Daily Archives: October 14, 2016

Do We Remember Negative Events More Vividly Than Positive Ones?

It seems that for all of the positive experiences we have throughout our lives, we tend to harp on and recall more easily the few negative (failure, sickness, death) memories we’ve had. The old adage of “Don’t dwell on the negative” is almost impossible considering our human nature to do just that. I think that as students we can relate to this concept in an academic way. For instance, if your professor returns your exam and you didn’t do as well as you had hoped, you tend to let that thought linger longer despite getting a near perfect score on the past exams or assignments in the same course. Are people innately negative? What is the mechanism behind why the majority of us obsess over the few negative events?

Ohio State University (OSU) conducted an experiment in 1998 that sought to find a conclusion about negativity bias and how (if at all) it affects our ability to make evaluations. They used 25 OSU male undergraduates for this study. I would classify this as an experime

ntal study because the 25 students were connected to EEGs (machines that measure brain activity) and presented various pictures, of which the subjects gave reactions. The procedure consisted of the students being shown 36 pictures classified as “neutral” (these served as the control photos), two pictures classified as “positive” and two pictures classified as “negative.” It is also worth noting that the positive and negative pictures were extreme in their affects. Meaning that the positive pictures were of children riding a rollercoaster, a bowl of ice-cream, and pizza, whereas the negative photos were of a dead cat and a body of a decaying cow. The combination of pictures (random) was done in groups of five at a time. The electrical impulses of each student were recorded for each picture that was shown on the computer screen. The results of the experiments concluded that although the positive and negative pictures yielded high levels of arousal in comparison to the neutral photos, the negative stimuli produced more arousal in the brains of the subjects. From this study, it can be concluded that negative stimuli have a greater impact on our minds than positive stimuli. It’s important to know that the negative and positive stimuli show up in the same areas of the brain so there is no error coming from the calculating of comparisons between one part of the brain that registers pleasure from another that registers pain/discomfort, etcetera. This study has an equal number of positive and negative photos and so it’s possible that the results could vary if there is an unequal ratio of positive to negative photos. There could be a difference if the subjects were group of co-eds and not just men. And although this study contributes to the argument that negative stimuli is more potent to our brains, it doesn’t explain why.


I found a scientific review which asserts that bad memories and experiences overpower good or pleasant memories and experiences. They give a hypothesis as to why they believe unpleasant memories create more of a lasting impact on the human mind. The scientists stated that human beings dwelling on negative events could be an adaptive behavior. Their reasoning behind this thought is that our ancestors who were more conscious of the dangers in their environment were better equipped to avoid them and thus carry on their genes. They further went on to justify their hypothesis by stating that if a person were to disregard a threatening situation (even just once) it can yield severe harm or possibly death. But, if a person were to ignore signs of positive opportunities will miss out on added reward or satisfaction and be unharmed. I think that this theory could help to explain why our brains (and those in the aforementioned study) have more activity when we so much as see something that is negative (dangerous, repulsive, scary). Being mindful and remembering the “bad” could be an instinctive reaction, a survival tactic, so that we can ensure our vitality.




Does Listening to Classical Music Improve Study Habits?

As midterms rapidly approach, it seems everyone has succumbed to a state of panic and stress, myself included. This week I had two midterm exams in classes for my major, and I found myself staying up extraordinarily late almost every single night trying to cram useless information into my tired head. Like most college students, I often found myself procrastinating and surfing the web. Suddenly, I came across a soundtrack to a movie I once loved as a kid (and still do) called Spirited Away. I listened to the soundtrack, and was enthralled by the harmonious melodies composed by the brilliant Joe Hisaishi. You can listen to my favorite piece by him here, (also from the movie Spirited Away). As if like magic, I suddenly found myself concentrating even harder than before, and focusing and comprehending what I was actually doing. I wondered, does classical music have an affect on study habits?


