Daily Archives: October 6, 2016

Is our deodorant Causing Breast Cancer?



For the most part, deodorant is something that we all apply daily. Sometimes we apply it more than once, too.  Cancer is hugely prominent in my family, and my Grandma has conquered breast cancer twice. She works for Stanford University Pathology and immunology, and actually created the test for tuberculosis. Anyways, my grandma was definitely concerned for me and the other young women in my family, so she sends us all aluminum-free deodorant. To this day, we all get little sticks of aluminum free deodorant in the mail from her every month or so. Although I appreciate the gesture, I prefer using normal deodorant, I have found that it has a

The deodorant my grandmother always sends me

The deodorant my grandmother always sends me  from here

much stronger odor block and keeps me from sweating more than I do when I use the aluminium-free one. My grandmother is convinced that using regular deodorant can lead to breast cancer, and she is an incredibly intelligent woman, so I finally decided to do some research and share it with you guys.


There is a lot of new information emerging about breast cancer, including the scary hypothesis that our antiperspirants or deodorants may be causing it. Apparently, these products can contain harmful chemicals that can be absorbed through our skin and consequently enter our body through any cuts on our skin. This journal, Antiperspirant Use and the Risk of Breast Cancer, theorizes that the chemicals in our deodorants, particularly aluminum, may be linked to breast cancer because they are applied in close approximately to our breasts frequently. Personally, I use regular deodorants because I think they are more effective than the aluminum-free ones from my grandma. We have been learning in class that we don’t know what could be killing us until it is too late, like in the case of smoking. No one knew smoking was bad for their health until everyone had lung cancer.  But, what if there was a real correlation between applying normal deodorant and breast cancer? Should I stop wearing normal deodorant? What if I am slowly sickening myself!

Aluminum is particularly concerning as the active ingredient in antiperspirants not because the compounds can be absorbed by the skin, but because once they are absorbed they can spark estrogen-like effects which are particularly dangerous when next to the breasts. Estrogen can promote the development of cancerous cells in breast tissue, as learned from this journal, Influence of Estrogen Plus Progestin on Breast Cancer and Mammography in Healthy Postmenopausal Women. Many scientists are starting to seriously theorize that many cases of breast cancer could be related to applying aluminium to areas near our breasts every day. In a nut shell, theses aluminum compounds could be contributing to the development of breast cancer in women.

Other concerning ingredients include parabens, which, in a different way than aluminum, mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and can lead to cancer.  It was only in 2004 when the idea that parabens could build up and cause breast cancer surfaced from a study was published as Significance of the Detection of Esters of P-hydroxybenzoic Acid (parabens) in Human Breast Tumours. In the case of this study, the Null hypothesis was that the parabens in deodorant did not cause breast tumors in women, and the alternative hypothesis was that the parabens in deodorant did cause breast tumors in women. With a low p-value (below .05), the researchers  rejected the null hypothesis, stating that there was a correlation between wearing deodorant and breast tumor development. While they did find a strong correlation between parabens and aluminum and breast tumors, there was only a weak correlation between these dangerous ingredients and breast cancer. The mechanism for increased breast tumors is still unclear because scientists can not 100% determine what is actually causing the formation of the breast tumors. This is similar to the common class example Andrew likes to use of lemons and scurvy; Sailors knew that eating lemons and oranges prevented scurvy, but had no idea why. Scientists have a strong hunch that aluminum and parabens can cause breast tumors and cancer, but do not have a clear mechanisms in place.

This really shocked me, but according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), there have been no conclusive studies that can pin point a link between regular deodorant and the formation of breast tumors, and therefore the development of breast cancer. The FDA assures us that deodorant is safe for regular use, but if there have only been a few studies conducted, how can we be sure? Like Andrew said in class, the absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence. For now, I’m going to give that aluminum free deodorant a chance. What’s worse, sweating a little extra, or possibly giving myself breast cancer? In this case, I think I am going to play it safe and give grandma’s deodorant another try. I recommend that you do the same!


