# Mints and Candy = Bigger Tip?

Few things unite a group of people quite like food does. It truly is a universal language that every single person on the face of the planet understands. There is nothing more that I enjoy than going out to eat at my favorite restaurant. While tipping is usually more stressful and confusing than eating a delicious burger, seeing a few pieces of candy tucked inside the folio of where my check rests made it all worth the complicated tip calculations. Additionally, if there was a jar of mints on my way out of a restaurant I would grab a handful no matter how full I was. During my high school years, I worked as a server at a restaurant in my home state of Florida. I always wondered if there was something I could do to receive a larger tip. Could handing out mints and candy with the check mean a bigger tip for waiters and waitresses?

http://stanfordflipside.com/images/102mints.jpeg

Hypotheses

In this case, the null hypothesis would be that handing out candy and mints with the check does nothing, meaning that it does not increase the tip percentage in anyway. The alternative hypothesis would be that the mints and candy actually lead to bigger tips. Scientists can choose to either accept or reject the null hypothesis. Personally, I feel like waiters and waitresses will earn bigger tips if they give better service to their customers by checking in on them often and smiling frequently. Although getting a few pieces of candy is nice, it is hard for me to believe that it solely leads to bigger tips.

Studies

A study conducted in 2002 by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration tried to figure out if handing out candy to customers increased tips. The study was conducted in a small restaurant with a capacity of just 66 people. It was conducted over two weekday and two weekend dinner services. The participants of the study were 92 groups of diners that dined at the restaurant during the duration of the study. Following the meal, the researchers asked the waiters to select a card that was sitting on the table face down. If the card was red, the waiter/waitress was instructed to include a few pieces of candy with the check. If the card was black, they gave the check without including the candy. This study was a randomized control trial because the participants were randomly allocated to either the treatment ground or the control group. Additionally, this was an experimental study because the x-variable, the candy, was manipulated.

https://pix-media.s3.amazonaws.com/blog/356/restaurant_tips1-thumb-550×377.jpg

Results

Since there were 92 participants in this study, 46 participants received a check with mints and the other 46 participants received a check without mints. The results showed that the average tip for people who received the candy was 17.8% compared to an average tip of 15.1% without candy. The p-values for this study was .0001, meaning that the difference between the two groups could not be attributed to chance alone.

Takeaways

The results proved my hypothesis was wrong. Candy and mints do in fact increase tip percentage on average. Based on the results, scientists can reject the null hypothesis. However, there could be some confounding variables in this study. Since service is not something that is easily measured, it is safe to say that the patrons perception of “good” service varied. Maybe the participants tipped more because they felt that they got better service rather than the candy. Another interesting thing that jumped to mind was what if the customers did not eat the candy, would they still tip more? It would also be interesting if future studies achieved the same result.

http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/07/20/636046272432955834-1631242199_how-much-to-tip-ftr.jpg

Works Cited

Strohmetz, David B., Bruce Rind, Reed Fisher, and Michael Lynn. “Sweetening the Till: The Use of Candy to Increase Restaurant Tipping1.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 32.2 (2002): 300-09. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

Ciotti, Gregory. “The Psychology of Personalization: How Waiters Increased Tips by 23 Percent (Without Changing Service).” Help Scout Blog. N.p., 03 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

As many of us know, Penn State is infected with sick college students. I find it nearly impossible to go ten seconds without someone either sneezing or coughing profusely around me in our SC 200 class. When we are sick, many of us take medication like Benadryl to control or cough or runny nose. We are also well aware that there are numerous side-affects listed on the packaging but we barely bother to read around 30 side-affects. Could dementia be one of those side affects?

Background Information

Dementia is a very serious condition that affects millions of people around the world. If you are not aware of dementia, it is something caused by our brains which causes things like memory loss, impaired thinking, confusion, and mental decline. Dementia is most common in elderly people over age 60.

Benadryl is a very common over-the-counter drug that is widely available at places like Walgreens and CVS all across the world. Benadryl is part of a class of drugs called antihistamines. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptors in our body which can cause things like runny nose and insomnia.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/fathom_media/cache/bc/eb/bceb06a5414d16b78da363acc916661b.jpg

Hypotheses

In this case, the null hypothesis would be that antihistamines like Benadryl do nothing to cause dementia. While, the alternative hypothesis would be that in fact antihistamines play a role in dementia. Scientists can choose to either accept or reject the null hypothesis.

