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Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare

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https://d267cvn3rvuq91.cloudfront.net/i/images/ai_0.jpg?sw=1500

As aforementioned in my previous blog, futuristic technology on the horizon is extremely interesting to me. In a world that is constantly adapting and changing based on globalization, better ways to analyze information and capitalize on it is constantly on the minds of most executives. Perhaps one of the most exciting advancements in technology recently is the spark of interest in artificial intelligence, and this is especially true in the Healthcare industry. In an article from Wired.comBahar Gholipour states that over 2.5 million scientific papers are published each year, and this massive stockpile of information is largely unavailable to most scientists simply due to the immensity of their search. Desperate to keep up to date on current medical information and findings, most scientists would welcome a technological assistant with perfectly acute memory and information. This is where a company named Iris comes in, creators of an artificial intelligence system designed for hospitals and other medical professions. 

Iris developed their artificial intelligence system in order to quickly analyze data and pull out the relevant information without having to individually search through each specific document to find what you are looking for. This is particularly useful for doctors as patients typically have a complex medical history that their doctor has to examine, and artificial intelligence would simply red flag any potential dangers or interactions. And Iris is not the only company to capitalize on artificial intelligence, with IBM using “Watson for oncology” to keep cancer doctors up to date on current treatments by sifting through patient information and medical journals. The vast amount of scientific data out on the web makes it very difficult to diagnose and treat a disease, with some doctors that specialize in a specific field still finding it difficult to stay current with all advancements in their specialization. Artificial intelligence mitigates this problem, increasing the accuracy of information almost instantaneously.

While discussing AI, it is very difficult not to consider the future of the technology and how artificial intelligence will continue to develop. Anita Schjøll Brede, the CEO of Iris, explained her version of what the future of AI looks like. Brede predicts that in just three years, Iris will release a new version of its current form, having the capability to remember the information you read Anita Schjøll Brede while offering new suggestions that might aid you. Even more surprising is Brede’s prediction that in ten years, the AI system will be so sophisticated that it will figure problems out itself based off of previous data and readings. According to medicalfuturist.com, Craig Venter, a leader of the Human genome Project, is utilizing artificial intelligence to analyze a individuals DNA in order to develop an algorithm that could allow scientists to hand select a patients physical features.

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http://www.tedxarendal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Schjoll_Brede_600px.jpg

In conclusion, if AI can be produced at an affordable rate for standard hospitals, the medical industry will become far more efficient and knowledgeable, able to draw upon millions of sources at once.  AI will also change the nature of producing pharmaceuticals that generally takes years and can cost millions of dollars, allowing researchers to find the correct medicine for a patient at a far quicker pace, potentially saving thousands of lives and saving massive appropriations of funding.

Sources:

Artificial Intelligence Could Dig Up Cures Buried Online

http://medicalfuturist.com/artificial-intelligence-will-redesign-healthcare/

Are Horoscopes True?

We all have likely seen the online horoscopes that seem to be describing us as if they know us. Could it be because the stars actually have aligned and people have interpreted what that means for the other people in their birth range? Does this stuff have any merit at all? How can we be sure that it’s not just a marketing gimmick and people playing with our psyche? This Clinical Psychology Journal study I found about horoscopes says that they are indeed true because they focus their efforts of acceptance of these astrological phenomena on specificity. It uses natal astrology (the part of astrology that’s about making judgments about someone’s personality) to pinpoint generally good things that most people can apply a particular experience in their life to or fits into what they already perceive of themselves.

Image result for horoscopePhoto Credit:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/horoscopes/ny-daily-news-2016-year-horoscope-report-article-1.2473741

For example, today’s horoscope for a Capricorn (just because my birthday is Dec. 25th) would be something along the lines of: “Many people are impressed with what you have accomplished, not only your friends and family but your bosses and supervisors as well. They are looking to see if you are ready to bump to the next level or promotion. You are confident in yourself and know that it would be well deserved of both their consideration and admiration. Once the you receive your promotion (soon), enjoy it and unwind a little. This is something you have earned and are deserving of.” This sis so basic and broad that it can apply to someone that isn’t a Capricorn; in fact, anyone with a decent work ethic and outlook on themselves/life could have this apply to them. This article takes a deeper look into the rationality behind horoscopes and their validity.

Inversely, these same horoscopes that seem to have great words of wisdom from the stars above about the alignment in your life and all these affirmation of who you are can actually be just for entertainment. The Zodiac and Entertainment gives us a glimpse into this. With all these different sources of horoscopes for daily, weekly, and monthly zodiac signs, one can only wonder if there is actually a way for all these sources to say different things on the same day (and all prove accurate). The question the arises of which source has a more accurate depiction of what the horoscope should actually be in accordance with the starts and zodiac signs.

A critique of this is that horoscopes are much too broad and vague. The horoscopes seem to operate under the premise that a vague application can then be applied to a multitude of people based on their personal conceptualizations and experiences. In order for the hypothesis that “horoscopes are true” to be true, there is a strong reliance on the dependent variable – self conceptualization. If someone doesn’t have a positive view of themselves, they are likely not to identify with horoscope. The unchanging independent variable is the horoscope itself. After digging around a little more, another student that took this class in Fall of 2013 came to similar conclusions that I did.

In conclusion, the truth behind horoscopes are dependent upon the self-conceptualization of the person reading the horoscope. The best scenario is that someone has a positive view of themselves and the world for the horoscope to likely apply to them. They also need to have lived experiences that relates somewhat to the broad statements within horoscopes. Some see them as valid, and others see them as just entertainment. Either way, horoscopes are given as much attention and weight as we individually choose to bestow upon them.

An Artificial Hippocampus?

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(Westworld Logo. N.d. HBO, n.p. http://tmn-media-http.edgesuite.net/hbo/prod/minisite_landing/main_feature/465_1024x411.jpg)

I have always enjoyed the potential futuristic possibilities that come along with the advancement of technology. In the Netflix original series Black Mirror and HBO’s Westworld, both titles have capitalized on the exploration of the capabilities new technology will bring and the possible negative affects applied science could have on the human race. In a Wired article written by Cynthia McKelvey, she compares a new biotech implant developed by Theodore Berger, a biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California, to a device featured in Black Mirror where one can perfectly recall their memories with an implant behind the ears. Berger’s device is small silicon chip considered somewhat of an artificial hippocampus that is implanted in the brain. Too someone unfamiliar with what the hippocampus is; it is essentially the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system. 

The device works by mimicking the hippocampus’ function of converting short term memory into long term ones by utilizing mathematical code that represents an entire memory. In order for this to happen, Berger first had to develop a controlled experiment in which a standardized memory task was administered to rats to complete, namely pressing a specific lever after being distracted by a light to prove the artificial hippocampus was in fact providing memories. Berger has had success when working on rats and monkeys, enabling them to gain better memory. If this device could be applied to humans, and trials have already begun, the future for people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s could forever be altered by electrically stimulating memories.

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(Hippocampus Implant. 17 July 2014. Http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/186444-us-scientists-push-ahead-with-memory-boosting-brain-implants-but-we-still-have-to-crack-the-brains-code-first, n.p.)

Artificially improving ones memory with an implantation is uncharted waters in terms of regulation from a governmental standpoint, and finicking with the elaborate and complex brain requires absolute certainty that the device will not permanently impair a patient or consumers cognitive function. With millions of neurons and  Additionally, one has to worry about the possibility of someone hacking an internal system actually present in your body, which could have potentially devastating effects. On the other hand, Berger points to the recent advancements in neuroprosthetics that have benefitted people greatly, even giving the ability to electrically stimulate a paralyzed persons arms with electrodes and the restoring of the retinas for blind people.