Cheating Blog

Two clicks, “copy” and “paste” can ruin your career. Even a tiny peek over at your peer’s test, when you aren’t sure if the answer is A or C, can get you kicked out of school. Everyone thinks they can get away with cheating, whether it be copying homework or sending the answers to a test to their friend. The three part series of the article, “Cheating Lessons” written by James M. Lang, thoroughly describes experiments that have been done to test why people cheat. Lang bases his article on a trade book called, “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie To Everyone- Especially Ourselves” by Dan Ariely. Dan Ariely is a Duke economist and behavioral theorist.

“Cheating Lessons, Part 1”

This first article describes a detailed experiment that was conducted to test how far people are willing to go in order to cheat. Ariely’s first task was to get a baseline of how much people would  do to cheat. He and his partners did this by distributing money to anyone who could get a math problem right. As the amount of money given would increase, the amount of cheating in order to get the problem right would increase. It then describes the “Princess Alice” experiment. This experiment was done with kids of the age of five through kids of the age of nine. The object of the game, for these kids, was to throw a Velcro ball at a sticky target. If they hit the target, they would get a prize. The conductors decided to record this experiment in order to catch all possible cheating. The first step in this experiment was to split the kids up into three groups. One group of kids were put in a room with a female observer. She had a friendly vibe to her, but would not assist the kids (she was just watching). The next group of children were put in a room with no supervision whatsoever (except for the camera that they, of course, were not aware of). The last group was put in a room with “Princess Alice”, an invisible princess that the children were told was watching over them. Here is how the experiment played out: the kids were less willing to cheat with an adult in the room, or “Princess Alice”, but were more willing when they were alone and had no supervision. I found it interesting how some children did not believe in “Princess Alice”, but only one kid who wasn’t sure if “Princess Alice” existed, was still willing to cheat. The most interesting part of this article to me was in paragraph 4 when the “fudge factor” is described and related to real life acts. The “fudge factor” is relatable to college students because people think if people don’t think it’s a really big deal, or because it is so small, they will not get caught which will lead them to do it.

Cheating Lessons, Part 2

This second article revolves around George M. Diekhoff’s studies on cheat habits. This psychologist’s research went to see if people are more willing to cheat if their stakes are higher. He focused on American and Japanese students, to also see if there was a cultural difference in cheating habits. His first finding was that 29% of American students admitted to cheating on at least one exam, while 55% of Japanese students acknowledged to cheating on at least one exam. These results were surprising to Diekhoff. These results were assumed to be the way they are because these Japanese students have only one major exam, which gives them one chance to do well to make their grade high. This, however, is not the same with American students. These American students have multiple exams that go toward their final grade. This means that The Japanese kids are more likely and pressured to cheat on the exam, so they do not fail their course. They American kids are less pressured to cheat on one, single, exam because they have more chances to get their grade up. Diekhoff proved that when the stakes are higher, students are more willing to cheat. The next example in this article included a Chinese civil service exam. This experiment rules stated that they would give a reward, of better income and a stable place in their Chinese Government, to the participant with the highest score. Who wouldn’t want give their all on a test, in order to get a better life? This was a very smart test because , of course, people would do anything to do well on a test and get a stable, safe life. The moral of this story was telling us that students need to be prepared for high stake tests and assignments, by being given lower stake assignments before. People need more practice, with less pressured assignments, before being given something that could make or break their grade/success. To read more in depth about about Diekhoff’s studies, click here.

Cheating Lessons, Part 3

This final article of the series starts off with results of a survey taken by William J. Bowers, taken in 1963. This survey asked students (from 100 different universities) whether they have ever cheated before or done something that goes against academic integrity. The results showed that 75% of the participants in this survey had admitted to cheating before in college, at least once. Since this was old data, it was compared to Donald L. McCabe’s research from his book, “Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It”. This book showed data that stated 60-70% of people that were asked if they have cheated, acknowledged that they have before. Here, you can find out more about this survey in paragraphs 4-5. This data was questioned, though, because the data was taken from the internet, instead of a paper survey, like Bowers used. This article then goes on to bring back points from the first two articles: that when a student is taking a high stake exam, their likeliness to cheat is higher. They also explain what is good for students, and what is bad for students. It explains how students learn better and obtain more information when they have multiple low stake assignments (like quizzes, homework, graded assignments) instead of one high stake assignment (such as one large exam or a final/midterm). This is very relatable as a college student and I agree with this statement. This allows the student to get more practice on their material throughout the year, instead of cramming all of the information on one day.