According to USC News, it can. The article mentions several experiments on the topic that were conducted recently, that say classical music has a direct influence on a number of things. In addition to improving focus and attention, classical music can also have benefits on things such as how you sleep at night, your immunity to diseases and as a stress reducer. At a university in France, researches came to the conclusion that students who listened to classical music while attending a lecture did better on a follow-up quiz than students who did not listen to classical music during the lecture. The researches added that the classical music put students in a different state of mind, helping them focus better on the lecture material.

As I researched this topic more, I came across a name that researchers gave to this exact topic of study. Appropriately titled “The Mozart Effect,” this article from howtolearn.com goes more in depth of the basis for it, and the studies that were involved to reach the conclusion. The article describes how music, specifically of the classical variant, can make you smarter. It lists various benefits of the Mozart Effect, including improvements in test scores, developments in creativity and changes in how the brain gathers information in a more productive way.

The article describes how a scientist named Dr. Georgi Lozanov used baroque music to teach foreign languages in a more efficient way, in that information would be better retained. The study points out that listening to baroque music while learning a foreign language could be completely comprehended in a span of 30 days at a rate of 85%-100% effectiveness, as opposed to how long it usually takes to completely learn a foreign language— two years. The article makes one final important point, noting the correlation between a relaxed body and classical music. When you hear the tempo of a classical piece, and the steady rhythm of the beat, your heart reacts and matches the pulse to the beat of the music, calming you. As your heart rate matches the beat of the music, it relaxes you immensely, therefore allowing you to concentrate better.

I think all of the studies that were performed are very interesting, and I would like to read more about each individual study conducted to learn about the specificities of it. For example, were the studies mostly a randomized control test? Or was there some element of blind/double-blind too? From the articles I read, none of them mention any confounding variables either, so I’m wondering if a third variable could also play a role in determining if classical music does help with studying or not. I pondered a few confounding variables myself, and think the environment,  studying habits and level of education could also affect how a person studies.

Inquiresjournal.com points out in an article that while most research done on this topic has resulted in the conclusion that classical music improves study habits, there have been many cases in which the participants of the experiment had an opposite effect on them, and they performed worse in an exam. This article also does mention confounding variables, for example how things like the volume or genre of the music could also affect how one studies.

The next time you have to study for a big exam, listen to some Mozart. You never know, it could end up helping you.

Can your X-Box be the reason for your aggression?

There are many causes of crime and/or violence. Taking a criminology course here at Penn State made me realize that whether it be one’s social economic status or one’s environment, the things we do and the people around us influence us in ways we may not recognize. Growing up with a brother four years older than me led to me always be exposed to violent video games and eventually joining in on the “fun”. He was always playing versions of Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty; both of which involve many forms of brutality and destructiveness. While these extremely popular video games are considered to be “fun” and nothing more, I started to consider that since we don’t recognize the things that influence us as easily as we may think, what if the violence we see in video games unknowingly leads us to exhibit such negative actions and attitudes in our everyday lives (crime and violence)?


Upon contemplating this question, I came across a scholarly article that discusses this issue through the use of observations on whether playing video games correlates with the use of violence away from the TV screen.

Through research done by Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman, who spent over 25 years trying to discover a way to teach soldiers how to kill, I discovered that he concluded that the techniques used to get soldiers to come to peace with killing, are similar to the techniques used in video games (see x). Hence, naturally, video games do cause violence. Yet, a game designer, Greg Costikyan, countered that video games aren’t real enough to have such a heavy impact on anyone that plays them. Essentially Costikyan is implying that there is not enough evidence to draw the conclusion that correlation equals causation in this case (see x). When observing younger children however, the author of the article concluded that they are more likely to be negatively affected by violent video games since their minds are just developing and are hence more vulnerable and likely to pick up the bad manners of video games and reciprocate them to their everyday lives. (x)

I also looked into an experiment done that observes whether those that play video games are less likely to be affected by real-life violence.