Berger, being recently hired as Chief Science Officer for a new startup dubbed Kernal, together both aim to bring the implant to market as a medical device, with their eyes set upon modifying the technological hippocampus further and possibly improving integral aspects of human intelligence like creativity and focus. While not positive what direction he plans on taking the implant, the exciting possibilities for bioengineering and the challenge of improving core aspects of ones personality will certainly be an interesting and slightly intimidating show. Careful monitoring of the devices construction and implementation are absolutely necessary, along with other safeguards to protect oneself from body implants. However, the exciting possibilities of being able to improve ones overall intelligence, in my opinion, outweighs the potential dangers associated with this new technology.

Sources:

The Neuroscientist Who’s Building a Better Memory for Humans

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/513681/memory-implants/

 

 

How safe is it to hold frogs and toads?

There are all kinds of myths and urban legends surrounding the harms of human contact with frogs, toads, and the likes of such. These supposed “harms” range from the possible health effects to humans, as well as to the amphibians themselves. But how many of them are actually true, and for the ones that don’t quite make the cut, where the hell did those ideas come from in the first place? Is there any truth to them?

For starters, the most common fear about amphibians, toads specifically, is that they give you warts. The means of which they’re transferred to us have been described as anywhere from touching a toad, to outright kissing a frog! Well, according to dermatologist Jerry Litt, frogs and toads do not carry the wart virus, because rather, it is exclusively a human virus. Specifically, Jeff Benson, M.D. says that warts are actually cased by what’s known as human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a skin cell infection. He also says that the only known carriers of HPV are us humans. However, Litt warns that the wart-like bumps we see on toads, specifically behind the ears, aren’t completely safe, and can cause harms in many other ways, as these glands are meant for infecting and irritating the mouths of predators with poison. The assumption that these wart-like glands were actually warts, combined with the fear that touching warts will transmit the virus (only true in some cases) is what lead people to believe that touching a warty toad would make them warty. Additionally, frogs can also transfer bacteria and diseases to humans that could be fatal if you were not to use a strong antibacterial soap after making contact with them. So while you may not get warts from touching amphibians, you should always make sure your hands are clean afterwards, because they can be harmful.

A common fear of holding amphibians, for the sake of the creatures themselves, is that by holding them, you’ll harm them… In some way. As a matter of fact, there are all kinds of myths that circulate about how you can kill a frog just by holding it, but some of these myths are combinations of assumptions with actual dangers for the creature. While you may not cause a frog psychological damage that’ll make it commit suicide after being held, you could cause it to dislocate a leg, making it helpless and sentenced to death upon release. When you hold a frog too tight, aside from the obvious effects of squeezing it until it literally bursts, it may start kicking in order to escape. This vigorous kicking is what tends to cause dislocations and other injuries for the frog. Of course, many people simply believe that something you do by picking them up causes them so much stress that they stop moving for whatever reason and are left to die, but this is not the case. However, the danger is still there for those inexperienced in handling amphibians! Just maybe not for the reason you think.

Finally, avoid any form of oral contact with amphibians. Contrary to the belief that kissing a frog will turn him into a prince, it won’t, and it might even give you salmonella. The myth obviously comes from popular fairy tales and children’s books, but believe it or not, that doesn’t add any truth to it. All in all, do not try this at home. Or anywhere, really.
So if you’re confident in your ability to hold an amphibian without breaking its legs or failing to fight the temptation to get intimate, you shouldn’t worry about holding most common (and nonpoisonous, of course) frogs, as long as you keep your hands clean!

Sources:
Research:
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/nature/animal-myths-busted/#myths-toad.jpg
Jeff Benson, M.D.
http://bowdoinorient.com/article/1588
http://blogaboutfrogs.blogspot.com/2011/02/handling-frogs.html
https://www.quora.com/Is-it-okay-to-gently-pick-up-wild-frogs-toads-and-turtles-pet-them-and-put-them-back-or-do-we-deeply-traumatize-them
http://www.burkemuseum.org/blog/frog-myths
Images:
http://www.und.edu/org/ndwild/pics/toad3.GIF
https://s3.amazonaws.com/EarthwatchMedia/GalleryImages/7-mahony-australias-vanishing-frogs-c-ross-knowles-h-6_1178_onwebsite_5058.jpg
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/9e/ad/04/9ead04ba3b6b3e81e136e5593f8c191a.jpg

Pregnancy SLAY!

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Is one of the most exciting phrases a woman can hear second to, “Will You Marry Me”. Other than the early pregnancy symptoms, swollen feet and the huge round object that took place of where your tummy used to be; pregnancy sounds like the best time of woman’s life. Although, modern society has conformed sex for personal pleasure instead of its sole purpose of reproduction, I would like to spread the love of pregnancy and help women embrace the blessing of reproduction. (This is not an anti abortion post, as for what you decide to do with your body is not my prerogative, just spreading good vibes.)

Embracement, is important for a healthy pregnancy. Embracement should be practiced during prenatal care; positive reinforcement in social settings and humane values help in a holistic way. Stress can interfere with conceiving a child. Stress affects the way the hypothalamus (brain gland that controls emotions, appetite and hormones). During early child development if the mother is stress she is at a high risk for miscarriage (a loss of pregnancy). Miscarriage symptoms consist of bleeding or spotting and abdominal pain. Although straying away from stress is important for a healthy life period, during pregnancy the body is more sensitive because of increased hormones. Therefore the first step to a healthy pregnancy is embracemenet.

HAVE fun

Although your pregnant it doesn’t mean your social life is over nor’ you can’t have fun. To help celebrate your little bundle of joy there are a couple activities women can do.

1.Dinner reservations: In the first tri-mester eating may be a little difficult because the female senses are sensitive. Certain smells and foods may not be appealing to you anymore. But when that stage passes get ready to take your taste buds on a roller coaster ride of food heaven and embrace the pregnancy cravings. Don’t think of these cravings as weird, instead it helps broaden your pallet and hey you never know, bacon and ice cream may be the next great combination meal.

2.Shopping. I don’t know about you girls but shopping is my go to “pick me up” when having a down day. I mean, who doesn’t want to spoil themselves and look stylish while doing it. That “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini” is not going to fit you the same once you pack on the extra pounds of a little one in your pouch. No need to get depressed, you’ll snap back, although you may feel like a swollen stress ball doesn’t mean you have to look like it. Going out with your girls or mate for a shopping spree is totally worth it. No way, can we have Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen take on the roll of being a milf without chiming in.

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3.Baby Genius. You don’t have to wait 9 months to play with your little one. Buy some headphones and have a jam session with your baby. Studies prove that babies who are exposed to classical sounds when younger have a greater faster cognitive brain development. You can also read, to him or her.  I’m sure the baby won’t be able to identify the plot, setting and the stories main characters. But hearing the vibrations of his/her mother’s tone is always pleasing.

I’m sure when girls have their first pregnancy scare, this is not what they want to hear but this post was created to put the “scare” to ease. Having a baby is not the end of the world. Modern day society has created the birth of a child to feel like a burden. Yes, unlike other mammals, having a baby can be expensive and a burden if not prepared for. But when life gives you lemons create lemonade, meaning don’t be a upset, everything happens for a reason. It’s the way you react that determines the outcome.

Does playing violent video games make people violent?

