Daily Archives: October 18, 2016

Take a nap

Since arriving to college in the end of summer, I have noticed a change in my sleeping cycle. I have been taking naps more frequently and achieving less hours of sleep during the night, due to several reasons. The main reason is the amount of academic work, it may be from procrastination. Whether it is in between classes, or just trying to sneak a nap into the day before a homework assign, napping is prominent. What exactly defines a nap? Merriam-Webster defines it by the definition of “to sleep briefly especially during the day”.
Interesting enough, naps only that last between 20-30 minutes can have tremendous effects on your body and your mind. Naps have the capability to alter your mood in a positive way and also can increase one’s alertness. According to a study on this website, NASA found that a 40 minute nap can increase alertness by 100%. Some prominent figures have been guilty of taking naps during their lives, maybe even too much. Former President George W. Bush and Albert Einstein are known for napping. Believe it or not, there is more than one type of nap. There are three categories of naps,technically.



Planned Naps -> When a person will be up late so they take a nap before they do homework.
Emergency Naps -> When a person is tired and can not continue their activity that they were engaging in.
Habitual naps -> When a persons naps at the same time everyday.
Clearly there are benefits to napping. The main intention of napping is to restore alertness in one”s self. There are also some physiological benefits in napping, you brain benefits from it because rest is crucial to proper brain functionality. A study compiled at St John’s Mercy medical center and the St Luke’s hospital found some benefits in the combination of napping and caffeine. When you nap, one’s perception increases and you actually reduce then risk of heart diseases by 37 % when you nap.
The best thing time interval to nap would be a 45 minute nap. A specific study done by Axel Mckelclinger that appeared Media News today report found some very interesting results. Numerous people were asked to participate in this experiment. All of the volunteers were asked to memorize 90 words as well as 120 randomized word pairs. Half of the volunteers took a nap and the other half watched a movie. The results of the second test were lower for both groups, but the nappers scored much higher than the movie watchers. This was not due to chance due to the number of contestants.



Naps are a crucial part of college, and you should try to utilize them as much as possible. Of course there are a few negative effects to napping, such as laziness or it can alter your sleep schedule. Napping is something that many of us do, but we do not realize how great it can be for us. Napping increases are functionality and our cognitive skills. Napping is something we take for granted.







Video for more info.






Should the drinking age be 18 or 21?

As one of the best party schools in the nation, Penn State is no stranger to underage drinking. Yes, Penn State students may drink, on average, more than students attending other universities, but this phenomenon of drinking alcohol occurs at every college across America. Before 1984, many scientists, parents, and concerned adults worried that the drinking age of 18 was too low as the age group with the most common drunk drivers was 16-20 year olds. Once President Reagan virtually forced each state to increase the drinking age to 21 on July 17, 1984, the percentage of drivers involved in deadly car crashes decreased dramatically for 16-20 year-olds. In 1982, 61% of fatal car accidents involved people from this age group, yet by 1995, only 31% of these accidents involved people between the ages of 16 and 20 years old. Nevertheless, does this evidence prove that President Reagan made the correct decision in raising the drinking age to 21, or are there other factors that could indicate otherwise?


According to a petition trying to return the drinking age to 18, about 77% of countries around the world implement a drinking age of 18 or less. Additionally, the United States, even with the drinking age at 21, ranks third out of all countries in percentage of road accident fatalities involving alcohol, with 31%. According to Professor Ruth C. Engs of Indiana University, the decline in drunk driving incidents began in 1980, not 1984, and was due to numerous confounding variables other than the legal drinking age being raised to 21. For instance, awareness of driving inebriated has increased since 1980. Furthermore, driving in general has become less dangerous with safer automobiles, lower speed limits, increased use of seat belts and air bags, and increased use of taxis or Ubers to drive people under the influence rather than them driving themselves.


Besides third variables possibly discrediting the belief that the increase in the drinking age has helped reduce drunk driving incidents in America, there is evidence that this law may actually be hurting young adults more than helping them. According to John McCardell, the president of Middlebury College, students under 21 years old are attracted to risk, causing them to drink more often. Similarly, since they are technically not allowed to drink, many young adults will binge drink before going out in public. Although this is just an anecdote, without any real scientific method being applied, McCardell could be on to something. Among college students who drink, 32% of the students under 21 consider themselves heavy drinkers (over five drinks per week), compared to just 24% for students over 21. Scientists worry that heavy drinking in a short amount of time should be a larger concern for young adults as binge drinking can impair the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is still developing for young adults. The prefrontal cortex gives people the ability to judge consequences of their actions, have control of their urges, and experience abstract thought, which are all clearly essential for young adults to have.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons why MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and other groups argued as ardently as they did to raise the drinking age to 21. Primarily, experiments performed in the late 1970s and early 1980s compared states with different drinking ages, but similar cultures to remove certain confounding variables. The evidence in favor of raising the drinking age was overwhelming. Furthermore, once states increased the drinking age to 21, alcohol-related driving accidents immediately dropped. Researchers have even taken into account third variables such as seat-belt use, safer car designs, and drinking rates in each region, yet the evidence still supports that the frequency of drunk driving incidents decreases for people between the ages of 21 and 30, and declines even more dramatically for people under 21 when the drinking age is raised to 21. According to James C. Fell, the drinking age should be 21 because young people get drunk twice as fast as adults, yet young people find it difficult to know when to stop. Fell continues to argue that the drinking age should remain 21 due to the harming of young adults’ developing brains, the reduction of car accidents, and the welfare of young adults in general. Lastly, according to Gabrielle Glaser, a study conducted from 1998-2005 showed that the number of people between the age of 18 and 24 who suffered alcohol-poisoning deaths almost tripled in this seven-year timespan.

Although many believe this argument has been settled years ago when the drinking age was changed to 21, the debate over changing the drinking age in America still persists to this day. Many studies have been carried out and there is plenty of evidence to support both sides. Raising the drinking age may help to prevent drunk driving, but may also cause teens to drink more (and binge drink more) because they are attracted to risk. Both of these conclusions, however, are soft endpoints. Still, common sense tells us that drunk driving obviously causes more fatalities from car accidents and that more binge drinking cannot be healthy for teens’ developing brain and for their overall safety. Experiments to decide which drinking age is better are practically impossible to conduct because scientists cannot make a large population of people drink or not drink based on their ages and see over the next few years which groups were in more fatal car accidents or suffered more brain impairments. An experiment like this would be immoral and not realistic. Nevertheless, observational studies can be very reliable if confounding variables can be accounted for. I am on the fence about whether the drinking age should be 18 or 21, but what struck me was that researchers have taken into account these third variables, and the rate of fatal car accidents still decreased drastically after the drinking age was raised to 21. I find this study very difficult to argue with the results. Therefore, I believe the drinking age should remain at 21 in America as lowering it to 18 would be too risky and could be harmful to many young adults, but with more research, I would be willing to change my mind.


Does Being a Pottymouth Mean You’re Dumber?

Swear words are a part of everyday interactions; while some find them funny, others find them downright offensive. As students on a college campus, cursing is a normal way of communicating (at least, for the majority of us), and even I’ll admit that I tend to curse a lot in conversations with friends. I find it perfectly acceptable if it’s not in a formal setting where respect is necessary. However, not everyone agrees with my philosophy and find swearing to be incredibly rude at any time. Not only that, but some even think that cursing indicates that someone is over a lower intelligence and that they can’t think of any other words to use. I disagree with this idea, since I think of myself as a relatively intelligent person who happens to swear a lot. So, I decided to ask the question: does swearing correlate with a lack of intelligence? Of course, correlation does not equal causation, especially in this scenario. I’m not trying to find out if swearing causes low intelligence, but rather if there’s a link between the two to begin with.swearing3-413871

The notion that the use of curse words indicates a lower intelligence is not a new one. In fact, it has even been suggested that using such profane language can change perceptions of other attributes. In this study published by researchers in Kentucky, it was found that people viewed police officers as less friendly, just, and fair if they swore. The participants in the experiment were shown videos of police officers stopping people for traffic violations. In some of these videos, the police officers used one curse word, while they used none in others. After the videos, participants rated the character of the officers. The scientists saw with these evaluations that police officers were rated more negatively if they swore than if they didn’t. While this study does show that people may view swearing as damaging to someone’s character, it should still be viewed with some skepticism. Even the study itself cites potential sources of error. This includes the fact that they used different swear words depending on the category of profanity (sexual, religious, etc.) and didn’t use the same curse word across all the videos. What this means is that people could see different words as more or less offensive, and thus rate the officer differently. Another confounding variable is that people may hold police officers to a higher standard due to their conceptions of the job.man-cursing-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smart

So, the evidence against swearing can be viewed with some skepticism, which removes some of its credibility. The idea that people who swear more are dumber can also be viewed in the same light. Studies have shown that this link does not hold up during experiments. In this study, intelligence as it relates to swearing was tested directly by having 46 college students complete both a survey rating their frequency of swearing and an IQ test. The results were not statistically significant enough to state that cursing impacts intelligence in either direction. Therefore, cursing indicates neither high nor low intelligence. Although the study failed to reject the null hypothesis, it did find an interesting link between a higher IQ and a higher desire to increase vocabulary. That intriguing discovery is unfortunately not relevant to the matter at hand, however.