Studies

A study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine in 2015 studied the potential link between anticholinergic use and dementia. Anticholinergics are drugs that block acetylcholine from reaching the body (antihistamines like Benadryl are anticholinergic drugs). The study was a longitudinal study, which as we mentioned in class in the “is smoking bad for you” session, is a observational study that studies some sort of trend across a long period of time. The longitudinal study tracked 3,434 people aged 65 and older over 10 years. Specifically, the study looked into constant use of anticholinergics and dementia. New participants were enrolled into study to replace previous participants that passed away. Computerized pharmacy dispensing data was used to see if the participants were using anticholinergics frequently. This data showed the name of the person, the amount, and how they took the prescribed anticholinergics.

https://mgtvkron.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/pills.jpg?w=650

Results

The results of the study showed a positive correlation between anticholinergic use and dementia in the participants. 797 out of the 3,434 participants developed during the course of the study. Participants who took more anticholinergics had a higher risk of developing dementia. A number of third variables like college education, regular physical activity, and smoking were taken into account.

http://jamanetwork.com/data/Journals/INTEMED/932778/ioi140138t1.png

Takeaways

In my opinion, this is one of the most important studies ever conducted in medicine. I believe that the study was extremely well conducted by accounting for a number of third variables and had an incredibly large sample size. Most of my previous blogs contained studies that had 20-50 people, this one had just under 3,500. Although this study definitely proves the positive correlation between anticholinergic use and dementia, we know that correlation need not equal causation. This study does not prove that if you take anticholinergics you will get dementia, it just shows that there is a link between the two. Reverse causation can be ruled out due to the lapse of time.

Works Cited

MS, Shelly L. Gray PharmD. “Strong Anticholinergics and Incident Dementia.”The JAMA Network. Jama Internal Medicine, 01 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

# Does the color red make you more attractive?

Naturally, when humans think of romance, the color red is the common denominator. Think about it for a second, that red box of chocolates, the stuffed teddy bear holding a red heart, those red roses. Is this a coincidence? Our human eyes can see around 10,000,000 (10 million) different colors. When going shopping for things like clothes, make-up, and shoes there are a plethora of options for us to chose from. If you are a guy, can something so minuscule like the color of your shirt, tie, or shoes make you more attractive to the opposite sex? Similarly, for women, could the color of your lipstick, dress, or purse make you more attractive to men? That was the question that psychologists Andrew J Elliot and Daniela Niesta tried to answer.

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/color-theory-design#sm.0001ua7stcnoyef9z7c1tj06f27k9

Hypotheses

Personally, when I first thought about this question I thought that there was no way that I would be more attracted to a woman wearing a red dress rather than a white dress. This idea seemed so farfetched to me. In this case, the null hypothesis  would be that a red tie or red lipstick does not make individuals more attractive to the opposite sex. The alternative hypothesis would be that the color makes you more attractive. Scientists can chose to either accept the null hypothesis which basically says that nothing is going on, or they can reject the null hypothesis.

Studies

A study was conducted by researchers and psychologists at the University of Rochester that tried to figure out if red made people more attractive. They conducted five different experiments with five different groups of participants. The first experiment was a double blinded randomized controlled trial where participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of a black and white picture of a woman on red and white backgrounds on a scale of 1-9 with 9 being very attractive. Participants had no idea what the study was about until they arrived to partake in it. When they arrived, they were only told that the study was about first impressions of women. 27 males were split amongst two groups where one group viewed a black and white picture of a woman with a white background while the other group viewed the same picture with a red background. A standardized manila folder was placed on the table and the groups were asked to pick up the folder and look at the picture for five seconds while the researcher turned around. Following the five seconds, they put the picture down and were asked a number of questions including how attractive they thought the woman was. This study was double blinded because the participants had no idea what the actual purpose of the study was and researchers had no idea what color the participants were looking at.