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Since around the age of three I’ve always enjoyed playing video games and I definitely still enjoy them today. Something I find interesting is that around the same time I began playing video games, the American media first started reporting a potential correlation between kids playing violent video games and subsequently displaying overtly violent behavior. As time has gone on the link between violence in games and violence in the real world has only become a more prominent topic in the United States… and it’s something I have never quite understood. Yes, I do recognize that there have been a few instances in the past where individuals who committed violent acts also happened to frequent the use of violent games (most notably the school shooters from 1999’s Columbine High School massacre). With this being said, I’ve always felt like violent video games and real life violence were related by pure chance more than anything else. Why do I feel this way? From my experience playing video games, I’ve noticed that the violent, “shooter” style games are simply the most popular and well-liked games regardless of a player’s age or interests. Frankly, almost everyone enjoys playing games of this genre. I’ve personally been immersed in video games that involve guns, shooting, weapons, and violence for probably 15 years, yet I’ve never once acted with aggression because of the influence of a game, nor have I ever felt compelled to commit an act of violence. In my opinion, the sheer amount of people playing these games is the reason for their perceived connection to violence; when millions of people are playing a violent game, or doing any activity for that matter, there are bound to be one or two “bad seeds”. For every one person that commits an act of violence as a result of exposer to a violent game, there are thousands of people who don’t act violently. It’s for these reasons that my null hypothesis supports violent video games having no relation to violent behavior, while the alternative hypothesis would be that playing violent video games does make people act violently.

In a study conducted by researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, participants were given the choice to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Neither the male nor female participant’s exposer to video game violence prompted any sort of aggressive or violent behavior. In a second study conducted by the same researchers, the team examined possible links between aggression, family violence, video game violence, and criminal acts. The results of this second study suggested that both trait aggression and family violence have a higher likelihood of prompting criminal acts than expose to video game violence does. I feel that the results of these two studies provide enough information to support the idea that other factors (family violence, trait aggression) play a more influential role in prompting violent behavior than exposure to violent video games does.

As further support for more my null hypothesis, I’d like to reference this article from nbcnews.com. The article proposes that perhaps some people lack certain cognitive abilities needed to keep their aggression and emotions in check. Should an individual with this lack of mental fortitude react aggressively when exposed to virtual violence, it’s increasingly unlikely that they’d be able to calm themselves, rather, they would continue to act with aggression. Like the other traits mentioned in the paragraph above, I believe that a lack of brain function is significantly more likely to prompt violent behavior than the exposer to video game violence would.

Based on the research studies and news article discussed above in addition to the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through playing video games for many years, I believe that factors other than violence in video games are the source of aggression and violent behavior in individuals perceived to be acting violently because of the video games they play. It is for these reasons that I confidently support my null hypothesis and would be hard pressed to believe that the alternative hypothesis could be correct.

Works Cited:

Text:

–           http://www.healthline.com/health-news/violent-video-games-create-aggression-but-they-do-cause-kids-to-commit-081415#2

–           http://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/do-violent-movies-cause-aggression-answer-may-depend-n205556

–           http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/35/3/311.short

Picture:

–           https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–N0l3hSzT–/18bqez53rifd9jpg.jpg

Are we Alone in the Universe?

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The question of whether we inhabit this universe ourselves has since been long debated, and there is certainly no clear answer to the mystery of the existence of extraterrestrials. According to physics.org, there is an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe. In an article from the Huffington Post written by Sara Gates, a panel of various experts from NASA made the claim that it is highly probable that we share this universe with some other form of sentiment beings, mainly under the basis of that this unimaginable 100 billion galaxy would be entirely void of life. So, without any visible or audible signal received from another being, is it safe to assume we are a biological anomaly who happened to survive evolution? Or are we alone on our solitary planet and the technology to reach other forms of life is just non existent?

Unfortunately, NASA’s claims cannot be backed with a causal link or direct evidence, making their assessment virtually baseless especially in terms of scientific evidence or hypothesis testing. Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, in the same Huffington Post article, hypothesized that the advances in different forms of space exploration and telescope ability would need to be improved upon greatly to support such a vast search. Fortunately, NASA currently has an innovative telescope dubbed “The James Web Space Telescope,” scheduled to launch in 2018, equipped with many innovations that will allow NASA to explore the deepest ranges of space. This will allow researchers to examine far away planets with infrared light, greater increasing our chances on stumbling upon other forms of life.

Amy Lavelle, a writer for history.com, claims human fascination in extraterrestrials extends long into our history, with particularly interesting interpretations of alien life being represented in various forms. Perhaps the most odd and famous painting depicting aliens is, “The Madonna with Saint Giovannio,” completed by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the 15th century. The artwork clearly depicts a strange floating object resembling a UFO in which a dog and mysterious figure are watching intently. Interestingly enough, similar images of UFO like objects and pictures depicting alien life can be found all over the world, from the bible to cave paintings.

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(http://coolinterestingstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/madonna_ufo.jpg)Ghirlandaio, Domenico. The Madonna with Giovannio. N.d. Palazzo Vecchio., n.p.

So, if there’s no legitimate or confirmed sighting of alien life on Earth except depictions through paintings, why is NASA so confident that we are not alone in this Universe? Essentially, an astronomer and scientist named Frank Drake devised an mathematical formula in which he examined planets that could potentially harbor sentient life, and the statistical results revealed that there a number of planets similar to Earth that could support human life. Although many accept Drake’s theory as a simple representation and thought provoking equation, criticism arises from various sources due to the guess work involved in the equation itself, alongside the fact there is no definitive answer to the equation due to a lack of technological advancement.

For now, there is no definitive answers as to whether we are alone in this universe. The circumstances and variables involved in the evolution of our species is undoubtedly an anomaly and not something that is going to be found easily. Additionally, the only evidence in favor of alien life is supported by baseless paintings and colorful human imagination. Despite odd claims from several astronauts and even President Bill Clinton, until there is a reliable source that presents non-refutable evidence of alien life, my conclusion will remain that the vast distance between galaxies and planets is simply impossible to conquer technologically, and that if a life-form was capable of traversing such distances, they would most likely be uninterested or a threat to our technologically primitive world. But with unsolved UFO sightings and claims, anything is in the realm of possibility in our vast universe.

 

Sources:

http://www.history.co.uk/shows/ancient-aliens/articles/do-aliens-exist-most-compelling-evidence-of-alien-existence

http://jwst.nasa.gov/index.html

http://www.seti.org/drakeequation

Pictures have link below.

 

 

How smart are Dolphins Actually?

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(http://www.funny-animalpictures.com/funny-dolphins-0003)

People have been fascinated with dolphins for a long period of time now, probably due to their unique looks and temperament compared to other animals. If you have heard or seen a dolphin before, you have probably heard of their superior intelligence when compared with other mammals. There are not many great means of measuring an animals intelligence, but Dolphins exhibit behavior that is almost completely unique to the animal kingdom.

Humans once thought we were alone in the capability to relay information to other members of our species, but scientists have recently learned that dolphins not only have the ability to learn, but they also possess the ability to relay new information to other dolphins. This is an entirely unprecedented behavior in the animal kingdom, and dolphins exhibit actions considered far beyond the reach of a typical aquatic animal like mimicking human behavior to acquire food or their tendency to have complex social hierarchies.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05PpTqtGhGU)

In this enlightening video produced by popular scientist Lori Marino, he illuminates what truly makes dolphins unique. The first factor that distinguishes dolphins’ intelligence from other mammals is their brain size, where they are only second to human beings in terms of body mass and brain size ratio. This hypothesis tests whether brain size has a direct correlation on intelligence, and dolphins display such complex behavior that astounds and intrigues humans in the form of echolocation, in-depth social circles, navigation, and communication.

While all of these facts about dolphins are fairly interesting and seem to poise the dolphin as completely unique animal similar to humans, one first must compare similar behaviors exhibited by other animals. According to the Boston Globe, even chickens have the ability to remember social groups, communicate with one another, and a form of learning. Justin Gregg, in his new book, “Are Dolphins Really Smart? The Mammal Behind the Myth.” The psychologist Gregg argues that while their unique clicking to identify themselves or their intentions is impressive. He also refutes the popular opinion that brain size is linked to intelligence, and despite the fact the dolphins’ brain is larger than a humans, this does not automatically link them to advanced intelligence.