Now, before you think about doing this, think again.

Here is a link for all of you that need some motivation and tips on how to NOT cheat!!!!





Picture Source:


Teeth or Soda. You Choose

Society has started to create a big distinction between a sugar-free or diet soda compared to a regular soda. We are all under the impression that since diet or sugar-free sodas have no calories and barely contain any fat, that they are good for our health. Well, we are wrong. Although diet coke may not have a drastic affect on your weigh in every month, it does damage to other places in your body. The famous saying, “Sip a day, get decay” doesn’t strictly apply to regular soda. All sodas have harmful effects on teeth, just in different ways.
Diet soda and sugar-free drinks are very unique. They don’t contain the same sugars or acids as a regular soda but they do have their own acids. Tyellow-teethhese acids flare up the moment soda touches a mouth. Billions of acids start to attack the enamel, weakening and yellowing the teeth. These attacks last for about 20 minutes after each sip. These acids are called, phosphoric and citric acids. Phosphoric acids are a clear and odorless liquid that feels the same way syrup would. It is used to give coca-cola it’s taste. These acid wear down the tooth enamel. The acids react with the plaque on our teeth which contains multiple bacterias. These bacterias lead to tooth decay, breakdown in gums, and attacks about any other substances that are supposed to support the teeth.

The pH of a liquid under 5.0 has the power to cause tooth decay. Although most acidic drink that are good for us, for example orange juice or lemon juice, have a low pH which causes tooth decay, they do good things in different parts of our bodies. Like I previously stated, soda doesn’t have any benefits to our bodies and with a low pH, ranging from 2.5-4.0, you might think the same question I did: Why drink it?

As a non-soda drinker, I was very interested to see how people would answer this question. I decided to conduct my own survey with 25 Penn State students. My null hypothesis was that people who drink soda have the same amount of cavities as a person who does’t drink soda. My alternative hypothesis was that people who drink soda have, on average, more cavities than a person who does not drink soda. My results concluded that my alternative hypothesis was correct.

Diet soda

Diet soda

How I did the experiment:  I asked each of the 25 people two questions.

1. Do you drink soda?

2. How many cavities have you had in your life.

My results were not surprising. 16/25 people drank soda and of that 16, 60% that had 4 or more cavities in their life. Only 30% of the non-soda drinkers had 4 or less cavities in their life. Correlation? I think so.  My conclusion was, if you drink soda, your teeth will rot in the ways that I listed above. To support my conclusion, Business Insider wrote about a study done by Temple University. It compared three adults mouth’s: one 29 year old who was addicted to meth, one their early thirties who drank 2-liters of diet-soda a day, and a 51 year old who was addicted crack for 18 years. Mohamed Bassiouny, the head director of the experiment, found that each of the adults had almost the exact amount of decay happening to their teeth. He controlled most of the other factors so his findings were correct. His conclusion was, if you drink soda, your mouth can be as damaged as a person that has abused substances.  Now, if that doesn’t stop a person from drinking soda I don’t think anything will.


Spector, Dina. “This Is What Drinking Too Much Soda Does To Your Teeth.” Business Insider.Business Insider, Inc, 2013.  Web.
Department, By. “Content – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center.” Content – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center. Web.

Stuck in a Daze

My senior year of high school, I was finally given the privilege to drive to school everyday. At the beginning of the year, I cherished my morning commute and it actually made me excited to get up and go to class at 8 a.m. I would get in the car equipped with my coffee and belongings for the day and turn on my morning playlist, consisting of my go-to jams. After I got used to the routine of driving to school and following the same pattern every day, the thrill and excitement of my morning commute slowly began to fade away. Towards the middle of the year, I would get in my car and begin the commute to school- almost robotically.

A key characteristic of this routine was that I would often not even remember the drive to school. The entire ride seemed to be erased from my memory and left me wondering how I got from my house to the school. This process of “zoning out” is one that has fascinated me for some time. I have wondered how the brain is able to erase certain events or experiences that come as a “routine”. Since I was following the same routine everyday, it came almost like second-nature to me. So why are we unable to remember our morning commutes to work or school? Where does this process of zoning out originate from, and how?



