Daily Archives: October 16, 2016

Does the font you choose to use matter?

Everyone has a preferred font when typing up an essay, assignment, email, etc. but why is this? Is it the attractiveness? Or is it the fact that certain fonts help us focus and read better than others? The question of focus of this blog post is, does typography affect the way we read? I searched studies of typography and here is what I found:

typography-infographic

First, a study interested in the effect of font size and font type examined popular used fonts to find differences between different fonts. They conducted an experimental study testing multiple variable correlated with fonts such as, reading effectiveness and time, font legibility and attractiveness, and the overall preference of the font. The fonts studied were Century Schoolbook, Courier New, Georgia, Times New Roman, Arial, Comic Sans MS, Tahoma, and Verdana. The sizes being studied were 10, 12, and 14. The study included sixty people of both genders, between the ages of 18 and 55, with 20/40 vision or better.

In the end, the study found that font styles at any size had no significant difference in reading efficiency because the differences between the two were not great enough. However, on average, larger sized fonts were found to be more readable as compared to smaller sized fonts. Reading time for each font type gave an average p value of p < .01 and for size, p < .05, meaning, there’s really something going on. Times and Arial were found to be read the fastest of all the fonts, along with 12-point size fonts.

Font legibility showed a relation of p <.01 between font and size. In this trial, Tahoma 10-point, Verdana and Courier 12-point were the most legible. However, the data also showed Arial and Courier as the most legible fonts in any size, and Comic as the most illegible font. Data of this study also supported that increasing text size does not necessarily mean it’ll make a font more legible.

Font type differences for attractiveness resulted in a p value of p < .001. Times, Arial, Georgia were the most attractive fonts according to participants. At the 10-point size, differences in ranking were p < .001. Arial, Courier, Comic, Georgia, and Verdana were most preferred and Times was the least preferred. At the 12-point size, preference differences were p < .01. Arial was the most preferred font and Times was the least preferred font at this size. At the 14-point size, preference differences were p = .064. Comic was the most preferred and Times was the least preferred font at this size. Overall, in this study, all three sizes resulted in a significant difference of p < .001.

Although Times was studied to be one of the most attractive, it surprisingly was also studied to be one of least preferred fonts. Verdana was studied to be the best overall fonts according to participants of this study according to choice. This probably is because it read at the fastest pace and was a very legible font to participants.

Although this study held many different control trials, it was a very small experiment, which is a factor that weakens the reliability and efficiency of the data of this study. So, to make sure this study wasn’t an anecdote or the results came from chance, I looked up two more similar studies on typography.

readbility-3-81e18538cd3698f3574a2e3d733b77beThe second study I found seemed to be very similar to the first study that was conducted. However in this study, there was a smaller amount of participants (27) and were also older (between the ages 62 to 83). Also this study was different because it compared computer screen fonts and print fonts. More importantly, it was similar because the same fonts were studied using the same trials as the first study, and participants also had to have 20/40 vision or better.

The end results of this study generally found no remarkable difference between the computer screen and printed paper fonts. However, since this study primarily focused on elder people, it suggested that 14-pint sized font, either serif fonts (Times New Roman and Georgia) for reading speed, or sans serif fonts (Arial and Verdana) for font preference was found to be the best to use. But yet again, this was a poor study because it didn’t randomize or generalize the participants well due to its small size and close age range.

The third typography study I looked at was also small, comprising of 82 participants. However in this study, the subjects read stories that were typed in a variety of sizes and san serif and serif fonts. The study trialled both reading speed and comprehension. The study found smaller font sizes took longer to read, but not significantly longer. It also found no major differences in the font types, although serif fonts were only read slightly faster.typography-poster-wallpaper-4

The take away from these three studies is font type and size makes a difference, yet not one that is significant enough to actually matter. The experimental design was not big enough to rely on the conclusion of the studies. If this topic was of major concern, it would be suggested a bigger study be performed. However, it is apparent that these three studies all had similar end results, which shows consistency in the data. These studies probably won’t be of great enough significance to alter peoples preferred font. Although the first study showed something going on, according to the p values. However, the hypothesis must be a null hypothesis in this case because the study showed that it doesn’t really matter something was going on because there were no significant differences found within the variables tested in the study, and therefore this means the null hypothesis has been accepted.

Photo Sources:

https://8thlight.com/blog/assets/posts/2011-08-23-readability/readbility-3-81e18538cd3698f3574a2e3d733b77be.jpg

http://cdn.pcwallart.com/images/typography-poster-wallpaper-4.jpg

http://www.texteffects.co.uk/2013/05/10-top-typography-infographics/

Serif Font vs Sans Serif Font Infographic

Pets and Mental Health

Those that have pets will surely agree with what I’m about to talk about. Pets are said to be able to improve your mental health! So those of you who do not have a pet should go out and buy one, right? Let’s find out.

The Huffington post lists a dozen reasons how a pet can improve your mental health. For example, petting them can reduce stress, and they help reduce loneliness. The reduction in stress from rhythmic petting, is due to when you connect with your pet, oxytocin, a hormone related to anxiety and stress relief is released and helps to reduce blood pressure as well as lower cortisol levels. The explanation behind them reducing loneliness is essentially self explanatory. They are there when you need them.

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Gene Mohr, a retired Tech. Sergeant, pets Mollie, a three year old Sheltie at Langley Hospital Jan. 30.  Mollie does about 10 visits throughout the Hampton Roads Area.  This is her third week visiting Langley Air Force Base.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Zachary Wolf)

Is it really true though, that pets can improve mental health? In a research study published on Wiley Online Library, an experiment was done to test the effect of a companion dog on levels of depression and and anxiety in residents living in a long term care facility. For the study the used sixteen residents, 8 men and 8 women. They randomly assigned the residents into a control group and an experimental group that would experience Animal Assisted Activity once a week for six weeks. To determine the results, they used the Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory to pre and post experiment.

 

From this experiment they were able to discover that the difference in depression levels in the Animal Assisted Activity group were significant enough to reject the null hypothesis that dogs would have no effect on depression (p=.017). Besides that, however no other statistical differences were found amongst the control group or the anxiety levels of the animal assisted group.

This experiment did have some flaws however. First the sample size was extremely small. Also the sample of people was very specific since they all lived in a long care facility, this experiment would not have been able to provide a general consensus as to whether pets helped everyone or not. Also, confounding variables could have been another issue. Without further research, nothing can really be concluded from this experiment.

In another study posted in the European Journal of integrative Medicine, they found different results. With 12 patients they created a control and experimental group. In this experiment they tested the effect of animal assisted therapy on the anxiety levels in acutely depressed patients. They conducted a pre and post treatment controlled crossover study that used the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to measure the levels within the patients. In conclusion, theyfile_20839_column_who-benefits-from-therapy-pets were able to conclude that the reduction in anxiety levels in the patients that received animal assisted therapy was statistically significant with a p-value of .016.

Although this study provides different results from the one discussed earlier, the experiment was set up differently. These patients received two sessions of 30 minutes of interaction with a dog and the amount of interaction was allowed to be determined by the patient.

Overall, until more research is done, the true effects of pets on mental health will not be known. I believe that the studies that have been done so far have been extremely weak. They need truly need larger sample sizes. Doing experimental research on 12-16 people is not going to be very useful.

Link to photos:

http://catchfred.com/health-care/hospital-patients-pets-encouraged/

http://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/20839-pet-therapy-and-human-mental-health-issues

 

 

Sweet Dreams

Since starting college, I have eaten meals at very unconventional times due to activities and rigorous class work. I remember hearing from someone that it is not a good idea to eat after 8 o’clock at night, which is often something I am forced to do. A few weeks ago I had to power through late night studying so I grabbed a snack to keep me going. That night I had a nightmare. For whatever reason I thought back to what I did before I went to bed. I asked myself if I saw a scary advertisement being that halloween is around the corner, but I did not remember seeing one. I recalled eating some cookies way after 8 p.m., which was apparently a bad thing to do.  I wondered what the mechanism was behind me getting a nightmare, and if it possibly could have involved eating the ice cream. Does eating sugary foods, like cookies, before bed cause nightmares?

 

http://www.happybeinghealthy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Junk-Food.jpg

After browsing the internet and looking at various websites, I came across a study conducted by the University of Montreal. The study was called, Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams (2015)”. I found this study appropriate and credible because it came from a university and was conducted within the past year. The study consisted of 382 undergraduate students—126 males and 255 females and 1 person whose gender was unspecified. I took notice that there was a much larger portion in females who participated and wondered if this could affect the end results of the study. Andrew talked about the importance of giving consent to scientists or a study, specifically in cancer trials. It is important to note that all participants in this study gave their consent, as well as it being approved by the University’s Ethics Board.

The way the study worked was by giving each participant various online surveys that they each had to complete based on topics concerning their diet, sleep quality, and dream characteristics. The results of all the surveys combined concluded that, 68 of 382 or 17.8% participants said that eating specific foods did have a direct affect on their dreams. 11.5% claimed that eating late at night affected their dreams. These numbers are much lower than I expected them to be, could it be because there was more females in the study than males? If the study had used a larger group of participants, 

http://www.frontiersin.org/files/Articles/118543/fpsyg-06-00047-HTML/image_m/fpsyg-06-00047-g002.jpg

As you can see from the above picture, each pie chart’s highest percentage of food that contributes to a disturbing or bizarre dream comes from diary. Sugar is the second highest contributor at 12.5% for disturbing dreams and 30.8% for bizarre dreams. Neither percentage helps to support or confirm my hypothesis. Something that could be taken into consideration for comparing each pie chart is the definition of what exactly the study considers a disturbing or  bizarre dream to be. The information may be more easily understood if the University of Montreal provided the definitions for each category.

This study done by the University of Montreal helped me to accept the null hypothesis, the numbers from the study were too low for me to clearly see if there was a relationship between sugary foods and nightmares. Looking back at it now, it must have been by chance that when I ate cookies before bed, I got a nightmare. 

