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December 24 2014

Could playing Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker' and other music improve kids' brains?


In a study called 'the largest investigation of the association between playing a musical instrument and brain development,' a child psychiatry team has found that musical training might also help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety.

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December 24 2014

'Bliss molecule' similar to THC in cannabis found in expensive black truffles dug out by pigs


Black truffles sniffed out of the ground by pigs and dogs due to their attractive earthy and cocoa-like aroma contain a "bliss molecule" similar to THC found in cannabis, scientists have found.

A compound called anandamide, which triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain, is produced by the fungi also known as Tuber melanosporum, research from an Italian university has revealed.

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December 24 2014

Gut Feeling? Probiotics May Ease Anxiety and Depression


The plethora of microbes living in the human gut not only affect people's physical health, they may also influence mental health, according to a growing body of research.

Recent studies in animals show that changes in the gut bacteria community appear to make mice less anxious, and also affect levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

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December 24 2014

Does pregnancy lower testosterone in dads-to-be?


When a couple is expecting a baby, it’s not just the mother that goes through hormonal changes. A new study suggests impending fatherhood coincides with a drop in two hormones in men—testosterone and estradiol—even before the baby is born.

Previous research has suggested that men’s hormones change once they become fathers, and there is some evidence that this is a function of a decline after the child’s birth.

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December 24 2014

In China, Expectant Dads Line Up to Experience Labor Pains


JINAN, China—Ning Wentao sat stoically with four electrodes taped to his stomach as a nurse gradually raised the flow of current to his abdomen.

Not an experiment or a treatment, the electric shock biting into Mr. Ning was meant to simulate the sensation of childbirth. A 28-year-old expecting father, Mr. Ning says he agreed to try it out of solidarity with his wife, who is due on Christmas.

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December 24 2014

Is Male Birth Control Around the Corner


If you're a woman who's ever been on birth control, you're probably familiar with the torture of trying to find the type that suits your body (and your budget), the nail-biting nights when you've forgotten your pills across town, the mood swings, the libido dips, and a whole host of other side effects. Isn't it about time men shoulder some of this burden?

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December 24 2014

Chicago Is Putting Subway Rats On Birth Control


The nation's "rattiest city" is putting subway rodents on birth control.

Egg loss and testicle problems await Chicago's rat population once the Chicago Transit Authority rolls out a rodent-specific birth control program next year

The CTA's new pilot program will use a semi-liquid bait that eventually makes rats infertile when ingested multiple times.

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December 24 2014

Ants show left bias when exploring new spaces


Unlike Derek Zoolander, ants don't have any difficulty turning left. New research from the University of Bristol, UK published today in Biology Letters, has found that the majority of rock ants instinctively go left when entering unknown spaces.

PhD student Edmund Hunt and colleagues studied how Temnothorax albipennis ants explore nest cavities and negotiate through branching mazes.

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December 24 2014

Was Monkey Actually Trying to Revive Shocked Companion?


Do monkeys know how to give CPR? That's the question circulating on the Internet this week, after a video depicting one monkey apparently saving the life of another after an accident at an Indian train station went viral.

The footage, posted this week by YouTube user gadhamasti, shows an unconscious monkey that was apparently shocked by wires at a busy train station in the industrial city of Kanpur in northern India. A male companion monkey is then seen apparently trying to revive his comrade.

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December 24 2014

A clear, molecular view of how human color vision evolved


Many genetic mutations in visual pigments, spread over millions of years, were required for humans to evolve from a primitive mammal with a dim, shadowy view of the world into a greater ape able to see all the colors in a rainbow. Now, after more than two decades of painstaking research, scientists have finished a detailed and complete picture of the evolution of human color vision.

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December 24 2014

In fossilized fish eye, rods and cones preserved for 300 million years


Scientists have discovered a fossilized fish so well preserved that the rods and cones in its 300-million-year-old eyeballs are still visible under a scanning electron microscope.

It is the first time that fossilized photoreceptors from a vertebrate eye have ever been found, according to a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications. The researchers say the discovery also suggests that fish have been seeing the world in color for at least 300 million years.

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December 24 2014

Belize's Famous 'Blue Hole' Reveal Clues to the Maya's Demise


The ancient Mayan civilization collapsed due to a century-long drought, new research suggests.

Minerals taken from Belize's famous underwater cave, known as the Blue Hole, as well as lagoons nearby, show that an extreme drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated. After the rains returned, the Mayans moved north — but they disappeared again a few centuries later, and that disappearance .

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December 24 2014

Mystery of Ancient Chinese Civilization's Disappearance Explained


An earthquake nearly 3,000 years ago may be the culprit in the mysterious disappearance of one of China's ancient civilizations, new research suggests.

The massive temblor may have caused catastrophic landslides, damming up the Sanxingdui culture's main water source and diverting it to a new location.

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December 23 2014

The death of the temple people


The remains of the Temple Period have been excavated and studied since the early 20th century. Yet there are still unanswered questions why these people survived for so long then suddenly vanished. The FRAGSUS project—the largest international archaeological collaboration in Malta and Gozo—is trying to answer why.

Let us start on a journey. A journey back to a time when the Maltese population lived in Malta and Gozo with a cult obsessed with life and death. Symbols of sexuality were common, with many phallic shapes and fertile obese figurines strewn around the remains that have survived to the modern era.

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December 23 2014

Series of Earthquakes Threaten Michelangelo's David


More than 250 tremors have been rattling Florence and the Chianti region since Friday, raising concerns over the safety of Michelangelo’s David.

According to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the two major shocks that hit the wine-growing region measured 3.8. and 4.1 on the Richter scale, while several others reached 3.0 to 3.5, scaring people but leaving no one injured.

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December 23 2014

Earth's Deep Oil Reserves Are Teeming With Ancient Life


Earth’s “deep biosphere”—the vast, subterranean world that’s home to as many single-celled organisms as our planet’s surface—has a rep for being a stark and lonely place. But a new study finds that deep oil reservoirs, miles beneath the ocean floor, are anything but solitary. Here, bacteria are social critters that have been swapping genetic material back and forth for eons.

What’s more, rapid DNA swapping between oil-dwelling bacteria could hold clues to how life survived on early Earth—and, perhaps, on extraterrestrial worlds.

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December 23 2014

Forget vitamin C! Hugging proven to reduce cold symptoms.


Hugging is beneficial in many ways – it improves relationships, reduces stress, and is just plain fun. Well, here’s another plus to add to the list: according to this study, hugging can actually reduce the severity of the common cold. And before you start complaining, no, this isn’t your typical retrospective correlation study. First, the researchers surveyed over 400 adults about their perceived social support and how many hugs they received each day over two weeks. Then, they exposed the subjects to the common cold virus and quarantined them for almost a week while watching for symptoms. They found that people who got more frequent hugs prior to getting sick had a less-severe illness and recovered faster.

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