Author Archives: ram5928

Temperature can affect cognitive thinking?

Students, have you ever felt that you perform better in school during the colder days of the year? Research shows that people make better decision-making skills and perform better cognitively in cooler environments compared to hotter environments. This may sound silly and weird, but our brain (which is what we use to think with) is an organ and it needs certain things to work most efficiently. Brains need energy to function properly and it uses glucose as an energy source.

An important task of the body is temperature regulation. Peoples’ bodies use energy to maintain a healthy internal temperature. This is achieved through sweating, shivering, and getting goose bumps.

Warm temperatures are more likely to deplete peoples’ resources for energy. It is proposed that because our bodies need to use more glucose in warmer areas to function properly, brains cannot function to their full capacity due to lack of glucose for cognitive functioning.

Two researchers form UVA wanted to test this theory out. They gathered sales data for multiple types of lottery games in St. Louis County for a year and then examined the differences in sales in relation to the temperature each day. Sales for scratch tickets fell by almost $600 with every one degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature. They then made two experiments. In one lab study, participants were asked to proofread an article while they were in either a warm or cool room. Participants that were in warm rooms performed significantly worse than those in cool rooms. In a second study, participants were asked to choose between two cell phone plans in either a warm or cool room. One plan looked better, but was actually more expensive and the wrong choice. This task was harder than the first experiment, but it still showed the ability of whether people can or cannot make good cognitive decisions in hotter areas compared to cooler areas. Participants in the cool room made the correct decision more than half of the time. Participants in the warmer room made the correct decision only a quarter of the time.

Warmer temperatures seem to make people more likely to rely on easy patterns of decision-making, which in turn lead to inferior choices and more decisions. While there it could have been chance that the smarter people were put in a cooler room, this is doubtful because two experiments give evidence and support that people do perform worse cognitively in warmer areas. I have one question concerning the experiment. If glucose is needed for cognitive thinking, then what people ate before the study is important for accurate results. This is a third variable that needs to be taken into account.


Grapefruit is good… but also bad?

Grapefruit is known to be low in calories but full of nutrients. They help you gain clear, healthy skin, help lower our risk for many diseases and conditions and even help with weight loss. Grapefruit contains protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium. It also contains vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper. It is also known to prevent and treat disease, reduce the risk of cancer, and reduce the hardening of the arteries.

In 2012, many studies came to the conclusion that grapefruit interacts badly with certain prescription drugs. Apparently many doctors are unaware of this still today and the number of people that take prescription medicine has doubled. Grapefruit can have life-threatening effects when combined with people’s medicines.

Side effects that grapefruit can have on people taking medicines, which interact poorly together, are sudden death, severe kidney failure, respiratory failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding. My grandparents take drugs to help with their blood pressure and they cannot eat grapefruit because their doctor told them their medicine will not work. Research shows that pills taken orally do not metabolize well and in some drugs, when pills are taken with some grapefruit, it can increase the dosage of the drug that enters the blood stream, which obviously can have bad effects.

Research shows that furanocoumarins are responsible for the bad effects grapefruits have when people take certain medications. When taking drugs that interact poorly with grapefruit, it is advised to not consume grapefruit AT ALL because no amount of time that passes will allow for you to eat grapefruit without there being any poor side effects.

Statistics show that people over the age of 45 are more likely to eat grapefruit as well as more medication than younger people. These are the more people at risk. More complications arise as people get older. Statistics also show that one out of every five Americans eat grapefruit for breakfast which is also when a lot of people take their medications.

Based on this research, grapefruit and drug interaction leads to unpredictable and hazardous levels of certain drugs that people need for good health. My grandparents need to take their blood pressure medicine because without it they immediately feel sick. It is best to talk to your doctor when on medication to make sure that grapefruit does not reduce or increase the dosage of medicine that you take. Here is a list of medicines that you cannot eat grapefruit with.

There are not any experiments shown online because it would not be ethical to have a person take medicine that interacts poorly with grapefruit and then give them grapefruit to see what happens. Reports are based on facts and experiences people have had.