Sources:

Nielson, Tore, and Russell A. Powell. Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: Food and Diet as Instigators of Bizarre and Disturbing Dreams (2015). Rep. N.p., Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

https://www.academia.edu/10605094/Dreams_of_the_Rarebit_Fiend_food_and_diet_as_instigators_of_bizarre_and_disturbing_dreams_2015_

Picture #1

http://www.happybeinghealthy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Junk-Food.jpg

Graph #1

http://www.frontiersin.org/files/Articles/118543/fpsyg-06-00047-HTML/image_m/fpsyg-06-00047-g002.jpg

 

How Important is Morning Breakfast?

As a child, my parents stressed to me the importance of eating breakfast, citing it as ‘the most important meal of the day’. Many people frequently use this phrase as a way to advocate eating breakfast every morning, but seldom have I heard anyone give a true as to why this belief is held. As I’ve grown older, particularly in the past year or two, I’ve found myself eating breakfast much less frequently, all the while scared that this practice would have a negative effect on my health. However, upon looking into the matter further, I have failed to find any proof that breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day.

In an article on webMD.com the author describes how some people will skip breakfast as a means of losing weight. Many people think that skipping breakfast will decrease calorie breakfastintake, and thus help them diet. Many observational studies have found that people who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight, with scientists hypothesizing that missing breakfast causes people to snack more and eat larger servings throughout the day (Rubin). However, observational studies are not a good means by which to prove causation. The same article  cited a randomized control trial in which test subjects were randomly assigned to either eating breakfast or not eating breakfast. However, the experiment failed to find that skipping breakfast  particularly increased or decreased calorie count over the course of the day. After reading more, though, I found that Rubin notes another experiment done by Cornell University found through randomized control that those who skip breakfast save 450 calories a day.

Whether this is good or bad is left up to interpretation. This study found a correlation between skipping breakfast and calorie intake throughout the day, but did not find how this relates to weight loss.

I wanted to figure out if there was any proof that eating breakfast can lead to weight fluctuation, or any important health statistic for that matter. After all, the very concept of eating breakfast being important and making you more healthy is very vague and led by a soft endpoint, ‘health’. A New York Times article titled ‘Sorry, there’s nothing magical about breakfast’ cites a study from 2013 that found that the subjects that skipped breakfast had a slightly higher risk of heart disease. This is a correlation, though, not causation. It is very possible that a confounding variable, like eating habits, causes this. Those who skip breakfast may be more inclined to drink alcohol, or eat greasy food, which could lead to this correlation.

The more I looked, I found that there was distinct lack of well done randomized control trials. Some observational studies noted correlations, but could not go anywhere with these conclusions because of a lack of information. The studies  that I did find could not find a noticeable difference in weight of their test subjects. Further, this New York Times article cites numerous studies and experiments, all of which accept the null hypothesis and state that breakfast has no discernible effect and is not the most important meal of the day.

Despite not being able to find an experiment that links eating breakfast and a hard endpoint about health, I did find an EAS article linking several soft endpoints with eating breakfast as I concluded my research. It lists four main reasons why breakfast is important, among them, breakfast primes the body for calories later in the day, breakfast lowers stress hormones, breakfast impacts the entire day’s food consumption, and breakfast affects cognitive ability (Ivy).

As such, I can not say with certainty that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. From a nutritional standpoint, it is widely held that eating breakfast is good for you and primes your body for the day. However, I cannot report from what I’ve read that science has proven that breakfast will have a noticeable impact on your health, because it has not. As science has supported the nutritional benefits that the aforementioned EAS article reported, but has failed to link breakfast eating with weight loss, heart disease, or any other claims/myths that are out there. As a result I would advise breakfast eaters to keep eating breakfast. If you don’t feel hungry in the morning, don’t feel pressured to eat breakfast because of claimed nutritional benefits, because science has not substantiated them yet.

 


 

Sources used:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140902/breakfast-importance#1

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/breakfast-isnt-important/378917/

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2014/06/04/ajcn.114.089573.abstract

 

 

Allergies are no fun

This year, I learned that my two young cousins have some exceptionally difficult food allergies. My 3 year old cousin is allergic to all dairy products. These products include: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and even most processed dairy foods. He will vomit if ingested, and break out into horrible hives if he even comes into contact with these products. My other cousin has a severe reaction from gluten due to Celiac Disease. This made me wonder; will there ever be a chance that they can grow out of these life changing allergies?

What are allergies and how are they tested?

Allergies are everywhere, and vary from foods all the way to environmental and medication, and are commonly developed at infancy and childhood. One may have an allergic reaction from ingestion, touch, and inhalation. According to Healthline, allergies are defined as a reaction from the body’s immune system when a foreign substance is detected. But the catch is, most of these are overreactions are from something harmless, such as cat dander or shellfish. Once your body detects these “invaders”, it sends out molecules called immunoglobulin E antibodies, thus causing your body to have a reaction. Allergies can be immensely unpredictable. Exposure to the allergen for the first time may cause a mild reaction, but the second exposure may unfortunately send you to the hospital. Reactions may also vary from hives all the way to unconsciousness and death. That is why it is a good idea to be tested early on for possible allergens. One may be tested through skin tests, challenge tests, and blood tests. To do a skin test, the doctor or nurse puts a small amount of the allergen directly onto the patient’s skin and waits to see a potential reaction. This is commonly applied by a prick. Challenge testing, used for potential food allergies, removes the suspected food from the patient’s diet. A few weeks later, the patient will eat that food again and watch for a reaction. Lastly, the blood test is used in place of the skin test. These tests simply search for antibodies against the suspected allergen in your body.

Immunotherapy

The simple answer to the question of “can you outgrow allergies?” is Yes. Growing accustomed to the allergen is one of the most theorized ideas. Sometimes people just get lucky and do not see a reaction anymore. If you aren’t one of these lucky individuals, and want to possibly lessen your reaction, you can promote your tolerance by exposure. Research has shown that immunotherapy may be one of the best ways to calm down the reaction to foods such as peanuts. Although this is not “outgrowing” the allergen, it has been shown as highly effective for food allergies. According to CNN, a group at Cambridge University Hospitals did an experimental study to see if immunotherapy was actually successful. 23 who were allergic to peanuts were put into a group. Each day, the children ate small amounts, starting with 1 mg. The researchers progressively increased peanut quantity every two weeks. By the end of the trial, the children ate upto 5 peanuts with very mild reactions, such as abdominal pain. This dose of 5 peanuts was then given for six weeks.

peanut1

Image found here

The results

In the end of the trial, amazingly, 91% of the children slowly exposed to peanut consumption can ingest 5 peanuts safely with no reaction. It gets even better. 19 of the children after six months could handle 12 peanuts, and after one year, the study showed that 15 of the children can handle 32 peanuts and have said to feel a lot safer when ingesting potential products with peanuts in them.

Conclusion

If you do not want to wait to see if your body naturally gets rid of your allergy, you may want to try immunotherapy. (With talking to your doctor first!) Although it is one study, it is clear that with the case of a peanut allergy that it is possible to build up your body’s tolerance to the allergen.

Works Cited

Dhar, Michael. “Can You Outgrow Your Allergies?” LiveScience. N.p., n.d. Web.http://www.livescience.com/39257-outgrow-allergies-go-away.html

@healthline. “Allergic Reaction.” Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/allergic-reaction#ReadThisNext8

Landau, Elizabeth. CNN. Cable News Network, 19 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/19/aaas.food.allergies/

Image: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/sites/default/files/styles/insert_large/public/images/2187/peanut1.jpg?itok=wWHilxu2

Should we chew gum?

During high school, my best friend started to chew gum during class in order to eat less in breaks. Well, I never found out if what she was doing actually worked or not. However, she believed that with exercise and skipping some meals she will loose weight faster. I noticed that in a couple of months she did not loose weight, but I was intrigued about the effects of chewing gum and why do people think of it as a solution to overweight. So the question is, is chewing gum an effective method to loose appetite?

Does gum make people loose their appetite? Reverse causation needs to be eliminated due to the time factor. What I mean by this, is that the hypothesis could not be tested because time needs to pass in order to notice whether chewing gum has an effect on hunger or not. Furthermore, is there a third variable that influences both gum intake and food intake? But there is always a possibility that it is due to chance as well.

I decided to do some research about the effects of gum and found out two studies conducted by the University of Buffalo. According to one of the studies, chewing gum affects the intake of food. The experiment conducted consisted in participants from the age of 18 to 50. Within these range there were 24 men and 30 women who were randomly chosen to be in either a non chewer or chewer group. This experiment was held during a two week period. The gum chewing group was given either Nutratrim gum (fruit) and Eclipse gum (mint). They were given a pill box to put the gums they chewed and a handbook that contained eating habits questionnaires to record what they ate. Results were given not by a specific gender but by the types of gum each individual ate or not. According to researchers men and women had a very similar reaction when it came to hunger, so they decided to disregard gender. I believe that scientists were right in basing their results on the different types of gum and not take gender into account since gender appears to be a factor that does not alter the results in any possible way.

The experiment had a control group, the no gum individuals, and two arms of study that were either fruit gum chewers or mint gum chewers. During two weeks there were two checkins, in which researchers held the data of the questionnaires and the weight of the participants. The results are demonstrated in the three figures below. Clearly there is a correlation between gum and appetite. There was a significant effect that indicated that neither fruit nor mint gum made people eat less, but the no gum control group demonstrated a more accurate nutrition. The food in their meals was more balanced than those who chewed gum (as you can see in Figure C). Furthermore, researchers did not find a major weight loss in the participants who chewed gum. But did find that the nutrition of an individual who chews gum frequently is very different from that of person who doesn’t. Also, the study was a random trial, since they had people from diverse races, gender, marital status, income, and education. However, they did control confounding variables through a survey that determined the participants eligibility. These variables were health, diet and prior chewing gum habits. Furthermore, the probability of chance for Figure C was 0.05, which indicates that it is very unlikely that the results are due to chance, meaning that chewing gum actually affects the nutrition of a person.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-24-35-pm

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-24-51-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-24-57-pm

I decided to look more into it and found a study by the Ohio State University. The Atlantic mentions how a group of 44 participants in the study were told to choose between fruit or chocolate after a 45 minute period of time chewing gum. The participants that had chewed on mint gum were less likely to eat fruit than the ones who chewed fruit gum, but still all participants felt hungry after chewing. The results indicated that people who chew gum will later crave for unhealthy food that will influence on them to make unhealthy choices in their diet.

