outdoors, though it is a commonly held belief that it interferes with these activities. 2/5/2006
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Scientists find ability for grammar hardwired into humans
University of Rochester | EurekAlert!
Researchers have long wondered why certain fundamental characteristics of grammar are present in all languages, and now a team of scientists at the University of Rochester has found evidence that these properties are built into the way our brains work. The report examines deaf individuals who have been isolated from conventional sign, spoken, and written language their entire lives, and yet still developed a unique form of gesture communication. 2/5/2006
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Freshman Fifteen' is a myth, but weight gain is still a problem
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey | EurekAlert!
A common, but often undocumented, truism among college students is that they are likely to gain 15 pounds during their freshman year. But now a new study at Rutgers' Cook College has found that the "Freshman Fifteen" phenomenon is exaggerated. 2/5/2006
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Home paper shredders pose serious injury risk to toddlers
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine | EurekAlert!
As our environments change over time with technology, pediatric emergency specialists are continuously challenged to observe possible trends and prevent more injuries by educating the public. In a new case report published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers at New York University School of Medicine discuss the serious injury risks posed by paper shredders, which have become increasingly common household items. 2/5/2006
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Teens' healthy food choices foiled by early lunch, soft drink machine income and parents who cater
Penn State | EurekAlert!
Penn State researchers have identified three previously unreported factors that foil the efforts of high school students to make healthy food choices - early lunch, school income from soft drink incentives, and parents who bring fast food to the cafeteria for their kids. 2/1/2006
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Like their pregnant mates, primate dads-to-be pack on pounds
University of Wisconsin-Madison | EurekAlert!
Confirming what many have long suspected, scientists have found that male monkeys of two different species get heavier when their mates are pregnant. 1/30/2006
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Global effort needed to anticipate and prevent potential misuse of advances in life sciences
The National Academies | EurekAlert!
Biomedical advances have made it possible to identify and manipulate features of living organisms in useful ways -- leading to improvements in public health, agriculture, and other areas. 1/30/2006
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Baboons in mourning seek comfort among friends
University of Pennsylvania | EurekAlert!
According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, baboons physiologically respond to bereavement in ways similar to humans, with an increase in stress hormones called glucocorticoids. Baboons can lower their glucocorticoid levels through friendly social contact, expanding their social network after the loss of specific close companions. 1/29/2006
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Think your friends know you pretty well? Think again
University of Chicago Press Journals | EurekAlert!
Researchers from the University of Michigan and Columbia University recently compared how well people think their friends know them to their actual taste in movies and restaurants. They found that we tend to overestimate personal information more in close friends than in acquaintances. 1/29/2006
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New study shows that variety is overrated, especially in our choices for others
University of Chicago Press Journals | EurekAlert!
Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, not as much as we expect it to be. Contrary to our own predictions, we generally get more satisfaction from eating our favorite foods repeatedly than from having a wide variety of menu options. New research forthcoming in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research shows that when it comes to choosing foods for others, we even more egregiously overestimate the desire for variety. 1/29/2006
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Why offer promotional bonuses? New study shows how (fake) progress can motivate customers
University of Chicago Press Journals | EurekAlert!
An important new study explores the impact of artificial bonuses on customer loyalty. For example, putting a few extra "bonus" stamps on a frequent-buyer card - instead of just requiring more purchases in the first place - leads to an artificial feeling of advancement towards a goal.and repeat business. In a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, this phenomenon is termed the "endowed progress effect." 1/29/2006
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Identifying the source of negative emotions greatly reduces their influence on unrelated decisions
University of Chicago Press Journals | EurekAlert!
People who feel sad or anxious without knowing the source of their sulkiness will let negative feelings affect their decision-making on unrelated issues. However, a groundbreaking new study in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research reveals a surprisingly simple way to combat the rule of bad feelings: identify the source of the negative emotion. 1/29/2006
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Giving d.j. vu a second look
University of Leeds | EurekAlert!
Psychologists from Leeds' memory group are working with sufferers of chronic d.j. vu on the world's first study of the condition. 1/29/2006
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Public schools equal or better in math than private or charter schools
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | EurekAlert!
Contrary to common wisdom, public schools score higher in math than private ones, when differences in student backgrounds are taken into account. That was the conclusion of researchers Sarah and Christopher Lubienski in a study last year of data from the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Now they're back with similar and more-extensive results in a follow-up study. 