Do flowers improve emotional health?

It has been proven that the presence of flowers trigger happy emotions and help with feelings of life satisfaction. It has also been proven to affect social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed. Nowadays people need as many ways as possible to release stress. Having flowers in the room is a healthy and natural way for people to release stress, rather than taking pills and supplements.

Researchers set up a 10-month experiment, which studies participants’ behavior and emotional responses to receiving flowers. The results were positive; flowers do improve peoples’ moods. There were three findings in the research results. First, that flowers have a direct response to happiness. When participants received flowers, they expressed the emotions of true happiness and excitement. They also demonstrated extreme amusement and appreciation. This was a universal reaction, it occurred to all genders, ages, and race. Secondly, flowers end up having long-term effects on moods. The study shows that participants felt happier in general, while less anxious and agitated after receiving flowers. With flowers, participants felt a higher sense of confidence and pleasure. Think about it, who wouldn’t feel good after receiving flowers? Thirdly, flowers help people have stronger intimate connections. Flowers lead families and friends to having improved relationships.

If flowers make people happy, then does having flowers around the house cause for a happier family? According to this study, flower arrangements that were placed around people’s homes showed symbols of sharing and welcoming. Flowers bring positive emotions into rooms and to people.

In another study, which shows the research behind their findings, concluded the same results. In this study, about 150 women were recruited to participate in a study about “normal daily moods.” The women were asked questions about their mood and overall satisfaction with life. Then the women were all given a gift. One third was given flowers, one third was given a fruit basket, and the other was given a candle. When the women were given their gifts, 100% smiled when they got flowers, 90% smiled when they received fruit, and 77% smiled when they received candles. Three days later, they were asked the same questions about their mood and life satisfaction. The women who received flowers scored noticeably higher on the mood questionnaire than they did the first time.

Needless to say, who would not feel good and confident after receiving flowers? I know if I got flowers sent to me it would probably make not only my day, but my week! There are some things that need to be considered from this second experiment though. Why did they only test out women? Also, what age were the women they tested. Would they have gotten different results if they tested men in the same experiment? Also, did the type of flower have any effect on the results? These are all third variables that need to be considered.

I found a website that has different types of flowers and colors of flowers that evoke different emotions due to the different colors the floor arrangements contain.

I want to fill my dorm with flowers to feel happier. Heck, maybe I will send some to my parents, too.


Is a cup of wine a day good for you?

Red wine has been found to be healthy for your heart in moderation. There are certain substances and ingredients (antioxidants) in red wine that help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and always help protect against artery damage. Some antioxidants that wine contains are flavonoids or resveratrol.

There has been a lot of research (according to this article) that moderate intake of alcohol improves cardiovascular health. Research has suggested that red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health. The antioxidants in wine from the skin and seed of grapes are healthy for the heart.

Flavonoids help reduce the risk of coronary heart in three major ways. These are: By reducing the production of low density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is considered “bad protein” because it adds to plaque, a think hard deposit that can clop arteries and cause them to be less flexible. It boosts high density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is considered the “good protein” because it helps remove lipoprotein cholesterol from the arteries and to the liver, where it is then removed from the body. Thirdly, it reduces blood clotting.

So you may be wondering, as long as I am drinking red wine I’m being healthy? From my observations the answer is no. For red wine to be beneficial for your heart health, it needs to have a large quantity of the antioxidants flavonoids and resveratrol, so sorry college kids but Franzia is probably not cutting it. Also, when drinking wine for health benefits, one serving is the appropriate amount to drink. If you have certain health issues, red wine may not be the answer to your problem.

So if wine comes from grapes, does grape juice have the same benefits? Apparently purple grape juice reduces blood clotting and some juices do contain the same antioxidant that red wine contains, but it was found that it does not lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol as well as red wine.

It is important to remember that too much alcohol is unhealthy and can be damaging to your body. Moderation is key for red wine to actually be beneficial.GlassesHeartRedWine-copy

Do higher SPFs actually work?