In my opinion chewing gum could indicate an unhealthy lifestyle. However, since many people chew gum it would be life changing to conclude that it is unhealthy. Therefore, replication of the study and meta analyses is needed. The experiment proves that there is not a meaningful change in the amount of calories consumed by an individual but the nutrition of a person does. So the conclusion would be a false positive, the hypothesis was rejected but there is definitely something going on. So the myth that eating more gum causes weight loss is not true. As said in class the lack of science affects the life and health of many people. There are alternate ways to loose weight that are certainly more effective than relying on gum since it actually makes the diet of a person become weaker and lack of nutrients. Here is an article from TIME Magazine that explains why some methods work better than others, and how fat cells react when a person stops eating regularly. Actually, strict diets will make cells have a drastic reaction and will make your body store calories that will later become fat. Exercise and nutritious meals are the best way in which a man or woman can stay in shape.

 

 

 

 

Productivity levels at Night versus in the Morning

Growing up I always thought that staying up late at night was the coolest thing. I use to get upset when I was sent to bed early and my older cousins were able to stay up as late as they wanted. The bizarre thing is that all throughout high school I would do all my homework throughout the day and go to bed early and now that I’m older I’ve noticed that I leave my homework for the evening and have more energy and am most productive. The question is are you more likely to be more productive later in the day or early in the morning or is it the other way around? My null hypothesis is that people are most productive later in the day and at night.

In an a article written by Nolan G Pope. He looks into how time of day improves productivity in schools; And by how schools should change the setup of their schedules take advantage of the time of day. What made his finds harder was that certain subjects were set up for a specific times of the day and that was out of his control. How he went about his study was that he collected test scores and GPA’s from high schools and middle schools in the Los Angeles school district. What he found was quiet interesting; he found that students levels of productive in the morning are higher than in the afternoon and that moving classes with high importance like math to the morning students performance is better.

So are we more productive during the day time than at night?

I still wasn’t convinced so I did more research and found another article that rises another point which is that people who are able to be productive later in the day versus earlier in the day have different brain structures. How is that possible? Being an early bird or a night owl can be Due to our genetic makeup. That same article states that there are physical differences in our brains. In a study done by scientist of Germany’s Aachen University observed a group of 59 men and women of different chronotypes. 16 were early birds 20 were in between and 23 were night owls . They found that night owls showed less white matter in the brain than the others. Night Owls are more likely to suffer from depression and also due to this the disrupt there normal cognitive functioning.

In conclusion my null hypothesis didn’t work. Productivity is higher early in the day than it is at night. our brains are more active during the day and staying up late at night our brains have less white matter and our cognitive functioning is impaired because of it. So its best to be productive during the day than late at night. This still isn’t a proven fact so scientist are still working on figuring out what time of day is best.

Sites: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00525

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/night-owl-sleep_b_4276411.html

Images: https://cdn.instructables.com/FWE/QM50/FVKOLJKC/FWEQM50FVKOLJKC.MEDIUM.jpg

 

 

Do musics help plants to grow?

  I bought some seeds from HUB as a support to THON one day after class, and planted those seeds in my dorm. As I waited for it to germinate each day, I thought about the saying I used to heard that musics have positive effects on the growth of plants. To me it sounds reasonable. At least animals and human react to sounds and noises naturally, but I know I might be wrong. Plants are totally different from animals, just as sounds are different from music. Do plants have feelings? Can they react to sounds or musics as we do? I’m really curious about the answers to those questions. So I decided to further investigate on this topic.

music-and-plants

  It is hard to indicate if plants really have similar feelings as we do, but there are studies suggest that plants could respond to their surroundings. Jagadis Chandra Bose, an Indian physiologist, stated in his book “The Nervous Mechanism of Plants” that plants are very sensitive to elements in environment such as temperature, light and noises. So this makes it possible that plants could be reacted to music during the growing periods.

  Before discussing about the correlation between music and plant growth, I decided to start from the simple option by focusing on Jagadish Candra Bose statement first, to see if basic sounds, instead of a rhythm produced by music, caused any effects on the growth of plants. A study called “The Effect of Sound on the Growth of Plants” (Collins et al, 2001) found out that plants grow faster under pure tones than random noise. The study used two types of species with fast growing rates as the experimental subjects, beans and impatient. Those plants were separated into different chambers, with one chamber as the control group and others as experimental groups. The experimental groups was exposed to sounds containing different frequencies but same intensity. The changes of the plant were measured every two days throughout the 28 days experiment. The research found that the plants generally grow better when exposed to pure tune with wavelength related to its average leaf dimension.music-and-plants-1

  Since I’m not a scientist, I couldn’t explain the mechanism behind this but this study did show that sounds effect the growth of plants. It also stated that sounds with different wavelengths would influence the plant differently. This makes me think about if different types of music would do the same thing.

  To further investigate in the area, I found another study called “Effect of Different Types of Music on Rosa Chinensis Plant”, which studied the effect of music on 30 types of rose chinesis plant. Those plants were divided into five different groups. One of the group was selected as a control group which kept in silence, while other groups were exposed to different types of musics from each other. The music types selected in this study were Vedic chants, Wester classical music, Rock music and Indian classical music. The study lasted for 60 days and different things such as the diameter of flowers and the number of flowers were recorded as an indicator of the growth of plant. The study concluded that Indian classical music and Vedic chants have significant affect on the growing rate of Rosa chinensis plants.

  Both studies are randomized control experiments and produced sufficient datas that are hardly due to chance, so they are less likely to be a fluke. Also the topic is meta-analyses. Plenty of similar studies were done and books were published about the effects of music on plants, so there are certainly a correlation between those two variables. To me, what’s interesting is that now studies are investigating on further depth in this area, considering more third variables in their study to found out more detail information and correlation. So I would conclude that musics do help plants to grow.

Citation

Collins, Margaret E., and John E.K. Foreman. THE EFFECT OF SOUND ON THE GROWTH OF PLANTS. London: The University of Western Ontario, 2001. Pdf.

Powerlifting or CrossFit ?

I have always had a love for lifting weights and have always been curious what type of weight lifting is the best for your body as well as makes you strongest. The two types of lifting that I will be comparing are Powerlifting and CrossFit. According to CrossFit.com, crossfit is a competitive sport. Including high intensity interval training which incorporates power lifts, gymnastics, and plyometrics.  Powerlifting is a a strength based sport that includes 3 main lifts; squat, bench press and dead-lift. Many people ask the question whether the fast time interval and short break time movements in crossfit is better for your body and makes you stronger than powerlifting.

CrossFit has many pros and cons. Some Pros of crossfit are the fact that crossfit is very affordable, most of the exercises are all done with the same equipment. All you really need to train for crossfit is a pull-up bar and a barbell. Another advantage of crossfit is that is is very transportable, with very little equipment it is easy to train anywhere at anytime. Even though crossfit is cheap and transportable it is very hard training and to be honest I think powerlifting gets you stronger in the long term.

Powerlifting is based on heavy weights with extended break periods. What I get out of powerlifting verses crossfit is that powerlifting allows you to put more strength and power into each set of lifting as well as putting less stress on your body with longer break periods. According to this article life long athlete Erin Simmons speaks about the many reasons that powerlifting is better in all aspects than crossfit. The article says “how Olympic lifts life cleans and dead-lifts should not ever be preformed at a rep range of 20-30 reps” which is what crossfit preaches, it is not only terrible for your body but also could make you weaker in the long run.

Many people don’t really care about the long term affects that either type of training will have on their body, they care about which will get them stronger. Here is a video where a professional powerlifter competes against a pro crossfitter in a race of who can do the same exact weight for a certain amount of reps in 2 crossfit workouts and 2 powerlifting workouts.

In the video the powerlifter wins by a huge margin beating the crossfit competitor in the strength workouts and the cardio vascular workouts. This was a experiment where the obvious variables being tested were the different sports being put to test against each other where the controls in this experiment were the athletes having the same number of reps and workouts to complete.

All in all, powerlifting shows more strength advantages and less of a risk to your body, for me these 2 factors make it an easy choice to shade away from crossfit and towards powerlifting.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-simmons/why-i-dont-do-crossfit_b_5411771.html

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/crossfit-vs-powerlifting-14397.html#

Why are orange juice and toothpaste such a bad mix?

There are a lot of tasty mixes in this world: peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and strawberries, tomato soup and grilled cheese, the list goes on. However, on the other side of the spectrum, there are some distasteful combinations as well. One of the most known mixes to stay away from is the infamous orange juice and toothpaste. As I picked up some orange juice before class and right after brushing my teeth, I instantly regretted taking a sip as a foul taste spread across my taste buds, and wouldn’t dissipate for several hours. The taste is extremely bitter, causing an inevitable sour mouth expression. As I suffered from this fatal mistake, I wondered to myself, what causes such a bitter, awful taste in one’s mouth?