Experiment number two included doing the same experiment again with both men and women. While additional experiments included a double blinded randomized controlled trial of a woman wearing a red shirt and a blue shirt and participants were asked different questions like would they ask the woman on a date and if they had a hundred dollars, how much would they spend on a date in intervals of ten dollars.

http://media.indipepper.com/2014/11/red-dress-105013.jpg

Results

The results of the study absolutely shocked me. In the first study where 27 males were split amongst two groups and showed pictures with different backgrounds, the red background achieved a perceived attractiveness of around 7.5 on a scale of 9, while the woman on the white background achieved a score around a 6. The p value for this was one percent. The participants were also asked on a scale of 1-9 how the color, facial expression, and clothing of the woman influenced how attractive the woman was. Color was ranked as the least important factor. What made the results so shocking to me was the fact that both groups looked at the same exact woman!  Yet, their results were dramatically different.

The second experiment which was the same experiment but included women in addition to men looking at the picture of a woman on different background colors, showed that the gender played a major role in attractiveness. The men yet again found the red background to be more attractive while the woman actually thought that the woman with the white background was more attractive.

The last experiment which dealt with 23 males looking at a picture of a woman wearing a blue shirt and a red shirt, showed the correlation between the color red and attractiveness yet again. Additionally, the participants said that they would spend around 25 more dollars on a date with the woman wearing red. Again, the woman in the pictures was absolutely identical with the color of her shirt being photoshopped as the only exception.

Later on, the same researchers conducted a separate study where the focus was on if women found men to be more attractive if they were wearing red and the results showed that the color made the males more attractive.

http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3663

Takeaways

My initial response to the results was why are we as humans more attracted to the color red? After doing some research online, I found that the reason why we are more attracted to the color red was subconscious and possibly due to evolution.

I thought that the studies were conducted fairly well. I really liked how the researchers used the double blind approach and did not tell their participants the true purpose of the study. The p values were also one percent which showed that chance played a minimal role. The sample sizes were fairly small and it would be interesting to see if the results were different with 500 people instead of 27.

Works Cited

Elliot, Andrew J., and Daniela Niesta. Romantic Red: Red Enhances Men’s Attraction to Women (2008): 1150-164. Bryanburnham.net. Bryan Burnham. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Strain, Daniel. “The Red-Dress Effect.” Science. Science Magazine, 12 July 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

“Women Attracted to Men in Red, Research Shows.” Rochester News. University of Rochester, 2 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

# Grocery Shopping While Hungry?

When I rented my first off campus apartment at Penn State two years ago, my mom gave me some strange advice. “Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, you buy more food” she said in Russian over the phone during my first week settling into my new place. I shrugged this off as some typical weird mom advice that made no sense. Two weeks later, I was all out of water and found myself at Weis. There was just a slight problem, I was starving. What was supposed to be a quick trip to the grocery store for a case of water turned into a shopping cart full of Doritios, Oreos, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. As I am checking out and see my grocery total rising astronomically with every food item that gets scanned, I hear my mom in my head saying “never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.” The whole car ride home the only thing I thought about was if she was true. Do you actually spend more money at the grocery store when you are hungry?

http://www.clipartbest.com/clipart-9TzLaKrTE

Hypotheses

In this case, the null hypothesis is that you do not spend more money at the grocery store and the alternative hypothesis is that you do spend more money at the grocery store when you are hungry because something is going on. Scientists can either accept the null hypothesis or reject it. After giving this question some thought, it actually does make sense. The hungrier you are, the more food you buy. However, just because something makes sense does not mean that it is true. For example, Dr. Benjamin Spock thought that by having babies sleep on their stomach this would reduce the risk of them choking on their own vomit and dying in their sleep. Makes sense, right? However, his intuition was not backed by any scientific evidence and what was thought to be a good idea and logical ended up killing thousands of young children. So if you actually do spend more money at the grocery store when hungry, we are going to have to prove it by using the scientific method.