There also remains the misconception that dolphins are inherently peaceful creatures, which bolsters the myth debunked by current science as they display aggressive behavior similar to that of other large complex mammals. Overall, while dolphins do exhibit various behaviors considered unique and intelligent, they are simple mammals that replicate the same actions some other mammals act. Additionally, dolphins are not the majestic aquatic sea creature people believe they know, but are complex mammals that act aggressive and defensive when necessary.

Sources:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/02/02/sorry-dolphins-aren-uniquely-intelligent/woQ8CE0S7XJKYjC6kDQh5J/story.html

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304866904579266183573854204

http://us.whales.org/whales-and-dolphins/brain-power

 

Is creatine supplementation safe?

is-creatine-safe

Speaking based on personal experience as well as my observation of my peers, it’s very common for young men to develop an interest in healthy and fitness as he enters his teenage years. With the competitiveness of sports as well as the emphasis placed on being in strong physical shape drastically increasing by the time boys reach high school, these teenagers enter the gym for a workout with progressive, sometimes lofty goals in mind. Because of this, the boys that become dedicated to improving their level of fitness are constantly looking for ways to grow physically and mentally, improve their strength while avoiding a plateau, and remain one step ahead of the competition. Of all the nutritional and dietary supplements on the market specifically designed to accelerate mussel growth, perhaps the most common is a supplement called creatine.

According to an article from Menshealth.com, creatine increases the body’s rate at which it can produced energy. Because the body is given more energy than typical, those who supplement with creatine can train harder and more often, thus producing faster results. There’s no question that creatine is a supplement that really works, with the potential to yield a dedicated gym-goer rapid results. However, the question many weightlifters (of all ages) have about creatine is, is supplementing with creatine safe? The null hypothesis for my proposed question would be that creatine is totally safe for frequent usage and does not pose any health risks, whereas the alternative hypothesis would be that creatine supplementation puts users at risk and can have dangerous side effects.

In a six-month study analyzing the long-term effects of creatine supplementation, researchers frequently measured the blood and urinary markers (as well as other markers) of 98 Division 1A college football players (half of whom supplemented with creatine for the entire six months, and half of whom did not take creatine) in order to assess their health status. At the close of the six month study, the researchers determined no clear differences in the markers from the athletes who did supplement with creatine compared to those who did not. As a result of their findings, the researchers determined that supplementing with creatine for up to 21 months has no adverse effect on the health of athletes.

In a separate study focusing on creatine supplementation’s effect on the kidneys, researchers measured levels of creatinine, plasma albumin, and urea in the bodies of individuals from both a control group and a group who supplemented with creatine. At the study’s conclusion, researchers were unable to determine any differences in levels tested between the creatine-group and the control group. As a result, the research team ruled out the possibility that creatine supplementation (of any amount of time) can have detrimental effects on a user’s kidneys.

As a result of a multitude of studies ruling out creatine supplementation as a hazardous or potentially harmful practice, and because creatine has become so widely used without any documented adverse health problems, I’ve determined that my null hypothesis is correct. Because I feel that creatine is completely safe for frequent usage and does not pose any health risks, either in the near future or the long term, I’m confident that any alternative hypothesis to creatine being safe is incorrect.

Works Cited:

Text:

Why do we cry

You ever wondered what happens in our bodies when we are about to cry; and why is it that we cry. I like to think about things and try to see if I can figure them out I find this to be pretty cool. Not all the time do I figure things out.

So lets get right into this, there are many reasons why we cry. Tears aren’t always a bad thing. Believe it or not tears actually help our eyes, they are a way to keep our eyes nice and healthy. According to livescience.com there are even different kinds of tears. There are tears called basal tears that help clean and lubricate the eyes.

There is another type of tears called reflex tears that happen without us even knowing. Their job is to help clear the eyes from irritations from dust or the gas that comes from cutting onions. There are also emotional tears called the psychic tears that can be used as nonverbal communication.

Overall there is a lot going on in the eye when we cry. The tears in our eyes actually help our eyes and keep them healthy.

Sources:

http://www.livescience.com/32476-why-do-we-cry.html

http://thestudyoftears.projectvolume.org/tearduct_diagram678.jpg

 

Insomnia

insomnia

Artist

After not sleeping for two days in a row, and having in the past struggled with getting even five hours of sleep at the most, this topic seemed inspiring. I wish to explore the effects of insomnia. Does not sleeping have any positive effects?

According to WebMd, insomnia is extremely likely to cause the sleepless person to develop depression and anxiety. Though in my mind, it makes much more sense for it to be the reverse, with depressive or anxious thoughts keeping someone up. Either way, sleeplessness is a very common to be paired up with depression and anxiety, so these two do go hand-in-hand. If your sleeplessness starts as all-nighters for exams and completely screws up your sleeping schedule, you are likely to develop anxiety and depression, and likewise if you have anxiety or depression, sleep may become increasingly difficult.

Some other effects WebMd covers is forgetfulness, weight gain, and that without sleep, you are more likely to die sooner. In fact, any positives I was able to find are not scientific what so ever, but this list I found was fun to say the least. I can definitely relate that some of my best work (particularly art pieces) came from sleepless nights.

Sleep is fairly important, so I should probably stop falling asleep at 4 AM.

Sex Drive

We live in a generation full of double standards, but thankfully the women in my generation refuse to conform to societies “status quo” of how a woman should act on her sexual desires. The words hoe, thot, slut, smut were conducted by men to control women in the patriarchal society/world. A wise man Dr. Umar Johnson, human rights activist, once made a statement something along the lines of, you must first destroy the image before you destroy the person. Meaning if you can convince the world that  people will be better off without “sexual” women, then when the physical dissemination occurs, no one will care. Women were always taught that their worth depends on their sexual “purity”.  Therefore, as I search for answers on the female arousal, it correlates to perception factors like gender role expectations and sexual motivation. Restricting the hormone levels of women sexual thoughts. Which makes it difficult for any research to be conducted properly in regards to what women really want because if women express how they feel they tend to be categorized as promiscuous. Stephen Hamann proved that women have higher sexual arousal than men, but it does not trigger senses in the amygdala.

Hormones that influence sexual motivation are testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. In males testosterone is the key factor for sexual motivation as for estrogen and progesterone is in women. You would think because we have double the hormones we would crave sexual interaction just as much as men, right?  But I guess that research suffered the file-drawer problem along with everything else containing women sexual desires.  Studies show that age play a major component in women sexual desire. Healthy younger women has more circulating hormones in their bodies, in contrary to the 40 year old woman. Which probably is why researchers are now finding out women have similar sexual desires as men, they are studying the wrong age.

This year research was conducted proving that women desired sex just as much as men do but don’t act on it because they’re afraid of social judgment.  For years studies have been supporting men having a higher sex drive than women. That has been proved to be a myth, women and men are very similar in sexual desire. Either women desires suffered the “file-drawer problem” or women were never fully experimented. If you’re ready to cope with the reality of a females  libido, then you’re at the right blog post.

sex

Journalist Daniel Bergner finally illustrated a book acknowledging women sexual wants, named What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. After examining animal and humans footage subjects, Daniel concludes that all women want is sex just as much as men. He ends the stereotype of the female sex drive being derived from emotional intimacy. He advised that women might be less monogamous than men. Like, hello; Daniel Bergner may be up to something here. Putting an end to the theory that women only want sex in order to get an emotional connection/ relationship out of the man.

The next time you want to judge a female because of her sexual desire, don’t. Remember that she is too a human who has needs. Do not allow society to influence a woman’s natural desire.

Are ADHD drugs as safe as we think?