In this experiment, 257 college student subjects were asked to give their input on their video game preferences and then their levels of aggression were measured. Then, they were given a video game to play; nonviolent or violent. From there, every subject was forced to watch a 10-minute video of real-life violence and their reactions were measured through heart rate and galvanic skin response (this is a change in resistance of the skin). Lastly, they had to rate the video game they played. (x)




Researchers found that, as expected, those that played the violent video games were less triggered by the real-life violence. In respect to heart rate, the participants that played the violent game had a lower heart rate when watching the 10-minute video than immediately after they stopped playing the video game; hence, they were less reactive to the video than they were to the game. Those that played the nonviolent video game’s heart rate went up. The same response was true for galvanic skin response. (x)


The researchers concluded that this experiment demonstrates how playing a violent video game for just 20 minutes can lower one’s response to real-life violence. If a 20-minute video game had this outcome, what about those that play video games for many years of their lives? While this question can’t be answered, it is safe to conclude that video game violence can desensitize people from legitimate violence. The fact that it only can, although, means that correlation does not equal causation and that there is no actual mechanism behind this experiment. Also, since the study was done on college students they may suffer from things like anxiety that may have contributed to their reactions to the video, rather than whether they played a violent or nonviolent video game before. (x)

What’s Better… Messy or Clean?


Picture found here

Formerly, the dominant notion is that the best way to carry out one’s life is to be clean and organized. However, scientists are starting to notice that there are some benefits to being messy. According to various studies, relatively messier people have shown to be more creative and forward thinking. For instance, this New York Times article explains a study where 48 people were randomly allocated to either an orderly or disheveled table space, and then asked generate ways that ping pong balls could be used aside from the game of ping pong. Their ideas were then rated on creativity. After the data was analyzed, the experiment discovered that the participants placed in messier rooms had higher creativity ratings, 28% more creative than the people in organized spaces to be statistically specific. The New York Times article also mentions that similar experiments have been replicated in various activities that would channel creativity, such as drawing and problem solving. In each undertaking tested, clear evidence that disorderly spaces may inspire more creative thinking was shown. However, a pitfall to this experiment is exactly how to quantify creativity. Creativity is subjective, so although the article calls the raters “independent judges” and considers their rating to be “done reliably” there is still some skepticism as to whether the result of the experiment would change if the set of raters were different. Also, the sample size of this experiment is relatively small, so I personally feel the need for a larger sample to make the study even more substantial.



Pictures directly from Appendix of published research but referenced in Business Insider article

The underlying question is, assuming this study is valid, is it better to think creatively than conventionally? Should we as individuals stop cleaning our desks and thinking spaces to encourage our brains to be more disorderly and innovative? This Business Insider article explores this paradox. For instance, they bring forth the timeline of completing a task, which requires more creative brainstorming in the beginning and gradually becomes more orderly as the individual organizes such ideas. Thus, this would indicate that a disorderly space would be more beneficial in the beginning stages, but tidiness would gradually become more advantageous. In addition, a bias of the study would be the industry in which the individual is working within. For instance, an artist might be more inclined to maintain disorder than an accountant due to the fact that an accountant’s profession requires more conventional and organized thinking. Finally, in my research I came across a red flag in terms of the science  done on this question. Both articles mentioned previously AND this one from the Association for Psychological Science all pull their conclusion from the same study done at University of Minnesota. u_of_m_logo_2There are two explanations for this repetition: a lack of scientific curiosity or the file drawer dilemma. This study was only published in 2013, so maybe scientists have just recently came across the “messy desk” phenomena and haven’t done much research on the question yet. Subsequently, maybe they have done research that has been tucked away due to the fact that it has yielded traditional results in favor of orderly spaces. We discussed this bias of the “boring” findings as the as the file drawer problem in class, and this messy vs clean controversy could be a valid example. Overall, the findings are interesting, yet more prospective investigation is most definitely necessary before we frantically tidy or chaotically destroy our spaces. In my personal experimentation, I have favored having an organized desk when completing my work… how about you all?