Experiments

A study was conducted by The JAMA Network that tried to examine if you actually bought more items at the grocery store when hungry. The study was a randomized controlled trial where the researchers gathered 68 participants and randomly allocated them to one of two groups, the control group and the “treatment” group. The participants were told not to eat anything within 5 hours of showing up for the study. When the participants showed up, the treatment group was told to eat as many Wheat Thins as you want so you do not feel hungry while the control group was not given any food. Then, the participants were told to do some grocery shopping in a virtual grocery store. There was a variety of options available for purchase including healthy items like apples and broccoli and some not so healthy items like Twizzlers, Doritos, and red meat.

Results

The results of the study were incredibly interesting. Unlike I had thought, the total amount of items purchased between the treatment group and the control were fairly similar. This meant that hungry people did not buy more items than the non-hungry group. The amount of healthy (low calorie) items was also fairly similar between the groups. However, the control group that did not eat Wheat Thins prior to going virtual grocery shopping, actually ended up buying a significantly larger amount of unhealthy, high caloric items. Although the hungry individuals did not buy more total items, the ended up purchasing more unhealthy items.

http://jamanetwork.com/data/Journals/INTEMED/927170/ild130014t1.png

Takeaways

So if hungry people buy more unhealthy and caloric items, why is this so? A study conducted by the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology says that people who are hungry tend to struggle weighing risk against benefit. The bag of Doritos might sound more appealing than the kale chips because your hungry mind may not being thinking about nutritional facts as much as what would taste the best right now. A person that is not hungry might take an extra couple minutes to think about the decision.

With that said, I do have a few concerns about the actual study. 48 out of the 68 participants were female. Would the data look different if there were more males in the study? Are males more likely to buy junk foods? Additionally, the grocery shopping was done online. According to Statista, only 0.4% of consumers prefer to shop online for their groceries. How would the data look if the participants were taken to a physical grocery store? Nonetheless, if you are concerned about buying too many unhealthy things at the grocery store, it won’t hurt if you have a snack before going shopping.

Works Cited:

“Hunger Affects Decision Making and Perception of Risk.” Max Planck Gesellschaft. Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, 25 June 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

Mela DJ, Aaron JI, Gatenby SJ. Relationships of consumer characteristics and food deprivation to food purchasing behavior.  Physiol Behav. 1996;60(5):1331-1335

Tal, Aner, PhD. “Fattening Fasting: Hungry Grocery Shoppers Buy More Calories, Not More Food.” The JAMA Network. N.p., 24 June 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

# Does Ice Water Help With Migraine Headaches?

Background Information

Migraine headaches can be absolutely debilitating and incapacitating. Only someone who has had a migraine can truly understand how painful it is. Migraines are intense headaches that can last up to 2 or 3 days. In addition to the throbbing pain, migraine headaches often come with extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Other symptoms include pain on one side of the head, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, there are precursors that let the individual know that a migraine headache is about to happen. This is called an aura. Auras can range from things such as having a tingling feeling in your arm or leg, numbness, or blind spots in your eye.

As someone who suffers from migraine headaches, I can tell you that they are absolutely no joke and not to be taken lightly. Because of my migraine headaches, I am forced to carry a bottle of Excedrin with me nearly everywhere I go to help protect against these headaches. However, sometimes these can take a while to work and may not work effectively all the time. I have always been looking for other treatments for migraines. A few weeks ago after class, I was heading home and listening to the radio when the radio host mentioned that sinking your hands and feet into ice water can help combat the symptoms of migraines. Could this really be true? Can something as simple as ice water help with disabling migraine headaches?

Hypotheses

In this case, the null hypothesis would be that submerging your hands and feet into ice water would do nothing. Meaning that ice water does not help combat the symptoms of migraine headaches. The alternative hypothesis is that the ice water treatment does help alleviate the symptoms of migraines. Scientists can choose to either accept or reject the null hypothesis.