This mix has had caution signs up as long as I can remember. My mom used to tell me to wait at least 15 minutes before drinking my orange juice at breakfast. I was of course always persistent and drank it anyway, soon to be punished by my own mouth’s acidic bitter taste. As I continue to make the same mistake over and over I have decided to do the research. I asked myself questions as I read:

 

  1. Is it something in our mouths that create the bitterness or just the simple combination of these two opposite substances?
  2. Can it be due to reverse causation? (Bad taste by first drinking orange juice then brushing your teeth with the mint toothpaste)

 

Based on research done by this article, a finalized conclusion has not been reached on this topic, since taste is so intricate, but just like other science, there is research and observation that take place to gain a close valid conclusion. Our taste is a big unknown, filled with different categories of taste, and not to mention no two person’s taste buds are exactly the same. As the author states, we taste things from the molecules and receptors interaction on the human tongue. Toothpaste is filled with a substances called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate(SLS), which is a additive which creates the foaming and bubbles of the concentrate. Not only does it create this bubbly sensation, but it also reduces the taste of sweetness in the mouth, destroying fatty substances present in one’s taste buds, called phospholipids. Orange juice has a sweetness component in its taste, which would explain why this contradicting would occur. Toothpaste also contains stannous fluoride, a form of medicine or mixture in the dental world that prevents decay, bacteria, and activities in individual. As this toothpaste combines with the acetic acid and sweetness prevalent in orange juice, it leaves a lingering bitter taste on the human tongue.

A particular study, written by author Allison Chambers gives an interactive representation of the flavors and reactions after the use of toothpaste, particularly strongly methylated toothpaste.

In this study, participants a series of food products including orange juice and tested taste and how long it would linger after brushing your teeth in the morning.(anecdotally) Participants used in this experimental procedure brushed their teeth and waited in a series of either 4,12,30, 60 minutes. A more  60 minute interval represented the control trial, waiting this time interval before drink/food consumption.This is to ensure that all particles and residue of the food products. After the individuals brushed their teeth and waited their individuals of time, and the control group waited until after the 60 minute interval, making it a valid comparisons of taste. After the brushing and consumption of juice, and evaluated the tastes, repeating the trial 2-3 times.

This was represented as a correlational study, comparing the effects of substances, in this case orange juice, combined with toothpaste residue. The results concluded that out of a 15 point scale, those who waited longer intervals, had less of a bitter/sour taste of the combination. Waiting 4 minutes was a score of 8.5, 12 minutes was an 8.0, 30 minutes was a 7.5, and 60 minutes was a 7.0. However this does always conclude that this bitter taste combination can linger for over an hour before taste goes back to normal levels. This was also the strongest reaction out of food/beverage products used. However, the result came out as anecdotally for this particular study. Lastly, it would not be due to reverse causation due to the bitter/sour taste arising from the mixture of orange juice after the toothpaste residue was already in the mouth.

Although it is evident that orange juice and toothpaste vividly create a bad taste, this study is done on a strongly methylated toothpaste, not your average Colgate. We cannot assume the study would reach the same conclusions, but based on the average individual’s experience and the study done here, we can conclude the reasoning behind the horrid lingering taste.

 

Image sources:

http://www.planet-science.com/umbraco/ImageGen.ashx?image=/media/104066/brush%20teeth_aa032572.jpg&width=600&constrain=true

Web source:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-459X.2005.00017.x/full

The Downside of Sleep

Sleep, I view it as one of the most desired things by my peers in college. After a long week of school work, nothing is better to be able to sleep in for an absurd amount of hours, well past the recommended 8 or so hours. However, oversleeping does not result in the effects you might think, such as feeling well rested a87340385-fnd more awake.

According to an article posted by Wired, our internal rhythms are set by our circadian pacemaker, which is a group of cells clustered in the hypothalamus. The pacemaker is primarily triggered by light signals from our eyes and is able to send out chemical messages keeping the cells of our bodies on the same schedule. According to this published article, circadian rhythms are believed to have adapted through natural selection resulting from the Earth’s rotation around its axis. For this reason, when you oversleep you are throwing off the circadian pacemaker. Although you are waking up later, your cells have started using their energy hours before.

Okay, so you oversleep a few times, not a big deal. If you oversleep (9-11 hours) on a regular basis however, you may develop memory problems. Other studies have concluded that oversleeping can put you at a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity and possibly even cause an early death.

A studies results posted in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society came to the conclusion that extreme sleep durations over time appear to be associated with poor cognition in older women. They concluded this study based on a study of female nurses (N=15,385) aged 70 and older. They attempted to control some confounding variableolder_woman_sleepings such as stroke and depression by making sure they had no history of either at the initial cognitive assignment. The study however only looks at older women, and concludes data only on “extreme sleep durations” which includes oversleeping and under sleeping. The study also fails to control many confounding variables such as head injury (potentially concussions), as well as the usage of alcohol and drugs, that could potentially effect the results. Despite these things, the results of the study had a p-value of less than .001, and the differences in cognition were said to be nearly equivalent to a two-year age difference.

In another study, based on the surveillance of over 50,000 adults over the age of 45, they were able to conclude that long sleepers (4.1% of participants) were significantly associated with obesity, FMD, CHD, stroke and diabetes. The study suggests however that the mental disorders also may mediate the relationships between sleep duration and chronic diseases. The study also concluded the need for more studies to be done to determine how sleep duration is associated with chronic diseases and obesity.

Overall, there appears to be evidence that provides a correlation between over sleeping and many negative effects such as obesity and memory loss. However, without further studies done, it is hard to conclude it being an exact causation. With the inability to control all confounding variables and the difficulty of making this type of research experimental instead of observational, a definite answer is going to be hard to come by.

Links to photos:

http://aginghealthreport.com/sleeping-and-old-age-what-you-need-to-know/

http://collegelife.about.com/od/healthwellness/a/Tips-To-Help-College-Students-Sleep.htm

 

 

Gluten Free Me

I have always been someone that has suffered with asthma from a young age. I was also very active playing three sports my entire life so I’m sure you can see the issue. I struggled finding ways to control my asthma besides basic medications I was give to take daily. I also got to a point where I had to keep a machine at home to do breathing treatments when needed. All of these asthmatic problems in my life kept pushing me to find ways to prevent asthma attacks. One track season my coach told me that I should try eating gluten free meals. This sounded absolutely insane to me and until I did further research I did not completely understand what he was talking about.

Gluten contains contents that can cause inflammation in the lungs. Even though inflammation is good in some parts of the body when an injury occurs, it is not good when inflammation is happening in areas of the body like the lungs. This link shows some facts about gluten that could be beneficial in better understanding what I am discussing throughout the blog. (LINK)

I researched for myself to even see how to find out if the body was gluten sensitive and saw that a double-blind, randomized, controlled, placebo trial was necessary to find out if the body reacted to the gluten food compared to the non-gluten food in the first place.  If the body reacts to the gluten then someone is gluten sensitive. It is as simple as that.

After I researched some facts I decided that since I was not sold on the fact that my body was gluten sensitive, but gluten did indeed cause some inflammation, that I would give the gluten-free diet a try. To my amazement, during that track season, I ran better than I ever had. I was convinced that the gluten free diet was helping my asthma.

However, when I looked further into my season I realized that I needed to consider the third variable relations in my situation. For example: this was the only track season that I ran indoor track beforehand so I could have been more prepared and in better shape coming into the season than before. Also, along with eating gluten free, I was eating a lot healthier and drinking a lot more water than usual. Not only that, but the weather that year was warmer than usual which made me believe that running in cold weather was worse for my asthma than running in warm weather. All of these variables could have contributed to my asthma not flaring up as much that season. However, to a logical person trying to control their asthma, cutting out some gluten in the diet does not hurt.

I must warn though that going completely gluten free without actually having a gluten allergy can create some risks such as:

  1. Undermining the ability to detect celiac disease
  2. Potentially harming the immune functions
  3. Increased risk of some deadly diseases that gluten helps prevent (LINK)

I never found any thorough studies on whether or not a gluten-free diet helps asthmatics, but there is some research done showing that gluten and asthma do correlate sometimes depending on the severity of the disease. However, we did learn in this class that correlation does not always equal causation.

After thinking about this topic I also came up with some questions dealing with my asthma that maybe some of you were wondering too:

  1. Why do asthma attacks happen in the middle of the night sometimes?
  2. Does the seasons changing have an effect on asthmatics, because I have asthma flare ups in the fall?
  3. Should everyone be tested for a gluten allergy if it potentially could have such a positive or negative effect on our immune system?
  4. Do you have to be gluten free for a certain amount of time to truly see results?

Hopefully, some of you that read this find this interesting and correlating to gluten issues that you may have yourself. Maybe one of the questions previously listed strikes your mind as more fascinating instead.

 

 

Pictures:

http://weeatpaleo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/gluten.png

http://www.thehomeopathiccoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/asthma-puffers.jpg

Will (or should) Football Go Extinct?

Football has long since been recognized as a dangerous sport, but for long, and for most, this view was held in reaction to frequent sprained ankles and torn ACLs. In recent years, however, awareness surrounding the dangers of football-related head trauma have come to the forefront. Concussion protocol in professional sports has increased. Players are treated with extra caution when displaying concussion like symptoms, and coaches are advised not to put their players back in the game because the dangers of concussions are known.

As dangerous as concussions are, the ultimate result of repeated head trauma can be even more devastating. CTE, (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is a progressive, degenerative brain disease heavily correlated to football-related head trauma.

While scientists have found a correlation between football and this disease, we know that correlation does not always equal causality. Scientists have, however, developed a plausible mechanism for the development of the brain disease. Nadia Kounang draws a parallel between the brain inside of the skull and an egg inside of a shell to illustrate how the disease is contracted from sub-concussive impact. The brain is suspended in fluid inside your skull, much like the yolk of an egg that sits within the whites of the egg. When severe impact is made, the brain sloshes back and forth within the fluid. This repeated movement is damaging for the brain and leads to the development of CTE (Kounang). Furthermore, Kounang notes that harder helmets or more padding cannot prevent the brain from being damaged. For example, putting a dozen eggs in a carton may prevent them a bit from breaking, but cannot stop the yolk from moving back and forth within the shell (Kounang).

