Author Archives: mzm6020

Are Video Games Good for You?

Time and time again we always hear about the negative consequences of playing video games. Every time a school-shooting occurs, violent video games are always to blame. Video games are attributed to laziness, bad grades, lack of a social life, and much more. The negative stigma of video games has always been omnipresent in our culture ever since its appearance, but why is that? According to Jospeh Olin from CNN, journalists report and emphasize super violent and mature games and use those games as representatives of all games in general. Journalists attempt to make juicy and interesting headlines; in order for them to do so, they take very rare cases of violent video games negatively affecting children and emphasize that story to generalize all of video game culture.


When I was growing up, video games had a monumental impact on my life. My family moved almost every two years while I was young, so I would always lose friends that I have made, but my video game system always moved with me. Video games were the only thing keeping me from going insane of loneliness; I would spend hours and hours immersed in a fantasy world that would take my real world problems aside, even for a little bit. In my opinion, Video games basically molded me into the person I am now. Sure, I can see how video games distract kids from doing their homework, but in the long run, I see video games as being extremely positive for some kids who can’t find a place in their social atmosphere.

This being said, why is it that ever since the introduction of video games in 1980 to mass consumers, critics have been slamming video games for the negative consequences and violent behavior. According to Scott Speinberg, it’s actually a simple explanation. Video games are very generational products. Critics and journalists do not engage in the behavior of playing video games, so they do not experience the positive and or negative effects of the games. Even scientists have attempted to research on the negatives of video games. Christopher Ferguson, a Psychology Professor at Florida Stetson University quoted, ” Studies that aim to find negative effects get funded and promoted, while those with more benign findings are unpublished and forgotten.” This is very similar to the File Drawer Problem that we learned in class. Andrew talked about how many studies do not publish findings that may contradict the hypothesis of the study. In numerous studies conducted on video games, there were huge problems of the File Drawer Problem where the researchers only conducted and published studies that had to do with negative consequences of video games.

The File Drawer Problem also brings up another problem that occurs within society. In class, Jason Wright explained how people should not fall for false claims from scientists based on their credibility. Most scientists are attempting to find the next “big” discovery in order to attain fame and status. They will attempt to announce major claims based on little to no evidence. This problem is the Appeal to Authority. With multitudinous amounts of Researchers claiming that there are numerous negative consequences with playing too much video games, it would be very easy to accept that claim, however, it is always best to analyze their studies and their data. Also, question these researchers and find holes in their research.


With so many studies claiming the negative side of video games, there have been new studies that show that video games actually positively impact the brain making kids smarter. According to an article on Forbes, an observational study was conducted to see whether video games was good for you. The null hypothesis is that video games are not good for kids, while the alternative hypothesis states that video games positively effect the brain, and they are good for you. The experimental group consisted of 30 expert video game players while the control group consisted of 27 amateur video game players. Using an MRI to track the insular cortex, researchers found that the pro video game players had more grey matter which promotes cognitive development. In the study, the grey matter acts as the mechanism. Through the study, we can be somewhat sure that video games make you smarter and are good for you, based on the study. We still need to take into account for chance, confounding variables, and reverse causation. 

There are two take home messages I want to conclude with. First, I just want to say that if you do something that gets your mind off of the troubles of harsh reality, than you should definitely do so. For me, video games helped me get through so much in life, and it honestly has made me a better person. If you are in the same boat as I am, please do not let studies tell you that video games are ruining you, if they do not have any concrete evidence or data. Second, I want to emphasize the importance of not falling prey to appeal to authority. Please check on the evidence of the data rather than the credibility of the auditor!




Meditation – What does it actually do for you?

“Deep breaths Mouni….deep breaths…. the semester is almost over! You can do this!” As I say this to myself, I always wondered why this worked. Why is deep breathing considered relaxing? I do it every second of my life, but how does breathing slowly and heavily help me in any different way? I know  people see me as Indian and therefore assume that i’m stereo-typically  a meditation master, but i’m actually on the same boat as all of you. After recently watching the highly grossing box office movie, Dr. Strange, I became interested in learning meditation so i could acquire super awesome powers to create teleports and three dimensional universes. Well.. not really, but I am super interested in how many monks around the world sacrifice so much of their life to study meditation and what it actually does to them.