While the previous study showed no relationship at all, another study discovered a more positive link between swearing and intelligence. This experiment asked participants to take a test measuring fluency in words that are considered “taboo,” aka profane language, as well as a test measuring fluency with words in general and in other areas. There was a positive correlation between scoring highly on the taboo test and scoring highly in general fluency and other areas of fluency. This supports the idea that someone who is fluent in swear words and other profane language is likely fluent in other areas of language as well. The conclusion of this study undermines the idea that those who swear and have knowledge of swear words are less intelligent.

Overall, I find myself unable to come to a definite conclusion on either side. Based on the studies and research I found, it seems to be that swearing is not an indicator of level of intelligence, even though people may perceive you more negatively if you do. It certainly appears that those who do swear a lot are not any less intelligent than those who refrain from cursing, and their usage may even be correlated with good language skills in general. While people may perceive others who swear as having less desirable attributes, there seems to be no scientific basis to do so, and I think that I will happily continue to swear if the situation is appropriate.

Image Sources:



Do dreams mean anything?

The other night, I woke up in a cold sweat. I had a strange dream where my dad drove me and the rest of my family off a bridge and into the river below (The Delaware, to be more specific). My first move upon waking up was to text my friend Fran. She’s always felt particularly drawn towards things like this – horoscopes, psychics, dream interpretation, etc. She told me something about being afraid of ‘drowning’ in my responsibilities and while she really wasn’t far off, it felt like a very general answer. Who isn’t afraid of their responsibilities in some sense? So I began to wonder if there was any scientific explanation for why we dream what we do.


My first article dealt with many different ways scientists have thought about dreams. It first detailed a study which was performed in order to pinpoint when dreams were happening, as it was theorized it was during REM sleep. REM stands for “rapid eye movement”, as the eyes of the sleeping person move back and forth during this part of the sleep cycle. Additionally, brain waves function similarly as if the person was awake. The study measured volunteer’s eye movements, brain waves, and other biological functions as they slept. Then, the researchers would wake the volunteer as they began to enter REM sleep. 80% of the volunteers said they were dreaming upon being awoken.

Two scientists, Dr. Crick and Dr. Mitchison, deny that these brain waves actually mean anything. They theorized that dreams are just meaningless brain connections happening as someone’s brain rests at the end of the day, a sort of software check that the brain does, if you will. Researchers who have continued this line of thought have also explored the idea that the strange content of dreams isn’t due to anything psychological in nature, but is due to the random nature of the brain’s activity. This article came to nothing conclusive and did not point to any significant studies besides the one that proved when dreams happened, so I continued my search elsewhere.

The second article, published in Scientific American, provided more up to date information on dreams. It discusses how technological advancement which has lead to new and better dream related theories. The two theories discussed are: “activation-synthesis hypothesis” and the “threat simulation theory”. The former argues that dreams have no intrinsic meaning. It is random brain activity that we experience by the brain taking random life experiences and relaying them as images or scenes. The idea that dreams are a story is also constructed by us, according to the hypothesis. We want to make sense of these images, so we try to make them into a narrative. The “threat simulation theory” suggests that dreams put us in situations that would prepare us for them in real life, as a sort of evolutionary tool to prepare us for threats.

However it wasn’t until recently that any concrete evidence was behind any theory related to dreams. But the article continues by saying that a study performed by the University of Rome as reported by the Journal of Neuroscience found some kind of evidence. 65 students were left to sleep in this study and woken at various intervals and asked to record in a diary whether or not they had a dream, and what it was about. The conclusion of this study corroborated the one from my first article, in that it found that waking the student up during REM sleep lead to the most dream-related recollection. However it also found that students who experienced the most low frequency activity in their frontal lobes also remembered their dreams, and as the frontal lobe is connected to the construction and retrieval of memories, it suggests that it’s quite possible that memory is connected to our dreams.

One study cannot prove this, however. So the same team of researchers then went on to look into intensely emotional dreams. Using an MRI machine, they found that the amygdala (connected to emotion and memory) and the hippocampus (connected to memory) were activated during these dreams. This is promising in suggesting that our dreams do in fact have something to do with our life experiences and may actually be connected to them in some sense. Once again, two studies don’t necessarily prove anything, but scientists seem to be getting a bit closer to answering this age old question. I think it is only in time that we will fully be able to conclude anything about dreams and our subconscious.

OCD…no joke

I am certainly one to make a joke claiming I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and need to have everything perfect. This behavior however was much more inappropriate than I realized until I decided to research OCD, a topic I THOUGHT, I understood. OCD is in fact a real disorder that people struggle with. Recent media attention has been working to fight the humorous way OCD is regarded in order help raise awareness about what is in fact a serious mental illness. My attention was brought to this topic when just this week, celebrity and my favorite actress Amanda Seyfried revealed her struggle with OCD in an effort to inform the public about this commonly brushed-aside disorder.

What is OCD?

 The International OCD Foundation describes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a mental illness where a person receives unwanted thoughts and feelings over imperfections and then is compulsed to address them to relieve their meimgresntal state. An obsession can be a fear of dirt and then a person will then feel compulsed to wash themselves repeatedly. Someone who has a fear of making a mistake may feel forced to continuously check their work.

OCD: Nature or Nurture?

OCD was known before its mechanism or its “why.” It originally was believed that low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin was the reason behind the disease. WebMD reports that now, OCD has been discovered to have both a biological and environmental origin. Scientists have found that the mental disease may be due to damage of pathways between judgment and planning sections and the areas that control physical movements.

Harvard Health Publications also reported that getting strep throat could lead to OCD in young children. The antibodies of the infection enter the brain and invades the basal ganglia emotion and motor movements.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can also be triggered by a person’s environment. WebMD explains how abuse, death of a loved one, and school problems can result in OCD behaviors.

How is OCD diagnosed?

OCD can be diagnosed with several steps. A physical exam is necessary to eliminate any other reasons for OCD symptoms. Next, a psychological evaluation is completed where a therapist refers to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The Mayo Clinic however, expimgres-1lains that it is difficult to diagnose OCD because its symptoms are similar to other mental diseases such as anxiety disorders and schizophrenia.

Takeaway Message:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not simply mean you need to have a clean room. Those struggling with the disease feel that they have no control of their own thoughts and that they must respond to these unwanted thoughts. It is something that Approximately 3.3 million people in the United States alone struggle with according to UOCD. This research serves as a reminder that Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a serious illness that should not be joked about.


Is Technology Affecting Our Attention Span?


I was chatting with a 5th grade teacher about his class a couple days ago and he said his entire class has trouble paying attention this year. He mentioned that it was not always this bad and that it is becoming worse over the years. I suggested that it might be due to technology since I believe that my attention span has gotten worse since I started using smart phones. It seems that almost everyone has a problem focusing when they are around technology. That is why I like that laptops aren’t allowed in Andrew’s class. I can’t find myself sitting through a whole class without browsing the internet when I have my laptop with me. After chatting with the teacher, I went home and did some research to see if technology is really affecting our attention span.

Managed Solution

Managed Solution


It turns out that a recent Microsoft Corporation study found that technology is impacting our ability to stay focused. They surveyed over 2,000 Canadians that were age 18 or older and also played online games. Their goal was to find out how technology was affecting their attention spans. In addition, they used electroencephalograms (EEG’s) to study the brain activity in over a 100 people. The results were a little shocking. Humans attention span had fallen from twelve seconds to eight seconds which is less than a goldfish’s average nine seconds. This loss in focus was seen in all age groups and genders but there were some other interesting results. One result was that females seemed to have a shorter attention span than males but was only by a very small margin. Another thing they found was that our ability to multitask was getting better.

A smaller study by Dr Lee Hadlington of De Montford University Leicester found similar results. The study was done on 210 people that aged from 18 to 65. It found that people who used their phone the most frequently tended to have a worse attention span. Dr. Hadlington stresses that we should know more about the effects of technology because of the amount we use it and I couldn’t agree more. I think that more studies might reveal how technology can both benefit and harm us. Even though the study did find a link between attention span and technology use, Hadlington says it is not completely clear if technology is the cause of a smaller attention span.

After doing a little bit more digging around the internet, I found article that goes against Microsoft’s findings. Scientific research found that some people that play video games have a better time paying attention than those that don’t play video games. It also showed that those who didn’t play video games could pay attention better after they started playing video games. It turns out the Microsoft study was mainly done for advertisers and it tells advertisers that they need to find more catchy ways to advertise. Companies seem to be fighting for our attention. The increase in advertisements in the modern world has also led to an increase in distractions.  This is why you see you can pay to remove adds from certain apps like Pandora.

Four friends all looking at their phones at cafe

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images


Human’s cognitive abilities change all the time and can even vary day by day. It is not completely clear what effect technology has on our attention span. Even though I technology might be the reason I can’t focus as well, it is very hard to prove that. One thing that is for sure, is that there needs to be more studies done on how technology affects humans. We all use technology on a daily basis but we have little comprehension of what it does to us. It is nice to be able to google the answer to almost question but is there a price to pay for that? Technology has it’s pros and cons but how does it affect humans? Hopefully science can answer that question soon.