After reading this one source, I tried to find a more definitive answer as to how CTE is developed, as the first only provided the analogy between brain and egg. I wondered if a confounding variable could be at work. For example, could CTE be due not necessarily to the being hit in the head but perhaps wearing helmets that are tight on the skull. mayoclinic.org, though, notes that players of all sports are at risk. The back and forth movement of the brain causes a protein called tau to build up surrounding the blood vessels, which deteriorates brain functioning and damages nerve cells, a main symptom of CTE (Wexler). By the end of CTE’s development, the state of the brain is fully altered from its original state.

stage-2stage-4

The tau buildup in the brain of a CTE patient mirrors that of an Alzheimer’s patient; football is the fast track to Alzheimer’s related symptoms. While the repeated head trauma does ultimately cause CTE, the tau buildup is an intermediary. This is to say that repeated blows to the head cause the tau protein in our brains to clump together and clout, which advances the symptoms of CTE.

The next issue is dealing with how to recognize CTE in a living brain. Up to now, recognition of tau build up in CTE-diagnosed brains only happened after the player had died. Tau is in all human brains. It is the deposits and clots of tau that are extremely dangerous, the hard endpoint.

In order to judge how much head trauma affects tau buildup in the brain, scientists studied the brains of five retired NFL players and five control brains. The brains of the NFL retirees had much higher levels of tau deposits in their brain. The deposits were mostly found in the amygdala, a part of the brain that dictates fear and anger (Roth), which corresponds with the second stage of CTE, as pictured above (Wexler).

While this is a very small study, paired with the standing belief that tau deposits could cause CTE, I think it is very promising. I would like to see a much larger control study in which the brains of retired NFL players are compared to control brains of say, white collar workers. This could lead to concluding that it is too unlikely for chance to be at work. As such, it could be confirmed through a large control study that head trauma causes tau deposits, and tau deposits cause CTE.

Identifying the link between tau deposits and CTE is crucial, because scientists believe they have found a correctional method by which they can prevent the loss of tau’s function in the brain (Roth).  With deaths of football retirees increasing, a study such as this that finds correctional means may be able to silence the rising sentiment that football is too dangerous to play.


Pictures from:

http://study.com/academy/lesson/cerebrospinal-fluid-in-the-brain-functions-production.html

How CTE Affects the Brain

Does eating late at night makes you gain weight?

I was curious about this topic because i love eating at night. I also believe that everyone has at least eat at night before and most of you living a lifestyle that makes you do it often. I believe that many people think like me, that we get more munchies at night and that food taste better. Also, many situations call people to eat at night such as coming back home late in the night without having the time to eat an early dinner or going to a party and getting hungry afterward. Hence, i wanted to find out about this myth so that i finally can argue whether we get fatter or not if we eat late.

So does eating late at night makes you gain weight?

From the many articles i read, it seems to confirm that we indeed does gain weight for eating late at night. In Jeremy Duval’s article, he states that there were one study with 400 participants and they found out that late night consumption has lead to weight gain. Despite the rejection of the null hypothesis, all these articles still debate on the fact that weight gaining mostly comes from other factors than the time we choose to eat. A good example would be the fact that many “easy” food that we tend to grab at night are more sugary or contain lot of carbohydrates. Thus, this is also one of the factor that made us gain weight at night time.

fridge with food

According to Adam Bornstein, our body is not on a 24 hours clock which means that it does not matter at what time we choose to eat but more on the quantity and the quality of our food. For example, if we eat something sugary or eat above your calories count, then it is likely that we will gain weight. In this same article by Bornstein, Israel researchers have conducted a study to prove whether eating at night causes fat by comparing two type of participants. One type have to eat their heaviest meal at breakfast while the other at night. The results were that those who ate at night lost more fat and were more satisfied with their hunger. You can read more details on the findings of this study on this link.

In other studies such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, the researchers found out that people who eat at night ate 12% more calories than daytime eater. This is also backed up by the International Journal of Obesity study who also said that people who eat at night are more likely to binge-eat. Therefore, we can conclude that eating at night does not directly make you gain weight but many other factors still causes it to happen. Thus, i would say that we should accept the null hypothesis and refers to these other factors instead.

So under what condition should i eat at night to not gain weight?

1361592-large

Well as mentioned above from the findings, it seems that we should eat right and plan it well to not gain fat. This means that we should choose our diet so that it will consist of low carbohydrates or low sugary meal at night or eat less during the day to have more calories intake available at night. Moreover, we should leave some time for digestion because sleeping while digesting is not the best idea. Lori Zanini, an expert and educator in diets and diabetes, stated that we should eat at least 1.5 to 2 hours before going to bed to ensure that we are done with our digestion and actually make our body rest while sleeping. Duvall article also emphasize on this point. 

Lastly, we should also take into account our lifestyle preferences and how our hunger is being triggered. As stated by Bornstein, we sometimes eat at night out of boredom or just having the urge to eat something rather than feeling hungry. Thus, we should try to control that if it happens because it usually leads to surpassing our calories intakes per day. Moreover, we should not have a heavy late night meal if it can be a trigger for us to eat snacks at further late time such as 2 am. I would conclude that eating at night and not gaining weight is only feasible if we control our calories intake, digestion time and diet for the whole day.

By Dhaam Sakuntabhai

 

 

 

Sources:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/06/26/will-eating-at-night-really-make-you-gain-weight

http://www.bornfitness.com/eating-night-not-make-fat/

http://greatist.com/health/will-eating-night-make-me-gain-weight

Images source:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiVhJGilOrPAhVCMyYKHaqtB8AQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.care2.com%2Fgreenliving%2Fheres-what-eating-late-at-night-does-to-your-body.html&psig=AFQjCNFAIjJ-jK6xP1dXi7OBFKI_sFQTVg&ust=1477079546107574

 

Is Sexual Assault Education Effective?

Everyone should be fully aware that sexual assault is a huge issue that’s even prevalent in Happy Valley. Every student receives a timely warning almost once a week. Those timely warnings just inform us about the the sexual assault that happens that’s actually reported.. Can you imagine how many happen that go unreported? According to the National Assault Hotline, only 34.4% of females actually report sexual assault to the police. For everyone timely warning that you receive, imagine 2 more of the same report that you will not receive. One of the biggest reasons why sexual assault isn’t reported is because in the majority of reported sexual assault, the perpetrator will not be prosecuted. And when they are prosecuted, the public sees trials like the one with Brock Turner where he was sent to jail for a mere 3 months for being caught raping an unconscious girl outside of a dumpster.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-12-57-16-pm

This is a pretty heavy subject, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. The biggest question today is “How do we prevent sexual assault from happening?” The easy way to answer that question is to blame the victim. It’s easy to tell women that they need to watch what they wear and watch how they act because that someone is related to another person’s active decision to be a horrible person. This is easy to do and that is why victim blaming is so prevalent in society.

In multiple studies, scientists studied the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention. Through control groups, and random and placebo techniques, the scientists accounted for third variables that may effect the outcomes of the studies. A third variable could be for example, race or sex. In the studies, out of the 102 treatment intervention for sexual assault awareness there were 262 effect sizes based on a sexual assault education program. These different effects that were found in the study show that there were differences in attitudes towards rape, empathy for victims, and increased knowledge on the issues. The results of the studies is that yes, there was an change in attitude with sexual assault education programs in place. But what needs to be further studied is if these programs have a lasting impact impact on the behaviors of the subject.

Prevention is important but until we find a very effective way to prevent such horrible acts to occur, we must be prepared for when something does happen. Luckily, Penn State has a lot of resources for victims of sexual assault. The 3 main services set in place to help victims is through the Title IX, UHS, and CAPS. Keep these services in mind so you can also be a support system for anyone who may go through sexual assault. One last thing that I want to leave you with is maybe some small form of education on the subject. Consent is pretty easy to understand.. It’s as easy as tea.

How do video games affect kids?

Ever since I was a seven year old child I have been playing video games. From the original Playstation to the Playstation 2 to the Xbox 360 and now the Playstation 4, I have always found a deep enjoyment in console gaming. This got me wondering how video games affect children. How does it affect their weight, their social life, and their cognitive abilities? Although I like to think I turned out fine, was it possible video games were hampering my development? Or is it possible that they were helping me develop certain cognitive skills? It is difficult and inaccurate to determine if video games were hurting my development through pure reminiscence, so I will explore several scholarly articles and cross-examine the studies to come to a rough conclusion. To focus my thinking to one question, I will use the following hypothesis: how do video games affect kids? This hypothesis assumes video games do affect children in some way, but obviously there is always the possibility of video games having no real affect on children.

http://www.whathifi.com/sony/playstation-4/review

http://www.whathifi.com/sony/playstation-4/review

The first study I found was a longitudinal, all-inclusive study on how video games affect children’s behavior, school work, and weight. The study controlled several third variables including family structure, parental socioeconomic status, and lifestyle habits. It found that video games do not have a significantly negative affect on a child’s behavior, school work, or weight (Nakamuro). Another article studied if children learned faster through written instructions or video game assistance. The null hypothesis was if there was no difference between the two instruction methods. The study was well conducted because it was a randomized double-blind study with the result having a p-value of less than .05 (or 5%), which means it is scientifically significant. The study found that children learn much faster through video games than they do through written instruction (Chuang). This is significant to my hypothesis because learning faster through video games could help develop children’s reaction skills and other abilities through regular video games use.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/11/26/playstation-4-has-sold-over-30-million-units/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/11/26/playstation-4-has-sold-over-30-million-units/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

There are also different schools of thought on this subject that are less friendly towards this teenage entertainment phenomenon. For example, this article summarizes and explains different examples of when kids’ video game habits affected their lives very negatively. Certain examples include gaining massive amounts of weight, becoming depressed, and behaving in a more violent manner (Olson). I would like to point out that this is not an experimental study, but a detailed account of several anecdotes. From a scientific perspective, these examples are less relevant than actual data. It is just like in class how we talked about how a former student knew prayer actually healed because he prayed for his family member and they survived their cancer. Although these were anecdotes, there is some evidence out there detailing a correlation between violence and video games like in this article.