When going to the beach, there are various SPFs that people can choose to buy, the higher the number, the better the protection. Does having 100 SPF screen protect your so much more than 30 SPF? SPF is the amount of ultraviolet B rays sunscreen blocks. Sunscreen does not block UVA rays, which damages the skin more than UVB rays. But at the end of the day, both UVB and UVA rays damage the skin and lead to skin cancer. Most people do not understand what the number of SPF means in sunscreen. SPF 30 does not block double the sun from using SPF 15. According to a Florida dermatologist James M. Spencer, “ SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.” No sunscreen will ever block 100% of UVB rays. It might be in your best interest to use a sunscreen with a higher SPF if you have paler skin and to reapply often, especially after get wet.

There is an experiment that shows that higher SPF sunscreens do work slightly better than sunscreens with lower SPF. The experimenter used different types of sunscreen: SPF 0 (control sheet), SPF 30 cream, SPF 30 spray, and SPF 50 cream (because the experiment believes that nothing over 50 SPF is better than 50 SPF) (sources claim different information). The experimenter smeared/sprayed the appropriate sunscreen onto its labeled plastic rectangle with the same thickness people usually apply when using sunscreen and then placed it over top of a photosensitive paper. The sheets were placed outside in the sun and were timed to be outside in the sun for two minutes each. After the two minutes passed, the photosensitive paper was rinsed in cold water for one minute to let the images show and then they were left to dry.

The results of the experiment show that the SPF cream worked well only if used in large amounts, which isn’t as typical of a person to do. The spray 30 SPF surprisingly worked better than the 30 SPF lotion. The SPF 50 lotion worked the best out of all three sunscreens.

There are third variables in this experiment that need to be considered. How much sunscreen SPF 30 spray was used.. could it have been more than an average person would use? What brands were used when conducting this experiment? Should two different brand have been tested? Also, was there not an appropriate amount of lotion used for the 30 SPF lotion to have reliable results. Should the experimenters have tested the lotions for longer than two minutes to see what the long-term effects of the sunscreen are? These are all things that people need to consider when considering what SPF sunscreen to use.

I have a darker skin tone, so usually I am fine wearing little to no sunscreen during the summer and I do not get burnt. Some people I know can do the same, while other people need to wear constant sunscreen to not end up looking like a tomato! At this point, most people know what works for them and as long as you can go to the beach and not completely fry your skin, that is what is important!art-sunscreen-620x349

Does stress cause over eating?

Whenever I am stressed about class or a life situation, I find myself continuously wanting to eat food. I do not know if it is to avoid doing work, to try and make the work I am doing more enjoyable, or to be doing something while working. I researched the science behind stress eating and this what I found out. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress.

In a study with fifty-nine healthy pre-menopausal women from ages 30-45 were recruited for a study testing if stress leads to an increase in food consumption. Women had four days where they went to three-hour lab sessions beginning within the first five days of the follicular stage of their menstrual cycle. The first three sessions were stressful and the fourth was a control session where no stress was involved. Women were told to eat a snack one hour before going to the lab. After the sessions in the lab, they were given a basket of food that contained different kinds of snack, some healthy and some not. After the sessions, the women had to wait an hour in the laboratory and they would read or listen to music. Little did they know that they were being analyzed for how much and what food they ate out of what the researchers gave them.

The researchers found that stressed was related to a greater calorie intake. The women ate more food and sweets after they had a stressful session.

When a person’s stress lingers, the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol, which increase appetite and motivate to eat. When people begin to get less stressed, their appetite will begin to fall. Harvard research also shows that women are more likely to eat more food and men are more likely to drink alcohol or smoke when under stress. According to a Harvard article, stress affects the type of food people want to eat. When people are stressed that want food that is high in fat, sugar, or both.

There are third variables that researchers need to take into account. Eating disorders are very common in women and they need to be taken into consideration during these studies. Eating disorders could cause women to binge eat after a stressful period or eat nothing or almost nothing. Weight, age, height, and allergies also need to be taken into consideration when analyzing what women choose to eat and how much. Another important detail to focus on is how much the women ate during the day before going to the lab, did they eat breakfast, lunch, an early dinner, snacks through out the day or do they have plans to eat after the lab session? This is very important when examining what and how much people eat after a lab session.

