Discovered: why happier people are happier, a bleak outlook for frogs, a theoretically good snack to keep you awake, an odd finding in a heart-attack study, and smoggier living may lead to strokes.
- Why frogs have a reason to be stressed. Lately we've seen a spate of research detailing how certain animals react to stress (dragonflies, for instance, just keel over in certain circumstances while surgeonfish enlist other fish for a helpful massage). It looks like a few amphibians have a reason to be worried today, finds a study in Nature, as relayed by the Associated Press: "Scientists have long known that amphibians are under attack from a killer fungus, climate change and shrinking habitat. In the study appearing online Wednesday in the journal Nature, computer models project that in about 70 years those three threats will spread, leaving no part of the world immune from one of the problems." In summary, says one zoologist to the AP: "It's no fun being a frog." In 70 years, that is. [Associated Press]
- Happy people act happier all the time because they're brains interpret things more optimistically. Well, yes, we'd guess that this was true. Because if their brains didn't interpret a postive thing as happiness than why would they be considered happy people? Today, The Guardian reports on a new study that finds "Brain scans of volunteers who scored high on a standard test for happiness showed activity in regions that reinforced their happy dispositions and set them up for a 'cycle of positivity,' scientists said." It seems that bubblier people found images of a "basket of kittens and a bunch of flowers" more endearing than the most of us. [The Guardian]
- The cubicle-person's afternoon snack dilemma. It's very difficult to choose a mid-afternoon office food. In theory, the cubicle-bound could pick a carbohydrate-packed vending machine snack and hope that it doesn't give you a candy-bar-like sugar crash. But even that isn't technically a better option, at least according to new, helpful UK-based research-you-can-use. It's proteins. Proteins like egg whites on toast would be ideal, so goes the lead author's enthusiastic news release: "For now, research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter" because it "activates the cells responsible for keeping us awake." Finding that protein within a manageable distance of your desk is the trick. [Eurekalert]
- An odd thing happened in one very large study analyzing heart-attack death rate. A study published by the American Heart Association found that the people who were more likely to die from a first-time heart attack, weren't those people who exhibited normal warning signs ("high blood pressure, bad blood lipids, diabetes") of risk, The Los Angeles Times reported. Researchers, the newspaper noted, didn't know why this was, but explained it this way: "People who already have risk factors for heart disease are likely to be on medications such as asperin , statins, beta blockers and so on, so even if they have a heart attack, the attack may be less serious than those experienced by people who were on no meds." [The Los Angeles Times]
- Smoggier living linked to strokes. Its a finding that seems unsurprising considering the potentially-concerning recent links that commuters traffic exhaust had with raised heart-attack risk and unsettling effects on the brain. But a large Danish study relayed by Reuters (which pictures a sunset on Los Angeles as its illustrative city) "found people living in urban zones with high estimated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide were 22 percent more likely to suffer a fatal stroke than people in less-polluted neighborhoods." Nitrogen dioxide, as were informed, " is a component of car exhaust and is known to cause lung damage." [Reuters]