Traffic Jam


In China, people consider clothes, food, residence and transportation as four main aspects of daily life. And I believe transportation is significant when people think about where to live. “More than 75 percent of Chinese people surveyed said they consider traffic the most important factor in creating livable cities.”(Xinhua News Agency, 2016, July 5) I think cities that have good living conditions are livable cities. The survey revealed that a large number of people lay emphasis on traffic. So I selected how to ease traffic congestion in Beijing as my topic. Because Beijing is the capital city of China which has severe traffic congestion, and if we can solve this problem in Beijing, it would much easier to solve the problem in other cities or countries. Considering three relationships around traffic jam, I think direct causality should be explained by more cars causes traffic jam, reverse causality is traffic jam causes more cars, and confounding is transportation laws both causes the more purchase of cars and traffic jam. 

The first possible solution came to my mind is improving public transportation such as bus, subway, viaducts and highway. “Beijing depends heavily on its subway to ease traffic, and will extend one existing line, start building 2 new lines, and speed up work on 16 lines under construction, with 40 lines covering a total of 609 miles planned by 2020.”(Xinhua News Agency, 2016, Feb 7) There are a great number of people take subway to go to work because it is more efficient than driving cars. So it will be very crowded in subway in rush hours. But there are some citizens cannot go to work by subway due to the limit subway lines and stations. In this way, if Beijing government plan to extend and construct more subway lines, traffic congestion might be alleviated because more people will have the option to take the subway to avoid rush hours. However, the truth is that a lot of viaducts and highways in Beijing are also faced with traffic congestion. People even joke that those are parking lot rather than viaducts and highways. “The automobiles are increasing five times faster than the streets.” (Owen, C. J., Smith, A. C., 1962, January) Because the construction of improving public transportation certainly will take a long time and the number of motor vehicles is still increasing. So this solution also has some limitations. Traffic congestion is a problem demanding prompt solutions.c

The second possible solution is implementing a congestion charge. This is a solution which Beijing is going to be carried out. “The Beijing municipal government is discussing the possibility of a congestion charging regime similar to the one in London”.  Congestion charge is a daily fee for driving a vehicle within the charge zone during the settled hours. It was implemented in London in order to ease traffic congestion as well as improve air quality. In London, this solution made real sense. It not only cut the pollutants produced by vehicle emissions because it almost reduced 70,000 cars a day entering central London but also improved public transport capacity and performance. And it even reduced road traffic casualties. (Qureshi, M., 2016, Jun 8) But I doubt that if this solution proper for Beijing. As we all know, the population in Beijing is much larger than London. So if we implement a congestion charge on several busy roads. It may cause the other roads which don’t have this charge crowded. In this way, it is not likely to solve traffic congestion. Moreover, “some members of 12th Beijing Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) expressed their concerns on easing the jam in the capital by charging congestion fees and limiting people’s use of private vehicles.”(China Daily, 2016, July 24)

The third possible solution is vehicles license plate number traffic restriction, which has been carried out in Beijing and some other cities in China. It is an effective solution in short run because it immediately cut down the number of vehicles driving on the road. In 2008, Beijing carried out vehicles license plate number traffic restriction in order to alleviate traffic congestion and improve air quality during Olympic Games. And in 2014, this policy turned out to be effective and the air quality became excellent during APEC meetings. And we called the rare blue sky in Beijing “APEC blue”. However, this efficient solution cannot last for a long time. If the government just limit the driving right of citizens, they may buy more cars to gain more driving time.

The forth possible solution is draw restricted purchase of motor vehicles, which is a policy in Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. When Beijing citizens want to buy a car, they need to have a license plate. They need to draw by lot to obtain the license plate which is equal to the chance to buy a car. In fact, the majority of people have to wait for a long time to buy a car. This solution control the growth rate of the number of cars. But there are some “scalpers” who sell the license plate in a high price. I believe that the government do not mean to increase the costs of buying cars. The government just want people to wait in line. But the life span of a car is much longer than the time people that waited for. In this way, the number of motor vehicles will keep increasing thus traffic congestion will be worse and worse.