The results, the researchers said, raise further questions about the assumed academic benefits of private, as well as charter, schools. The results also raise doubts about how effectively parental choice can influence school quality.   
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Internet users judge Web sites in less than a blink
Kamakshi Tandon | Reuters
TORONTO (Reuters) - Internet users can give Web sites a thumbs up or thumbs down in less than the blink of an eye, according to a study by Canadian researchers.
In just a brief one-twentieth of a second -- less than half the time it takes to blink -- people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their experience with an Internet site.
The study was published in the latest issue of the Behavior and Information Technology journal. The author said the findings had powerful implications for the field of Web site design.      
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In spite of ourselves
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft | EurekAlert!
In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy (January 17, 2006), Keith Jensen and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany looks at altruism and spite in our close cousin; the chimpanzee. 
In Jensen's study, chimpanzees from the Wolfgang Koehler Primate Research Centre in Leipzig were given a choice; by pulling on a rope they could either deliver food to another chimpanzee or they could deliver it to an empty room. In both cases, the chimpanzee pulling the rope did not receive any food itself. Contrary to initial expectations the chimpanzees behaved neither altruistic nor spiteful. According to the researchers, both characteristics therefore seem to be human-specific.   
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Full-day vs. half-day kindergarten
University of Chicago Press Journals | EurekAlert!
In an important new longitudinal study forthcoming in the Feb. 2006 issue of the American Journal of Education, researchers draw on a nationally representative sample of more than 8,000 kindergarteners and 500 U.S. public schools to explore the role of full-day vs. half-day kindergarten in early academic achievement. The researchers found that full-day programs, which are most commonly available to less-advantaged children, are roughly equivalent to an additional month of schooling each year when compared to half-day programs.
"We evaluated program effectiveness by how much children learned in mathematics and literacy over the kindergarten year," write the authors. "Results are clear: when children's social and academic backgrounds are taken into account, as well as structural, social, and academic features of their schools, children who experience full-day kindergarten as a whole-school program are advantaged in terms of their cognitive learning."    
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Siblings' bad habits brush off
Research Australia | EurekAlert!
Brothers and sisters are more powerful role models than friends or parents when it comes to teenage drinking and smoking, research has shown. 
Researchers from The University of Queensland and University of Washington have proved that tobacco and alcohol use by older siblings increases the odds of similar behaviour from younger siblings by three to five times.
University of Washington Sociologist Dr Abby Fagan studied the contributions and influence of parents, siblings and peers on teen drug use.
Dr Fagan used data from 1370 Brisbane teenagers, who've been part of one of the world's longest running health studies -- the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy.
The teenagers were interviewed between 1995 and 1997 at 14 years old and were asked about how often they drank and smoked and also about their family relationships.
On average, 13 percent of younger siblings reported smoking and 36 percent reported drinking, but rates increased when older siblings also reported substance use.  
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Most behaviors preceding major causes of preventable death have begun by young adulthood
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development | EurekAlert!
By the time they reach early adulthood, a large proportion of American youth have begun the poor practices contributing to three leading causes of preventable death in the United States: smoking, overweight and obesity, and alcohol abuse. This finding is according to an NIH-funded analysis of the most comprehensive survey of adolescent health behavior undertaken to date.   1/10/2006
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First demonstration of 'teaching' in non-human animals
University of Bristol | EurekAlert!
Certain species of ant use a technique known as 'tandem running' to lead another ant from the nest to a food source. Signals between the two ants control both the speed and course of the run. It is believed to be the first time a demonstration of 'formal' teaching has been recognised in any non-human animal.
This behaviour indicates that it could be the value of information, rather than the constraint of brain size, that has influenced the evolution of teaching.
The research, by Professor Nigel Franks and Tom Richardson from Bristol University, is reported today in Nature [12 January 2006].
According to the accepted definition of teaching in animal behaviour, an individual is a teacher if it modifies its behaviour in the presence of a naïve observer, at some initial cost to itself, in order to set an example so that the other individual can learn more quickly.      1/10/2006
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Some comfort for the grieving: There's no wrong way to do it
Judy Foreman | Boston Globe
Grieving used to be seen as a very straightforward process: You cried at the funeral, you were sad for a few months, then you had some ''closure" and got on with your life.
Most psychologists -- both pop and professional -- thought that anyone who didn't cry at the funeral was heartless, while those who were still sobbing a year later were regarded as overly emotional.
Mercifully, the emerging view among mental health experts is that grieving for a lost loved one is really a disorderly, highly idiosyncratic process -- that there are no set stages to go through and no ''normal" or ''right" ways to do it.    1/9/2006
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Light cafe to beat winter blues
BBC News
A café designed to beat the winter blues by giving people a much-needed dose of light has been set up at the Science Museum in London. 

