Fast Friday Four (May 6)

HIV Wakes Up to Eradication

I’m no expert on HIV or AIDS, but from what I understand the disease is so difficult to cure because there are always HIV viruses laying dormant in the body. Sure, you can use drugs to help fight off the little buggers that are actively trying to wipe out your immune system, but there’s always the chance that the dormant ones will act up at any time for the rest of your life.

A team of researchers – including some from Northwestern University – think they might have an answer though. Wake those little buggers up.

A new worldwide trial is beginning for a new HIV drug that does exactly that. It gets the dormant viruses moving so that other drugs can find them and kill them off. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Show-Off Ass-Wipes Don’t Mind Cheating

There are three aspects to narcissism: the desire for power, the belief that you are special and the desire to show off in front of others. According to a recent study published in Personality and Individual Differences by Amy Brunell from the Ohio State University, it’s the show-off aspect that makes these douche bags think it’s okay to cheat.

Brunell gathered up a bunch of college students and used a standard questionnaire to measure how narcissistic they were as well as their thoughts on cheating – how often they do it, the guilt they feel about it and whether or not they think others cheat.

The results – which were self-reported opinions rather than hard observations of the real world – showed that narcissists don’t mind cheating. They don’t feel guilt about it. What’s more, they realize that it’s wrong and that others shouldn’t do it, but that doesn’t stop them.

Interestingly, though, it’s not the desire for power or the belief they’re special and above the system that is the driving factor. It’s the desire to show off.

Ass clowns.

Sugar Fuels Sanity

Everyone knows that sugar and carbs help fuel the body during an intense workout. That’s why runners carbo load the night before and drink sugary drinks like Gatorade while performing. But did you ever stop and think about what fuels your brain? Well, it’s the same stuff. And the more fuel you have on hand, the harder your brain can work.

And now another question: Have you ever been so angry that you really have to focus to stop from blowing up? I know I certainly have. As it turns out, if you don’t have enough fuel to run your brain at high intensities, you’re more likely to have a fit.

Maybe that’s why I’m a total dick when I’m hungry.

A researcher by the name of Brad Bushman at the Ohio State University recently discovered this link. He gave a sugary drink to half the participants in a study and an artificially sweetened beverage to the other half. Eight minutes later, he put them in a test that measured their aggressiveness. The results showed that the people who consumed the sugar were much more restrained and non-aggressive. Bushman asserts that this is because they have more fuel available for their brain to reign in themselves and show some self-control.

What’s more, he extrapolated this thesis and showed that states and countries with higher instances of diabetes – and thus the inability to efficiently use sugar to fuel their self-control – also have much higher rates of violence and crime.

Not that drinking Kool-ade all the time is a cure for crime. After all, that cure would only lead to more obesity and diabetes and war and crime.

It’s a vicious circle.

Take Control for Better Learning

I’ve always been an advocate for hands-on learning. Getting into something, taking it apart, putting it back together, or even just exploring a website or textbook on my own always seems to leave a deeper impression than watching a lecture.

Well, now there’s scientific proof.

A study by Neal Cohen at the University of Illinois has demonstrated that people learn better when they have control over how the information is presented to them. To prove this, he designed a computer game that required participants to memorize the location of pictures on a grid on a computer screen. However, they could only see one image at a time. Half of the people got to choose where, when and how long they looked at the images. There were no rules to the memorization other than one image at a time. The other half had to watch the replay of a previous person’s exercise. They had no control.

The people who got to control their learning scored much better than those that didn’t at recollecting the information afterwards.

What if they’re just better at memorization, you ask? Well, Cohen thought of that too. After the first trial, he had all of the participants switch so that those who weren’t in control now were. And they outscored the original winners.

No matter who it is, apparently, people learn better when they control the input.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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