Is this milkshake better than yours?
Congratulating yourself on that calorie-conscious salad might just make you feel hungrier, scientists are now finding—better to close your eyes, take a bite, and pretend you’re eating ice cream.
We’ve already heard in recent years that eating imaginary M&Ms or cheese cubes can give you some of the satiety of the real thing: In a 2010 paper, researchers found that contrary to popular belief, imagining eating such foods in vivid detail actually made subjects eat fewer M&Ms, cheese chunks, and so on. Now, scientists have found that if you believe a shake is low in calories, you’ll feel less satisfied than people who think the shake was an indulgence, even when you’re both drinking the same shake. What gives?
When it comes to sexual attraction, it turns out that men might better be concerned with the length of their fourth (or ring) fingers than the length of anything else. Researchers have discovered that women tend to be more attracted to men whose ring fingers are longer than their index fingers.
We’ve known for a while that the length ratio between the second and fourth fingers of a man may indicate how much testosterone he was exposed to in the womb, with longer ring fingers indicating more testosterone exposure. And many researchers have taken this finding to new levels, including a study from last December that revealed that the risk of prostate cancer drops by a third in men with longer index fingers.
Normally, chicken-keepers don’t sweat it when their hens go through short egg-laying dry-spells. But when an egg-less hen grows a wattle in a matter of weeks and starts crowing at the rising sun, it may be time to worry. That’s what went through a British couple’s minds this past year, when their pet hen Gertie began looking and acting like a rooster.
It all started last November, when Jim and Jeanette Howard of Huntingdon, England, noticed that Gertie stopped laying eggs. “Then a few days later I heard her try to crow,” Jeanette Howard told the BBC. “She wasn’t very good at it at first, but she’s progressed nicely.” Gertie then got heavier and developed a wattle under her chin in the next few weeks. And as her feathers grew back during her molt, they were a darker brown than before. Sporting a scarlet cockscomb and a rooster-like strut, Gertie is now outwardly indistinguishable from a cockerel. Read More
Who ever thought that couples could bond over nasal spray? But new research shows that a nasal spray containing the “love hormone” oxytocin helped make regular guys more empathetic and less gruff. Oxytocin is the hormone that strengthens the bond between nursing moms and their babies, and it’s also involved in pair bonding, love, and sex.
The spray was tested on a group of 48 healthy males–half received a spritz of the nose spray at the start of the experiment and the other half received a placebo. The researchers then showed their test subjects emotion-inducing photos like a bawling child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man. Finally, they asked the guys to express how they felt.
The placebo group men reacted normally to the soppy pictures; which is to say they were either mildly uncomfortable or stoic. Whereas the group that had used the nasal spray were markedly more empathetic. The Register reports:
“The males under test achieved levels [of emotion] which would normally only be expected in women,” says a statement from Bonn University, indicating that they had cooed or even blubbed at the sight of the affecting images.
The study’s findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggest one trite application of the hormonal spray: Maybe a woman could give her undemonstrative husband a quick spritz to get him to really feel her pain, or to get him to coo over a kitten properly. But there might be a larger medical purpose too.
Researchers recently found that a dose of oxytocin can help autistic people become less awkward and more social. Now, they’re hoping that medication can also be developed to help socially withdrawn schizophrenics.
80beats: Study: The “Love Hormone” Oxytocin Can Improve Autistic People’s Social Skills
80beats: The “Love Hormone” Oxytocin Helps People Recognize Faces They’ve Seen Before
DISCOVER: A Dose of Human Kindness, Now in Chemical Form
Oxytocin is the brain’s love hormone—without it, we might not ever fall in love or attempt monogamy. We know that the hormone releases “happy” feelings during events from nursing to orgasm, and is the reason why people feel a chemical “bond” with a partner. And now, scientists have found that the hormone can also boost the sex appeal of complete strangers.
A University of Bristol study tested 96 men and women in a double-blind test by spraying them with either oxytocin or a plecebo. The subjects were then asked to rate pictures of 48 men and women for attractiveness, and 30 for trustworthiness. Sure enough, the participants that had sniffed the love hormone tended to rate the random people in the pictures as better looking or more trustworthy.
Psychologist Angeliki Theodoriduou, who led the study, found that regardless of their gender or mood, the people under the influence of oxytocin were more likely to like the strangers in the pictures.
While the researchers didn’t look at why oxytocin has such pull, they reckon the hormone’s effect on the brain is so strong that it suppresses any fearful emotions people would normally feel.
Thirty-something women of the world, fear not! Science is working to bring a solution to the “delaying motherhood” dilemma.
It’s true that a woman’s eggs are a limited, non-renewable, commodity. But it’s not easy to predict when they’ll run out. Menopause, when the female reproductive system shuts down for good, usually occurs sometime between age 45 and 55. This ten year window leaves a big question mark for women trying to plan for (or against) having children.