The fifth possible solution is to encourage companies to change the work hours. This staggered rush hour plan was implemented in Beijing in a small range. In the morning peak and the evening peak, the average car speed is 22.61 km/h in 2015 (Xinhua Agency, 2016, Jan 21), which means that people need to spend twice as much time to go to work or go home. If some companies can delay their work hours for about one hours, their employees will get away from rush hours. They will also don’t have to suffer from the crowded subway. And there will be less cars on the road in peak hours. This solution need more time to be carried out because the government and some relevant departments need to coordinate different work hours among companies as well as the schedule of subway and bus.

I am in favor of the first solution currently. From my perspective, this solution is a long term solution that can solve traffic congestion completely. It does need a lot of time to achieve the goal, but it is not realistic to limit the right of buying and using cars for a long time. And the congestion charge seems like to restrict people using roads.c1

In conclusion, traffic congestion is a big question in China which need time, cost and patience to solve it. In long run view, “the municipal government shall continue to adhere to giving top priority to public transportation development” (Beijing Municipal People’s Government, 2009, April 3), such as subway and bus lines as well as viaducts and highways. If public transportation is so convenient and efficient that can cater to the fundamental purpose of driving private cars, more and more people will turn to public transportation. They even don’t have to worry about where to park their cars. And as far as I am concerned, the staggered rush hour plan should also be taken into consideration. Because it can alleviate the congestion in rush hours. While in short run, congestion charge, vehicles license plate number traffic restriction and draw restricted purchase of motor vehicles are possible solutions. The “APEC blue” evidenced that vehicles license plate number traffic restriction is effective. But APEC meetings will not hold in Beijing every day, so we should focus on the long run solutions. Maybe in twenty years, people in Beijing and even in China will not suffer from traffic congestion any more.

Work cited

1. Traffic, environment biggest concerns for livable cities: survey. (2016, Jul 5). Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved from http://infoweb.newsbank.com

2. Advisers differ on solutions to reduce traffic in Beijing. (2016, July 24). China Daily. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn

3.Beijing Municipal People’s Government. (2009, April 3). Circular of the Beijing Municipal People’s Government on Further Implementing Traffic Management Measures. Retrieved from http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/Elementals/Bulletin/t1124581.htm

4. Owen, C. J., Smith, A. C., (1962, January). The Transportation Dilemma of Greater Metropolitan Areas, p. 5.

5. Worsnop, R. L. (1963). Mass transit vs. private cars. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com. 

6.APEC Blue http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-11-18/beijings-blue-sky-act-for-apec

Picture link






The Mozart Effect

Music is one of the most integral and yet beloved aspects of the imaginative human. It is a universal language, a gorgeous world of math, and responsible for a plethora of powerful industries. As developed individuals, we understand music to be an extremely normal and celebrated aspect of life in itself, but a newborn’s path to this notion is structured in a very specific way. Babies are born with literally billions of neurons, and over time these neurons make connections in the brain. These connections are directly related to different kinds of music that they are exposed to in their development. For example, we all know that lullabies are a fundamental characteristic of a child’s early life and introduction to music. This type is of course generally a sleep encouraging tactic used by parents, resulting in a capacity to be soothed and calmed later on, in a familiar sense. But what other kinds of traditional music have effects on our infants’ minds and brainpower?


Image: https://a.dilcdn.com/bl/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2011/04/baby-mozart.jpg

It is common for people to think classical music makes babies smarter. Many started to embrace this concept due to its exciting and fascinating opinions. Actually one year in Georgia the governor decided to have CD’s donated to families with newborns at hospitals, containing select pieces. It is much more commonly supported and understood that not just with children but with anyone, classical music can improve spatial reasoning, such as efficiency in a jigsaw puzzle. However, this effect is very temporary and can be thought of as a way to “prime the brain for certain kinds of thinking.” (Source 1) This is because the pathways in our brains related to spatial reasoning are similar to those triggered for listening to classical music.