Associated Press

Associated Press


Is technology rotting your brain?. (2015).Mail Online. Retrieved 19 October 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3200693/Is-technology-rotting-brain-Heavy-mobile-phone-internet-use-linked-poor-attention-span.html

 Why A Goldfish Probably Has A Better Attention Span Than You. (2015). Medical Daily. Retrieved 19 October 2016, from http://www.medicaldaily.com/human-attention-span-shortens-8-seconds-due-digital-technology-3-ways-stay-focused-333474

Is technology making your attention span shorter than a goldfish’s?. (2016).Phys.org. Retrieved 19 October 2016, from http://phys.org/news/2015-05-technology-attention-span-shorter-goldfish.html


The TRUTH Behind Sleep

In all my years of schooling, I have long wondered how people can go to sleep at 2, 3, 4, and even 5 in the morning and still be able to function throughout the day. I’m not the most organized person in terms of a sleep schedule, but I rarely venture out past 1 AM. If I regularly did, I’d probably drop dead walking between classes.

Literally me

Sleep. It’s a topic that’s always perplexed me. I’d like to answer some of the most common questions about sleep, once and for all. Why do humans really sleep? How much sleep do we need? And: what exactly can a good night’s sleep do for you?

So, why sleep at all? My parents always told me that we need sleep because our body needs to rest from all the intense functioning throughout the day. To myself and many, this seems like pretty sound reasoning. However, scientists aren’t sure that sleep serves simply as an energy restoration period, where we take a break from our intensely active routines. In fact, our brain seems to be just as active, albeit in a different way, during sleep as it is during ‘functioning hours’. Skeptical still, other scientists have found stronger evidence that suggests that sleep is a period of memory consolidation. In other words, during sleep we convert short-term memory into long term memory, according to IFL Science. Let’s explore these 2 theories.

One way I think of sleep is similar to charging your phone at night. Your body is like your phone, sleep is like your charger, and in order to restore its battery, you shouldn’t use it! But it’s not quite that simple. There are two distinct periods of sleep: slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM). SWS is the first period of sleep and is what we call “deep sleep”. According to Scientific American, it is “characterized by large, slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and slow, deep breathing, which may help the brain and body to recuperate after a long day.” So maybe there is some evidence to support sleep as a recovery phase. However, this becomes less certain when we consider REM. During this phase of sleep, which is when dreaming occurs, the brain is in an intensely hyperactive state. Breathing and heartbeat function irregularly, and the body becomes virtually paralyzed amid this dream state. Due to the neurological hyperactivity associated with REM, scientists cannot say that sleep is solely a recovery period.

Many scientists believe that sleep serves as a tool for memory consolidation. Researchers analyzed the results of 1995, 1997, and 2003 studies on human sleep deprivation. They found that the overall ability of memory sleep-deprived subjects was significantly impaired, though this could be due to a confounding variable; stress is known to cause difficulty in memory recollection. Scientists have concluded that experimenting with sleep deprivation to determine whether sleep is used for memory consolidation is problematic due to confounding variables such as stress.

Despite the ongoing debate of the purpose of sleep, we know that sleep is necessary, and sleeping has various advantage’s to one’s overall well-being health and lifestyle benefits. I have had many teachers and adults alike tell me that proper sleep is imperative if one wants to achieve success. However, I have anecdotal data which leads me to be skeptical of this statement.

As a musician, I have been well-aware of how our kind openly neglects proper sleeping habits. Countless times I have heard prominent musicians attribute their success, in part, to those cliché nights where they stay up all night creating music–pursuing their artistic vision. One of my favorite bands of all time is the great Led Zeppelin. In their live album/concert video “The Song Remains the Same,” I recall Robert Plant and Jimmy Page telling the interviewer about how they often fly from show to show, sometimes without any sleep at all, and still perform grueling 2 or 3 hour sets (possibly with the help of ‘substances’, but nevertheless…). In fact, guitarist Jimmy Page has claimed that he ACTUALLY plays better when he is exhausted.

The Mayo Clinic states: “Some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, but their performance is likely affected. Research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don’t perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night.” So, the excellence of Page & Company can be attributed to their extraordinary talent, which apparently was not too significantly altered by inadequate sleeping. According to their guidelines, the Mayo Clinic suggests that Adults (18+) need 7-9 hours of sleep per night for ideal functioning. However, they mention, this number is variable depending on certain factors including physical exercise/exhaustion and previous sleep deprivation.

Robert Plant & Jimmy Page

While we can’t yet identify the exact purpose of sleep, it is clearly necessary for survival. If achieved in the proper quantity and quality, sleep can positively impact your life. It can improve focus and give you the energy to have a productive day. And although many musicians like Jimmy Page will claim that sleep deprivation can benefit your work, there is no evidence to support that statement. So I leave you with the unsatisfying conclusion that we really don’t know the truth behind sleep. If you can find evidence that supports the notion that less sleep is somehow beneficial to you, please let me know. Otherwise, I recommend shooting for at least 7 hours. I think most scientists would agree with me. The brain and sleep are areas of science that remain vastly unexplored, deeply mysterious, and immensely interesting.




Works Cited:

 (2015). What Happens in the Brain During Sleep? Retrieved October 18, 2016, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-happens-in-the-brain-during-sleep1/
Sleep deprivation and Pavlovian fear conditioning. (1970). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/16/10/595.full
Led Zeppelin Image: http://nme.assets.ipccdn.co.uk/images/2015LedZeppelin_Getty85038736_10230215.article_x4.jpg
Sleep deprived guy image: http://hsewise.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/sleep.jpg
Sleeping hologram: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/2709260/images/o-SLEEP-BRAIN-facebook.jpg

How Long Should You Nap?

Image result for napping

image source: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/napping-is-life

I think we can all agree that naps are a wonderful thing. I fondly look back upon the days in which nap time was encouraged; oh how I took it for granted!  Whether accidental or on purpose, napping is a way to re-energize yourself after not getting enough sleep.


Image result for when you wake up meme

image source: http://www.memes.com/img/708953

While napping is great, I think we’ve all had those naps where you wake up and don’t know where you are, what year it is, or what your own name is. You look at the clock and five hours have gone by and you’ve missed dinner. These naps tend to do more harm than good, seeing as they make you feel groggy and less alert. So, what is the best amount of time to take a nap for to improve alertness? Well, there have been many studies done on this, especially about people who work night-shifts, so I’m going to look at some of these studies and try to come to a conclusion.

In a study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 31 adults participated in a randomized experiment. The subjects were randomized into three groups: a group that would receive a 10 minute nap during  a simulated night shift, a group that would receive a 30 minute nap, and a control group that would not get any nap. This experiment was conducted over three days. The subjects were tested for alertness at the beginning and end of their “shifts”, and before and after their naps for alertness and cognitive abilities. The study found that those who took the 30 minute naps or no naps had decreased performance on the tests for alertness, with p-values <.015 and <001, respectively, while those taking 10 minute naps had the same level of performance. The results from this study suggest that a 10 minute nap is more beneficial for staying alert. Although it is a properly designed randomized control trial, I feel if the sample size was larger it could really make the results more reliable.

This study, published by the Journal of American College Health, focused on the napping patterns of college students. It was an observational study 440 college undergrad student participants. The students were asked to report  the length of their naps, the time when they took the nap, and how often they napped per week. They also reported the quality of their nighttime sleep according to the PSQI. The study concluded that those who took naps longer than 2 hours more than three times a week had poor quality night time sleep. Obviously since this is an observational study, we cannot rule out confounding variables. In addition, the results of this study are self reported, which could result in faulty data. Despite these flaws, I still think the results demonstrate that longer naps do more harm than good for alertness.

Based off of the studies I mentioned, I think that the length of a nap meant to improve alertness should be short and should probably be between 10 and 20 minutes. It seems that power napping is the way to go to improve alertness, and that those long naps should be saved for weekends with Netflix.


How to Remedy Homesickness

Picture this scenario: you are walking to class, thinking about how you can manage your time today to not only fit in studying for a test you have in two days, but also a paper that is due by the end of the week. It stresses you out and then you see it. . . a labrador retriever puppy. You take a break from stressing out to play with the dog. Suddenly, everything does not seem so bad and you continue your day with a more positive and healthier state of mind. This scenario that I have created is one that I have experienced more than once. This same sense of relief that I experience when I encounter a dog on my way to class is reportedly experienced by first-year college students who feel homesick.

Cute playful Yellow Labrador Retriever puppy, 8 weeks old, in play-bow


In order to determine whether or not there is a positive causal relationship between first-year college students who are homesick and interact with dogs, Dr. John Tyler Binfet conducted an experimental study. In this study, a total group of 44 first-year college students who felt homesick were randomly split into two groups: a control group and an experimental group. The null hypothesis of this experiment is that there would be no difference between the experimental group and the control group. On the contrary, the alternative hypothesis is that there would be a significant difference between the control group and the experimental group as the experimental group is expected to be positively impacted with the weekly interaction of puppies and the control group’s homesickness should continue to worsen. The experimental group attended eight weekly 45 minute sessions in which they interacted with dogs. At the conclusion of the eight week study, the experimental group stated that they were significantly more satisfied with their college experience having interacted with the dogs weekly. On the contrary, the control group continued to become even more homesick.

To conclude, the alternative hypothesis proved to be correct as there was a significant difference between the experimental group and the control group. The experimental groups’ positive reaction to the weekly interactions with puppies can serve as a reliable example about how to remedy homesickness, but does not necessarily serve as a “cure” being that this experiment was done using only 44 volunteers in total. In addition, not all people like dogs so this remedy will not act as a panacea for all first-year college students experiencing homesickness. With this being said, homesick or not, I would love to have weekly interactions with dogs just to relieve stress!

