As we’ve discussed before, ice-cream headache (a.k.a. “brain freeze”) is a real phenomenon, and scientists are actively studying it. But before they can understand in detail the physiological events surrounding brain freeze, they must first have a robust way of inducing it. Here, scientists compared two different methods of inducing ice-cream headaches: pressing an ice cube to the roof of one’s mouth vs. chugging ice water. It turns out that the ice water gave volunteers more, and worse, headaches that they described as “stabbing pain.” Something to (literally) keep in mind the next time you chug a Slurpee.
“BACKGROUND: There are various studies on experimentally provoked ‘ice-cream headache’ or ‘headache attributed to ingestion or inhalation of a cold stimulus’ (HICS) using different provocation protocols. The aim of this study was to compare two provocation protocols. Read More
If you’re a fan of muscley men, listen up: those guns might come at the cost of a man’s fertility. In this study (published in the journal Animal Behavior, because we ain’t nothin’ but mammals), the researchers report that physical strength in men, while seen as attractive by women, is also associated with “lower ejaculate quality.” Boxer shorts, anyone?
“Studies of sexual selection acting on physical strength in humans have focused mostly on its role in premating male–male competition. Recent theoretical frameworks suggest that male strength could be subject to trade-offs with postmating sperm competitiveness. Here, we examined whether male strength is linked to ejaculate quality. We also asked whether strength is attractive to women and affects male self-reported mating success. Read More
If you had to give yourself a C-section to save your unborn baby, could you do it? Having given birth to my own child, I’m not sure I could. But this woman did it. She had no other choice: she lost a previous baby during protracted labor, and she lived in a small village eight hours drive from the nearest hospital. In the abstract and detailed case report below, doctors tell her (harrowing) story. And they tell it for a good reason: “This case, which would not have occurred if prenatal and delivery care had been available, should make health providers aware that the basic reproductive needs of women are not met.” Truth.
“An unusual case of self-inflicted cesarean section with maternal and child survival is presented. No similar event was found in an Internet literature search. Because of a lack of medical assistance and a history of fetal death in utero, a 40-year-old multiparous woman unable to deliver herself alone vaginally sliced her abdomen and uterus and delivered her child. Read More
From Lenny Bruce to Robin Williams, many great comedians have suffered untimely deaths. But is this actually a hazard of the job? In this study, the authors investigated whether stand-up comedians were more likely to die young compared to comedic or dramatic actors, as well as whether funnier stand-up comedians were more prone to death than less funny comics. The answer to both questions was, unfortunately, yes. Talk about killing it onstage! (Clearly I’ll be living for a long time.)
This study aimed to confirm, in a large, diverse cohort of elite Stand-up Comedians and other entertainers, that there is an inverse association between comedic ability and longevity.
This retrospective cohort study included 200 Stand-up Comedians (13% women), 113 Comedy Actors (17.5% women), and 184 Dramatic Actors (29.3% women) listed in the top 200 in each category in a popular online ranking website. Longevity within each group was examined adjusting for life expectancy by year of birth and within-group ranking score.
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that watching pornography can give unrealistic expectations of what sex is really like. But how skewed is this representation? These heroic scientists took it upon themselves to find out. To do so, they watched the top 50 most-viewed videos on PornHub, and recorded “the frequency of male and female orgasm, orgasm-inducing sex acts (and whether activity inducing female orgasms included some form of clitoral stimulation), and auditory (verbal, vocal) and visual (bodily) indicators of orgasm.” They found that 78% of men but only 18.3% of women were shown reaching orgasm in popular porn videos, and thus concluded that “representations of male and female orgasm in mainstream pornography may serve to perpetuate unrealistic beliefs and expectations in relation to female orgasm and male sexual performance.” Ya think?