Stress causes people to lose sleep, exercise less, and drink alcohol more often, which can all contribute to weight gain. I have learned that the best thing to do when stress in college is to go to the library and get work done rather then eating a lot of food that later you regret.


Love Hurts?

According to heartbreaks can cause real physical pain even if there is no injury on a person’s body. When thinking about break ups, there is a part of the brain that activates physical pain, which adds to emotional distress and depression that a person usually feels along with a break up. Edward E. Smith did a study on forty people from New York City who felt “intensely rejected”. They were told to look at pictures of their friends and think positive thoughts. Then they were told to look at pictures of their exes and think of their breakup. The participants brains were scanned while they viewed pictures of their friends and exes. They also underwent brain scans of the participants comparing forearm pain to the feeling of holding a hot cup of coffee. The researchers found that several of the “same areas of the brain became active when participants felt either physical pain or emotional pain” (Love Study: Brain Reacts To Heartbreak Same As Physical Pain).

The physical pain that people feel from heartbreaks is how their bodies react to their emotions. Depression that is caused by heartbreaks make people feel not themselves, causing them to feel dull and not living life with a positive and upbeat manner. This can causes physical illness and pain. When people feel loss and rejection, the anterior cingulate cortex becomes active, triggering physical pain and distress.

Symptoms of heartbreak include “loss of appetite, insomnia, headaches, stomachaches, nausea, a ton of tears, occasional nightmares, alcohol/substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, panic attacks, loss of interest, fatigue, loneliness and hopelessness” (Ashley Cox).

Researchers concluded that feeling of rejection is similar to physical pain. If you are experiencing emotional pain, click here for tips on how to help get through it.

Heartbreaks affect people differently; some either people go through a very rough time or get over it quickly. What people feel can be because genetics, what chemicals the brain releases, and what areas of the brain are activated.



Is Smiling Contagious?

Have you ever caught yourself having a bad day and being in the worst mood, but then randomly feeling joy when talking to someone happy or someone that makes you laugh, putting a smile on your face? According to various studies, smiling is considered contagious. Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides, neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, which decrease stress levels, relax the body, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and serve as an antidepressant/mood lifter.

When a person is smiling, they are viewed as “attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere” (Sarah Stevenson). When a person sees another person smiling, his or her orbitofrontal cortex is activating, which processes sensory rewards. So when a person catches another person smiling, he or she feels rewarded, which is a good feeling.

A study that can test this and has been used in testing this is having a person walk by a certain number of people flashing them a smile and see if they smile back, then record this information. Then have a person walk by the same number of people not smiling and see how many people smile to this person. Usually what researchers find is that more people smile when they see someone smiling at them.

The cingulate cortex in a person’s brain is responsible for facial expressions, whether smiling when happy or mimicking another person’s smile unconsciously. In a study, people were told to frown at the pictures they were shown of others having different facial expressions. People viewing others would make a similar facial expression to what they were shown then made a conscious effort to frown afterwards. When people smile they release “feel good chemicals” (Sarah Stevenson), trigger the feeling of reward, and make themselves seem more attractive.

In another study, researchers “found that distinct happy and unhappy clusters significantly bigger than would be expected by chance” (Fox News).

Smiling makes people look and feel better. It is better for ones health to smile more because of the good chemicals it releases in ones brain. Next time you feel sad, surround yourself with people you know will put a smile on your face because uconsciously, smiles and emotions are contagious.

Multi-ethnic group portrait


Headphones Lead to Hearing Loss?

How often do you listen to headphones in a day and how loud? If your neighbor can hear your music, it is probably a good idea for you to turn your music down. A statistic, according to the article “Hearing Loss and Headphones- Is Anyone Listening?”, says that “1 in 5 teens has some form of hearing loss, a rate about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s”-this may be due to the increased use of headphones.