Music During Studying: Does it Help?

I listen to music when I do homework, as do many other students. I like to have something always playing, no matter what I am doing. For example, if I work out, I play upbeat music, whether it’s pop or rap; and I tend to play acoustic music when I study or do work. Realizing how many people follow this trend, it got me wondering if playing music actually improves my academic performance and ability to focus. Here’s what I found:

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An experiment from Georgia State University went into depth into this subject, more specifically the music type and its emotional effect for an added bonus of my original question. The report is written by Marjorie Freggens of GSU, and was directed under David Washburn, Ph.D. of GSU’s Department of Psychology.

Participants: 38 Georgia State undergraduate students

Experiment: To test their performance, the participants were put through a series of training tests on Dell laptops. The tests had the letter X on the screen that were colored as blue, red, yellow, or green. The participants were to press (as fast and accurately to the best of their ability) the right arrow key if the letters were yellow or red, as the left arrow key was used to indicate confirmation for green or blue letters. During the tests, four different kinds of music (happy, sad, tender, fear) played to check if that had any affect.

Interestingly enough, the results indicate significant relationships between music and performance. The ANOVA (analysis of variance) table showed a p-value of .043 for the difference between kind of music, meaning that it was statistically significant (p < .05 or 5%). More specifically, the results show the most efficient and accurate response time for happy music, as other types of music failed to find a statistical relationship (Tender music had a p-value of .059). While most studies focus on whether or not music improves performance abilities, this study was particularly striking to me because the type of music was considered to see if that had an impact as well. Happy music appeared to be the kind of music to enhance the participants’ performance on the color X test.

More research found more insightful results on the matter. According to this report of an experiment, we can see the affects of music on adults and kids. This report was written by professors University of Toronto, Canada and Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University in Japan. The study measured mood/arousal and performance with music. The experiment consisted of 48 Canadian undergraduates that were tested in a sound booth. They listened to music (Mozart and Albinoni) for 10 minutes, then proceeded to do a 2-minute test, where they answered yes or no based on looking at a monitor and determining specifics of what was shown on the monitor. An additional test done was a letter/number sequence, which got more difficult to answer accurately as it went on. They were to recall the sequence in a certain order after seeing the sequence (one second/letter or number).

Image result for music studying

Results from the first set indicated statistically significant results, as listening to the music made an impact of mood with a p-value of .033. The second set of test results showed mood (p=.043) and arousal (p=.004). The next analysis showed the actual performance of participants, which indicates a statistical relationship between the test scores and listening to music (p=.012). Overall, these tests tell us that listening to music significantly helped with cognitive performance, but mood and arousal had different effects.

The next experiment conducted by the same team from the previous study was done with young Japanese children to test creativity and performance in kids.

Participants: 39 5-year old Japanese kindergarten students

Experiment:  The baseline session consisted of the students drawing a picture, then drawing an additional picture after listening to music. Out of four groups of the kids, 2 listened to Mozart and Ailbinoni, while another heard similar child-friendly tunes and the last group sang child-friendly tunes before drawing. After the musical experiences, the children were randomly assigned to draw a second picture, and the pictures (both baseline and after musical experience) were rated by randomly selected adults that were to rate creativity and proficiency.

The results offer an significant findings, as they found the creativity and proficiency difference from the baseline to listening to music was statistically significant (p=.004) and singing familiar songs gave a p-value of .001. However, there was no clear link between the classical music (Mozart, etc) in terms of the cognitive improvement. Overall, the addition of listening to music improved the quality of the children’s pictures.

At first I just wondered if listening to music actually beneficially impacted how someone works or studies or not, but these studies also showed certain types of music and their impacts. Looking at these studies have shown that upbeat, positive music tends to enhance the cognitive functionality in people. I believe it, because if I can get a certain type of music like that, I get in the groove and get a lot of concentration and work done efficiently. So, next time you want to study or get some homework in, try putting some upbeat music in the background that won’t distract you. Maybe that will get you generating more insightful work.

If you want some helpful study music, this is my favorite to play. It starts off slow, but progresses to upbeat and is positive that really gets me in study-mode.

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Why do college kids get sick so often?

I feel it is necessary to write about this because not only have I gotten really sick in the almost nine weeks I’ve been at Penn State, but I know for a fact a lot of other people have too because of the constant coughing I hear in all of my classes. I just recently recovered from being sick for two weeks. I had a cough, runny nose, and a fever. Not fun. I thought it was just because I came from California, where the weather is perfect, to Pennsylvania where the climate is completely different. I reached out to my friends back home, and a lot of them had gotten sick as well. I knew there must be something deeper going on. The null hypothesis, where it is believed nothing is going on, is that all these college students just got sick at the same time out of mere chance. The alternative hypothesis is that there are many different variables, that usually aren’t taken into account, playing a role in college students, like myself, getting sick. I have a general idea of why college students would get sick. My doctor told me that I am surrounded by germs in my dorm so that could cause my sickness. I also don’t get much sleep, and my mom being a nurse has told me that if I don’t get enough sleep, my immune system can weaken. So with this basic knowledge, I did some further research to find factual reasons why college students get sick.


I first looked into if sleep weakens my immune system and if that would cause me to get sick more easily. I cam across a blog called The Reason College Kids Get Sick. According to the blog, when a student gets a lack of sleep, their resistance wears down and they are more susceptible to getting sick. My only question was what did they mean by resistance? I understand that they mean a resistance to sickness but I looked into it some more. According to this article I found, sleep and lack of it affect the immune system. The immune system is the resistance to any sickness you encounter. What I know about the immune system is that if you continuously get sick, your immune system weakens every time. So if sleep is interrelated with the immune system, then you should be getting more sleep to maintain it.

Another cause of sickness is exposure to germs in the dorms. I am aware that being around all different kinds of people. The bathrooms are very dirty and it is very easy to spread germs and get other peoples germs. According to the department of health, there are two types of germs which are bacteria and viruses. These are easily contracted in dorm style living. This article says that if any of these germs get into your body, it can stop regular body processes and make you sick.

Overall, having good hygiene and having good habits can help you prevent getting sick. My alternative hypothesis was correct. There are third variables that cause college students to get sick easily. No matter where you start college at, you are bound to get sick. Being around new people can help you socially but can also harm your immune system so just make sure to have good hygiene and get good sleep. This will at least lessen your chance of getting sick.




Are our personalities determined by genetics or do our experiences shape us?

In my philosophy class, we’ve discussed two different theories of development: the continuous model and the traumatic model. The continuous model states that who we are as adults is exactly who we were as children – just physically grown. The traumatic model takes more of a Freudian perspective in that it posits that who we are is a reflection of the traumatic experiences we had as children. This discussing had me wondering. Is there any truth to either of these models? Is it possible that both are true, or perhaps even neither? What makes us who we are?

To begin my search I conducted a Google search of my question. Through this search, I came upon a few different studies. The first, as reported in the New York Times, cited a study conducted by the University of Minnesota. The results of this study found that personality traits are mostly inherited. From 1979-1986, 350 twins pairs underwent various forms of testing, ranging from drawing blood to taking a personality evaluation test. The conclusion of the study found that more than half of the test personality traits were hereditary, as opposed to due to the person’s environment. This is further backed up when considering that out of the 350 pairs of twins studied, 65 pairs were raised apart from each other. Yet, their personalities were still remarkably similar.


The next study I found, from Edinburgh University, corroborated the first study’s findings. The university studied more than 800 sets of identical and fraternal twins in order to determine what effects nature or nurture has had on these peoples’ success in life. The participants were asked a series of questions which were then analyzed to determine the traits of the people studied. The results found that identical twins were twice as likely as the fraternal twins to have the same traits, which suggests that DNA has a strong impact on personality. It is wise to remain skeptical though, as we have learned in class that correlation does not equal causation.

Although the two studies seemed credible, I wasn’t yet convinced. I tried to find evidence of a differing scientific opinion, however, I was less than thrilled with my discovery. Researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Hamburg determined that environment plays a stronger role in shaping personality than genes, however, their study dealt with zebra finches and not humans.These finches were taken from their birth parents and placed in a foster environment. Researchers found that these foster finches had more of an influence on their children than genetics seemed to. Personality was more dependent on environment for these birds than genetics, although researchers did acknowledge that offspring size of these finches did seem to be genetically inherited.


Overall, it seemed that through the various studies I found, some not included in this post, corroborated the idea that personality is largely genetically inherited. However, this clearly isn’t the only thing that defines one’s personality. It is such a complex thing that encompasses many factors, so it is impossible to say conclusively in any of the studies that genetics is that only thing that makes up someone’s traits.

Start School Later?

One of the worst things I have to do during the week is wake up early. I’ve always hated waking up early since the first day of high school. Like everyone else I had my routine in the morning, and the worst part was trying to get out of bedearly-school-start at 6:30 in the morning to get ready to go to school. I know I am not the only one like this. I used to wish high school started a few hours later and I always wonder if that would change my opinion about school. Trying to get through the first few periods of high school was impossible because I just thought about sleep the whole time. Recently I came to the question if I was actually awake for my first few classes, would my overall performance in school be better?