I became interested in this topic of ADHD medications because my boyfriend has ADHD and takes the prescription drug Vyvanse. He takes this drug out of necessity, and it helps him get through his day, but he isn’t exactly a proponent of it. He says that his medication has side effects such as memory loss, and I’ve noticed it. I never realized ADHD medications come with a lot of controversy.

unknown-4However, if you do have ADHD and take medication, please do not freak out. There are also many consequences of leaving ADHD untreated, such as higher rates of depression, and anxiety, and substance dependence, according to Huffington Post. I chose to look into this because it seems to affect someone I love, but I know that Vyvanse and other prescription drugs used to treat ADHD are widely used, and that has to count for something. And as we all know too well from commercials about prescription drugs, they all come with side effects. You have to as Andrew said, examine the risk. The Huffington Post article is really interesting, however, it is Canadian, and mentions things that only pertain to Canada, as far as their drug regulating system.

Side note: ADHD medications are stimulants. They work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. This helps to increase focus. The best treatment for ADHD suggests a combination of medication and therapy, and is known as the “multi-modal”. The therapy is nothing wild. Patients will simply learn skills to better adjust to day-to-day life.

I found a very interesting FoxNews article with a flashy headline. It notes several studies, and says that they were funded by pharaceutical companies, which has a clear conflict of interest.

The best thing you can do if you have ADHD is to know the side effects to your medication so that you are aware of what is normal per se and what is not. If something occurs that is not listed, consult your doctor. My boyfriend started to ween himself to a lower dose (with his doctor’s approval). Consult with your doctor and ask if you can switch. I am going to end before I start sounding like a prescription drug commercial. Thank you.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-kenny-handelman/adhd_b_1925852.html

ADHD medication for kids: Is it safe? Does it help?

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/848240

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/05/05/long-term-safety-adhd-medicine-still-question-study-says.html

 

What causes a migraine?

For my last blog of SC200, I thought I would write about something personal to me, as well as get a little more research out of the way for myself. I have chronic migraines and have had this diagnosis since the 5th grade.Every day when I wake up I get an intense pounding on the sides of my head, behind my eyes, and under my neck. Throughout all the years I’ve known about my condition and through all the doctors I’ve seen, nobody has been able to tell me what causes the terrible pain I have everyday. Hopefully, the research I do for this blog will teach me something new.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, a chronic migraine is categorized by a person having 15 of the month taken over by migraines, which can last from hours to a few days. Believe me, I’ve had it all. I see a neurologist at the Children’s National Hospital, and she said the main reason I get migraines was probably stress, but I’m perfectly unstressed right now.

Some main triggers for migraines as mentioned on the Children’s National website are the weather, bright lights and loud noises, food (especially chocolate). I personally experience all of these and they all really lead to worse migraines existing. A lot of times, women can experience menstrual migraines, which as they sound, are migraines that flare up at the time of a woman’s period, the Migraine Research Foundation says.

So what causes migraines? It is a lot of neurological symptoms that lead to throbbing and extensive pain, and personally attack all over my head.

Can Laughter Improve a Persons day?

I personally find it very healthy to laugh when possible, which is why I surround my self with friends that are capable of this, as it triggers emotions such as joy. One good joke could change my day right around. Ive always heard the saying you should laugh, think and cry once a day who was first said by the late Jim Valvano.

My Null hypothesis is that laughter can improve a persons day. While my reverse hypothesis is that laughter creates no change in a persons mood.

The Mayo Clinic has said that laughing at anything during your day will help relief stress, anything from TV to newspapers that you would find funny. Its said to make the load on your mental state decrease, while this may only be short term. Your body is also affected with laughter, boost in endorphins that are released to your brain. This is one that affects me personally the most noticeably when I laugh, it almost feels as if I am on a drug for a few minutes. Your muscles, and heart also are shown to be stimulated. You might be wondering how does laughing affect my heart, well it can increase blood pressure and heart rate. This leads to a more relaxed state, and may feel good. As for your muscles, laughing releases tension build up, by simulating circulation. These are all short term affects.

the-power-of-laughter

As for some long term affects of laughter, a persons immune system can be affected. Being in a bad state of mind can affect your body, which weakens you immune system due to the added stress. Laughter can also act as a painkiller, it may not work as well as a prescription depending on your pain level but has been found to help in lower level pain situations. This last one has affected me many times, your mood can change. Its been found to help with anxiety and depression. Laughter is the best gift you could give someone without even knowing it. Many people go through their ups and downs and you could make someones day just a little better.

A study was done called Laughter prescription, by Dr.William B. Strean in 2009 which cited a few other studies to back its claims. In his study he claims that laughter could be linked to improve natural killer cell activity, which is common in people with cancer or HIV. Laughter has been encompassed into cancer recovery showing positive results. Studies have shown that at least 50% of cancer patients used humor therapy. More research has to be done on why and how laughter can affect our bodies so greatly. But laughing could one day be recommended or prescribed by your doctor, as it has proven to show an increase in many areas of the body and mind.

While some studies do refute some of these claims such as reported studies on the physiologic effects of laughter having no affect. However many refute these claims, and I think that we just need to do more testing on the subject. As of today laughter is still widely considered a coping mechanism. We may not have all the answers to how laughter helps certain health problems yet, but doing so is in no way going to hurt your body so why not laugh.

Knowing all this new information I would defiantly love to go to events like live comedy shows. If its going to enhance ones health, while they have a good time, why would you not. For me I am so busy most of the day I forget how taking time aside to laugh or laughing with someone can change their day around. I have come to the conclusion that the Null hypothesis is correct. But further studies may show further benefits.

Sources
Mayo Clinic
Laughter prescription StudyImage

Does Reading Make You Smarter?

Reading has been a part of all of our lives for years, ever since we have been in school of course. There’s no doubt that reading has shaped us into the intelligent individuals that we are today, given the fact that it stimulates our brain and allows us to continually span our knowledge. However, my question is, “Does reading VOLUNTARILY and on a regular basis outside of school assignments improve your mental abilities.”

brain

image found here

To look into this topic, I started searching for sources that discussed reading and how it affects the body. The study that I found explores a correlation between cognitive aspects of literacy. The article points out the fact that this was more of an observational study as opposed to experimental simply because almost every has some level of reading experience, therefor trial groups didn’t need to be clearly set up and defined. Large sample sizes are easy to obtain for the same reason as well. However, a study done by Schribner and Cole (1981) produced data stated that literacy was a repressive force. Because of this, research on the topic has come to a stalemate as no one has initiated many new successful studies that dive further into this question.

The conclusion? There is absolutely no evidence that reading HURTS you, so instead of watching TV or taking a nap with your free time, why not to something a little more stimulating that has the chances (although not specifically proven) of increasing the level of your cognitive development? Happy Reading!

source

Do Dating Apps/Sites Actually Work?

Recently one of my friends coaxed me into downloaded the popular dating app Tinder. At first I was very skeptical because I had no idea what to expect. If I am being completely honest I thought of it as a joke for the longest time, but then I started to think differently after a few weeks of having the app. Not everyone on there was creepy or strange like how I originally predicted; it’s just an app used to meet people whether it’s to form new friendships or look for a potential relationship. However, I must have matched with over fifty people by now and have only talked to a handful of them. This leads to my underlying question: Do dating apps such as Tinder actually work or is it something to not worth bothering with?

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Study One

The first study I am going to address has to do with Tinder. The way Tinder works is that one can either swipe right if the person is potentially interested or swipe left if the person is not feeling it. According to a study presented at the American Psychological Association, a lot of left swipes on one’s profile can result in a more negative perception of oneself in terms of esteem and body image. This study was conducted by using a survey for 1,300 people. The focus was on mainly on college students. They were asked to rate how they thought about themselves through utilizing self-reporting and questionnaires. In a surprising twist, men were found to have a lower self-esteem in comparison to the women that participated in the study. This was found to be surprising because women are stereotypically viewed as having a lower self-esteem than men do. The researchers who conducted this study believe this can be a result of having more men than women on Tinder.