In James E. Foy’s study, he concluded that “after about an hour and 15 minutes” hearing loss can occur if headphones are played up to 120 decibels. He says that if you cannot hear sounds around you, the level of music is too high. This is interesting because most people turn up their headphone volume to block out the sounds around them. Foy recommends listening to music at a level a little over 50% for no more than an hour a day. To put it in perspective for you again, Foy also says that a person should only listen to their music for five minutes if they turn the volume all the way up to avoid hearing issues.

Once a person has hearing damage, they cannot fix it unless he or she gets a device to help with hearing. People, according to Foy’s study, should be more cautious when listening to headphones and use moderation when doing so.

While this study seems logical, correlation does not mean causation. Just because headphone use has increased while hearing loss has increased does not mean that headphones are the reason for this. There are many third variables that should be taken into consideration. For examples, if there has been an increase in number of concerts individuals attend, if there were valid tests of hearing made in the 1980s and 1990s to compare statistics with, if the increase of loud speakers is what is causing more hearing loss, and if loss of hearing is actually due to genetics.

While loud headphones may be a factor in hearing loss, it is not the reason for overall hearing loss. People should use headphones in moderation to avoid the chance of damaging their hearing. Seek a health care adviser if you have a ringing/buzzing noise in your ears, if you notice you cannot hear others, the radio, or television as well on your usual settings; and if you have trouble identifying high-pitched noises. Click here for a list of more symptoms.




Mouth guards make athletes sick?

Many athletes do not think twice about putting their mouth guards in their mouth when it is time to play their sport. Do athletes even consider how many germs and disgusting bacteria may have formed on their mouth guards after it has been sitting in their bag or case for months and months? Probably not. The truth is, many athletes fail to change or buy new mouth guards when needed for protecting their teeth and against getting concussions! According to the article “Bacteria and germs on athletic mouth guards”, which focuses on a study Dr. Glass from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences conducted, researchers found that mouth guards can cause a person to get sick. In this study of football and hockey mouth guards, microbial contamination of strep, staph, bacteria, fungi, gastro-intestinal upset, organisms that could produce pneumonia and kidney failures, and mold were all found. If this is not bad enough, after athletes put their mouth guards in their mouth and begin to run, they begin to breathe in the germs and bacteria, causing the risk of the contamination to go to their lungs. This can causes exercise-induced asthma. Many athletes also chew their mouth guards and Dr. Glass says that the ridges formed allows for more germs to grow. He also says that it allows for possible organisms to go into the athletes’ blood stream. Dr. Glass suggests that an athlete should change their mouth guard every two weeks, when realistically athletes generally change them every few months or even longer…

Germs and bacteria grow and increase faster in warm environments. Mouth guards in the summer are usually burning hot when athletes pull them out to use due to the intense heat and having their bags outside most of the time by either keeping their gear in their garages or generally having them outside when playing. Also, mouth temperatures are generally warm so when athletes put their mouth guards in their mouths it is another warm place for bacteria and germs to increase their growth.

When people are commonly in contact with germs and bacteria, they build their immune system and begin to get a better chance of not getting sick. Could dirty mouth guards be helping athletes in the long run by helping build strong immune systems?

Athletes should sanitize their mouth guards on a weekly basis, if not purchase an entire new mouth guard to stay as healthy as possible according to Dr. Glass’s study. If one is more prone to getting sick it may be a good idea, but if one has a track record of rarely getting sick, there may not be a need for change. Click here to read more about Dr. Glass’s study.


Exercise Makes You Smarter?

It is commonly said that exercising benefits peoples’ health and that for older people it keeps the mind young. Does physical activity actually have any impact on cognitive function? Boston University School of Medicine researchers found that physical activity improves brain health and cognition. Certain hormones that help improve memory are increased when people exercise. The hormones released are called “growth factors”, which positively correlate to brain health (in the hippocampus) (Christopher Bergland). In another relative study, “Dr. Bruce Spiegelman of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School reported that a molecule called FNDC5 and its byproduct, irisin, become elevated in the brain through endurance exercise” (Christopher Bergland). The increasing levels of irisin cause the molecule to cross the blood brain barrier, which increases the expression of BDNF. BDNF helps to stimulate the growth of new neurons, which is linked to decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression. Researchers believe that an increase BDNF due to exercise can improve memory.