My hypothesis would be if school starts a few hours later, then my overall performance in high school would have been better than when it starts at its original time. Those that believe school should start early say this because they believe teenagers go to sleep too late and because of this they do not get enough sleep to function properly in the morning. However, these people do not look at people’s circadian rhythm which I basically our 24-hour internal clock. According to the article Early School Start Times Hurt Students, Hinder Performance written by Dian Shaffhauser, she explains that around the age of 10 our biological wake time is about 6:30, meaning that school should start around 8 o’clock or so. Around the age of 16, the biological wake time is 8 o’clock, so school should start around 10. And at 18 years old the biological wake time is about 9 o’clock so classes should begin between 11 and 11:30. Dian Shaffhauser also writes that back in 1997, a school in Minneapolis shifted its high school start time from 7 to 8:40. With results collected from about 50,000 students from before and after the start time was change, they found that attendance, achievement, mood and behavior all improved. This means when they synchronized the start of school with the student’s biological clock improved their performance. Although today it’s hard to push back the start of high school times because of outside activities like sports, it’s something to think about possibly when scheduling classes for college.

larks-and-owlsAnother way to look at this is when people learn the best. There are different types called morning people, or larks, and evening people, called night owls. Larks tend to be up bright and early in the morning but only about 10% of people are truly larks according to Dr. Michael J Breus in the article Night Owls and Early Risers Have Different Brain Structures. Another reason it may be hard for some of us to get up for school or class is because we aren’t larks, we are night owls. Colleen Oakley in the article Why You’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl, states that when you have a slightly longer circadian rhythm then you are more likely to be a night owl and tend to sleep longer in the morning.

So now I know that I am definitely a night owl since I have always loved sleeping in during the morning. Now that I am in college, I will continue to schedule my classes for later in the day if possible because it will have an effect on my overall performance. I do wish that back in high school the start time was somewhat later so I wasn’t asleep for the first few classes and based on these facts it could help out a lot more people than just myself.

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Can Money Buy Happiness?

All our lives, we have heard the time honored phrase “money can’t buy happiness”. However, has anyone really looked into this? Or have we as a society just been taking this as a known truth without really examining the evidence behind it. It has to be true that, to some extent, money does buy happiness. Someone who is starving or dying of thirst can’t be as happy as someone living with shelter and enough money to keep themselves comfortable, can they? In a study done by Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson school, it was found that money can, in fact buy happiness, to an extent. The results of the study found that people’s levels of happiness directly increase with their income, up to the point of $75,000 a year. After this point, however, the study claims that they found no further increase in happiness due to increase in annual income. It is at this income level that the stresses of poverty are diminished, and people start to gain additional happiness from other sources. This study, however, by no means proves that money can buy happiness. We need to examine additional studies to determine just how strong the correlation these results provide really is.

Next, these results are corroborated by the results found in a poll conducted by CNN. The poll, conducted on a group of just over 1,000 participants found that 51% of participants stated they would feel happy with a salary under $100,000 a year, with 25% of participants stating they would be happy with a salary range of $50,000-$75,000. Taking a closer look at the data, the median value that people stated they would need to be happy rests at $80,000 a year. This $80,000 is close enough to the value of $75,000 found in the previous Princeton study to further strengthen the idea that after a certain point of comfort, money in itself is not enough to create happiness.

So, if strict financial health can only increase happiness to a point, what is it that further increases our life-satisfaction? Professor Ryan Howell of the University of San Fransisco argues that it is experiences, rather than material items, that increase our levels of satisfaction. He argues that people believe material goods are a better investment, as experiences are not physically lasting. However, after conduction a study of satisfaction at the time of purchase, two weeks after, and four weeks after, Howell found that the satisfaction of consumer decreases with material purchases, while increasing substantially with experience based purchases. Ultimately, by the four week mark, the study reports that consumers consider the experiences to have far surpassed material goods in terms of generating satisfaction. It is due to this that Howell argues that experiences, as well as the connections and memories they give us with others, are much more important to our feeling of happiness than mere material goods.

In addition, as part of the CNN poll, 6% of people stated that money can in no way buy happiness. People that have these beliefs cite family, health, religion, and many other aspects as the sole sources of happiness in their lives. These people could, in fact be correct. Happiness could come solely from these facets, or they could in some significance contribute to happiness and act as confounding variables in the other, monetary studies.

Overall, it is nearly impossible to say for certain whether money can truly buy happiness. There seems to be a strong correlation between having enough money to be comfortable and happiness, but after that it is uncertain whether more money will make you more happy, or whether it is purely left up to experiences, personal connections, and a score of other facets to influence your happiness. Ultimately, with so many confounding variables and such a tough depended variable to measure, happiness, this is a difficult conclusion to pin down. However, with the correlations seen in multiple studies it would be smart to continue research in this field and continue to map out the ever elusive science of the pursuit of happiness.






Why people keep and join smoking cigarettes even they know it hurts

Cigarettes have been a worldwide problem. We can see people smoke everywhere on the street. Smokers always said they would quit smoke, but they barely success and the still enormous number of people pick up this habit every year. Why does this happen? Even for me, I am a smoker, and I smoke about ten cigarettes per day before I came to college, now I only smoke 3 or 4 per day because my girlfriend set a strict limit on some cigarettes for me. As a cigarettes smoker, I feel hard for me to quit, not just the addiction for nicotine but other factors.
I still remember one of my friends said people must get addicted to something in his/her life. I am not judge if this is right, but people did do that. Someone addicted to alcohol; someone addicted to reading; someone addicted to painting, and someone addicted to video games, etc. For me, I chose to addict to cigarettes; I like to smoke cigarettes, and I am not afraid to get addicted to it.

Business colleagues on a smoke break outside the office

Business colleagues on a smoke break outside the office

From my experience, one of the reasons why so many people still join smoke is teenagers think smoking is a cool thing. The first touch of cigarettes is because I am out of curiosity for smoking cigarettes and it looks so cool. I want to know why so many people like it, so I tried it once, and It makes me keep a cough; I don’t like this thing in my first experience. It tastes just like burning grasses. Since that I did not touch cigarettes in one year, until one party my friend give one cigarette to me. I said I don’t like this, and my friend said, oh man! Why don’t you smoke? That is not cool! Then, he showed me how to smoke; I am a young boy of high self-respect, and I tried it serval times. Finally, I did like this felling. I began to think it is a cool thing to do. During a class break, several friends gathering at the restroom to smoke together, it feels so good, not the cigarettes but the feeling you think everyone thinks you are a cool guy, even the truth is most of them thinks you are a dumb. Here is an article to explicitly describe such action and mentality.

There are other reasons for people don’t want to or make them can’t quit smoke. The reason smoke is kind of social contact that can make people more quickly to get close with other. Here is the article talks about social smoking.

Form my experience; I was a shy boy before I smoke. I barely talk to strangers; the first reason is I am too shy to talk to them, and the other reason is I have nothing to talk with them. Before I smoke a cigarette, I only have a few friends, and I don’t even want to have more friends. After the smoke, I become more sociable. When I see my friend bring his friends to a party, I can just give them my cigarettes and smoke together; that makes me seems easier going and friendly. The most important thing is when we smoke together, we have more common words to talk, that is easier for me to make new friends. Even, I know smoke is not good for me, I still do it because it can provide me more positive effect than bad. I become more sociable and outgoing. Now, when I talk to people I don’t familiar with I

have more confidence, and I know better how to talk with people. That is permanently good thing cigarette brings to me. In China, most of the business meeting will have cigarettes, because that makes them more comfortable to talk; that has become current of the times. When you ask someone to do a favor for you, bring a cigarette will always make it easier.

In conclusion, I do not encourage people to smoke cigarettes; I just expound my views toward cigarettes, and the benefits it brings to me. Also, that explained why it is so hard for a smoker to quit smoking.

Placebo Effect: The Magic of Belief

The placebo effect is an idea that has always fascinated me. I struggled at first to wrap my head around the concept of it. Basically, it is when someone reports feeling better after receiving a drug that has no active medicine in it. Recently in class, we expanded on this topic to observe how placebos are commonly used in experiments involving new treatments to determine their effectiveness. The general idea of a placebo trial is where two groups of people are given a different drug. One groups drug contains no active medicine while the other one does. After receiving the treatment for a certain period of time, the two groups report on how it made them feel. This can help scientists determine what effects an active drnif_you_believe_it_willug can have on an individual suffering from a specific illness. Now, the placebo effect is defined as “a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment” Basically, it is when an individual is given drug that has no active medicine, but they are told it does. As a result the patient feels better despite the fact that he wasn’t actually given medicine. Now, I wanted to figure out if the placebo effect actually has an effect on a persons health, or is it a simple way to trick the body into healing.


A study done in 2013 by Ted Kaptchuk perfectly depicts how the placebo effect works. In this experiment, he gathered a group of 270 subjects who all suffered from severe arm pain. He then randomly assigned patients to receive either a pill or an acupuncture treatment to relieve their pain. The catch of this experiment? The pills contained no medicine and the acupuncture needles were retractable shams. Basically the experiment provided no real medical treatment to patients, only two placebos. This type of experiment could be considered a placebo trial as neither of the two groups knew that their treatment was a fluke. The ull hypothesis would be that phony treatments do nothing, which would make the most sense. However, Dr Kaptchuk made a discovery that could slightly alter how we practice medicine.