The meta-analysis study was a good way to collect information from all of the participants. However, I believe that there should be an alternative to self-reporting because people are not always honest with their answers especially when not given a template of some form or another to follow thus making it easier to stray off course from the study. Since this was a published study it did not suffer from the file drawer problem.

If people were to view themselves more negatively then that has a direct correlation to the effectiveness of the dating app and people’s perception of perspective matches while using Tinder.

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Study Two

 According to a study, more than one-third of marriages in the United States are started from online. This study was conducted by using a survey and had a total of 19,131 responses. The people who participated in this study married between the years of 2005 and 2012. Another important thing to note about the study was that researchers found that marriages that began through a dating site were slightly more successful in comparison to the traditional form of dating.

Since there was such a large amount of responses, a survey was the most effective method for the study. My initial hypothesis for this study was that it would be 50/50; some people would have success in marriages through online dating sites and apps while the other half would not. The null hypothesis in this study was that success in marriage through dating apps and sites could go either way while the alternative hypothesis in this study was it would either be a complete success or a total failure.

 

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Take Home Message

Ultimately, dating apps and sites aren’t for everyone because we each have different tastes and preferences. The reason why I used two different studies is because I wanted to get two different takes on the question. One study had to do with dating and using an app while the other had to do with marriage and using an online site. This way, there is a better perspective. While both studies were effective, I found the second study to be more effective than the first even though there were more participants because the second study did not include self-reporting. Overall, I think that dating apps and sites can work, but it is just a matter of what type of person you are.

The Truth About Q-Tips

It’s usually a satisfying when you clean your ears with a q-tip and see that something came out. The feeling itself is actually pretty soothing for me at least when cleaning my ears with a q-tip. I’m trying to find the words to describe it but I just can’t, it’s really just an experience like no other. But recently, I’ve been a little more concerned about the (un)healthy habit that is ear cleaning. Why are q-tips so dangerous and warned against? We’ve all heard the old “ear drum” argument but is that all it really is? I had to find out before I cleaned them again.

According to Fox, cleaning your ears with a q-tip and going too deep in the canal can cause you to puncture your ear drum with a q-tip sized hole. This results in bleeding and massive pain. The hole could heal in a week-a few months but if not, surgery is required. In an even worse case, it can result in hearing loss. If this did happen to occur, putting water in your ear could cause a detrimental infection.

Written in the same article, it really isn’t even all that necessary to clean your ears regularly. If ear wax causes your hearing to be bad, that is when you should clean them but, naturally, the ears canals clean themselves. Having a little ear wax in your ear is totally normal. If you do still feel the need to clean your ears, use an ear syringe. (Side note, I didn’t know what an ear syringe was either so I put a picture below.)  This is a safer way to clean ears and is similar to what you’d clean a babies ears with.

k2-_c1bdbddf-16a7-44b4-8049-d25e99205d20-v1-jpg-303d7b4910c0fef700be7e414b6a3f7d20ac5f24-optim-450x450

image

Ear wax isn’t even all that bad to have! There are essentially two types of ear wax, “wet and dry” as found in this article I found on Google Scholar. Too little ear wax can cause infections whereas too much can cause hearing loss, etc. So therefore, it is beneficial to have some in there, don’t try to scrape it all out with a cotton swab!

So while the “ear-gasm” may feel great, think about a painful infection or losing your hearing for life. It just isn’t worth it! Your ear wax is there for a reason!!

What effect does vegetarianism have on one’s health?

This summer I learned a lot about just how detrimental the meat industry is to our environment. That, coupled with some doubts about the ethics of eating meat, lead me to become a vegetarian. I’ve been without meat for almost 6 months now, and haven’t seen a big difference in my overall health. Despite that lack of difference, I’ve been told numerous times by many different people just how much this lack of meat could be effecting me. Some people see it as a positive difference, others think I’m greatly harming myself. So what is the truth?

https://twitter.com/squirrelslut/status/742211440833134592

Although for a long time people have been told of the detriments of not eating meat, in recent years, many studies have confirmed that a plant-based diet is very sufficient in terms of nutrition. In some cases, vegetarianism has actually proven to lower the possibility of certain illnesses, including heart disease. To be clear, a true vegetarian diet that will reap these benefits includes a balances diet of many fruits and vegetables. Sticking to cheese-based food and other junk foods will certainly be a detriment to one’s health. In doing studies on vegetarians, scientists need to be aware of the possibly confounding variables that could related to an unhealthy vegetarian diet.

Additionally, many vegetarians are told that we must not be receiving the necessary amount of protein in our diets. However, in reality, many meat eaters are actually eating too much animal meat.  On the contrary, vegetarians receive their protein from a variety of other sources. Broccoli, kale, beans, cheese, and tofu are all staples of most people’s vegetarian diet and all serve to provide protein.

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/g/Tofu.htm

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegans (an extreme form of vegetarianism where one eats no animal products) were found to have less saturated fats and cholesterol in their diets, and more fiber. Additionally, they were also found to have a lower risk for heart disease. Granted, they were also found to have some certain nutritional deficiencies, but that can be quickly fixed through consciousness of one’s diet and by simply becoming a vegetarian as opposed to a full vegan. The study itself seemed well performed and peer-reviewed, however more research is certainly needed. Doing an longitudinal observational study on the long term effects on a diet like this is needed. A similar study performed over four years regarding just a vegetarian diet found very similar results to the benefits of a vegan diet, without many of the nutritional deficiencies. Because of this, as of right now I believe I have enough evidence to support my alternative hypothesis that a vegetarian (not vegan) has health benefits along with the environmental benefits it also provides.

Long story short: the science is still out on the health aspect, but it looks promising. If you fear climate change in the least, it looks like you should put down that beef burger and pick up a black bean one.

Yay or Nay for GPA?

In one of Andrew’s recent blog posts, he explained his frustration with students who dropped the course in order to save their GPA. In this class, plenty of students have admitted to quitting a subject because of low grades: many students included in their initial blog posts that they stopped considering being a scientist once they started earning lower grades than they hoped for in science classes. Although this may be an indicator that they really aren’t natural scientists, it might also be a mistake. For instance, students could have learned more material and have been more engaged in science classes than in the classes they earned better grades in, yet focused less on earning a higher grade.

This image came from http://www.artsjournal.com/audience/2012/06/bright-idea-report-card-rewards/report-card/

This image came from http://www.artsjournal.com/audience/2012/06/bright-idea-report-card-rewards/report-card/

Unfortunately, as students, it’s difficult to ignore the reality that most schools and employers judge and select students based on their grade point average, especially with more schools becoming test optional. Because of this discouraging setup, most of the time students work towards earning high grades, rather than working in order to learn. Earning a high GPA can be a beneficial incentive that increases student’s motivation and effort, but as students, employers, and schools focus too much on them, they can easily be destructive. Test scores may not be effective way of judging students’ intelligence, but is basing judgements off of GPA really a positive alternative?

College admission officials use high schooler’s GPA and standardized test scores to predict whether or not they will be able to succeed at that college, but is GPA a more useful and accurate indicator? This article explains how GPA shows evidence of soft skills like motivation and attendance. In general, students may be too focused on their grades, but by motivating themselves to earn high grades, they develop skills that can help them succeed in college. In this study, both test scores and GPA were better predictors of college GPA, depending on the level of the first year college GPA. For example, high college grade point averages were unable to be predicted by high school GPA. College Board, although most likely biased in favor of standardized testing, reports that the best determiner of college grade point average is a combination of standardized test scores and high school GPA.