Studies of school-aged children have concluded that regular aerobic exercise helps their memory, attention spans, and inhibit disruptive impulses. In younger adults, their executive functioning reaches its peak, but aerobic exercise can still improve it. Studies show that young adults that exercise frequently “post quicker reaction times, give more accurate responses, and are more effective at detecting errors when they engage in fast-paced tasks” (Annie Murphy Paul). In older adults, research showed that consistent aerobic exercise boots cognitive functions that usually fade with age. This includes length of attention span, switching tasks, and good memory. The study was conducted well since it hit different stages in life where brain development will obviously be different.

While not everyone who is intelligent and has quick reaction times routinely works out, exercise does seem to improve over all cognitive function, even slightly. In general exercising not only releases good hormones that help with memory and reaction time, but it also helps to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression, which disrupts how a person acts. People, especially adults, should exercise regularly to help fuel the mind, stay healthy, and increase cognitive function.

puzzle brain


Is Homework Bad??!

Considering that students from all over the world have tons of homework everyday, I feel like it is an appropriate to question whether homework helps students gain more intelligence and understanding on whatever they are learning. I looked at a few websites that contained different viewpoints, but generally the same research was gained. It seems that most research concludes that homework does help students gain more knowledge, but only at a certain age. Research shows that homework mostly benefits high school students and older. Students of ages 11-13 also showed that they benefit from homework, but not as distinctly as older kids. Children under the age of 11 did not show any benefit.

This study is complicated to research because there are many third variables that cannot be controlled. For examples, different schools and teachers have different policies and curriculums. Some teachers may teach very well in the classroom and give an appropriate amount of homework, while other teachers may not be as good at their jobs and may give an overbearing amount of homework. Students in the study would give different data on whether homework is beneficial or not. Other third variables include how much time students spend on extracurricular activities, if students read in their free time, gender, how much sleep each student receives, what students’ life situation at home is, if students are ill, and if students are fed well. To read up on what a Penn State Professor concluded from his research on this topic click here.

Homework can be used to further students’ research or understanding of a topic. It is also used to reinforce information learned in the classroom. Teachers should not overload students’ homework especially at young ages because it does not allow for as much time for children try to discover learning by themselves nor experience life outside of school. Homework is good when it is given to help and benefit students, not to just give students busy work. Teachers need to allow for students to have time for family and friends outside of school and experience other life lessons that cannot be taught within a classroom.



Do certain colors evoke emotion?

Do certain colors make people feel specific emotions? It has been prove that different colors do produce different emotions. “Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.” To learn more about possible effects colors have and reactions viewers have to them click on this link.

There are social culture effects as well as personal effects that colors have on humans. “You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color. This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.” At a young age we are taught be alarmed when we see red, for example: red street lights, stop signs, and firefighter truck and police lights. So naturally when we see red, we are taught to be alarmed. It has been proven that seeing blue lowers blood pressure. I found an interesting article that tells one what to wear depending on ones mood.. click here for more details.

I found a website that states colors and what emotions they evoke, which I found interesting. Here is what it says:

Red: “Light red for joy and love; dark red for rage and anger, but also leadership and courage; pink for romance and feminine qualities; and rusty reds for fall and change.”

Green: “Yellow-greens for sickness and discord; dark green for ambition and prosperity; teal for emotional health and stability; and olive green for peace and harmony.”

Blue: “Light blue for heath, depth, stability and faith; dark blue for knowledge, power, trust and integrity.”

Purple: “Light purple for softness, nostalgia and romance; dark purple for moodiness, including unease, gloom or frustration or the much different sense of power and control.”

Yellow: “Light yellow for caution and trepidation; dark yellow for happiness, joy and freshness.”

Orange: “Yellow-orange or gold for prestige and wisdom; red-orange for pleasure, energy, health and desire; and dark orange for change or distrust.”

