Psychology

Scientists may get frustrated at Dr. Oz and The Food Babe and other people who are against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) while munching happily on organic strains created by mutagenesis, but if we care about cognitive science issues, the evidence-based world might want to be a little kinder to them in the future.

The reason some people don't trust science has evolutionary roots, a group of Belgian scholars believe - science is complex, they say, and when brains were more primitive, the world had to be made as simple as possible. So 'if I can't pronounce it, you should not eat it' may be a relic of our neuroscience past and some people will have that fear in greater amounts than others.


Major depression comes with an unexpected metabolic signature, according to new findings.

Authors in search of genes that increase depression risk analyzed thousands of women. those with recurrent major depression and healthy controls, and found that many of the women with depression also had experienced adversity in childhood, including sexual abuse. 

The researchers noticed something rather unusual in the DNA. The samples taken from women with a history of stress-related depression contained more mitochondrial DNA than other samples.

"Our most notable finding is that the amount of mitochondrial DNA changes in response to stress," says Professor Jonathan Flint of the University of Oxford.


Recent advances with so-called meta-materials have shown that a practical invisibility cloak might one day be possible. But a new study has approached the scenario from the other direction, asking what it would feel like to be invisible. The answer, it turns out, is it would make us feel more confident.

Invasive pests known as spruce bark beetles have been attacking Alaskan forests for decades, killing more than 1 million acres of forest on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska for more than 25 years.

Beyond environmental concerns regarding the millions of "beetle kill" dead trees, inhabitants of the peninsula and surrounding areas are faced with problems including dangerous falling trees, high wildfire risks, loss of scenic views and increased soil erosion. Intriguingly, a sociologist from the University of Missouri says that human perception of the beetle kill problem in the Kenai Peninsula has improved over time, despite little improvement in the environmental conditions.


A study of approximately 95,000 children with older siblings found that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is not associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders regardless of whether older siblings had been diagnosed on the autism spectrum - and epidemiological papers say those children should be at higher risk for an autism diagnosis.

During the last 15 years, no valid study has found a link between the MMR vaccine and ASD but some parents and people selling alternative medicines continue to associate the vaccine with ASD. Surveys of parents who have children with ASD suggest that many believe the MMR vaccine was a contributing cause.
A real-world analysis of human behavior finds that men treat online giving as a competitive enterprise: Men will donate four times more money to an attractive female fundraiser if they feel like they are in competition with another male, which evolutionary psychologists contend is a subconscious sexual mandate based on biology.
Organic food is a gigantic profitable Big Ag enterprise ensconced in a health halo that glows so brightly the bulk of consumers believe it not only has no pesticides but actually contains no chemicals of any kind.

My concern about the science literacy of Whole Foods shoppers aside, from a purely practical point of view, if I were a farmer and walked into a store and saw berries for $8 a pack and hamburger for $10 a pound that has no difference but process I'd immediately ask why I am competing with giants over razor thin margins when I could segue into an area where price is basically no object.

Adolescent obesity is a national public health concern and, unchecked, places young people on a trajectory for a variety of health issues as they grow older. A new study from the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) and Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC) suggests there is a relationship between long-term exposure to three specific types of family stressors and children becoming obese by the time they turn 18 years old.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, Assistant Professor Daphne Hernandez examined three family stress points ¬- family disruption, financial stress and maternal poor health - and applied those to data of more than 4,700 adolescents born between 1975 and 1990.


Getting a good education may not improve your life chances of happiness, according to new mental health research.


"Dragon Age: Inquisition", which came out in late 2014, was not a video game I anticipated much. I had played both previous versions and their add-on content but unlike Mass Effect, by the same company, only the first Dragon Age had much re-playability and, unlike Mass Effect, they wanted you to play a new character each time. There wasn't much point in getting attached to a character. But the milieu, swords and sorcery, was intriguing to an old D&D player, and I knew they would have something most games lack - a story where choice matters.