The Dana Café offers free 20-minute light treatments to counter the effect of dark winter days.
Up to 500,000 people, the majority women, are thought to suffer from SAD - seasonal affective disorder.
The condition, more common in northerly latitudes, can cause symptoms ranging from low spirits to severe depression.   
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Violent games 'affect behaviour'
BBC News
Violent computer games may make people more likely to act aggressively, a study says.
Previous research has found people who play such games are more likely to be aggressive but some say this just shows violent people gravitate towards them.
But a team from the University of Missouri-Columbia said their study which monitored the brain activity of 39 game players suggests a causal link.
The findings were published on the New Scientist website.
The researchers measured a type of brain activity called the P300 response which reflects the emotional impact of an image.
When shown images of real-life violence, people who played violent video games were found to have a diminished response.
"The truth is there are many factors that can lead to violence, such as being withdrawn and isolated, so it is hard to say it is because of one thing", Professor David Buckingham, of the Institute of Education, said.    
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Losing sleep undoes the rejuvenating effects new learning has on the brain
American Physiological Society | EurekAlert!
As the pace of life quickens and it becomes harder to balance home and work, many people meet their obligations by getting less sleep.
But sleep deprivation impairs spatial learning -- including remembering how to get to a new destination. And now scientists are beginning to understand how that happens: Learning spatial tasks increases the production of new cells in an area of the brain involved with spatial memory called the hippocampus. Sleep plays a part in helping those new brain cells survive.
A team of researchers from the University of California and Stanford University found that sleep-restricted rats had a harder time remembering a path through a maze compared to their rested counterparts. And unlike the rats that got enough sleep, the sleep-restricted rats showed reduced survival rate of new hippocampus cells.      1/8/2006
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Role models influence ethical behavior
Oregon State University | EurekAlert!
As the United States continues to grapple with ethical scandals in government and business, researchers examined the ethical behavior of college students - particularly students' behavior in negotiations. In these situations, they found that students whose role models included clergy, Boy Scout leaders, friends and college advisers exhibited less willingness to adopt questionably ethical behavior in negotiation situations. Those whose role models were journalists and coaches tended to be more accepting of questionable ethical behavior.
The authors of the study found college students a particularly interesting target audience.
"They are a fairly homogeneous population, most between 18 and 22 years old, and all going through an important transitional phase in life," said Nixon, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Excellence Professor at Texas A&M. "Their ethical attitudes are shaped but still open to change. They are facing negotiations for the first time with roommates, landlords, managers, even school officials."     1/8/2006
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Scientists, linking gene with serotonin and depression, offer insights to new treatments      1/4/2006   Read whole story

Nobelist discovers antidepressant protein in mouse brain      1/4/2006   Read whole story

The Cute Factor    1/3/2006   Read whole story

Teens unaware of sexually transmitted diseases until they catch one, Carnegie Mellon study finds      1/2/2006    Read whole story

Food insecurity impairs academic development of children     12/22/2005   Read whole story

Why good dancers are attractive    12/21/2005   Read whole story


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