Studies from the Journal of Consumer Psychology and the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science  have shown that the reason why people are unlikely to remember their daily commutes to work and school is because of it’s routine nature. It all comes down to how our brain perceives time and familiarity. For example, a morning commute that is taken every day is noted as a shorter period of time in the brain. There is less processing to be done in the brain because the task at hand is not new and does not require extensive comprehension. On the other hand, new experiences, such as visiting a new country or meeting a new group of people require in-depth processing in the brain. You are absorbing new knowledge and filing the new experiences into your memory. These new experiences are seen to have happened during longer periods of time because the brain takes longer to process the new information.

David Eagleman, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, supports the idea that memory and perception of time go hand in hand with one another. As we grow older, we acquire more knowledge and experiences, which leaves little room for new processing in the brain. Once we become familiar with the world and how it works, we spend less time trying to comprehend certain events. As a result, we believe time passes by more quickly. This is another reason why we remember almost every important milestone in our childhood, but fail to realize what has happened in the last week or in our day-to-day lives.


One particular study by the Journal of Consumer Psychology tested to see if the influence of music would have an effect on the way individuals perceived the passage of time. In this case:

Null hypothesis: the influence of music stimulus will have NO effect on the way individuals perceive time.

Alternative hypothesis: the influence of music stimulus will have an effect on the way individuals perceive time.

False positive: scientists claim that the influence of music stimulus (positive/negative) does NOT have an effect on the way individuals perceive time when it really does.

False negative: scientists claim that the influence of music stimulus (positive/negative) has an effect on the way individuals perceive time when it really doesn’t.

The results of the study showed that those individuals exposed to a positive music stimulus (major key) reported longer periods of time compared to individuals exposed to a negative music stimulus (atonal). Those who experienced negative music stimulus perceived time as going by quicker than those who experienced a positive music stimulus, believing that time was going by slower than it actually was. Therefore, the conclusion of this study led to the rejection of the null hypothesis (the influence of music stimulus will have NO effect on the individuals perceive time). Although this study does not directly relate to the concept of the morning commute, it supports the idea that certain stimuli will affect the brain’s perception of time. Similar to the variable of familiarity, the positive/negative music stimulus in the study affects the way individuals perceive time.

So, the next time you don’t remember your drive to school or walk to class, know that it’s just your brain of telling you to spice up your life. Just kidding. However, life should not be lived through routines and patterns- make the most out of your time and try something new every once in a while!


Picture link 

Picture link 

Picture link

Exploring the Effects of Stress on College Students

It’s getting that time in the semester where a lot of college students face an insurmountable amount of stress. Exams coming back lower than we anticipated, many assignments due, and just overall college is getting everyone stressed out. This is something that I personally am suffering with these blogs, much like some of you. I didn’t do well on blog period 1, and now I’m stressed at every sentence in my blogs to make sure they’re good enough for a good grade. The question I keep asking myself is, is this stress making me worse off?


Is stress making us worse off? Source

Looking at this from a scientific perspective, we have either the null hypothesis (stress is not affecting our health or over-all well being), or the alternate hypothesis (stress is indeed affecting our health or over-all well being). Reverse casuation is also something that could be possible here, as I know our grades or health may affect our stress levels, but in this blog we’re specifically looking if being stressed out will further advance the downward spiral that started when you got stressed, and how it affects things like our eating, sleeping, or exercise patterns.

Now, here is a quick video about how stress may affect our body:


Background: After a good bit of searching on the topic, I came across this study done in 2006 in the New York area that tested how stress affected mood, self-esteem, and a person’s daily habits. Before I get into what the study was and what it found, I want to share some earlier this article shared and what those studies found before they explained their findings. First off, women in college are more likely to experience more amounts of stress than men, according to these studies the journal mentioned (Mallinckrodt, Leong, & Kralj, 1989; Cahir & Morris, 1991; Toews, Lockyer, Dobson, & Brownell, 1993; Nelson, Dell’Oliver, Koch, & Buckler, 2001). Likewise, those who worked a lot of hours outside of their studies experienced a massive stress increase over those who didn’t work said hours. This is related to the same names and studies listed above. Likewise, it should be noted that these studies were based on of doctorate programs, which entails higher levels of work, and therefore higher levels of stress than us in the undergraduate level.