Conclusion

My hypothesis was “how do video games affect kids?” My conclusion to that question is that I do not know. The first two studies that I examined provided evidence that video games would help kids learn and that they would not affect a child’s behavior, school work, or weight. Although this is tempting to conclude that video games affect children in a good way, there is too much research out there that says otherwise. A lot of the research done in opposition to video games is funded by conservative family organizations which makes me very skeptical about their findings, but at this point in time I can not write them off as nothing. Even though I lean towards  one result, the summary of evidence is inconclusive.

 

Works Cited:

Nakamuro, Makiko, et al. “are Television and Video Games really Harmful for Kids?”Contemporary Economic Policy, vol. 33, no. 1, 2015, pp. 29-43. doi:10.1111/coep.12058.

Chuang, Tsung-Yen, and Wei-Fan Chen. “Effect of Computer-Based Video Games on Children: An Experimental Study.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 12, no. 2, 2009, pp. 1.

Olson, Cheryl K. “Children and Video Games: How Much do we Know?” Psychiatric Times, vol. 24, no. 12, 2007, pp. 41.

Puiu, Tibi. “Do Violent Video Games Make Children More Aggressive?” ZME Science. N.p., 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. <http://www.zmescience.com/research/technology/violent-video-games-child-aggression-0534/>.

Pictures (in order of appearance):

http://www.whathifi.com/sony/playstation-4/review

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/11/26/playstation-4-has-sold-over-30-million-units/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

Mob Mentality

So about two weeks ago, I was sitting in my room in Pollack Halls. I had received a message in my sorority group chat that there were rumors of a clown in Pollack. Naturally I locked my door and just looked out the window. I saw nothing. About 30 Minutes later, I heard some screaming and joking around of just a few handfuls of kids. I still thought it was no big deal. Finally, an hour or so after, I heard a ROARING of students running through the residence halls and all over campus. Naturally I thought it was a joke and it was completely entertaining. It began to dawn on me as to why people would be out there if there was a rumored clown on the loose. I understand Penn State does not follow the norms of clown ‘protocol’.

My friend who goes to UD told me they had clown sightings a few days ago. But their reactions were rather different. They decided to go into lock down ( as I would assume normal people would). So whats up with this mob like tactic?

I then began to wonder what exactly is mob mentality. I had heard it in my Psychology classes throughout high school but had never really paid attention to the science behind it.

imgres

Picture found here.

First I decided to look at some basic knowledge regarding mob mentality before I get into some research. The definition of mob mentality is essentially, people acting as one by the influence of others. Basically, their identity is somewhat lost and they take the identity of a group. For example, You see a clown while your alone… YOU RUN. As opposed to you seeing a single clown in a group of 100, YOU CHARGE. So, what makes people adopt this sense of power?

According to a site I found here, when people are in a group setting they have no problem destroying property or acting violently due to the fact that they somewhat become invisible or their identity is lost. Being part of a group can leave individuals undetected to a point where they no longer feel accountable for their actions. Now, I am not trying to say Penn State took a violent turn towards the clown, but I am trying to describe the science behind this empowering mentality.

As I think about this more I am curious as to how we measure this ‘rage’. According to a article found here,  I checked out some more in-depth science behind mob mentality. First off how could we even measure physiological changes? I found out that it could be done in a magnetic brain scan. I found out that a section within your brain will lit up when ones thoughts regard themselves only. This area will appear dull or dormant in a group setting. The area they look for is specifically the prefrontal cortex. With that being said, during a study found within this article they tested two groups of people. One group was held in a group setting, the other was held as individuals completely alone. They were asked a bunch of questions that referred to judgement.

Some held in groups displayed a more inactive prefrontal cortex. This showed us that people in a group setting did prove they all subconsciously acknowledged the presence of other people and didn’t only think of themselves individually.

In this animated image created by Matt Groening and released by Twentieth Century Fox, the entire town of Springfield is transformed into an angry mob, in a scene from "The Simpsons" movie. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox, Matt Groening)

picture found here.

Strength Training: How Young is Too Young?

kids-gym-running

Image 1

When a kid is seen at an adult gym, the perceived judgment by most people is “get this kid out of my gym, he’s going to get injured or hurt someone else” or ” what are they doing here, they haven’t even hit puberty yet.” I must say I was one of those people because I believed it was a waste of time and space for someone to workout at such a young age. I didn’t believe a child could actually get stronger. I have been going to the gym since 7th grade and didn’t really start seeing real results until the end of freshman year high school. During this time period my mom wasn’t exactly “excited” I was started to get bigger because she didn’t think I was ready to develop my body.

Strength training among young children has been a common controversy ever since the 1970’s when Japanese researches studied the height of juvenile children. They concluded that the kids were extremely short due to a substantial amount of physical labor and carrying heavy objects. The anecdote on this issue is people thought working out will stunt their growth because of potential tears to growth plates.  If that was the issue kids and teenagers wouldn’t grown to their maximum potential height and could even develop abnormal development in the specific tendon. Another misconception is that working out wouldn’t even lead to muscle mass and strength because the lack of testosterone flowing through their body. In reality both views are speculation, in reality strength training is one of the most beneficial activities for kids who are athletes or not.                                                                                        Image 2

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Kids can workout to, the only difference is there are more guidelines they must follow in order for it to be healthy and safe. If a kid wants to workout they must be supervised, taught proper form, use low weights or even objects like medicine balls or elastic bands, and go for high repetitions. The Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics studied over 60 years of children and strength training data from boys and girls ages 6-18. The results showed that the kids who worked out 2-3 times a week developed more muscle strength then those who worked out once a week. In a study composed in Clinical Sports Medicine they discovered a wide variety of benefits that go hand in hand with kids who are strength training at such an early age. The first thing is their bone mineral density will actually increase. This is important because it makes your bones stronger which will prevent future injuries especially osteoporosis. Now when that child grows up they won’t be as fragile and can actually absorb a fall or hit because their bones are a lot stronger. Strength training also benefits these children because their neuromuscular activation improves which means their motor skills will increase. When neurons are working simultaneously, their muscles and nervous system will work better which depicts a better athlete. Timing, speed, and reflexes ultimately improve which helps a kids in sports as well as in everyday life. If a kid is strength training they are usually a step ahead of their competition and are better prepared for the sport they want to excel in. This gives them the advantage in sports and will allow them to prosper in the sport they participate in.

There is a huge difference when a kid puts on strength than how an adult does. Since the bodies of adults are far more developed when they are working out and lifting heavy weights for a longer time period they are able to put on muscle mass and size at a fast rate, this process is known as hypertrophy. Exercises displayed by kids are much different, according to Dr. Feigenbaum, and it is more beneficial to use their own body weight by doing exercises like push ups, wall sits, and pull-ups or when they carry and maneuver every day objects. This doesn’t necessarily increase the size of their muscles but actually improves their strength. Being able to maneuver their own body weight is crucial for a young athlete because they become more flexible as well as adroit in any activity they do.

Image 3

img_6258-1024x629Not only is it healthy for kids to strength train but it is cruel for the development if their body as well as their nervous system. If they are exercising  the correct way, following the recommended guidelines there is no reason why a kid shouldn’t be allowed to workout. The null hypothesis on this topic is it will destroy chances of growing to maximum height but there is no evidence detecting growth defects if a child is working out and training the right way.

Citations

boxlifemagazine.com/kids-weightlifting-how-young-is-too-young

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/strength-training/art-20047758

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/phys-ed-the-benefits-of-weight-training-for-kids/

Does Music Increase Athletic Performance?

I enjoy listening to music when I am skateboarding, snowboarding or biking and I’m sure many of you enjoy listening to music while you are working out or to pump you up right before a big game. I listen to music during these activities because it helps me focus, try harder, and stay motivated. I began to wonder if there was some science behind why listening to music while doing something athletic seems to help me perform better.

Source – http://gamerfitnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/dc-340-music-fitness.jpg

Music can be a great motivator, especially when you want to perform at the peak of your athletic ability. Music can help us focus on the task at hand and drown out weighing factors such as fatigue. A study conducted by Brunel University had thirty participants run on a treadmill while motivational or pop music was played. The participants were instructed to keep running on the treadmill while following the beat of the music. The scientists found that participants could go for much longer, to the point of near exhaustion for some, while listening to motivational or pop music. The scientists also noted that the participants were in the “feeling state”, meaning that they felt good, while exercising more often when they were listening to motivational or pop music. The study concluded that listening to motivational and pop music can increase endurance by 15% and make working out more enjoyable.

Source – https://www.jackedfactory.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/headphones.png

While I believe this study was conducted well and shows positive results towards music positively increasing athletic performance, I believe a confounding variable for this study would be a person’s music taste. The study concluded that only pop and “motivational” music increase endurance while running due to the upbeat tempo of the music. Clearly not everyone has the same taste in music and it makes me wonder if pop or motivational music would be as effective for people who do not like either of those types of music. For example, would someone who enjoys listening to rock and roll experience the same boost in performance from listening to pop music as someone who enjoys listening to pop music would?

It is no fault of the study since it was conducted this way purposefully but I believe it would be interesting to see the results of listening to different types of music and running on a treadmill while being told NOT to keep tempo with the music (At least not deliberately). On a similar train of thought as before, would a person who likes rock and roll perform the same as someone who likes pop music if they are both listening to their preferred types of music?  

 

Brunel University Study Source – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093753.htm

Sleep paralysis

How does it feel?