Every Tuesday, the Penn State AcroYoga club holds open practice in the old main lawn. I attended one of these sessions and I became completely relaxed and calm while learning and practicing the yoga and meditation that they offered. After one practice, I noticed that many of my worries became insignificant, and that I was a lot more relaxed and mentally healthy than before. So how does meditation work, and should we give it a try? let’s find out!

Man doing Yoga in New York

Man doing Yoga in New York

First of all, What is meditation? According to Swami Rama, meditation is resting the mind and achieving a state of consciousness that is different from the norm. After reading this, I felt that this definition strongly related with my experience with AcroYoga; there is a mental relaxation that comes with meditation. Now, in popular culture, meditation is largely connected with spiritual and religious affiliations. While it is true that many monks in Nepal under go this practice for their spiritual beliefs, there is actually a lot of science behind it!

One of the first scientists to dive into the science of meditation was Sara Lazar from Harvard Medical School. She conducted a couple studies to see how involved science was in meditation. Lazar’s first study was an observational study. The null hypothesis of the study was that Meditation is not associated with decreasing stress, decreasing depression, anxiety, pain, and better quality of life. the alternative hypothesis was that meditation did in fact improve quality of life and decreased emotional stress, anxiety, depression, and more. Her observational study differentiated the experimental group which were the long term meditators against the control group which were ordinary people who do not undergo regular meditation. The results that she found were distinguishable. Within the data, she found that the meditators had more grey matter in the frontal cortex than the control group. The grey matter serves as mechanism to measure the association of meditation and better quality of life. As people get older, they slowly lose their ability to remember and think because their cortex shrinks. This study has showed that 50 year old meditators had the same amount of grey matter as people who were 25. Lazar recognized the limitation of an observational study and decided to take into account for the possibility of reverse causation: the people who meditated in this study naturally had more grey matter before they meditated. Because of this, Lazar decided to conduct a second study.

The second study would be an experimental study, rather than an observational study. While the null and alternative hypothesis remained the same, Sara Lazar created the experimental group where the people were going to meditate over an eight week period, and the control group where the people were not going to meditate. After the eight weeks, Lazar found shocking data: the analysis of the MRIs showed that the people in the experimental group grew grey matter in the posterior cingulate, the left hippocampus, the temporo parietal junction, pons, and finally the amygalda. Lazar’s second study eliminates both reverse causation and third variables because it was an experimental study.


It’s amazing how much science is connected to meditation. The spiritual world and the scientific world always seems like they are on the opposite sides of the spectrum, but they are closer than we think. So for concluding remarks, i want to tell you guys that the world of spirits and the world science are closer than we think. It is all interconnected in some way. What one thinks of as a chakra, another can think of as a neurological connection of the brain and the body. The great Dr. Strange once said, “I don’t believe in fairytales about chakras or energy or the power of belief,” but even he became a master in meditation. So next time you have the opportunity to meditate, and you don’t believe in meditator’s spiritual beliefs, try engaging in it with the scientific evidence shown here!


Meditation – A Way to Communicate with the Spirit World

Coffee – Should you drink it?

So I am probably the first student to blog about coffee…. JUST KIDDING. This addictive drug (my high school psychology professor is convinced that coffee is a drug) is ever so omnipresent in everyday life. Think about the oligopoly that Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and other coffee shops have created. There are 11,457 Starbucks in the United States alone; THAT IS CRAZY. No matter where you live in the United States, you will come across one of these coffee shops in every every street corner. As a matter of fact, Before i come to my SC200 lecture, I make sure i make a quick stop at Au Bon Pain to pick up a nice cold ice coffee to get me through Andrew’s boring lectures (JUST KIDDING AGAIN). Anyway, you get the point: Coffee is so relevant in our society!


Personally, I am a huge coffee drinker. I drink around three to four cups of coffee a day! I even have an occasional cup of coffee before i go to bed (weird right?). As i state this on here, there is a great number of people who believe that this much coffee is great for me while other people think that this much coffee is poisoning my body. Why is it that there is no black or white answer to this?  Let’s find out

First off, what is Coffee? Coffee originates from a coffee fruit which consists of a coffee bean. After plucking the fruit, so that there is just the bean, the bean is roasted with numerous other coffee beans and blended into a liquid form. Within the bean, there is a stimulant called caffeine which is a psychoactive substance. The caffeine travels into the blood stream and is transported to the brain. The caffeine blocks an inhibitory transmitter called the Adenosine. With this occurring, there is an excess firing of neurons. In other words, this coffee makes you alert and awake. Without the excessive scientific jargon, we all know that coffee wakes you up, but how much is too much and how much should we drink?