Stress causes more irritability, nervousness, impulsiveness, emotional instability, among other things according to the study listed above. Source

The Procedure: So these studies showed what kinds of emotions people were experiencing due to stress and the likelihood of getting stressed, but they never went far enough to see how this affected people’s lives. This is where the New York study comes in. In this study, the participants were 65 graduate students. Of those 65, 49 were female and 16 were men, with the age ranging from 22-49. Using a questionnaire, the researchers asked the participants to first assess their stress using the Student Stress Scale created by Insel & Roth in 1991. In this study, stress was assessed by a number between 1-100 (minor stressful events get a lower score, more stressful events lead to a higher score). The participants looked at the 31 potential events that the Student Stress Scale measured, and wrote down the events that happened to them recently.

Then, the participants went through more questions asking about their daily habits, from a 1-5 scale (1 being not at all, 5 being daily). Questions like alcohol/tobacco use, eating patterns, and proper sleep was analyzed through these questions. High scores meant that there was a big shift from the normal, and low scores meant a little/no shift from the normal. Likewise, mood was also tested with the same 1-5 scale, being asked how often they were in positive moods in the last month. This was based on 20 variables The higher the score in mood, the better the person’s mood was. Finally, students were asked to base their self-esteem on the SD-SA scale (SD meaning strongly disagree, SA meaning strongly agree) after being asked multiple questions about their self-esteem. The higher the score on this, the better the self-esteem.


Results: Before saying the results of the study, it should be mentioned that the participants filled out the questionnaire at home, then mailed them anonymously to the researchers so the researchers would be blind to who wrote what questionnaire. So, although this wasn’t an observational or experimental study, it was a blind one. Therefore, things like independent/dependent variables were not put in place and measured. As we know from class, observational and experimental studies are far more likely to actually find the answer to the hypothesis than just asking them, as personal bias’ may make it hard for them to be truthful. Therefore, you may want to take the results of this study with a grain of salt.

Likewise, I’m not going to include the data of the study on the blog, but feel free to look at the data on this journal. According to the results, interestingly enough, the graduate students mostly experienced low stress and were somewhat satisfied in themselves. Changes in eating habits, positive moods, and both smoking and alcohol habits were not related to higher levels of stress. However, both sleeping, negative moods, and exercise was greatly related to stress. That means that these graduate students felt more stressed with more exercise (!!!) and less sleep, along with negative mood. Surprisingly, however, eating habits, drinking/smoking, and positive moods were not affected by the stress.

So, the study does indeed conclude the alternate hypothesis-stress does indeed affect our health and well-being, albeit less than one might originally have thought. This is due to it not affecting positive moods, eating habits, or drinking/smoking as one would think it would. However, some possible other explanations for these results could be geographical (only choosing students from New York), the oversampling of women over men, and the fact that the study was neither an experimental or observational. Therefore, the alternate hypothesis was the conclusion of this study, but be wary of a false positive that more studies might find. So next time you’re feeling stressed out, maybe try to meditate, breathe, or take your workload one thing at a time, before you let it affect your well-being. And always remember, stress is a temporary thing and, although we all feel it right now, it will get better soon.



Are we scared into obeying authority?

I’ve often wondered what leads us as humans to obey authority. Is it because we feel obligated to help someone whenever they ask? Is it just a moral sense of correctness? Or is it the looming fear of what will happen if we disobey authority that lures us into obeying it? Personally, I’ve always questioned the correlation between fear and authority. It seems a little ironic, since authority figures are supposed to serve as role models and sound boards, not people we should be afraid of. However, a little fear now and then is good, because sometimes a lack of fear can lead to a nonchalant attitude and lack of respect. Nevertheless, I’m still curious to know how much, if at all, authority affects fear.

To start off, we have to look at both the null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis of the situation.

NULL HYPOTHESIS: Fear does not cause us to obey authority.

ALTERNATIVE HYPOTHESIS: Fear causes us to obey authority.

If the alternative hypothesis is true or a false positive, then we have two causalities to observe, still noting confounding variables and the effect of chance.