White & Black: “White for clarity, cleanliness and openness; black for power, elegance and mystery; and gray for calm and conservative.”

I think that color evokes certain emotions from personal experience and what we learn from our culture. For example, when I walk into a red paint room I feel more anxious, where as when I am in a yellow room I feel more joy and happiness. Observe how you feel in different painted room and see if you sense a difference, too.


Do video games make children smarter?

I have a little brother who is always playing video games either on his computer or on our TV. He is an active kid, but when he is not playing soccer, he is playing videos. My little brother is a little boy genius though! This made me think.. does playing video games make children smarter?

My little brother plays mostly war-like video games and sports video games, which all involve strategic planning and thinking. “Games can help growing children question and critically think about the world around them and their place within it”, says Colin Wilkinson, a DesignGroup Manager at game development studio 1st Playable Productions. He explains that video games “teach simple motor control and hand-eye coordination.” According to this article, there was a study conducted in 2009 which found that “children who play educational video games were less likely to develop attention problems in school”, while “children who played arcade-like, or violent video games were more likely to develop attention problems in school”.

I found a counter-article that states that video games (yes violent ones) can make a person smarter and help develop important skills that are necessary to succeed. I will list a few examples:

  • Critical thinking- brain is stimulated to have creative solutions and thoughts throughout a video game, some can be applied to real life situations
  • Problem-solving and decision-making skills- video games require players to solve problems and make decisions quickly, which end up determining the outcome of their game
  • “Social nature of video games produce collaboration skills”- there are many games that allow players to communicate to each other (forming a team) to defeat or win, this takes communication skills and team effort. (ex. Xbox Live)
  • “Teach how to fail”- gamers constantly fail a video game or parts within a video- helps with persistence and hard work to achieve a goal
  • To learn more about the many benefits of playing video games, click here.

Depending on your source, different research proves that video games are either harmful or beneficial. From observing my little brother and researching this topic, I do believe that playing videos is beneficial in many ways mentally, but physically it can be harmful. With a good balance of fitness and leisure time playing video games, I think playing video games can be good for one’s mind. Too much of one thing, though, is never a good thing…


Is your phone dirtier than a toilet?

Do you ever think about how dirty your cell phone is? We take our phones with us everywhere… literally, even to the bathroom! People are so concerned with being in constant communication with others that they do not second guess where their phones end up picking up germs and bacteria. Watch this short video to put in perspective how much bacteria and germs can be found on a cell phone. People are so concerned with germs. For example, when you go to a public bathroom do you use your foot to flush the toilet? Do you grab a paper towel to open the door? Do you wash you instantly wash you hands after coming near anything gross like taking out the trash? Do you always wash your hands before eating a meal?

“A cell phone has 18 times more bacteria than a public restroom”. (Fox News) There are multiple reasons why a phone gets filthy with germs and bacteria. People are constantly touching others, handling dirty money, touching things filled with germs, handling food, bringing their phones to the bathroom, and swapping phones with others. People wash their hands constantly and avoid germs, but before a person washes their hands.. it is likely that they pick up their phone transferring germs to their screen. People later then pick up their phones and put it directly on their face to make a call, transferring germs right back to where they started. I know I am not the only person who has seen someone put their phone directly in their mouth when their hands are full and they have no where to set their phone down. Bacteria grows quicker when it is in warm places and dark. Phones naturally grow warmer when we use them constantly and we also keep them in small, dark, warm places- allowing bacteria to spread even more.

“People are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom” –Dr. Jeffery Cain (President of the American Academy of Family Physicians). From researching this topic, I advise you to pay more attention to where you place your phone, when you touch your phone after being in contact in germs and to wash your phone more often then you do now to avoid coming in contact with bacteria such as “E. coli, MRSA and the flu”. Not only will you avoid higher risks of becoming sick, you will protect your skin (from when you talk on the phone) from developing acne and from other bacteria that may cause your skin to be irritated. 