One study suggests that an optimal amount of coffee is 4 to 5 cups per day. Let’s check it out! According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a study was conducted on 402,260 individuals between the ages of 50-71 to see whether coffee increased a person’s life span. The null hypothesis of this observational study is that coffee does not increase a person’s life span. The alternative hypothesis to this study is that coffee leads to an increase in a person’s life. The study was conducted in order to test whether or not there was a correlation between the X variable: Coffee and the Y variable: increase in life span. The study was observational so there is a chance that there were confounding variables to the explanation of the findings or the result was due to reverse causation. The study showed that over a 12 to 13 year period, as the cups of coffee increased from 0 to 5, there was an increase in the life span of each person, but as the cups of coffee kept increasing, the life span eventually shortened. The concludes that it is relatively healthy to drink around four to five cof coffee a day. From this study we can be confident, but not certain, that coffee is good for you withiups n a certain limit. Let’s look at another study very similar to this one!

A study from the Department of Nutrition from Harvard School of Public Health tested the same hypothesis as the study before: does coffee increase longevity? The study found that people who drank three to four cups of coffee had lower mortality rates than non-drinkers. The study also concluded that drinking too much coffee can interfere with sleep which can cause cardiovascular problems and create the opposite effect of increasing mortality.

so the two study prove that a certain dosage of coffee per day can help increase your life span. But why? Apparently, scientists don’t really know for sure. the coffee bean is loaded with multitudinous amounts of nutrients and phytochemicals, which seems to be a mechanism for the extension of life, however, it is not certain. On the other end, drinking too much coffee can disrupt sleep and create heart problems that can possibly be severe for a person’s health.

At the end of the day, we still don’t know for certain whether coffee is a proven fountain of youth or the poison apple that killed Snow White. However, we do know that coffee has come close to be proven to be healthy in certain amounts. The biggest take away message I want to send out to you guys is that you should do whatever is working for you. If you are a coffee drinker that drinks 3, 4, or even 5 cups of coffee a day, than you should continue to do so if you feel healthy. If you do not drink coffee at all, and you hate the taste, then it is not essential for you to pick up on this habit for a guaranteed increase in life. If you drink more than 5 cups of coffee, and you feel tired or weak, than it should be best to cut down on your intake by a little bit. Coffee can be an amazing habit to increase life span, but it is not as important as eating right, working out, staying active, and getting enough rest, that ultimately makes up the quality and quantity of your life.


What is Coffee?

Mediterranean Diets – Healthy?

It’s about that time of year when people close their website tabs on cooking recipes for Thanksgiving meals, and open tabs on diets to help lose weight from the extravagant meals they consumed over break. Not only have I done this regularly after every Thanksgiving break,  but i have looked at diets many times over the course of my life. I have to admit that i was a little pudgy boy when I was younger, which prompted me to enrich my mind with the numerous diet plans out there. The research for an appropriate diet led me to discover multitudinous diets out there; I did not know which to pick! Each diet seemed like the perfect fit, but there was no way I could try them all out!


Each diet plan stated numerous benefits for its diet, but as I kept researching, there were always some sort of negative side effect or problem with the diet. The low carb diet encourages excess intakes of fat and protein which can lead to high cholesterol. According to Dr. Freedhoff, the 2000 calorie diet might not provide enough macro- nutrients to sustain a healthy body. Ph.D  John Berardi states that the paleo diet does not take into account the evolution of our digestive tract to accurately depict the benefits of the diet. The list goes on and on for disadvantages of never-ending list of diets out there.

Once when I was in Colorado, I visited a new Mediterranean restaurant, Garbanzo. When I sat down to eat my food, I saw a message on the cup that had numerous facts and information about the incredible health effects of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant based food, whole grains, legumes, and nuts! Skeptical enough, I thought it was a diet just like the others, but as i kept researching, I found that the diet worked on numerous individuals and had a profound effect on long lasting health. 

Through extensive research, I found that the Mediterranean diet improves health in many aspects of the body such as losing weight, improving cardiovascular function, as well as fighting diseases such as diabetes. Recently,a study found that the Mediterranean diet also helped combat breast cancer, so let’s take a look at the study possibly show all of these correlations! 