These studies don’t suffer the file drawer problem considering they’ve been published, and college admission officials at colleges everywhere are constantly trying to decide the best method to judge prospective students. The most effective methods are being updated each year, so the first article is a little outdated and therefore does not provide the most reliable information. In conclusion, neither GPA nor test scores are perfect predictors for how well a student will do in college; however, GPA can indicate student’s skills in the day to day classroom, even if it can also corrupt students’ learning and motives.

Late drop

http://search.proquest.com/docview/225613390?pq-origsite=gscholar

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED563202.pdf

Growing up through elementary school, I always personally found reading to be a daunting task. Generally, the only literature I was exposed to were typical mundane assigned readings that I simply was not interested in. It was not until the eighth grade that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon HBO’s hit mega-series Game of Thrones, an adaption of George R.R Martins’ bestselling series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” After the first season of the show was over, I was starved for more content and eventually decided I might as well give the novels a read. After eviscerating all 694 pages of the first installment, I knew reading for pleasure was something I was going to invest far more time in for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough, I hypothesize that the many hours upon hours I invested into this new hobby for enjoyment had two major effects on my academic career. Firstly, and more obviously, that my time spent on reading bolstered certain aspects of my “intelligence” with attributes like more advanced vocabulary and stronger reading comprehension. However, I also believe that since I spent such a significant amount of time dedicated to reading opposed to other pursuits like math science, I ultimately did myself a disservice. This was proven after receiving my SAT results, with my reading and writing scores being appallingly higher than my math score. After evaluating these facts about myself, the prominent question that arose in my mind was whether reading actually had a direct correlation on ones’ intelligence, and if not; are there any reliable ways to reinvigorate parts of the brain I should have spent more time developing in my youth?

Game of Thrones Book (http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/iceandfire/images/f/fc/AGoT_UK_Current.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090614230048)

Training one’s brain certainly is not a new concept, and you have undoubtedly heard commercials for companies like Lumosity and CogniFit Brain Fitness if you live in the United States. These million dollar companies sprouting left and right now claim they have the ability boost your intelligence and IQ by “training” your brain with video games designed to keep your mind active. Their hypothesis testing generally consists of the fact that by continuing to keep your brain active by playing interactive games, one can improve their intelligence or IQ. Before analyzing the various sources and the differentiating opinions concerning applications like these and traditional reading for improving intelligence, it is especially important to define intelligence in a valid, reliable, and standard way. The most popular and widely used examination is the famous intelligence quotient test, popularly referred to as simply the “IQ Test.” According to Instructor Wind Goodfriend of study.com, Alfred Binet designed the IQ test in the early 1900’s to differ from its standard general knowledge counterparts by measuring your capacity to learn to new material, not what you already have been taught.

After analyzing this information and growing curious over whether these sites were a hoax, Goodfriend spent a great deal of time visiting and interviewing psychologists that truly understand the bolstering of intelligence. Unfortunately, while reading will in fact enhance certain aspects of your intelligence, it does not quite make you “smarter.” Vocabulary and reading comprehension will increase with more time devoted to reading, but the act itself will not make you more overall intelligent. You can increase specific factors of your cognitive ability, and reverse causation is an obvious factor in these studies, as Binet proved that regardless of your age, while spending time improving your working memory,  reading comprehension is increased. This is especially true for those of an older age, and according to same article from the New York Times, those above 60 gain greater memory and reading comprehension skills from similar applications and seem to benefit from keeping their mind active.

In conclusion, while reading excessively will not necessarily make you more intelligent, it can help with certain aspects of your academic ability and cognitive function, especially when aging. Neuroplasticity is not particularly understood, with the mind molding and changing with no circumstances. As people continue to live longer and unfortunately succumb to neurological diseases, these results could potentially shed some light on impactful treatments for those in the future for those with diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Sources:

https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/learning-7/classical-conditioning-46/applications-of-classical-conditioning-to-human-behavior-194-12729/

http://study.com/academy/lesson/methods-of-measuring-intelligence-interpreting-an-iq-scores-score-range.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/opinion/sunday/can-you-get-smarter.html?_r=0

School uniforms and academic performance

One thing that I have always wondered is that if school uniforms have an effect on academic performance. Throughout my life I have attending public school, which requires no uniform. I have also attended a private catholic school that had a very strict school dress code. I have been successful at both schools and I was curious to find a correlation between what you wear and your academic performance. The debate has been going on for a long time, many believe that school uniforms promote professionalism while others say no dress code is better because of the choices that one has. For this blog I will look at the benefits of both sides and then review a case study that will show the answer.

Private schools typically enforce a moderately specific dress code for their students to wear. According to an article in “Pacific Standard” magazine, school uniforms actually decrease gang violence. One very positive aspect of wearing school uniforms is that outsiders can be identified easier, because they can be spotted. One specific case study that I had examined for the purpose of this blog is that 160 schools were involved and it was found that females had the largest improvement of all in the study. One very important trait of wearing a school uniform is that it is believed to create a more serious atmosphere which can lead to to better motivation for one’s grades. Wearing dress code clothes also doesn’t allow for social divide, because everyone is wearing the same thing. Besides the money to invest in at the beginning, you do not have to buy many clothes if you have a dress code. Although I did find an interesting study where 90% of 7th and 8th graders didn’t like uniforms.

I also attended public school during a portion of my schooling. It was nice to not have to dress up and wear a uniform. One benefit of a public school is cost, it does not cost as much to attend a public school as it does to attend a private school. Diversity is also a great attribute of attending a public school, you have lots of people with different backgrounds attending it. The one thing that I personally enjoyed about public school was having the ability to wear whatever I wanted to wear. Public schools do not prepare you for the real work world though, in some instances. One can wear a suit and tie everyday and end up being  a construction worker on the opposing side of things. Public school creates a divide in social class because you can see who has the best clothing, that is probably the biggest downfall of  not having a dress code.

To find the final answer and know if school uniforms have an effect on one’s grades, I looked at various studies conducted. The biggest one that I found in terms of summarizing my findings came from the southwest United States. This particular study examined not just grade performance but behavior as well. The findings shocked me. I found that uniforms actually improved attendance indefinitely. The biggest conclusion that I found was that uniforms have a  positive influence on student attendance in secondary schools, meaning 6-12 grade. There was a raise in .3-.4% points. There was little evidence on grade achievement.

I think there is no definite answer to my proposed question of if school uniforms affect school grades. I think there are tons of 3rd variables that go into play with it. I think you can have a great public school with no dress code and compare it to a not so good private school. I think there are many factors in finding an answer. I believe that uniforms are important in terms of creating a serious atmosphere  but comfort is equally important too.

sources

http://oureverydaylife.com/way-kids-dress-affect-school-16454.html

https://www.koshercasual.com/5-Benefits-of-a-School-Dress-Code_b.html

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/jan/18/school-uniform-results

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjYkYrz-9XQAhUl3IMKHZsQAK4QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.southlandscs.com%2Fhigh-school%2Fnew-southlands-high-school-uniforms%2F&psig=AFQjCNFOdDbCcQ7K4LOt1ov7QGbBkXaI6w&ust=1480783859415012

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjYkYrz-9XQAhUl3IMKHZsQAK4QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.southlandscs.com%2Fhigh-school%2Fnew-southlands-high-school-uniforms%2F&psig=AFQjCNFOdDbCcQ7K4LOt1ov7QGbBkXaI6w&ust=1480783859415012

Depression and Gender

Growing up, the stressed and pressures of life really had an impact on a lot of my friends. Many times, they set such high expectations for themselves and beat themselves up if they couldn’t attain their goals. Some of my friends from high school suffered (and still do) from depression. It was heartbreaking to watch the people I adored most lose the light inside themselves. Depression is a terrifying thought, and it is often not understood by many people, including me. However, something I did notice, was that the majority of my friends suffering from depression were girls. That got me thinking – are women more prone to depression than men?