Research at Appalachian State University debunked the spotty belief that classical music played for babies makes them smarter students. They tested this “Mozart effect” and revealed that classical music does not directly correlate with test scores or any kind of intellectual performance.

What’s interesting is the relationship between musical instruments and extended improvement in spatial reasoning. It is believed that children who start lessons in a musical instrument develop a much larger capacity for spatial skills that stem from the patience and intensive detail of training muscles and memory at the same time. This is a very interesting concept that not only strengthens the world of music in its support and importance but in its outreach and applications.

I am a firm believer in the emotional and mental benefits of music, like most people, but I also believe that it can be a sad and often lonely plunge into a more intellectual adventure of the human mind and the way it is supposed to feel. Now I know that yes, music is a helpful and stimulating experience for all people, but the young audiences of certain mathematically sound and thought out pieces take away tools for their minds.

I play guitar, drums, and some piano, but I obviously cannot feel their effects working in the lobes of my brain. But I do know that music has been there for me when I need nothing else, and supplying it, working on it, and perfecting it is the only way I know of giving back.

No, the works of Mozart and Bach will not allow your babies to pick their college of choice, but they will tap into very useful and powerful abilities that help day to day motives become more efficient. And who knows, maybe consistently tapping into those parts of the brain, in a way, truly does make us smarter.




Our Afternoon Cycle


I have adopted the absolute worst schedule for my sleep and eating habits, and arriving at college has of course, naturally, taken this concept to a whole new level. What I have always been fascinated with is how this aspect of daily routines changes regular and continual states of the body. However, something I never considered is an already present and natural cause for changes in appetite and energy. I decided to explore this further when I remembered something I saw a few weeks ago about naturally occurring cannabinoids in the human body. A cannabinoid is a class of chemical compounds that interacts with the brain and is structurally related to THC, which is the main active component of marijuana.

Since this is a very new and unexpected idea for me, I had to really give it some thought in relation to its legitimacy and cause. I was aware of the many benefits to health concerns that cannabis, THC, and cannabinoids may have, so I started to believe that since physical ailments can respond well to these substances, perhaps it is because these are found naturally within the body.


Image: https://s3.amazonaws.com/leafly/content/cannabinoids-101-what-makes-cannabis-medicine/0kDQdUNqR0GCXCMdfgbs_leafly-cannabinoid-wheel-large.jpg

A recent article from Inside Science discusses exactly this and promoted a more specific corner of this notion that I began reading more on: We are hungrier, sleepier, and less concentrated around 3 PM. This is due to the natural production of endocannabinoids, which come from cell membranes in the brain, and this cycle peaks around this time of day (Source 1).

The endocannabinoid system changes the physiological processes associated with “mood, memory, appetite and pain-management.”

Another page I read on this topic at Natural News’ website goes further into the fundamental development of children and their mothers, stating that breast milk contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana. This is an introduction to hunger and the importance of eating for children, and otherwise, babies would become malnourished and can even die (Source 2).

This information made it easier for me to acknowledge different contributing factors of my energy and appetite. It’s amazing to break down not only the patterns of the grown body but also why those are directly related to clearly illustrated beginnings with human babies. This is a very odd fact that I had a hard time believing at first, and I now believe I know much less about the human body than I thought, although I have learned something new about it. It makes sense and I also believe that yes, our bodies produce natural effects of a cannabinoid “high.”




The Curve of Forgetting




The curve of forgetting states that there is a correlation between the amount of time between learning material and reviewing it and how well one preforms on a test. This theory states that if we review material that we learned that day, we will remember up to 80% of what we learned.