It is important to recognize that correlation does not equal causation. In each case, there can be confounding variables or even reverse causation in the data if the study is not observational. The studies here, however, are experimental so there is no chance of z variables or for reverse causation.

The first study analyzes whether the Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risks of contracting breast cancer. The JAMA internal medicine attempts to tackle this question. The null hypothesis of the experiment is that the Mediterranean diet does not reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. in correspondence with that, the alternative hypothesis is that the Mediterranean diet helps fight against breast cancer is women. The study tests 4,282 women in Spain. The subjects were randomly assigned to either a control group or the experimental group. In 2003, when the study began, the women in the control group were given advice to reduce their fat, while the experimental group was provided with a Mediterranean diet with nuts. In 2009, it was shown that 68% relatively lower risk of receiving malignant breast cancer.

The study seemed to be a longitudinal experiment that had numerous participants and a lengthy time to truly calculate and understand the results. The experiment here did not seem to suffer from the Texas Sharp Shooter problem because they used the Mediterranean diet as a identified variable to reduce the risk of the Y variable which is the chance of contracting breast cancer. The study also does not suffer from the File Drawer Problem because the study was published, and it also mentions the limits of the experiment: it was not completely random; the women were all white and had high risk of cardiovascular disease.

From this experiment, we can conclude that there is a good chance that the Mediterranean diet can help with  reducing the risk of breast cancer. The diet has already been associated with greatly helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

One thing to mention about this study is that the nature of an experiment like this brings up the controversy of ethics. In class, we talked about new cancer trials that separates the patients in half. Half receive the possible better treatment than the other half. The study on reducing breast cancer from the Mediterranean diet seems to be  very similar to that. In my opinion, it is necessary for a trial this important to be conducted because there is no way of knowing the results of the benefits of the diet if there is no well put experiment to support the hypothesis. What do you guys think?

The big take home message from this blog post is that it is important to deeply understand a diet before you engage in it. There are so many diets out there that help different people with different health and physical goals in mind. If you wish to lose fifteen pounds very quickly for a movie role, than go ahead and do the low-carb diet. If you wish to greatly eliminate the chances of receiving dangerous illnesses such as cancer and heart problems, than you might want to take a look at the Mediterranean diet!



Physical Exercise Improves Long-Term-Memory?

As an international student, coming to the United States was a huge culture shock in many aspects of life, but the biggest difference I noticed was the negative stigma of obesity and physical exercise in the United States. The adult population of the United States has an inactive rate of about 41% while Bangladesh has an inactive rate of about 4.7%, so what’s the big deal? Why won’t people take thirty minutes of their day to get out and move their legs?

According to Sherry Pagoto from, people do not exercise because of their initial instinct to avoid discomfort. She also states that the people who choose to exercise know that the results of daily physical activity most definitely outweigh the costs; so lets talk about these benefits. I’m probably not the only one in SC200 who wrote a blog post about the benefits of physical exercise. In fact, I am most certain that I am not the only one who wrote about this topic because many college and high school students face the dilemma of whether they should spend their extra time to exercise or to spend it on more studying.

Exercise has numerous physical benefits such as controlling weight, reducing risk of cardiovascular, greatly reducing the risk of diabetes, strengthening bones and muscles, and much more. Even with all of these possible benefits, not enough high school students engage in physical activity; according to Amy Norton from CBS, a recent study shows that nine out of ten teenagers do not get enough exercise. THAT IS INSANE! The young people of this generation are spending their extra time to expand their brain to accommodate for the never-ending hallway of knowledge, meanwhile, their lack of exercise risks their body for contracting chronic diseases, and many more health problems.

In this blog, I hope to persuade readers that exercise is essential because it not only positively impacts physical prowess, but it can also improve mental health and improve upon learning because scientists have recently found that physical exercise can greatly improve long-term memory. 

Now i know that when a bunch of nerdy looking people with white lab coats say something scientific, we tend to believe it! Let’s slow down a little bit and not fall into the logical fallacy of appealing to authority. During Justin Wright’s presentation in class, he told us to be skeptical of what scientists are telling us because they want to be credited with a grand discovery that might not be true, so lets look at the scientific process of this statement!