Feeling blue

Feeling blue

Biologically

According to Christina M Mulé in this article , hormones play a significant role in why women are more susceptible to depression than men. Often, many women suffer from depression in their transition through menopause, which could be widely influenced by hormonal changes, but also something as merely as not feeling “womanly” enough. A lot of this could also be left likely to genetic transmission, but there is no concrete evidence biologically speaking, merely theories.

Adolescence 

This article continues, more interestingly, into how depression plays a role in adolescence, showing that girls are more susceptible to depression at a very young age. The article explains that this could be a factor of puberty, vulnerability, or even stress.

The Study

Ge. and Conger conducted a longitudinal study of 451 families of adolescents. Their hypothesis was that girls will have higher levels of depression than boys on average. In the study, they paid of visit to each family, asking a series of questions to the entire family based upon life events, characteristics, etc.

  • Null hypothesis: there is so significance between genders and depression
  • Confounding Variables: Family history of depression
  • Chance: Possible

The Results

The researchers found that early displays of depression in children carry on throughout their entire adolescence, and that the early stresses of life often impact girls than boys. The results of the study was consistent with the hypothesis proposed, and the researchers even found these early signs of gender difference in depression carries through the rest of life. Though the results could potentially be a false positive, or even up to chance, it’s highly unlikely because several other studies are consistent with these findings as well.

Differences Between Men and Women

Further exploring depression and gender, Cari Nierenberg discusses ways in which depression differs between men and women:

  1. Women are more likely to dwindle on the actual feeling of depression (aka the emotion) – whereas men are more likely to act out in ways such as alcohol or substance abuse.
  2. Women are more prone to reacting to stressful life events, resulting in their depression. Whether it be divorce, loss of a loved one, or work stress, it can really have a huge impact on women. Women are also more likely to turn to eating disorders when depressed, making these two go hand in hand.
  3. Men are more inclined to hide their symptoms. I believe this has something to do about being “manly” – men don’t want to be seen as weak, so they will cover up their depression because they don’t want to seem vulnerable. Men are also more likely to take their own lives.

 

Conclusion

Depression is a matter that researchers will continue studying for years to come, because I don’t think anyone really gets fully understands it, and there is no concrete consensus from any study, just hypothetical theories. So, if you know someone battling depression – just be there. Try to educate yourself as much as possible so you can wholeheartedly support them, even if you are unfamiliar.

 

Sources

Mulé, Christina M. “Why Women Are More Susceptible to Depression: An Explanation for Gender Differences.” Why Women Are More Susceptible to Depression. N.p., Mar. 2004. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

Nierenberg, Cari. “7 Ways Depression Differs in Men and Women.” LiveScience. Purch, 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

Can sunlight reduce the risk of nearsightedness?

As someone who has been nearsighted most of my life, I know how incredibly frustrating it can be when you forget your classes or run out of contact lenses (which always happens when you need them most). Because my nearsightedness, or myopia, developed pretty recently, I can’t help but think about what I could’ve done to prevent it. My mom always told me that it was because I spend too much time on my phone and computer, as well as the fact that I read at night with a flashlight on, but could it be something else? The key here is sunlight. The null hypothesis would be that sunlight doesn’t affect your vision at all and the alternative is that sunlight can actually reduce the risk of nearsightedness!

sunlight-full-screen-hd-desktop-background-wallpaper-free


First Study

A study done at JAMA Ophthalmology found that the group with the highest UVB exposure, especially in the teenage and young adult years, had about a 30 percent lower risk for myopia than those with the lowest exposure. I believed that this study was well done, and 4166 of the participants (4187 in total) attended an eye examination including refraction, gave a blood sample, and were interviewed by trained workers using a questionnaire. Although they did not find the mechanism as to why increased Vitamin D prevented myopia, a proposed mechanism was that exposure to sunlight increased Vitamin D levels, and the Vitamin D was what saved their vision. Although there is currently no evidence connecting Vitamin D levels with improved vision, scientists are working hard to find it pending these shocking results.

 


Second Study

A second study done in China came up with very similar results. Two groups of monkeys were exposed to two different types of light: natural light and artificial light. At the end of the experiment, monkeys exposed to artificial light had significant myopic anisometropia compared with eyes of monkeys exposed to natural light. Scientists believe that exposure to bright light releases chemicals in the retina such as dopamine that can control growth, slowing down the progression of losing sight.

monkey-glasses1


Although more research needs to be conducted to explain why there is a correlation between sunlight and lessening your chance of developing nearsightedness, we accept the alternative hypothesis and believe that it wouldn’t hurt to spend more time outside based on the results. Vitamin D has so many great benefits to our health, as long as we are soaking it up in moderation. And if there have been multiple studies confirming that the sun helps prevent damaging something that cannot be fixed once gone, it wouldn’t hurt to spend an extra hour outside!

Pictures –

Picture 1

Picture 2

Do Earbuds Damage Your Ears More Than Headphones?

girl-killed-earbuds

Do you ever ignore the ‘Listening to high volume can damage your ears’ warning before you turn up your music? I do, and believe me, it’s the worst thing to do. With maximum volume, I experienced two ear infections in one week, and temporary hearing loss was the cherry on top. However, I’ve often used earbuds to listen to music, and they easily make my ears ache! But listeningwhich is more damaging to your ear? Headphones that cover your ears, or earbuds that go inside of your ear? Also, do they both have negative effects on your ears when used with maximum volume?

The way we use our earbuds and headphones matter, especially since we are in control of how loud or soft our volume should be. Listening to music is great, but the louder your listening device is, the more likely people will face hearing damage, mild or severe. According to Dr. David Schessel, the higher the volume level, measured in decibels (dB), the stronger likelihood for hearing damage. Data from Schessel explained that a typical volume for earbud usage is 85 db. However, listening to music for more than eight hours with a higher volume is dangerous.

Headphones vs. Earbuds

So, which gadget leads to higher exposure of hearing loss? Let’s just say headphones and earbuds both have advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a juxtaposition between the two.

Samsung

Samsung

Headphones are over the ear, like earmuffs. Meanwhile, earbuds go inside the ear. According to doctors, headphones are the better option compared to earbuds. Unlike headphones, earbuds easily travel through the ear canal and has a higher volume compared to regular headphones. According to HowStuffWorks, headphones and earphones have different sound qualities. While headphones have better sound quality, earbuds do not, which urges people to increase the volume of their devices. Therefore, people may be predisposed to hearing loss. Based on these facts, it can be concluded that earbuds are more likely to cause hearing damage than headphones. However, headphones still has the risk.

Null hypothesis: Earbuds & headphones have no impact on the ears when used with maximum volume.

Alternative hypothesis: Earbuds & headphones can damage your ears when used with maximum volume.

x-variable: Maximum volume of headphones/earbuds; y-variable: hearing damage of the ear

Reverse causation: Ruled out

Third confounding variables: Volume levels controlled by listener, type of electronic device

Chance? None

Maximum volume is dangerous to the ear, simple as that. Headphones and earbuds with different sound qualities forces the listener to increase the decibel levels for satisfaction. However, the higher the decibel level, the higher risk and exposure to hearing impairments. Reverse causation can be ruled out, but we can also consider what type of electronic device is used during headphone and earbud usage. Different types of devices have different volume levels. For instance, according to James E. Foy, MP3 players have more than 120 db.

So, what’s the best alternative? Headphones and earbuds are okay, but the best suggestion is to lower your volume down to prevent hearing loss. In other words, take the warning on your phone a little seriously.

SOURCES:

<http://www.medicaldaily.com/earbuds-vs-headphones-which-will-cause-noise-induced-hearing-loss-366088>

<http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/audio-music/earbuds-vs-headphones.htm>