Studies

A 2013 study conducted by doctors Adam S. Sprouse-Blum and Melvin HC Yee of The University of Hawaii at Manoa studied the effects of cold treatment on migraine headaches. The study that was performed was a randomized controlled trial where participants eligible for the study were assigned to one of two groups, the treatment group and the control group. The treatment in this case was a neck wrap with frozen packs that covered the carotid artery in the neck. This was an experimental study because the x variable was manipulated. Participants were forced to meet a number of eligibility requirements including being in a specified age range(18-65), being examined by a professional for migraines, and could not be taking medication for migraine headaches. Out of 101 participants, 55 of them were deemed eligible for this study. The 55 eligible participants were asked to report how severe their pain was on a scale of 0-5 (0 does not hurt, 5 hurts the most) at four different intervals during an hour period. The four intervals where data was recorded was: onset, fifteen minutes, 30 minutes, and one hour. The treatment was applied during the first 30 minutes of the study and then participants were asked to take the neck brace off for the remaining 30 minutes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3727573/figure/F2/

Results

During the onset of the migraine headache, when treatment had not been yet applied, the average pain scores between the treatment group and the control group was fairly similar with an average score of 2.83 in the treatment group and 2.61 in the control group. However, participants in the treatment group showed a major improvement in pain while the cooling pack was applied to their neck with an average pain score of 1.84 in 30 minutes compared to 2.83 when the headache began. In the control group, the pain actually got worse after 30 minutes with an average pain score of 3.1 compared to 2.61. According to the results of this study, the ice treatment helps with migraine symptoms. The doctors believe a possible mechanism for this is that the cooling pack cooled the blood flowing to the carotid artery in the neck to the point where inflammation in the brain was reduced significantly which helped improve the pain felt by migraines.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3727573/table/T1/

Takeaways

Although the sample size was quite small, only 55 people, I believe that the study was properly conducted and the results were clear. The p-value was less than one percent which means that we can say that the results were not due to chance alone. According to the data, scientists should reject the null hypothesis that ice treatment does not help with migraines. It would be nice if more studies reached the same conclusion.

Works Cited

“Headaches and Migraines Center: Treatments, Causes, Types (Cluster, Tension, Chronic, Sinus, and More ).” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Sprouse-Blum, Adam S., Alexandra K. Gabriel, Jon P. Brown, and Melvin HC Yee. “Randomized Controlled Trial: Targeted Neck Cooling in the Treatment of the Migraine Patient.” Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health. University Clinical, Education & Research Associate (UCERA), July 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Taylor, Danette. “Migraine Headache Symptoms, Relief, Types & Medications.” MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

# Fight Or Flight? The Battle Of Speaking In Public

I am one of those people who absolutely dread speaking in public. The thought of standing in a classroom or auditorium filled with people and delivering a speech nearly makes me sick to my stomach. I have always wondered why certain people are so terrified of public speaking and why others think it is no big deal. When I graduated high school in 2013, I knew that college was going to force me out of my comfort zone and public speaking was something that I needed to do in college and in my career if I wanted to be successful. As time progressed, I definitely feel like I have become a better public speaker, but I still do not find it any easier to speak publicly even though I am a junior and this is my sixth semester at Penn State.

(http://www.slideshare.net/itrimble/killer-presentation-secrets)

Glossophobia

After doing some research, I actually found that there is a technical term for the fear of public speaking and that term is glossophobia. Usually when I am afraid or not good at things I tend to assume that I am the only who suffers from that fear. Most of the times my assumption is completely false, just like this time. Fear of public speaking is quite common, according to Statistic Brain, around 5,476,000,000 people suffer from some sort of speech anxiety. That is just over 5.4 billion with a B, people. That accounts for just about 74% of the world’s population. So if you think you are the only who hates speaking in public, you’re definitely not. Most likely, the next person you run into on the street shares your feelings about public speaking. This makes glossophobia one of the most common fears or phobias in the world.

Why are over 5 billion people scared of speaking in front of other people?

The reason why most of us hate speaking in public is because our body’s natural reaction to stress kicks in. This reaction is called the “fight or flight” response which is caused by our body’s sympathetic nervous system. When the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, we start to sweat, fidget, and our heart starts racing. Why do we feel so stressed out? That could be due to a number of reasons like the fear of messing up and the overall pressure of the situation. I also believe that when you speak to an audience that you do not really know, certain people’s comfort levels, including mine, can drop significantly because they are not sure how those audience members are going to react. In my opinion, this is fairly similar to when my high school teacher called on me to answer a question that I did not know. My heart would immediately start racing, I would begin to breathe heavily, and my voice cracked as I muttered “I don’t know.” That is the same fight or flight response that your body gives during public speaking. The fight or flight response has evolved dramatically over the years. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors used this same exact response when they felt their life was threatened by a predator.