Direct: Fear causes obedience

Reverse: Obedience causes fear

Since this is a relatively vague question, I wondered if I would struggle with finding scientific evidence to use as a base for my blog. Thankfully, I thought back to my junior year of high school, where we spent a week discussing the Milgram Experiment in my theology class. This experiment was conducted by social psychologist Stanley Milgram at Yale University.

Milgram’s first study included 40 local men from New Haven between the ages of 20 and 50, from all different socioeconomic backgrounds. Milgram recruited his participants through a newspaper advertisement, paying each man $4.50 for showing up to the testing (McLeod). These guinea pigs were told that they were involved in an experiment studying the effects that consequence had on a person’s learning ability. In reality, they were being deceived, as the study was actually testing the participant’s obedience to authority. When each man arrived, he was introduced to his partner in the study, and the two drew straws to decided who would administer the test and who would take it (McLeod). One participant was actually a hired actor, fixed to always draw the learner straw (Encina). So in this case, the hired actor would be the control in the experiment. We also have to take note of a few confounding variables that could affect the outcome of the experiment, like the difference in ages of the participants, as well as their jobs and education levels. The $4.50 incentive for participating is also a third variable.

In the experiment, the blind participant would ask the actor simple questions, and was required to give increasingly dangerous electric shocks to him each time he answered incorrectly. Beforehand, the researcher would sample a 45-volt shock to both participants, alerting the deceived participant of what his counterpart would be experiencing. The actor was actually never hooked up to the shock machine, but was given a list of cues to follow as shocks supposedly increased, in order to worry the innocent subject (Encina).


shock range image found here

Naturally, the participants would become increasingly uneasy as time went on, for fear of hurting the man on the other side of the experiment. With any hesitation, the experimenter would use intimidating commands to insist that the participant go on with the experiment, no matter what (Encina). Personally, I don’t believe I could continually increase the shocks, especially after experiencing the 45-volt shock and understanding how it felt.


experiment layout found here

As a hopeful human being, I assumed that a large number of participants would refuse to continue the experiment; however, to my surprise, a shocking 65% of participants administered the final 450-volt shock, and 100% went to at least the 300-volt mark! How insane! If this was the only study conducted, then we would not be able to conclude anything based on a lack of insufficient evidence. However, over time, Milgram conducted 18 variations of his experiment using 636 different people, producing startlingly similar results with each conclusion (McLeod). Could these different experiments be treated as a meta-analysis?


graph found here

Critics called bias on this experiment, since it only included males. They also had a bone to pick with the ethics of the experiment, because it was highly based on deception (McLeod). Although this experiment seems slightly unethical, I don’t think I could brainstorm any other effective way to test the alternative hypothesis. Besides that, we learned in class that science is anti-authoritarian, so who are critics to tell Milgram his experiment was conducted incorrectly? He was simply practicing science in the correct manner. There is not only one right way to test something.

My thought process sees enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis. When two-thirds (65%) of participants obey authority all the way until the end, there is no possible way to conclude that this correlation is due to chance.

When we think about it, the situation is actually frightening. These participants allowed authority to cloud their moral judgement out of fear. It may sound extremely corny, but researching my original question, “Are we scared into obeying authority,” has proven to me that a strong moral compass is an incredible necessity. If humans were more assured in standing up against authority when authority was immoral, then would we have been able to avoid disasters such as genocides, wars, and dictatorships? What do you think SC200…would you be pressured into giving that 450-volt shock?

P.S. If you have time, I highly recommend watching this modern version of Milgram’s experiment, conducted by Derren Brown on the British show, The Heist. It’s 10 minutes long, but it gives a great visual as to what Milgram’s original experiment looked like.

Music- how helpful is it?

I know I’m not the first person to think about this. I’m pretty sure there are even people in this class who have done blogs about this already, but it’s such a complex and fascinating topic that I’m going to attempt to tackle it myself and hopefully put my original thought into it.