After two weeks of receiving phony treatment nearly a third of his patients claimed they were experiencing awful side effects from the drugs. Even more surprising, the other patients reported feeling real pain relief as a result of the treatment. The fake pills and acupuncture treatments had tricked patients into feeling better or worse, even though nothing was changing. So is this simply our mind playing tricks, or does the placebo effect really alter our symptoms?
According to an article written in The Globe And Mall recent studies have shown that pain relieving opioids are released in the brains of patients receiving placebo treatment. This suggests that it could be a true biological phenomenon instead of a mplacebo-effectsedical fluke. Another theory suggests that the body remembers feeling better after taking previous pills, as a result it speeds up the healing process when a placebo is consumed.

Although it is still unclear exactly how the placebo effect work, recent studies make it apparent that it is a real phenomenon. The placebo effect can lead to medical alterations of a persons body despite how sick they actually are. While we don’t know the mechanism behind the placebo effect, it is clear that this is a technique that can be applied to medical fields across the board.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Ask a Question

There are two types of people in this world: those who can fearlessly ask questions in class and those who shy away in the back hoping that they will just understand the material. Personally, I tend to shy away and pray that someone else will happen to not understand the same material as me and ask the question. There are times though when I can build my courage up to ask. We all hear teachers say, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are no dumb questions.” But we all know what our peers can be like. I think that it is nice that our teachers try and provide a safe learning environment but it seems as though some people may never feel comfortable.


Allison M. Ryan, Margaret H. Gheen and Carol Midgley from the University of Michigan set out to find out it there was any relationship between how students acted in class and their willingness to get help for the material they don’t understand. Ryan, Gheen and Midgley set up longitudinal study containing 513 students across 63 different sixth grade math classes. A longitudinal study would follow these students for a long time, usually resulting in more solid results at the end. The students and teachers were given surveys to complete and assured that they would be kept confidential so as to avoid dishonestly. Their results showed that boys were less likely to ask for help when they were struggling. Overall though, the study concluded that students who were not confident in their work, were less likely to get help. Although students who were more confident in their work were more likely to ask for help. The researchers started looking in to ways that classroom environments could be changed in order to help everyone feel comfortable asking questions. They concluded that having a warm, friendly teacher will definitely help. In addition, making sure that the classroom does not have a competitive environment will enable the quiet ones to feel more confident asking questions.

I think this study was done very thoroughly and concluded some helpful information. They decided to only look at math classes which was a smart control. They said that there was no specific reason as to why they chose math. I wonder what would have happened if they had picked language arts classes or sciences classes. Would the results have changed? Or what would happen if they had studied college age students?

Christine Chin writes an interesting article discussing why it is important for students to ask questions. She points out that by asking questions, students are exploring the unknown and honing in the areas they don’t understand yet. Chin believes that it is important for students to know how to ask good questions. This isn’t up to just the students though! Teachers should be creating a welcoming environment in which they teach their students to ask good questions and encourage it.

Though none of this may change your mind in wanting to ask a question in class, just know that it really is beneficial to your learning. Some of us, myself included, may need to push ourselves to be bold and ask a question. We have to stop worrying about what others will think about us, chances are they had the same question! Our learning, in this situation, should come before our pride. So if you haven’t been to a post exam review session yet, I highly recommend going because that is a perfect environment to ask questions without feeling uncomfortable. All you have to do is raise your hand!

Study #1: psycnet.apa.org/journals/edu/90/3/528/

Study #2: https://repository.nie.edu.sg/bitstream/10497/4741/1/SSR-86-314-107_a.pdf

Picture: www.clipartkid.com/raise-your-hand-cliparts/

Does Adderall Actually Make You Smarter?

Adderall is becoming a staple of the college education system. The amphetamine based prescription drug has altered the college landscape by providing students with an easy mental boost. Adderall intrigued me first when I was in high school. The night beforAdderallXR8e my SAT exam, one of my friends had a prescription and suggested I take a pill to improve b
my score. After doing some research, I agreed. The next day it seemed as though I could do anything. My brain was working on overdrive and my thoughts were all so clear and intellectually pleasing. It was a wonder drug. Now that I am at college I notice that drugs such as these are being relied on by students to pass. This got me wondering what exactly is Adderall? How does it effect the brain? Also, does it actually make a person smarter?  According to drugs.com Adderall is a stimulant that alters chemical activity in the brain. It changes areas in the brain related to hyperactivity and impulse control. The change in brain activity usually leads to increased focus, an elevated pulse and a oost of positive energy. Adderrall is prescribed to people with ADD and narcolepsy. It can be habit forming if it is taken more frequently than recommended. A majority of prescribed users are given dosages that suit their medical needs.

A diagram showing how Adderall works inside the brain

A diagram showing how Adderall works inside the brain


But what about people who take Adderall without a prescription? What effects does it have on them compared to those who are prescribed? shape.com explains that those who take the drug without a prescription experience a strong feeling of euphoria that boosts focus. This feel good sensation is what causes a lot of users to crave the drug even if it is not necessary for them to succeed. Dr Lawrence Diller M.D. explains that the drug “…makes you feel like you’re king of the world.”
Anecdotal experiences and numerous studies have lead to strong evidence that drugs like Adderall work. However a recent study posted in Time magazine argues that the drug might actually not make a person smarter. The study was done by Dr. Maria Farah and a team from the University of Pennsylvania. It revealed that individuals who took Adderall didn’t perform any better than those who didn’t. Instead, they merely thought they did. The study tested 47 participants on their cognitive performance after taking an Adderall or a placebo drug. They were then asked questions that ranged from raw intelligence to long term memory. The subjects did not know which pill they were taking, which made this study a blind placebo trial. If Adderall did increase intelligence, the results should have been that the placebo group performed worse than the group that received Adderall. What the study found was that the two groups performed virtually the same. Another discovery was that the group who took the Adderall was more likely to report that the pill had given them a cognitive advantage. The team explained that the drugs effect could merely be a mind trick. They suggest that it could be possible that Adderall gives students an inflated sense of productivity. inwhy-do-successful-students-use-adderallstead of actually making an individual smarter, it causes them to think they are. The team reached the conclusion that while Adderall could be improving cognitive performance, it is very possible that the drug simply makes studying more enjoyable as a result of the euphoric feeling. This means the the drug has no direct effect on a persons intelligence.

This conclusion is very mind boggling as it completely alters how I view the drug. Although the study was only done on 47 participants, the logic behind the conclusion makes practical sense. Without solid evidence to pinpoint the exact effects of the drug it is difficult to determine wether it actually increases a persons intelligence. Despite the grey area surrounding how it works, it is certain that Adderall improves a students study habits.

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Class Sizes

As a secondary education mathematics major, class size is always something that comes into discussion in my education classes.  It seems that some of my professors have different opinions on this subject, and I want to know what is really the best for students, considering I will be in the classroom teaching these varying class sizes in four years.  Coming from a relatively big high school to a huge university, I personally never minded big class sizes, but a lot of districts, including my own, always fought for smaller class sizes anyways.  The people fighting, like school board members and politicians, insist that smaller class sizes are beneficial for everyone and that students will learn more with more individualized attention, but I am not too sure that it is always necessary to have super small classes.  I believe that students learn from each other and group work is essential, especially in math where teaching someone else how to do something can actually help you learn it yourself.  My hypothesis is that class size does not matter, as long as the students comfortably fit in the classroom, after the students’ initial foundation is built in the elementary and middle school years.  Once the students have a solid foundation to build off of, they should not need as much individualized attention.  I also believe that students should be able to self-regulate their learning by high school, and if they know that they need more individualized attention to go over a certain topic, they can stay after school or go to office hours in order to get the help that they need. Since this extra help is more readily available than in the earlier years of education, I think that smaller class sizes are not nearly as important in high school and beyond.

After doing some research, I was able to come across this meta-analysis, a study where multiple studies are taken into consideration and compared to come to a more confident conclusion, and I found that this question of the effects of class sizes is not an easy question to answer.  Many studies have been conducted on the question of class size and a lot of them came to very different conclusions.  In this meta-analysis, Ofsted’s study is referenced where it was found that it was not the class size that affected the students’ achievement but the teacher’s ability to teach.  However, in the Blatchford and Mortimore study it was found that there was a correlation between class size and student achievement showing that in the first few years of education smaller class sizes produced higher achieving students.  There are also other studies that come to more inconsistent conclusions about the effects of class sizes on students.

The problem with studying and conducting experiments on class size is all of the variables that are different from school to school and all of the different elements of teaching.  Looking at classes of different sizes taught by different teachers leaves too many elements not in control to be able to draw conclusions and be confident that these conclusions are coming strictly from class size.  One way to test this would be to have the same teacher teach two classes, one of a large size and one of a small size, with similar students in each class, like being from the same socioeconomic class and growing up with the same educational background, and giving both classes the same test to measure student achievement.  This would have to be repeated multiple times all around the world so that results could be generalized to the population.  Here, the null hypothesis could be that small class sizes have no beneficial effects on student achievement and the alternative hypothesis could be that small class sizes have beneficial effects on student achievement

Another interesting point in this meta-analysis is that teachers might just not know how to teach in each environment.  Each class size comes with different benefits.  Teachers with small class sizes have different opportunities than teachers with large class sizes, but being able to make the most of the class sizes is what really matters.  Class size might not be the issue here; it might be a that teacher’s ability to teach larger classes is underdeveloped.  Classrooms are very complicated systems, and based on the studies that have been done, there is not much reason to believe that class size is solely the reason behind the conclusions being drawn.  Perhaps the answer to this question on class sizes is not to raise taxes and hire more teachers in order to decrease class sizes, but to hire better teachers who are more highly trained to teach in either situation and who know how to make the most out of the opportunities in both classroom environments.

