Latest Science and Society News

Contrary to common belief, parents do not generally treat their stepchildren less favourably than their own. Until now, many researchers believed in the so-called “Cinderella effect.” It states that it is biologically inevitable that parents care less for stepchildren because they do not spread their genes. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, have discovered an important exception. If there is a reasonable chance of increasing wealth in the parents’ environment then no difference is made between one’s own children and stepchildren. Thus, parental care depends on more than just the biological relationship.

 

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine gives new insight into the geographic variation in drug poisoning mortality, with both urban centers and rural areas showing a large increase in death rates. While previous studies have looked at drug poisoning related deaths in broad strokes, this is the first study to examine them on the county level across the entire U.S.

 

The first study to look extensively at sexual function in women who underwent bariatric surgery found that significant improvements in overall sexual function, most reproductive hormones and in psychological status were maintained over two years following surgery. Women reporting the poorest quality of sexual function prior to surgery saw the most dramatic improvements one year after surgery, on par with women who reported the highest quality of sexual function prior to surgery.  The new report by researchers with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania appears in the November 4 edition of JAMA Surgery.

 

Children of survivors of extremely stressful life events face adjustment challenges of their own, as has been most carefully studied among the children of Nazi Death Camp survivors. This "intergenerational" transmission of stress response has been studied predominately from the psychological perspective. However, recent research points to biological contributions as well.

 

You might think a wagging tail is a wagging tail, but for dogs there is more to it than that. Dogs recognize and respond differently when their fellow canines wag to the right than they do when they wag to the left. The findings reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 31 show that dogs, like humans, have asymmetrically organized brains, with the left and right sides playing different roles.

 

Video gaming causes increases in the brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning as well as fine motor skills. This has been shown in a new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus. The positive effects of video gaming may also prove relevant in therapeutic interventions targeting psychiatric disorders.