Is Dark Chocolate Really Good for your Heart?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t worry you can eat dark chocolate, it’s good for your heart” and then proceed to eat large amounts of dark chocolate because it is supposedly “healthy”? The reason that dark chocolate can be considered good for our health is due to cocoa. Cocoa contains beneficial bacteria, which helps human cardiovascular systems. In many studies, daily consumption of dark chocolate or cocoa lowered people’s blood pressure an average of two to three points. A Louisiana State University professor of food sciences, John Finley, wanted to explore dark chocolate, its many possible benefits, and how it works. Finley conducted an experiment to test what and how cocoa benefits humans by creating a “lab-built gut of sorts”. Click here if you want to learn more about the procedure that John Finely and his students used to conduct this experiment. Their overall research concluded that people who ate “cocoa every day for a month had an obvious improvement in vascular function over their baselines as well as a control group. Those eating the extra chocolate saw their arterial flow (measured by flow-mediated dilation) increasing, on average, from 14 percent to 23 percent.” “Cocoa has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity…getting a boost from the polyphenols, the antioxidants in cocoa.”

What this study shows is that it is not dark chocolate that is good for you, but the amount cocoa in chocolate. Having a higher cocoa percentage means that the chocolate piece will have more chocolate flavor. Milk chocolate has less cocoa and more sugar while dark chocolate has more cocoa and less sugar, which is why dark chocolate may not be as sweet as milk chocolate. To read more about this topic click here.

So it is not dark chocolate that is good for your heart, but the cocoa it contains. It is important to know that only a small amount is good for you on a daily basis, but cocoa will not drastically help your cardiovascular system. It may help improve it slightly, but if you have severe cardiovascular issues, cocoa is not your solution.


Women more prone to injuries then men?

My roommate and I were very motivated to workout the moment we got to Penn State. The walk to the IM building takes us about five minutes from east, which definitely encouraged us go more because we had no excuse not to. We tried various classes throughout the first two weeks of school and surprisingly we found ourselves going to the gym almost every day.  One day I woke up with a sharp pain in my knee. I found that it hurt the most when I walked down stairs, down hills, and when I generally extended my leg forward. I figured if I took Advil and iced my knee, the pain would eventually go away. After a week, the sharp pain in my knee did not subside and I decided to make my first trip to the Student Medical Health Center. The orthopedic diagnosed me with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is a very common cause of knee pain.  “Pain comes from the joint under the kneecap (aka your patella) where it slides up and down over the thighbone. It causes a sharp pain and a rubbing sound in the front of the knee, usually worse after squatting and going up and down hills.” There are many different factors that attribute to getting Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, which include: strength, flexibility, overuse of muscles, incorrect workout techniques, and weight gain. To read more about Patellofemoral Pain Disorder and other knee injuries, click here.

Women were more likely to get Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. This lead me to question.. are women more likely to get knee injuries then men are? The answer is yes.  There are numerous factors that contribute to women being more prone to knee injuries then men, here are some: women have smaller and weaker muscles supporting their knees, more lax ligaments, wider pelvises, inward angled thigh bones from hip to knee, greater imbalance between quadriceps and hamstring muscles, and biomechanical differences. Women are also more likely to get injuries because their menstrual cycles affect ligaments, connective tissue and neuromuscular control, due to their fluctuating hormone levels. Women are competing in sports with extreme high intensity and their bodies cannot keep up with it. There are always new records that continue to be made and beaten. With the constant competitiveness of always trying to be the best, more injuries are going to occur because women’s bodies cannot handle the stress that sports puts on them.


Blog Post #1

Hi everybody!

My name is Rebecca Mitrione, I go by Becca, and I am majoring in Communications and thinking of minoring in marketing. I am from Laytonsville, Maryland which is roughly three hours away from Penn State.

I am very interested in science; my recent studies in Anatomy and Physiology last year really influenced my liking in science. I actually thought about majoring in Food Sciences and Nutrition, but went with Communications (PR) instead. This course is required for me, so that is why I am taking it.. but my adviser highly recommended this course because of the professor that teaches it… Hi Andrew. My adviser told me SC 200 is a very interesting class and I can already tell I am going to enjoy it.

Teacup Piggy