Is it possible to become a better public speaker?

The short answer is yes, but it is much easier said than done. With all things in life, if you want to get better at something it is important to practice. Public speaking is something that virtually every single person will have to do in their careers. A number of relaxation techniques can be deployed which tell your fight or flight response to chill out including deep breathing. At Penn State, CAS 100 is a great class for people to practice public speaking. Next time you’re nervous about giving a speech, remember you are not alone. I am most likely ten times as nervous as you are.

# Is Junk Food as Addicting as Cigarettes and Alcohol?

If you are anything like me, you have tried at one point in your life to lose weight or make a promise to yourself to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, it is never as easy as it seems. No matter how many juice cleanses or fad diets I try, I always have the urge to call the nearest dominos and order a large pepperoni pizza, grab those potato chips from the pantry, or devour a giant tub of ice cream. Most of the times, I end up caving in and my pursuit to eat healthy has evaporated in a matter of weeks. Why is this so? Is there such thing as an addiction to junk food?

(http://uncompromisedmen.com/2015/01/03/love-dopamine/)

Is junk food as addicting as drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol?

According to over 2,700 studies and citations, an addiction to junk food can be as powerful or even more powerful than the addiction to substances like morphine, cannabis, and cocaine. At first thought, you might think that a statement like that is completely outlandish. But when we dig a little deeper and study the effects on the brain, drug addictions and food addictions are eerily similar. When someone takes a drug like cocaine, neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are released and this gives our bodies a “feel good” signal. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. When we reward our body and eat our favorite junk foods, those same neurotransmitters are released.

Why is this a problem?

While having junk food every once in a while will not have a significant impact on your life, constantly eating junk food and overeating will. Overeating can lead to obesity and obesity can lead to a string of health problems like diabetes and heart disease. My first instinct to combat this problem is to simply eat less or eat junk food less frequently. However, that is not that easy. Those neurotransmitters that are activated when we eat are favorite foods can sometimes interfere with our bodies trying to tell us that we have had enough food. What can we do to fix this? Authority Nutrition suggests that we write down and keep a list of foods that we crave and also jot down a list of fast food places in your area and try your best to avoid them and stick to a healthy diet.

# Concussions and CTE: Should We Steer Our Children Away From Contact Sports?

Concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, has been a major hot button topic in professional sports and pop culture over the past few years. With today’s medical breakthroughs and technological advancement, doctors, scientists, and researchers are learning more and more about how injuries to the head affect athletes, their careers, and life after sports. In order to dig deeper into the topic, we must first understand what a concussion is and what chronic traumatic encephalopathy is.

So, what is a concussion?

As someone who played basketball and hockey competitively, and whose father played over 20 years of professional hockey, concussions have been a major part of my life. I no longer play sports competitively, but play recreationally and they remain a big part of my life to this day. During the first week of the Fall 2015 semester, I went to the Intramural Building to play basketball with my friends. During our first game, I was playing defense and took an elbow to the face that left me disoriented and bleeding on the hardwood. After being taken to the Mount Nittany Emergency Room and after a CT scan of my head was performed, I was diagnosed with two broken bones in my nose and a concussion. My doctor gave me a very basic definition of what a concussion was. According to him, a concussion was any type of injury or blow to the head where the symptoms of the injury lasted for more than 30 minutes. After doing some research of my own, he was mostly right. According to the Mayo Clinic, a concussion is any type of traumatic injury or blow to the head that affects and changes the way your brain normally functions.

What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?

Unlike cancer, which according to the National Institutes of Health, was first discovered some 2400 years ago, CTE was only discovered 14 years ago in 2002 by Dr. Bennet Omalu making it a relatively new condition. CTE is a disease that affects the brain by nerve cells that gradually deteriorate, which ultimately leads to cell death. CTE is caused by repeated injuries to the head and concussions. As of now, CTE currently does not have a cure.

(http://stopcte.org/what-is-cte/symptoms-of-cte/)

How and why does this affect professional athletes?