If you never had sleep paralysis before then you are really lucky. I had it pretty frequently this summer and it was really annoying because it forces me to wake myself up in an uncomfortable way. Here is how i feel: I suddenly thought i am awake and start to move. However, I later realized that I cannot really move and no matter how much it seems that I moved, I came back to my sleeping body all the time. It’s as if I saw my soul separate from my body and it keeps teleport back to my body. The fact that it is annoying is because I am struggling to get oxygen and find myself breathing heavily. I do not know if this happens to other sleep paralysis victim as well. The only way I did to wake myself each time I had this paralysis was to try to concentrate very hard and try to lift myself up. It is very hard to explain but it feels like I am being pushed down by a strong gravitational force and I have to fight against it. There were sometimes where it is tougher to lift my body and wake myself up.There were once where I saw horrific figure appears as well as scary sounds. This woke me up. As one of my friends told me about it beforehand, I was able to tell myself that the figure was not real and I turn out fine as I woke up. However, after I fall asleep once more, I kept waking up to another type of horrific figure; which really was more annoying than scary since I still was aware that it was not real.

This article talks about a severe case of sleep paralysis which the victim experienced his first time in a military base and was so shocked that it made him called reinforcement. It is exactly how I felt and would have believed so if I did not spoil me the secret.

how-to-stop-sleep-paralysis

What exactly is happening to your body while it is paralyzed and what causes it?

According to to the American Academy of sleep medicine, sleep paralysis is categorized as a parasomnia, which is having undesirable events during your sleep time. It states that “Atonia” is the process where your brain commands your muscle to stay still and relax while asleep. The explanation they gave was that we are awake while we are still in this “Atonia” process. This is why we feel as i mentioned above, awake but still asleep.

From numerous article i found, it seems that one of the main causes of sleep paralysis is from depression and anxieties. The sleep paralysis project has look into their 2011 paper about the prevalence of sleep paralysis, which consist of a gathering of 30 studies altogether. The sample size was over 36,000 people and they found that around 8% of the people are experiencing sleep paralysis, which increases to 28% for those who have irregular sleep patterns and still rise further up to 34% for those that suffers psychotic disorders. Another study by Penn State University has also found a similar results with 7.6% of the general population and 31.9% of the people having psychotic disorders such as depression or anxiety are suffering from sleep paralysis.

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Therefore, this lead me to conclude that depression or anxieties are a huge factor causing sleep paralysis because the sample size was huge and many studies have found similar results. Moreover, it is unlikely that one would lie about their experience on sleep paralysis and the study was con, which also boost the reliability. Thus, we should reject the null hypothesis and assumed that depression and anxiety does increase the likelihood of having sleep paralysis.

How to deal with it?

The American Academy of sleep medicine suggests that we should see a sleep specialist. In most cases, the treatment varies depending on the cause of the sleep. For example, if you lack sleep, then you should just aim to sleep enough in which the usual optimal times are six to eight hours. However, if you have mental stress or psychotic disorders, then you should consult a psychologist. As you can see the way to deal with this problem is individualized.

According to The Sleep Paralysis Project, they came up with numerous way to cope with this issue. The first is that in the case of feeling being attack by an evil spirit, the victim tries to detach themselves by manipulating their mind so they believed that they are a third party. They would basically feel less involved by the attack and be able to endure it better. Another common way is that they would try not to sleep on their back and staying calm by trying to breath as usually as possible for relaxation. They were also cases where some people can regulate their breathing such as stopping it or increase its intensity to recover. They can also try to induce noises to signaled someone nearby to wake them.

 

By Dhaam Sakuntabhai

Sources:

http://www.sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders-by-category/parasomnias/sleep-paralysis/diagnosis-treatment

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/07/what-its-like-to-have-severe-sleep-paralysis.html

http://www.thesleepparalysisproject.org/about-sleep-paralysis/treatment/

http://www.livescience.com/50876-sleep-paralysis.html

http://www.thesleepparalysisproject.org/about-sleep-paralysis/prevalence/

The Hippocampus and PMS

As a female, I can attest to the fact that periods suck.  They’re long, painful, cause emotional instability (PMS), and are overall a pain in the butt.  While my health class in high school gave me a quick run around of what the menstrual cycle is internally and how hormones cause PMS, I still felt like I wasn’t completely knowledgeable on the process.  After a little searching around on Google, this study entitled, Dynamics of the Human Hippocampus across the Menstrual Cycle, caught my eye.  Published in Scientific Reports in August, this 2016 German study had previously seen a change in the size of the hippocampus of mice during menstruation and decided to see if the same results were true of human women.  Since the focus of the study was to check if the hippocampus in women grew as it did in the mice, the study started with the null hypothesis that menstruation does not affect the size of the hippocampus and the alternative hypothesis that menstruation does affect the size of the hippocampus.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences conducted this experiment by observing 30 menstruating women during two periods to see how their estrogen levels, the X variable, correlated to the size of their hippocampus, the Y variable.  The team tracked each woman’s estrogen level while also studying MRI scans of her brain in order to see how the size of her hippocampus which, according to a medical report by Dr. Ananya Mandal, is a small part of the brain that controls ones emotions and long-term memory. After two weeks of following these women, the results of the experiment showed that the gray matter of the hippocampus did have a slight change in volume when estrogen levels were reported as higher than normal, adhering to the alternative hypothesis that menstruation does affect the size of the hippocampus.

While this picture added may be somewhat hard to figure, it depicts the correlation between estrogen levels and the size of the hippocampus’s measures in this experiment.

srep32833-f3

So now that we are aware that the hippocampus does grow, what does that mean in terms of how that affects the woman menstruating?  Since it’s a common known fact that hormones affect mood and PMS, the results of the study basically just found another mechanism to tie the relationship between menstruating and PMS together; for when a woman is menstruating, her level of hormones increases which causes the hippocampus grow which then alters the woman’s emotional state, directly relating to what is known as PMS.  These results also can be used as evidence to show how hormonal birth control can change the affects of PMS since the difference in monthly hormones caused by the pill or IUD change the amount of hormones which affect the way the hippocampus swell and subsequently how that affects a woman’s mood, energy, etc.

Even though this is only one study, I do belief that the findings make sense when compared to the PMS that almost every woman suffers from monthly.  One of the only issues I found in this study was that the rate of estrogen each woman based on the time of her last period, which was self reported; And as Andrew has told us before memory is faulty.  If I had conducted this study, I would have gone to farther lengths when tracking the levels of estrogen just to make sure I had the maximum amount of accuracy in my findings.

While I don’t believe that these findings are very surprising since almost everyone is aware of how a menstrual cycle affects women’s day-to-day lives, I do think it is interesting to see this new mechanism of brain swelling that relates the rise and fall of hormones to a woman’s mental state during menstruation.

Sources:

Scientific Report published study and photo source: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep32833

News Medical site: http://www.news-medical.net/health/Hippocampus-Functions.aspx

 

 

Does marijuana cure cancer?

I am sure that many of you have heard about the news where marijuana are being used for curing cancer. This new is so famous that it also reached my home country, Thailand where they discussed about potential legalization. This made me curious about the details to know whether this myth is true and i did some research on it to find out.

First off, for those who do not know, what is marijuana?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines today for federal prosecutors in states where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed under state law. Federal prosecutors will no longer trump the state with raids on the southern California dispensaries as they had been doing, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently began a crackdown campaign that will include raids against the facilities. Cooley maintains that virtually all marijuana dispensaries are in violation of the law because they profit from their product. The city of LA has been slow to come to agreement on how to regulate its 800 to 1,000 dispensaries. Californians voted to allow sick people with referrals from doctors to consume cannabis with the passage of state ballot Proposition 215 in 1996 and a total of 14 states now allow the medicinal use of marijuana. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Marijuana is a cannabis plant that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the user to be “high”. While under this “high” effect, marijuana users have reported that their pain and nausea are relieved and that it reduces inflammation. Some users feel that it helps with depression but it can  also causes anxiety and paranoia in others.

Marijuana has different type of strains, which have different effects. Some strains causes body “high” while other causes head “high”. There are two known means of taking marijuana; one is by mouth and other is by lungs.

According to cancer.org, when taking it by mouth, the THC is slowly absorbed and take hours before we can start to feel the “high”. However, the effect of taking by mouth would be stronger than by lungs. When taking it by lungs, the THC would be absorbed very fast and causes the marijuana to run through into our bloodstream to reaching our brain. This means that we get high much faster than by mouth but the effect also last less. Further scientific explanation can be found here, on the marijuana section.

So how can marijuana cure cancer?

cancer-sucks-300x168

From the articles i read, it seems that marijuana was not fully proved yet that it can “cure” cancer but it acts more as a reliever for cancer-related symptoms.

According to Jeremy Kossen from Leafly.com, a website specializing in marijuana, the cannabis was an effective medicine for relieving many cancer and treatment side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetites, anxiety, insomnia, pain and even depression.  This means that cannabis is indeed useful for cancer therapy and treatment but it cannot be used alone in curing cancer.

In addition, Kossen also stated that many scientific studies were conducted on and find out that there are potential positive results because cannabis has been shown to stop the growth of cancers. Further details can be viewed on this link, on the “cannabis cancer research shows promise, but we need to do more” section. Moreover, in this same article, they also stated that one study conducted by Madrid’s Complutense University has found that injecting synthetic THC in rats can destroy brain tumors and also extending life.

Many of these researches has causes the National cancer institute to acknowledge that cannabis does kill cancer cells in pre-clinical studies. The issues are that it is still difficult to get permission to do clinical studies with marijuana for ethical issues because marijuana is not yet allowed for any medical purpose as it is still considered as a schedule 1 drug. Therefore, they concluded that further clinical studies needs to be done before fully acknowledging cannabis as a cure for cancer. However, it would now be safe to say that it is a cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side-effects reliever. I would then say that we cannot really decide yet whether or not to accept the null hypothesis.

 

 

By Dhaam Sakuntabhai

Sources:

https://www.leafly.com/news/health/can-cannabis-cure-cancer/

https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/government-run-cancer-institute-quietly-acknowledges-that-cannabi

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/chemotherapyeffects/marijuana-and-cancer

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/main-stream-media-finally-admits-cannabis-potential-cure-cancer/

 

Are Microwave Ovens cancer causing?