“Social representations, which appear in a variety of media, can influence the way sexual experiences are perceived and understood. While pornography is not the only medium in which orgasm is portrayed, it is the most explicit, and it is widespread and easily accessible. As such, pornography is an ideal medium for examining representations of male and female orgasm. PornHub’s 50 most viewed videos of all time were viewed and coded for the frequency of male and female orgasm, orgasm-inducing sex acts (and whether activity inducing female orgasms included some form of clitoral stimulation), and auditory (verbal, vocal) and visual (bodily) indicators of orgasm. Read More
Telling people how we really feel can be… well, tricky. Even when it comes to writing a simple thank you note: “What if it’s too much? Will they think I’m weird? Is it going to be awkward?” If only there were a surefire way to know how it was going to turn out! Well, this study is getting as close as we are likely to get. Here, scientists tracked how senders and receivers felt about thank you letters, and the results suggest that you should get your pen out: “Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel.” So, that’s one interpersonal interaction simplified. The only question left is whether we should send a thank you note to the authors for this?
“Expressing gratitude improves well-being for both expressers and recipients, but we suggest that an egocentric bias may lead expressers to systematically undervalue its positive impact on recipients in a way that could keep people from expressing gratitude more often in everyday life. Read More
When you think of Mozart, you probably imagine an 18th century gentleman who was always thinking about music. Well, it turns out that when not composing musical masterpieces, Mozart liked to talk about “shooting off his rear-end gun”. He was such a huge fan of potty humor that some historians, after reading a series of letters that Mozart wrote to his female cousin (the Bäsle letters), have proposed that he suffered from Tourette syndrome. Here, the author refutes that interpretation, instead arguing that Mozart’s “frequent mention of erotic topics and, in particular, intensive use of scatological terms” were not uncommon for his time. Be sure to read the hilarious excerpt from the Bäsle letters below, and think of it the next time you hear “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”
“In recent decades, several scientific publications have come to the conclusion that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart might have had a Tourette syndrome. Other papers, however, have questioned this hypothetical diagnosis. The evidence for this diagnosis was mostly based on the so-called Bäsle letters, letters that Mozart wrote to his cousin when aged around 20 years. The letters have common stylistic characteristics such as frequent mention of erotic topics and, in particular, intensive use of scatological terms. Read More
Scientists are looking everywhere for less invasive cancer diagnostics…including, apparently, in the toilet. Here, researchers tested whether patients with and without colon cancer could be classified based on the “volatile organic compounds” (i.e., smelly molecules) in their poop. The scientists were able to correctly ID the cancer patients 75% of the time with this method, which is not bad for such a non-invasive test. Smart cancer-screening toilet, here we come!
“Diagnosis of colorectal cancer is an invasive and expensive colonoscopy, which is usually carried out after a positive screening test. Unfortunately, existing screening tests lack specificity and sensitivity, hence many unnecessary colonoscopies are performed. Here we report on a potential new screening test for colorectal cancer based on the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the headspace of faecal samples. Read More
Instead of parroting the author’s own words (below), we will leave you with a video showing the contagious laughter-like vocalization of Kea parrots. We hope it doesn’t ruffle any feathers.
“Positive emotional contagions are outwardly emotive actions that spread from one individual to another, such as glee in preschool children or laughter in humans of all ages. Read More
Overeating is a growing problem. But what makes us overeat? Obviously, delicious food can be hard to resist, but that’s clearly not the only factor. Here, scientists explored whether feeling overweight changes how we eat. It turns out that wearing a suit designed to make one feel obese did change participants’ eating habits — but only for women. Women, but not men, ate more snack food when wearing the fatsuits, even in private. The scientists were not able to determine why this was true, but it’s true.
“Self-identification of being overweight has been associated with overeating and weight gain in observational studies, irrespective of whether the individual in question is objectively overweight. The aims of the present studies were to examine whether experimentally manipulating the psychosocial experience of feeling overweight impacted on snack food consumption and to identify mechanisms explaining this effect. In Study 1, to manipulate the psychosocial experience of feeling overweight, 120 women wore an obese body suit or control clothing in public or private settings, before consuming snack foods. Read More