Naturally, athletes who play contact sports are more at risk of getting concussions and CTE because of the repeated blows to the head. Offensive linemen and defensive lineman who play in the NFL suffer a blow to the head with every play by simply ramming into each other with immense speed. When my father played in the NHL during the 1990s and 2000s, CTE was something nobody has heard of before because it did not exist. No one knew the profound risks that were associated with head injuries and concussions. There was no protocol for concussions like there is today. If you took a hit along the boards and skated to the bench complaining that your head hurt, the coaching staff would tell you to suck it up and get back in the game. Since those days, our knowledge of how concussions affect athlete’s lives has grown exponentially. In the NFL, Concussion protocols have been put into place, where players have to come out of the game if trainers and doctors believe that they have suffered a concussion and are only allowed back into play if they pass a concussion “test”. Recently, the NFL also announced that they were giving \$100 million dollars  in funding to promote player safety, further investigate concussions, and to fund medical and technological advancements that could possible make CTE extinct.

Why do I care so much about CTE?

After my father stepped away from professional hockey in 2009, he has faced a string of health problems that correlate with the symptoms of CTE. In recent years, headaches, memory loss, and depression have surfaced. He’s been diagnosed with at least 8 concussions during a 22 year playing career and he suspects that he has probably had at least  5 more that were undiagnosed. Additionally, Bob Probert, a teammate and friend of my father’s passed away in 2010. Following his death, Bob’s family decided to give his brain to researchers at Boston University. About one year later, the results showed that Bob had CTE. Although he is only the second hockey player to be diagnosed with CTE, I guarantee that he is not the last.

What can we do about CTE?

Unfortunately, CTE is different from all of the things we talked about in class. Albeit a strong correlation between CTE and brain damage, there is no way to manipulate the X variable (CTE). Going back to a question on test one, sometimes experiments are not possible given infinite time and money. We cannot give people CTE by repeatedly punching them in the face and giving them concussions (that is highly unethical). There is also no known cure to CTE at this time. So, unlike the worm example where researchers gave children with worms drugs, we cannot give people a cure to CTE and see if brain functionality improves because there is no cure. Additionally, CTE is not something that develops overnight. There is usually about a 6-10 year period between the repeated blows to the head and concussions and the onset of CTE symptoms. (That is also something that we discussed in class when smoking cigarettes and lung cancer was being compared.) Another major obstacle to the cure of CTE is that there is no way to tell if a living person has the disease. CTE can only be diagnosed if a former player donates his or her brain and an autopsy is performed and it reveals evidence of CTE. However, there are some things we can do. We need to keep this discussion going. The major sports leagues around the world should devote resources to further study CTE. We should tell people who play contact sports the risks associated with their decision. That includes parents whose children are interested in contact sports. In the past ten years there have been numerous innovations and improvements in regards to CTE, but we cannot stop here, we must continue to build on the improvements that were made. The ball needs to be pushed further. Hopefully, one day, a cure to CTE will be developed and this terrible disease will be a thing of the past.

# Science: Intrigued, Yet Intimidated

Hey guys, my name is Brendan Mironov. I am a junior in The Smeal College of Business studying finance. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta which is located in western Canada, (cold, very cold) but I spent most of my middle and high school days in Miami, Florida. (warm, very warm) My parents were both born in Russia, and I speak Russian fluently. My father played hockey earlier in his life, which might explain why I moved all over the place growing up. Here is a picture of my dad and I, 17 years ago.  I am a huge sports fan and I love my Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins, and Miami Heat.

I am taking SC 200 this semester because I love to think. I enjoy classes that stimulate my thinking, make me look at things from a different perspective, and ask why, not classes where I memorize flashcards for a multiple choice test. From what I hear, that is exactly what SC 200 is.

I loved science as a kid in grade school. It was fun. We made tornadoes in soda bottles and looked at videos of rockets. As a 10 year old kid, it doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, nothing was better than having Bill Nye roll into your classroom on Monday morning.

As I grew older and entered high school, science became boring for me. It no longer made me think and wonder why. Instead, science became intimidating with a bunch of confusing words that I could not pronounce, let alone understand. Because of these reasons, I decided to steer away from a science major. I am hoping SC 200 will bring out the 10 year old kid in me and show me that science can still be fun.