We have all heard that if you stand too close to a microwave oven while it is on, it can cause cancer. Since moving into my dorm here Penn State at the end of August, I have used the microwave to make food several times, and I am sure I am not the only one who has. I remember different teachers, students, or even family members telling me different things about microwave ovens and if they cause cancer or not. This blog post will attack the ultimate question.

http://www.cracked.com/article_17578_5-things-they-say-give-you-cancer-and-why-theyre-wrong.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_17578_5-things-they-say-give-you-cancer-and-why-theyre-wrong.html

    Radiation

People believe that microwave ovens are detrimental to our health because of the apparent radiation that it gives off. Radiation is bad. According to an informative display of factual reasoning and support , cancersearchUk , radiation is defined as the release of energy from any source. Energy is actually all around us, it is released from the sun and x-ray machines. To protect us from radiation while we receive our x-rays, we use a shield cover to deflect it.  It all depends on the amount of radiation that you receive and the exposure to it. That is what matters in terms of health.

                  Microwave ovens and cancer

Why does one use the microwave? To heat food up of course. That Is all a microwave does to your food, it does not make the food radio active in anyway. While the food is in the process of being heated up, the water actually absorbs the radiation and that is how your food is heated up. The microwaves vibrate and heats the food. So, if you can operate a microwave oven properly, there is no cancerous harm.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2013/10/09/microwave-cancer-causes.upwave

http://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2013/10/09/microwave-cancer-causes.upwave

 

 

   Ionizing vs non-Ionizing radiation

The “bad” radiation that can alter cell production and functionality, is referred to as Ionizing radiation. These are the harmful ones, and of course microwave cells belong to the non-iodizing category. But there are some harmful ones, those include x-rays and radiotherapy. Radio therapy is sort of controversial because it is used to get rid of cancer cells, but it also implements radiation into them.

 

 

The facts

As I have mentioned before, there are many views on this subject of microwaves and cancer. Microwaves heat food, they do not do anything else. They are very unlikely to cause cancer too. The only thing that is produced is a non-harmful magnetic force field. Check this interesting video out that I found !

 

Sources

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/radiation-microwaves-and-cancer

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/radiationexposureandcancer/radiofrequency-radiation

 

 

 

 

Does nicotine cause Cancer?

Smoking is a harmful habit that leads to many harmful related health problems, and eventually death. Smoking contributes to a large amount of people who have died from cancer related deaths which could have been preventable. Having a father who used to smoke and a few friends who currently still do smoke, I’ve always tried to persuade these individuals to quit smoking. Luckily, my father was able to quit, but for my friends, persuasion was not enough. It seems that the addiction to nicotine is so great that persuasion alone would not do the trick. As a result, I have considered suggesting certain methods of nicotine delivery without any of the other harmful chemicals that are added into cigarettes. Such methods would be to use certain items such as nicotine patches, nicotine gums, etc. However, another questions arises from the use of these items. Even if nicotine is the only substance that is delivered to the body, nicotine may still have other harmful effects that will eventually cause an individual to develop cancer. Many people have still claimed that nicotine is very harmful for you. Therefore, I have decided to look further into this topic.

Does nicotine use alone increase the risk of an individual to develop cancer? According to a study performed by Robert P. Murray, John E. Connett, and Lisa M. Zapawa, nicotine does not necessarily increase the risk of cancer. This study being observed was a randomized trial which involved 5,887 individuals who were observed for a period of 5 years to determine if nicotine delivery alone had any connections to cancer development. 3,320 individuals of the original 5,887 agreed to continue the study for an additional 2.5 years. The amount of cigarettes each individual smoked was also put into consideration along with the use of nicotine gums. Individuals were given nicotine gum to freely use for their personal consumption. After a period of 2.5 years, individuals were then asked to stop their consumption of the nicotine gum. This way, researchers could observe any significant increases in cancer risk in patients along with their routinely cigarette habit. Individuals participating in this study would receive a routinely scheduled period of time where they would receive checkups. If a patient were to ask for a resupply faster than the normal rate of consumption, they would receive more checkups depending on the rate of their consumption. The conclusions of the study showed that nicotine use did not increase the risk of cancer. Nicotine use corresponded with a p-value of .57 while smoking corresponded with a p – value of .03. When both smoking and nicotine were put into consideration, nicotine had a corresponding p value of .25, while smoking had a corresponding p – value of .02. With this information, researchers were able to find their conclusion that nicotine consumption was not related to the risk of cancer development.

Judging by this study alone, we can say that independent nicotine delivery alone will most likely not cause someone to develop cancer. However, these items have not always been around and can be considered to be more recent products. Therefore, we can not jump to the conclusion that nicotine gums and products do not cause cancer without a doubt. What we can say is, that these products that only delivery nicotine alone is substantially safer than smoking cigarettes and risk of cancer is very low.

Image result for nicotine gums

Source of Picture:

Nicotine Gum and Nicotine Lozenges | Nicorette. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2016, from https://www.nicorette.com/

Source of information:

Murray, R. P., Connett, J. E., & Zapawa, L. M. (2009). Does nicotine replacement therapy cause cancer? Evidence from the Lung Health Study. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2725009/

Déjà Vu: Supernatural or Can We Explain the Phenomenon?

While reading through the class blog, trying to decide what post to comment on, I kept getting this weird feeling….. have I read this before? With all the posts about sleep, drugs (marijuana, Adderall, ect.), and mental health, I feel like I’ve seen these topics done one too many times. This feeling is commonly known as déjà vu. Many people are skeptical as to if déjà vu is work of a supernatural power, I personally think this is bogus. In this blog post, I am going to show studies supporting both sides. Therefore, allowing the reader to form their own opinion. Like Andrew has made very clear, science can’t prove anything when it comes to the supernatural, so will we ever truly know? No, probably not, but we can form our own hypothesis! Here we will take a better look at the overlying definition of déjà vu, studies to better expand our understanding scientifically and supernaturally, and the theories as to what I believe it really is.

What is the “definition” of déjà vu?

Well let’s first start off with the literal meaning of the word. In French déjà vu means “already seen”. This allows us to infer what we believe déjà vu to actually be like. Basically, it is a feeling that we sometimes get when we feel like what is happening at the current moment has already happened to us in the past. To better explain, we can use the example that I opened with. I get the feeling of déjà vu when I read a blog post about sleeping because so many other students have written about the same topic, I feel as if I had read that before, even though I may never have.

deja-vu-one

Link

What is the Null Hypothesis?

I believe that the null hypothesis is that déjà vu is simply just a weird coincidence. There is no actual scientific or supernatural reasoning behind this phenomenon.  With this said, we present the question of “could this all be chance”? Well the answer is yes, it could be but we don’t know that for sure, therefore the studies below can better explain the alternative.

Scientific studies

Study One

Just this past August, a study was done at the University of St. Andrews in the UK. Akira O’Connor conducted a small study of 21 participants, where O’Connor and his team were able to recreate a déjà vu like feeling amongst their control group. This was done with a neuroscience technique that allowed the O’Connor’s team to give the participants “false memories.” To summarize the study, basically what they did was state a list of words to participants; bed, pillow, night, dream, but not sleep. Then when they asked the participants to recite the words, many said “sleep”. Therefore, creating a false memory.

After this was done, the team of scientist repeated this process, but this time while stating the words they asked the participants if they heard a word that starts with “S”. The participants said “no”, then were asked to recite the words once again and this was when the feeling of déjà vu started to set in. The participants knew that they didn’t hear the word sleep, but because of the false memory that was created they had a strong feeling that sleep was said. To better understand this study please take a look at both the article, and for the visual learners, or the lazy ones, here is a short video summarizing the whole thing.

deja-vu-3

Link

Study two

The second study I would like to look at is one that was done in 2012 by Anne Cleary a cognitive psychologist at Colorado State University. Cleary used virtual reality to experimentally create the feeling of déjà vu. The participants, college students, wore a 3-D virtual-reality head set. They were presented with 128 different scenes, each one paired with another. They weren’t identical but the placement of specific objects in the scenes were in the same spots. Leading the participants to believe that they had seen that place before. This study specifically does not suffer from the File Drawer Problem, Cleary posted the findings in Consciousness and Cognition.

Third Variables?

Also, here is an article of a man who is “Trapped in never ending déjà vu”. This is very interesting because it clearly shows how each person is effected by neurological phenomena differently. This article also presents us with a third variable, which could very well explain the occurrence of déjà vu. This third variable is anxiety. The man in this study has had a history of anxiety and depression, and Dr. Chris Moulin believes that this could have an effect on his amount of déjà vu. With this said, as we learned in class, reverse causation could also be the case here. If the man has déjà vu too often this could then lead to higher levels of anxiety.

Work of the supernatural?

Many theories over time have presented the ideas that déjà vu is a glimpse into a multi-dimension, a past life, or a dream that has been stored away. This article describes the theory of multi-dimensions. Saying that we are looking into a universe that isn’t the same as the one we are currently living in, but it is very similar. Here is a link to an article and video explaining this theory.  The video makes a comparison between the vibrations of radio waves in our world and the vibration of alternative universes. Because our universe and an alternative universe aren’t vibrating in unison we aren’t able to go in and out of these dimensions.

Another supernatural theory is that déjà vu means that we really have experienced these things before, in a past life. Contrary to O’Conner’s studies, this means that instead of “false memories,” they really are memories. Deborah King has a blog where she writes about déjà vu being from a past life, here we can see the theory that is presented.

deja-vu-two

Link

In Conclusion

I personally believe that déjà vu has a perfectly scientific explanation; could be due to a third variable, reverse causation, or just chance itself. Although, if anyone has other studies or other opinions I would love to hear them in the comments below. According to Scientific American, déjà vu can be as common as 30% to 100% of people. However, realistically we will never truly know because we simply cannot ask every person in the world. We also can’t because each person’s answer will vary based on the definition of déjà vu that is presented to them. So please tell me what you think, but as of right now I believe that déjà vu is not associated with anything supernatural. It is simply seeing one too many SC200 blogs on the same topic!