It had never occurred to me before that we can actually lose information after a few days, but according to this study, if we review material that we learned in the same day, we will remember it 80% of it. A longitudinal study that was conducted over 60 years starting in 1880 proved this theory, and a replicate of this randomized control study conducted recently proved the findings to be correct. In this study, they had a random group of people memorize a list of vocabulary and relearn the list either 20 minutes later, one hour later, nine hours later, one day later, two days later, six days later, or 31 days later. The results show that the people who reviewed the material that same day and studied it over a longer period of time answered more accurately than the people who studied days later.



This experiment proved that the sooner we study after we learn the material, the less time we will have to put in studying later on, and the more accurate we will perform on our tests.

Although there is no mechanism for this hypotheses stated in this study, since the data was replicated very similarly to the previous study, the results can be viewed as legitimate. This replicated results also can prove a correlation between the time between learning the material and how much we remember from it.



Another study, though, provides a theory for the mechanism of forgetting in our short-term memory. According to the study, memory, as well as forgetting, are controlled through the balance between two different proteins, called kinases and phosphatases. Because memory is controlled by kinases and forgetting are controlled by phosphatases, scientists believe that the two combined leads to forgetting in our short-term memory.

Another theory of why we forget is the decay theory of forgetting. This theory states that we forget because a certain amount of time has passed since we learned something. It also states that we can only remember the information we just learned after 15 to 30 seconds, unless we “rehearse” or study the information later. This also supports and is in agreement with the curve of forgetting because they both state that the longer we go after learning the information, the more we will forget it.

After I read these two studies and researched this theory, I was pretty discouraged. Who has the time to sit down and study what they learned day after day and week after week? According to Jim Roth, though, the more times we learn new information, and the more time we “touch” this information (like review and study it), the better it will become part of our permanent memory, such as our name or our phone number. He also suggested using flashcards whenever we can. This way the information is more accessible and we can bring them with us wherever we go. (Not that we’ll bring them with us everywhere we go, but you know what I mean.) This also means that the information will trickle into our brains a little at a time, which is the best way to learn, according to Jim Roth.

Chicken Soup- actually helpful?

It’s that time of year at Penn State- when everyone’s sick and I can’t walk into one of my lecture classes without hearing a symphony of coughs. With all the new germs around and the close proximity of living that most of us freshmen are not used to, it’s almost impossible not to experience some kind of illness during this first semester. A busy schedule makes it hard to find time for the health center, so is there anything you can do at home to shorten your cold? I’m sure we’ve all heard chicken soup helps, but does it actually? The null hypothesis would be that chicken soup doesn’t have any real affect on sickness while the alternative would be that it helps your cold in some way! I researched this old wives tale and overwhelmingly, the answer seems to be yes, it helps!


First Study

Perhaps the most famous study done on this topic was by Dr. Stephen Rennard. The overall conclusion in this study was that chicken soup helps inhibit the movement of neutrophils (or “chemotaxis” of neutrophils, which is migration of an organism is due to a stimulus entering the system), Neutrophils are leukocytes (or commonly known as white blood cells) that help fight infection. This helps reduce inflammation in the upper-respiratory system, or the area that becomes inflamed when you have a cold. Anti-inflammation is just one of the suggested mechanisms for this link between chicken soup and feeling better from an illness. This chemotaxis was seen when Dr. Rennard tested different dilutions of the soup on blood samples. He observed that the more concentrated the soup was, the better job it did at inhibiting neutrophil chemotaxis. However,they found that this constraining of white blood cells was only present in the soup as a whole (the vegetables and chicken together). Each individual ingredient wouldn’t have the same effect. It does not appear that the soup being homemade or store-bought had any affects on the outcome.chick-soup

Other conjectured mechanisms about why chicken soup helps colds have been that hot fluids such as soup help to loosen congestion and help move mucus through your system quickly, giving this unwanted substance less time to settle in your system.