So, music. We all hear it and most people love it. With so many genres to choose from it’s hard to make the blanket statement “I don’t like music” without being met with the response, “like, any music?” I think music is a way humans connect and one of those universal things we can all relate with. But is there more to it than that? Can listening to music actually increase efficiency in many aspects of the brain? Maybe even the body? I asked the question, “how helpful can music actually be?” And the answer seems to be, Very! The next time you’re playing “Closer” by The Chainsmokers on repeat or listening to whichever Kanye song is your favorite, think about how much you’re actually doing for yourself.


The null hypothesis of this idea is that music doesn’t have any real effect on the body while the alternative hypothesis is that people who listen to music change their mind or body in some way that music is responsible for. A lot of studies I find when researching for my blogs are correlational. After all, the easiest way to make a link between two things is to find a correlation while finding concrete evidence is a bit more difficult. In this case, there have been tangible anatomical and structural differences in a musician’s brain versus a non-musician’s brain. In a musician’s brain, the volume of grey matter in the brain is bigger (in comparison with the average amount). “Grey matter” is tissue containing neuronal cell bodies and is associated with processing information (Seeing, memory, emotion, hearing, decision-making, etc.) More grey matter means more productivity in these areas (low grey matter is typically linked with old age, bipolar disorder and smoking). So, should music be credited for this increase in grey matter? Many scientists suggest yes. Music connects cognitive functions of the brain. Music is a sequence of sound, which goes against the nature of the human brain (to separate things and put them into different categories). Music recognition relies on your working memory to put sounds together in a continual flow and trains the brain to connect things rather than isolate them. In turn, this helps a person’s memory, attention span and emotional health. How? Think about the last time you felt very sad or angry. If your brain hasn’t been trained in the way music helps, to connect different parts of your brain, you’re less likely to find a reason for this emotion and just let it stew. Music can help make neural connections between your emotions and reasoning. These kinds of things are very important in a developing brain and that’s why playing music for infants and young children is so beneficial. Before the age of 7, brain maturation is rapid and vital. Music listening at a young age is thought to enhance sensory development and create more connections between pathways in the brain. Playing music for your kids might be a good idea!


As weird as it sounds, music can also have positive physical effects. In a study done in Japan, people who had group music sessions twice a month had their systolic blood pressured lowered about 5-6 points. Cardiologists at University of Maryland Medical Center have linked this to a 5-15% lowered risk of dying from a stroke/heart disease. It’s odd that something intangible can help your physical health? This shows that the connection between the body and mind is very strong and especially in healing, the mind seems to play a powerful role. In another study, patients had surgery and some listened to music after surgery, some didn’t. The ones who listened to music after needed significantly less painkillers (in this case, morphine). This could be a placebo effect, for if someone was telling you “music helps the pain”, you might involuntarily feel less pain just because you keep telling yourself you’re feeling less pain. However, the overwhelming amount of research suggests that listening to some kind of music can help physical health.

So is it a specific kind of music that improves these physical and mental functions? Or does it not matter? I found no evidence that suggests any specific type of music improves things overall (usually any kind of music you “like” seems to be what helps you most, unsurprisingly) but there is evidence that certain types of music can be more relaxing. One researcher at University of Nevada found that sounds found in nature (rain, thunder, etc.) were more soothing to people. This meant that instruments and types of music that mimicked these sounds (string instruments, drums, woodwind instruments) were more relaxing! This isn’t a shock, for human’s biology stemmed from our ancestors who lived more closely with nature and in turn, I’m sure, got very comfortable and used to the sounds of nature. Humans haven’t quite evolved past those roots with our ancestors, which is saying a lot.


At this point, it’s hard to say that music doesn’t have some sort of effect besides being fun to listen to at parties or in the car. Music is an integral part of society and the immense benefits make it even better. I know a lot of this information was correlational but there if we are to believe all of it, there is great reason to reject the null hypothesis. Think about this next time your parents or RA tells you to turn it down!







Too Much of a Bad Thing

Time and time again throughout my childhood, I’ve heard my mom say, “Turn off the television, it will turn your brain to mush.” Now, I never really listened to her, until I started learning of the very real effects that too much television can have on the developing brains of children. Many people have the idea that T.V. is bad for the brain. It’s a distraction, and nothing good can come from watching hours upon hours of cartoons every day. Today, however, children seem to be watching much more T.V. each day than past generations. For example, I had limits on how much T.V. I was able to watch each day when I was younger. Now, parents seem to let their children watch however many hours of T.V. they want. This is especially harmful to young children when it comes to schoolwork and grades. T.V. is taking up the time that should be spent doing homework and studying, especially in the early years, when children’s brains are still developing.