The null hypothesis of the statement is that physical exercise does not have any real effect on long term memory. On the other side, the alternative hypothesis states that people who exercise regularly have improved long-term memory. Naturally, the topic of the study begs to present the question of whether or not there is a correlation between the two variables, and if so, is it a direct causation? To fully examine whether these nerdy scientists are telling the truth, let’s look at two experiments that dive right into this topic. The first study focuses on experiments done to mice while the second study focuses on experiments done with people.

Through a single blind experimental study, Professor Bischofberger and her team randomly assigned two group of mice to either the control group that had a running wheel in the cage, and the control group that did not have a running wheel. For the first hour and a half, the mice in both groups were given two similar objects, but after, the researchers switched one of the objects with a new, different object. After 24 hours, the new object was switched again with a similar or different looking object to the one that was switched. According to the researchers, mice are naturally attracted to new and different objects rather than familiar ones, so the researchers used this as a measure for the study. The data of the study yielded results that denied the null hypothesis. After 1.5 hours, mice from both the control and experimental groups could distinguish differences from both objects, however, after 24 hours only the mice from the experimental group could distinguish differences between the two objects.

Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) juvenile

Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) juvenile

Ok wow! The experiment showed us that there was a clear correlation between exercise of the mice and long term memory of the mice. Because the study was experimental and not observational, there is no way that confounding variables and reverse causation could be a possible explanation towards the results of the experiment. To further validate the results, the researchers of the experiment explained their findings through a mechanism: the exercise from the mice generated new brain cells in the adult brain, which is called neurogenesis. The new cells created played a pivotal role in learning and memory for the mice. Even though correlation does not always equal causation,  we can infer that exercise caused improved long-term memory with the mice in the experiment.

So what!? Just because it worked on mice, doesn’t mean it will work on humans! Well that’s not completely true because mice share 90% of the same genes as humans. If you still don’t believe that, the second study may convince you since it was done on humans. One year after the experiment on mice, A study in the Journal Current Biology shows that exercise after learning improves memory, only if the exercise is done four hours after learning. This was another single blind experiment where the researchers randomly assigned 72 participants to either a control group or the experimental group. The results stated that those who exercised four hours after initial learning retained information than people who did not exercise. The study also shows that the magnetic resonance imaging from exercising showed more representation in the hippocampus, which is important for learning; this was a mechanism the researchers used to validate their results showing the correlation between exercise and long-term memory loss.


Ok so wow! There was a lot of information in there about the correlation between increased physical exercise and long-term memory, so let’s summarize it! There are numerous health benefits to physical activity, yet a large percentage of the population will not engage in physical exercise because they believe that the time spent on exercise can be utilized more efficiently. High school and college students in particular spend extra time  to study more in hopes of achieving and retaining more information. New studies have shown that spending time on exercise can do more than improve your physical quality because physical activities can also strengthen the mind by improving long term memory. Baffled by the inactivity rate of high school students and the population of the United States, I want to persuade you people that this is true from the research I have gathered through numerous studies!

with concluding remarks, I would like to say that there will be numerous claims from scientists that may or may not be true. Do not fall into the hands of the highly credited scientists, just because they say something; follow up on their results: see if their data faces any inconsistencies, or if other scientists refute the findings. In this particular case, we heard that physical activity improves long term memory, so we expanded upon this statement and found consistent data that supported this claim. So yes, you should definitely spend extra free time to exercise because there are numerous direct and unknown benefits that come with physical exercise!


Work Cited:


Hey guys!

My name is Mouni Mullapudi and I am from Boulder, Colorado. I am a Junior and I am taking my last science credit with this class! It’s exciting to finally finish my gen eds and to heavily focus on my current major which is Political Science. Of all the gen eds I took over the years, I truly loved all the science classes I took. I was introduced to a detailed specific world that I had no general knowledge to. I learned so much from the stars light years away to the bones that make up the human body; it was truly a journey to learn so much.

To say that my major isn’t science would be false. My major does not deal with hard science, but it focuses on soft science which is the social sciences of government, law, order, and the institutions that make a state. We do not conduct experiments on bacteria to understand the evolution of antibiotic sscience bitchuperbugs, but we do experiment on social aspects through surveys, data, observations, etc.

In a way, my major is completely different from the science major at Penn State, but it also has many similarities. I still have to learn to think and experiment like a “scientist,” though the material i work with is different.

I am super excited to spend my last science credit with this class, and i’m excited to meet you guys!!

P.S. a big part of balancing your classes is Time management. Procastination can really kill you!