Second Study

This would suggest that all hot liquids would have the same effect on curing colds as soup, but one study says different. According to Mount Sinai researchers, chicken soup does a noticeably better job at moving mucus through your system than just hot water. They had 15 people with clogged nasal pathways drink either cold water, hot chicken soup or hot water. The people who had soup had the clearest system (system with the least mucus) after the experiment. The size of this experiment gives way to doubt. 15 people can only prove so much and this experiment would have to be repeated on a much larger scale and many more times of it have any credibility.

Other proposed mechanisms? Liquids and soups help a person stay hydrated. Hydration is a very underrated aspect of health, as most humans don’t even realize how dehydrated they are. Having a lot of soup at the time of illness can definitely help with hydration. Another idea is that soup has what’s known as the TLC element. Comfort is a huge part of feeling better and chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food. Having chicken soup and someone to take care of you can be just as important to recovery as medicine. Although, this idea has so many confounding variables (the soup isn’t the thing making you feel better, the love is).

It seems the first study has the most credibility and staying power. That study was done in 2000,
 yet people have been eating chicken soup to feel better for centuries. It appears this topic falls
victim to the same problem we discussed in class, that the pirates had when using lemons or
citrus to cure scurvy. They knew it was helping but they didn’t know the mechanism. This test
done by Dr. Rennard is the first real evidence we have to reject the null hypothesis and believe
that chicken soup truly helps illness!
Next time you’re sick, don’t knock this old tradition. It may really help!

What affect human’s height?

I am a person like to travel all over the world, and I have been to several countries like China, United States, Thailand, Holland and Japan. Except enjoy the beauty of these countries, I found a fun phenomenon that these countries citizens height are significantly different. Like Dutch people are the tallest people I ever see in general; the Japanese’s height are the shortest in these countries. And I found out that White people’s average height is taller than Asian people. Does people’s height entirely depend on their race?

To make sure this is not base my judgment on intuition, I did some research about people’s height all the continents. This graph is the height development by World Regions – Baten & Blum (2012) 0. Carefully analyze the data, it shows the North America/Au/Nz have the tallest height, Africa in the middle, and almost all regions in Asia are at the bottom of the  data set. This analysis shows people in North America taller than Europe, Europe taller than Africa, and Africa taller than Asia. height-development-by-world-regions-interpolation-baten-blum-2012-0-579x500

So, we can see the people’s height is significantly different from continents to continents. But does that means White people taller than Black, and Asian are the shortest?  The actual situation may not like this. In the United States which made up the most population in North America, there are only 62.6% citizens are White. Rest of population is other races, and the average height of North America is taller than Europe, where a white people lived. And Asian’s height are significantly shorter than North American and Europe. Combine this information, races did affect human’s height, but what else have an effect on height?

For better know what else change the person’s height, I did some research to find out. Here is an article talks about genetic things and nutrition affect human’s height. Scientists made experiments shows height is 60 to 80 percents determined by the genetic stuff. It is not hard to explain this; you must notice that if person’s family members are all tall guys, this person probably be a big guy at least not short. In opposite, If the guy’s family members are not so big, this guy will have a small chance to be a tall man. This genetic factor of determined how a person’s height situation have been using by police. We can see this from the news or some television drama that police took the criminal’s DNA and test criminal’s height and race. The other primary factor is nutrition; it took 20 to 40 percents of your size. Obvious, human needs various and a host of nutrition to grow their body, once the food satisfies the body’s needs, people will grow taller. We can see African Americans are usually taller than Africans, on of the reason is the African Americans have a better diet than Africans in general. Here is an article shows how much nutrition children need to grow healthy

In conclusion, races do affect people’s height but more importantly is the genetic factors and the nutrition. There may not be the only factors determine human’s height, and there may have third variables that need to be discover. The genetic things have an impact on a significant part of human’s height. But enough food may improve your height. So you want to become taller? Eat more food and balance your diet!