One observational study, conducted by two professors at Johns Hopkins and Stanford University, examined the test performance of 386 third graders in relation to the time they spent watching T.V. The professors wanted to study the home environments of these children. The professors inquired about the number of television sets in the home, the time the kids spent watching T.V., the presence of any other electronic devices in the house (such as video game sets), and also about the time these children spent doing homework, reading and studying. Overall, the children without televisions in their rooms outperformed the children with T.V. sets. One interesting result concluded from this experiment is that a child who has a television set in his or her bedroom is likely to score about 8 points lower on a math exam than a child who does not have a T.V. set in his or her room. While this result could be due to chance, the result suggests that it is harmful for young children to have a T.V. set in their room. It seems that having access to a television during all hours of the day can be detrimental to a child’s success in school. It is likely that the more television a child watches, the likely it is that a child will perform well in school.


Whether or not a child has a television in their room can have a significant impact on their school performance. According to the New York Times, placing a television in a child’s room puts them at a much higher risk of sleep and school related problems. If a young child is able to watch T.V. whenever they want, the parents are no longer in control of how much time their child spends watching T.V., when the T.V. is turned off at night, or what kinds of shows the child is watching on T.V. A study that was also discussed in this article also found that those with T.V. sets in their rooms were also likely to spend much less time reading as opposed to children without T.V. sets in their bedrooms.


This article also raises other important concerns about health issues that too much T.V. can cause. One study found that children who spend more time watching television are at a higher risk of becoming obese, especially boys. It appears that spending too much time in front of the television can cause young children to become lazy, less responsive to the world around them, and form unhealthy habits. It seems that it is important for all children, and especially young ones, to strike a good balance between work and play. A little bit of television is okay, but too much of one thing is never good, no matter what.






Do You Believe In Coincidences?

We all have had an experience with coincidences, whether we know how they happen or not, they still have an effect on us. Right now there is a controversy about whether or not a coincidence is due to chance and luck or if it is an act of God. Normally when we experience a coincidence we never really think that it is God trying to tell us something. We just believe that what we experienced is due to luck and nothing else.


Coincidence is defined as “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mire chance”. Sometimes certain events are really easy to explain as to why they occurred but sometimes it is hard to say that no extraordinary measures occurred to make whatever happened happen. According to this article, Frederick Hosteler says that sometimes even when we think we know something to be true, it can be very hard to prove it. This means that we can believe in something so much, that we cannot prove it exists. Later in the article Dr. Bernard D. Beitman talks about how coincidence has to do with psychology as well. He talks about how coincidences have to do with our recognition and recall of certain events, and how we like to search for patterns in our every day lives. Looking for patterns is the way that we choose to explain what we cannot. It gives us the answers we are looking for whether they are write or not.


Because the matter is so subjective it is hard to get any type of science connected to it. With out scientific explanation, it is easier for us to blame a higher power for what we have experienced. My personal belief is that there are some things that are due to chance and luck but sometimes there are things that we cannot explain so we need to believe in a higher power. What is interesting is that, according to this article, the word coincidence comes from the greek work synkyrian, meaning what occurs when God intervenes in our lives. Just like many people have said before, God works in mysterious ways and sometimes he will purposely put something in front of your face to get you to notice it.


When it comes to the science and coincidences, this article talks about how chance and coincidence do not exist, and what occurs does not happen by God, it talks about how we are all connected through our unconscious selves. Meaning we are unknowingly connected through our thoughts and ideas. The article also talks about the law of bringing everything together, Synchronicity. Something else we have heard a lot in our lives is in this article as well, and that is it talks about how everything that we do has an effect on our universe, no matter how small. What we do has consequences both good and bad, and that if we believe in something hard enough, it will work out in your favor. As much as we do not want to believe it, many times what we want somehow gets to us. Keeping in mind that science and God are two separate things, coincidences happen and they will continue to influence us.


Coincidence? picture is from here.

Albert Einstein picture is from here.

Coincidence picture is from here.