Looking back on my hypothesis, I now realize that it is too broad of a question, especially because of all of the different conclusions that have been drawn on this topic.  Even though according to Blatchford and Mortimore my hypothesis was partially correct, this has not been replicated enough and other conclusions have been made that do not support this finding. Class size is something that is very hard to study and in order to solve this question, experiments and observational studies will have to be planned very carefully in order to just be testing class size, and I do not see this happening in the near future.  Either way, I know that with my wonderful education here at Penn State, I will be ready no matter what class size to teach my students and make the most out of all the opportunities I am given.

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The Dry Facts of Dry Age

Whenever I start to procrastinate I more often then not find myself watching cooking videos.  I don’t know why, but something about them just fascinates me.  A trend I’ve been noticing lately is a considerably larger amount of videos related to dry aging meats.  So I’m curious, where did the process come from, what does it actually do, why is it surging in popularity now, and how far can we go with it.

According to MyChicagoSteak the mainstream use of this process started around the1950’s, when butchers realized that storing their meats in an air controlled area led to a more developed flavor.  But in order to properly dry age, they needed to have good cuts of meat, because a fat marble must be maintained throughout.  As a result, dry aging was (and continues to be) a process that is only used in high-end steakhouses and butcher shops.

So now that we know the history, what is dry aging?  It’s when the cut of meat is taken and hung  in a climate controlled room, with the temperature and humidity set at a point where harmful bacteria aren’t able to get to the meat. This is opposed to wet aging which is the common method for grocery store meats.  (Wet aging is where they take the cut and then vacuum seal it in its own liquids and let it age like that.)  While the meat is hanging there, the naturally occurring enzymes will begin to break down the muscle and fibrous tendons so that the meat becomes more tender.  Also, because it is being stored in a cold chamber, the meat will become dehydrated.  Debragga says that the process will cause a weight loss in the meat of around 10-15%, and then the outside layer has to be removed because it has begun to develop mold which can’t be consumed.  For an in depth look at how the process is carried out, I found this article on the National Library of Medicine website to be helpful.

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So then, why is this relevant to today?  Because as this has become more and more popular in the worlds steakhouses many people are trying to do this at home.  But because you need to have extremely precise conditions for the aging process to occur, the tools for the job just don’t exist in many peoples kitchens.  If you do have a way to control exact temperature and humidity, it is feasible to do it at home but again you need a high end cut of meat that is large enough to withstand the shrinkage.  A helpful guide here walks through step by step of how to go about the process, from what meat to buy all the way to how to prepare it.

So then how far can this process go?  The current record is 15 years at a French steakhouse.  But in a practical setting, high end restaurants are pushing for 100 days of dry aging as their new standard.  While there is no technical limit to how far someone could push this process, there certainly would be a point of diminishing returns and it wouldn’t make economic sense to keep going.

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Next time you have a fancy steak dinner (which might not happen very often here at Penn State) take time to appreciate that what you are eating is the result of a lot of food science.  There was a lot of thought and effort put into making that cut of meat more flavorful, and hopefully the end justifies the means.

Headphones vs Earbuds, which one causes more hearing damages?

  Headphones and earbuds are essential equipments for people nowadays. It is not rare to see students walking to class with their earphones on. Personally, I don’t have any preferences to either of them, but I have heard about statements which suggest that both devices cause hearing damages. Above that, some even suggest that earbuds are more harmful than headphones when it comes to hearing problems. And believe it or not, this statement even made my parents bought me a new headphone in order to replace my earbuds. So I think it would be interesting to look into those statements. Does those devices really cause hearing problems? Which one produces more hearing damages?

headphones  To understand whether headphones and earbuds damage our auditory system or not, I found out a source published by the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) . It concluded that nerve fibres are much more vulnerable than hair cells, an auditory system receptor also appears as an indicator sometimes for hearing lost, in the inner ear. According to Liberman, director of MEEI Eaton Peabody Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, people could lose 90% of their cochlear nerve fibres without any consciousness. This means that even though there aren’t any damages on the hair cells, people could still lose their hearings if the nerve fibres are damaged. To me, it is possible that the direct transform of noise from the earphone devices to the cochlea could cause damages.

  An article from NBC News suggested that headphones are a better option than earbuds. It stated the “60/60” rules, which means the volume of the MP3 or phone devices should be under 60% and a person should be listening to it less than 60 minutes per day. However, when it comes to public environments, most of the people have the tendency to volume up their devices in order to block the noises from the surrounding. In those cases, headphones would be a better option than earbuds, because it covers up the ears to prevent outside noise. The article also included an infographic which listed out the reasons why earbuds cause more harm to ears.


  It is certain that exposed to loud musics for a long period could damage hearing. But, headphones and earbuds, which one causes more hearing damages? I think it’s impossible to tell without seeing more statistics. Although there are tons of articles that are posted to explain how headphones are superior than earbuds and listed out possible mechanism behind it, there are still lack of research and experiments created on this area of study. The reason of that might be related to ethnical consideration by setting up experiments on this topic. If we think about it, signing up a randomized control trial by randomly dedicated people to groups which only use their headphones, or earbuds or banned them from using anything at all really isn’t possible. I think this is similar to the smoking cause cancer or the soda drink studies we’ve talked about in class. It’s impossible to force the smokers stop smoking or banned the kids from drinking sodas. The only thing we could do in these situations is controlled the strength of variables to see what it does to the correlation, such as comparing groups that drink diet coke with groups that drink coke. So, as the amount of studies on of headphones and earbuds increases in the future. We’ll get a better chance to tell the true result of it.

Which is Better: Exercising Outdoors or Indoors?

There’s no doubt that the recent warm weather this week has persuaded many people to spend extra time outside. Whether taking the long walk home from class to enjoy the autumn scenery, opting to study on Old Main lawn, or eating on a bench outside instead of in a cafeteria, everyone wants to enjoy the last few days of warm weather before winter arrives.

I was heading over to the gym this afternoon before I stopped and decided to run outdoors instead of on a treadmill inside. During my run, I was curious too see if there were any advantages or disadvantages to either exercising inside or outside.

naturerunAccording to this scholarly journal, being outside contributes to one’s sense of vitality, or, in other words, makes them feel more energetic and lively. The journal describes two studies in which students reported feeling more vital after experiencing outdoor conditions. In one experiment, individuals were randomly assigned groups, where they would take a 15-minute walk either inside or outside each day. Results from this trial reported that students who walked outside felt more energetic and positive.

Although this study shows individuals prefer exercising outside rather than inside, it is not a double bind control trial, only a randomized trial. This lessens the validity of the test, because subjects in the test could approach the experiment with bias, and report that they felt more refreshed after running outside simply because they think they should feel more refreshed when they run outside. We learned that this is also know as the Hawthorne Effect, an effect where subjects alter their behavior because they know they are being watched and recorded.

Nonetheless, there are still quite a few studies that show being outside makes people feel happier than being inside. Because of the variety of studies and the amount of studies on this particular subject, one can still conclude that the results of the experiments are accurate, since all of the experiments record that individuals do enjoy being outside more.

For example, in a separate study, students were shown two sets of pictures – a set of nature photos and a set displaying buildings. The results show that the vitality of students who viewed the nature pictures increased, while the vitality of those who viewed the building photos actually went down.

runnerSo, this study proves that even if you are not exercising, simply being outside can put you in a better mood.

A more particular study tested the differences in 833 adults when exercising indoors compared to outdoors. This study stated that individuals who exercised outside reported feeling more optimistic, refreshed, and energetic, and less depressed, grumpy, and tense. The individuals who completed the study also claimed they were more likely to exercise outside again at a later time.

Yet another study found that running outside was more beneficial, because a runner will exert more energy while running outside because of the air resistance. Since running outside provides the runner with realistic conditions, including changing gradients and weather conditions, one can conclude that running outside will provide the exerciser with a better workout. To compensate for the different conditions found in nature vs in the gym, the study suggests to increase the treadmill grade to 1%.

So, thus far, I’ve concluded that simply being outside usually puts people in better moods, and working out outside is actually more beneficial. However, I know personally that I prefer to run inside in the winter, because the cold weather hurts my throat when I’m breathing heavy while I run.

treadgymAlthough there is not much scientific evidence for the other side of the argument, working out inside can be beneficial because gyms can sometimes offer a greater variety of workouts. They have machines that can focus on muscles that are hard to work out on your own, and can provide extra motivation since other people are surrounding you. Plus, the environment might be more comfortable, since some gyms are air conditioned and the environmental conditions will not affect you.

In conclusion, it is suggested (although, as we learned in class, we can’t always be 100% convinced) that exercising – or just being – outside is better for you. You respond more positively to the environment (and as we learned in my psychology class, positive thinking can allow you to achieve your goals more often than negative thinking) and you accomplish a better workout because you exert more energy when you’re outside.outdoor

Nonetheless, you should choose what you feel most comfortable with and what you think works best for you. As long as you’re happy when you’re working out, you will feel better afterwards!


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Home Field Advantage In Sports


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There is nothing like taking the first step onto the field or court and looking into the stands and seeing your fan base. Having your friends, family, school, and community all gather around in one location, with one common objective as they cheer for you is one of the most rewarding feeling for any athlete. These fans have spent their time, money and energy into rooting for you  so why not give those fans what they came to see.. a win! I know from personal experience I always loved playing a game at home. Being able to walk from your own locker room onto your field as people are chanting your name and team makes you want to perform better and guarantee a victory not only for yourself but for them. Now as a fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions there is nothing better than screaming until your voice gives out after defeating a team at Beaver Stadium. So far this season we have greatly benefited playing at home as we have an 4-0 home record opposed to an 0-2 road record. So does this means home field advantage works?

Home field advantage in sports gives the hosting team leverage over the team that travels there to compete. Statistics can prove this theory correct because teams who compete at home tend to win 60 percent more of the contests. According to Tobias J. Moskowitz and L.Jon Wertheim  In soccer home teams win at an outrageous 69.1 percentage, NBA teams win at home around 62 percent and home teams in the NFL win at a 58 percent rate. These numbers provide huge data that reveal the importance of playing a sporting event at home. According to John Bois  in all sports home field advantage plays a big role in the outcome of the game. After his research he discovered that playing at home will give teams in the NBA and NFL the biggest advantages. His findings show that if the Utah Jazz played all their games at home they would have won over 22 percent of the games they ended up loosing. He takes into consideration the distance in plane travels and fan base. After he focuses his attention to the NFL where he sees that from 2008 to 2010 the San Fransisco 49ers could have won up to 18 percent of the games they lost if they played on their own turf with their own laud crowd cheering in their favor..

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There are a great deal of factors which display the advantages a home team has during the sporting event. The most influential factor is the crowed. Every player wants the crowed to be energetic as they chant the team and players names. This motivates the players to play better and play with more confidence. In an article posted by the North American Journal of Psychology, it is evident that cheers have a positive effect on competitors where as jeers or “boo’s” have a negative effect on performance. It shows that pitchers in baseball are effected greatly when they are getting booed. The crowed plays a huge part of the game because they count as an extra or “12th” man because they have the power to get into the opponents head. Fans play physiological warfare with other teams players and when it works it freaks the players out. It causes players to act irrational as they may commit stupid penalties, unnecessary fouls, greater risks and sometimes not even hear the play because it is so laud inside the stadium. The  art of distraction is one of the most powerful actions a fan base can display. The more cheers the home team has the more they want so they will do whatever it takes to win and please their home crowed.There is nothing worse than being embaresed at home and losing by an opposing team. Player testosterone actually increases as cheers are lauder and this causes them to play better and harder.                       Image 4


Another factor is the venue the game is played at. The fact that the home team doesn’t have to travel helps out big time. For example going into different time zones throw the body and their sleep schedule off. Also the environment plays a role because some teams are used to play in the hot, cold, wind , or rain while others aren’t. For example playing football in Denver is more difficult because the stadium is over 5,000 feet above sea levels so altitude is higher making it hard to breath and can lead to mile high sickness. This may be why the Broncos have the best home record in the past 32 years. Similarly ,the GreenBay Packers are used to playing and practicing in the cold so when temperatures drop to below freezing it is no shock to them. But compared to the Miami Dolphins who practice in the heat all year round, they wouldn’t be mentally and physically ready to compete in that type of weather.

Playing at home gives the hosting team an advantage as they have the crowed on their side, they are more aware of their environment, and more comfortable when they play on their own field. It is obvious talent does play a bigger role in the outcome of the game, but the more evenly match the two teams are, the home team will have all the factors helping lead to a victory because of home field advantage.






Is hitting a baseball the hardest thing to do in sports?

Before I learned how to walk, I was swinging a baseball bat.  My dad made up his mind that I would play baseball, and I never had a choice but to play it and love playing it.  As a child up to a teenager, baseball was my life.  I played in two leagues as a child, so my whole life were devoted to baseball, where I would have a game on Saturday and two games on Sunday, and practices multiple days a week.  Once I got to high school, practices/games were every day of the week.  Despite countless hours of practice, I can easily say that hitting a baseball is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but is it the hardest task to do in all of sports?


Just merely making contact with a baseball is extremely difficult on its own, but contact itself is not always good.  The point in baseball is to hit it where the fielders are not.  Making solid contact with a ball gives you a much greater chance of getting a hit.  Lets start of by looking at some basic statistics.  The diameter of a baseball is 3 inches long.  The sweet spot (area on the bat where you will hit the ball the hardest) is 2.75 inches, less than the diameter of the baseball.  Home plate has a width of 17 inches and an average height of 36 inches.  The area of home plate is roughly 612 square inches, while the area of the ball is just over 7 square inches.  This means that the ball, which you have to hit, takes up less than 2% of all the area which is a strike.

The average major league fastball sits at 95 miles per hour, but can reach speeds over 100 mph.  Over the course of a major league fastball’s trip to home plate, the ball drops at an overage of 1.3 inches.  When facing a 95 mph fastball, a hitter has just .43 seconds to decide if they want to swing or not.  This means that in less than a half of a second, the batter has to identify that it is a fastball, determine where the pitch will end up, and figure out if they want to swing.

Next we have the changeup.  A changeup averages 85 miles per hour, with an average vertical drop of 2.1 inches and a reaction time of .48 seconds.  The purpose of a changeup is to deceive the batter in thinking that it is a fastball.  The ball is thrown with the same arm speed as a fastball and when the pitch is coming, it has the allusion of a fastball.  The hitter, thinking it is a fastball, will often swing early, causing them to miss the ball or make weak contact.

The next pitch is the curveball, which comes in at about 77 miles per hour, giving the hitter a reaction time of .53 seconds.  What makes this pitch so difficult to hit is the movement of the ball.  This pitch drops at an average of 14.1 inches, meaning that from the time the ball is released from the pitchers hand to the time it reaches the batter, it drops over a foot.  Not only does it move vertically, but horizontally as well.  A curveball has the ability to start on one side of the plate, and move over to the other side.  Hitting any of these pitches when knowing what is coming is a challenging task, but when the pitcher mixes what pitches they throw and where they throw it in no particular order, hitting a baseball becomes nearly impossible.


I understand that there are many other extremely difficult things to do in sports.  Boxing is known to be the hardest pound by pound sport in the world. In boxing, you have to be able to throw punches, dodge punches, and take punches.  Boxing is very hard and both physically and mentally exhausting to the body.  Ice hockey is also a very challenging sport.  Being a very good skater on its own is extremely difficult, but to be able to pass the puck, hit the opponent, and shoot the puck, while skating, takes serious talent.  According to ESPN, Boxing and Ice hockey are rated as the two hardest sports in the world.   I’m not saying baseball in general is harder than any of those two sports, as defense is a lot easier than offense, but to me, specifically hitting a baseball is harder than any specific task in any sport.  There is no true way to prove if hitting a baseball is the hardest task in sports, though, because the word “hardest” is just a a matter of opinion.

Aspartame and Cancer

Artificial sweeteners have been growing in popularity due to out roars against natural sugar. It seems as though artificial sweeteners are now everywhere. Most diet drinks use them as an alternative to sweeten the drink without using sugar. In particular, aspartame is one the most popular choices.

aspartame-chemical-structureAspartame is created from the combining of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It is used in a multitude of products such as Diet Coke and many foods. One of the reasons why aspartame is so commonly used is because it is roughly 200 times sweeter than sugar and therefore much less can be used. Sounds great, right? Not really.

A lot of speculation has been raised about how great of an alternative aspartame truly is. The major discussion going around has to deal with cancer. Does aspartame cause cancer? Does it cause cancer to become more severe? Many of these questions have been discussed and the only way to truly find out is to put it to the test.

As I looked for research on the topic of Aspartame and its relation to cancer I came across an awesome study done in Europe at the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center. Their objective of the study to was to quantify the carcinogenic risk of aspartame from prenatal (12th day of fetal life) until the end of the life of rats. The way they set aspartame-effectsup the experiment was with three groups of around 70-95 Sprague-Dawley rats. One of the groups was the control while the other two groups were administered either 400ppm or 2000ppm of Aspartame in their typical food daily.

The results they received were statistically significant to reject the null hypothesis that aspartame had no effect on cancer in many cases. They found a large dose related increase in malignant tumors in males, especially in the group treated with 2000ppm of aspartame with a p-value less than .01. They also found an increase in the same group of males treated with 2000ppm with lymphomas and leukemia (p<.05). The females in the 2000ppm group also saw an increase in lymphomas and leukemia (p<.01) as well as an increase in mammary cancer (p<.05). These results are very showing from a statistical standpoint! The likely hood of these being a fluke (false positive) is 5%

The problem with this experiment however is that it was performed on rats, and not humans. What happens to rats when administered the levels of aspartame close to the acceptable daily intake of humans, is surely to be questioned. If you wanted to see the effects of drugs on elephants, giving the same dosage to let’s say a human that you would the elephant sounds a bit off to me, don’t you think?

In conclusion, I do believe this experiment was run very well. They randomly allocated the rats and controlled the dosage that each group received very well. Overall, the experiment was run very well overall, and I think that the results should be taken into strong consideration. Until more time passes however and we can do observational studies on humans based on their aspartame intake, I believe it will be hard to find a true answer to this question. Until then, lab rat experiments will be the most telling.

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