Recent quotes:

Decentralizing science may lead to more reliable results in biomedical research: Analysis of data on tens of thousands of drug-gene interactions -- ScienceDaily

"The way science is often produced may inadvertently contribute to unreliable results," says senior author James Evans, Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, US. "For example, a large group of scientists who frequently collaborate, use similar methods, share equipment, and frequently cite similar works are prone to producing the same, self-confirming results. Although such a group may produce repeated published experiments, our results demonstrate that their findings are not independent. Independent labs perform experiments in different ways with different expectations and are less prone to peer pressure than a densely connected networks of scientists."

Your circle of friends is more predictive of your health, study finds -- ScienceDaily

Social network structure provided significant improvement in predicting one's health and well-being compared to just looking at health behavior data from the Fitbit alone. For example, when social network structure is combined with the data derived from wearables, the machine learning model achieved a 65 percent improvement in predicting happiness, 54 percent improvement in predicting one's self-assessed health prediction, 55 percent improvement in predicting positive attitude, and 38 percent improvement in predicting success. "This study asserts that without social network information, we only have an incomplete view of an individual's wellness state, and to be fully predictive or to be able to derive interventions, it is critical to be aware of the social network structural features as well," Chawla said.

Performance improves when the enemy of an enemy is a friend: Study of traders finds balanced professional networks lead to better high-risk decisions -- ScienceDaily

SBT consists of four primary rules for relationships among individuals: A friend of a friend is a friend A friend of an enemy is an enemy An enemy of an enemy is a friend An enemy of a friend is an enemy When all of these conditions are met, a network is said to be balanced. Through a two-year study of day traders, the researchers found that: (A) workers gravitate toward a state of balance in their relationships; and (B) performance improves when there is a high level of balance.

Prehistoric Britons rack up food miles for feasts near Stonehenge: Landmark study reveals the monumental distances traveled for national mass gatherings -- ScienceDaily

Using isotope analysis, which identifies chemical signals from the food and water that animals have consumed, the researchers were able to determine geographical areas where the pigs were raised. The study offers the most detailed picture yet of the degree of mobility across Britain at the time of Stonehenge. Dr Madgwick said: "Arguably the most startling finding is the efforts that participants invested in contributing pigs that they themselves had raised. Procuring them in the vicinity of the feasting sites would have been relatively easy. "Pigs are not nearly as well-suited to movement over distance as cattle and transporting them, either slaughtered or on the hoof, over hundreds or even tens of kilometres, would have required a monumental effort. "This suggests that prescribed contributions were required and that rules dictated that offered pigs must be raised by the feasting participants, accompanying them on their journey, rather than being acquired locally."

Thanking and apologizing: Talk that isn't cheap -- ScienceDaily

The researchers proposed that, for the communicator, all four types of communications involve a trade-off between projecting competence and projecting warmth. Thanking and apologizing make the speaker appear caring or generous, but usually at the cost of seeming incompetent or weak. The opposite is true of bragging and blaming, which can bolster the speaker's perceived competence and status, but at the cost of seeming selfish or inconsiderate. The recipient of the communication experiences a different impact on their image: Thanking and apologizing elevate both perceived competence and warmth for the recipient, while bragging and blaming decrease both.

Does the 'buddy system' approach to weight loss work? A new research study says, yes, but it's not that simple -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found that the showcasing of average weight loss among a peer group can have a negative effect on an individual participant's actual weight loss. More specifically, when an individual compares himself or herself to their peer group, it can be discouraging. On the other hand, when the results of top performers in the weight loss program are showcased, it can have an encouraging effect on other participants' individual weight loss. Individuals tend to be more inspired by those who have achieved the most significant results.

BARBARIANS AT THE GATE: CONSUMER-DRIVEN HEALTH DATA COMMONS AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF CITIZEN SCIENCE

A few state court cases have found patients own their medical records under specific circumstances.118 Unfortunately, the pertinent body of state medical records law generally applies in traditional healthcare settings and seemingly does not govern commercial providers of PHD devices and services, such as purveyors of medical and fitness devices. Courts do not recognize an individual property right in personal information such as one’s name, address, and social security number.119 Commercial databases that hold such information are generally treated as the property of the companies that compiled them.120 In a famous case121 where plaintiffs sought to block a company from disclosing their personal information by selling its mailing lists, Vera Bergelson notes an implicit judicial bias “that, to the extent personal information may be viewed as property, that property belongs to the one who collects it.”122 This bias— if it exists—is reminiscent of the ancient res nullius doctrine from natural resource law, which treated assets such as subsurface mineral deposits and wild animals as unowned until somebody discovers and captures (takes possession of) them.123 “Rarely used today, it let private owners stake claims as in the Klondike gold rush.”124

Ant Colonies Retain Memories That Outlast the Lifespans of Individuals | Science | Smithsonian

Colonies live for 20-30 years, the lifetime of the single queen who produces all the ants, but individual ants live at most a year. In response to perturbations, the behavior of older, larger colonies is more stable than that of younger ones. It is also more homeostatic: the larger the magnitude of the disturbance, the more likely older colonies were to focus on foraging than on responding to the hassles I had created; while, the worse it got, the more the younger colonies reacted. In short, older, larger colonies grow up to act more wisely than younger smaller ones, even though the older colony does not have older, wiser ants. Ants use the rate at which they meet and smell other ants, or the chemicals deposited by other ants, to decide what to do next. A neuron uses the rate at which it is stimulated by other neurons to decide whether to fire. In both cases, memory arises from changes in how ants or neurons connect and stimulate each other. It is likely that colony behavior matures because colony size changes the rates of interaction among ants. In an older, larger colony, each ant has more ants to meet than in a younger, smaller one, and the outcome is a more stable dynamic. Perhaps colonies remember a past disturbance because it shifted the location of ants, leading to new patterns of interaction, which might even reinforce the new behavior overnight while the colony is inactive, just as our own memories are consolidated during sleep. Changes in colony behavior due to past events are not the simple sum of ant memories, just as changes in what we remember, and what we say or do, are not a simple set of transformations, neuron by neuron. Instead, your memories are like an ant colony’s: no particular neuron remembers anything although your brain does.

Ant Colonies Retain Memories That Outlast the Lifespans of Individuals | Science | Smithsonian

From day to day, the colony’s behavior changes, and what happens on one day affects the next. I conducted a series of perturbation experiments. I put out toothpicks that the workers had to move away, or blocked the trails so that foragers had to work harder, or created a disturbance that the patrollers tried to repel. Each experiment affected only one group of workers directly, but the activity of other groups of workers changed, because workers of one task decide whether to be active depending on their rate of brief encounters with workers of other tasks. After just a few days repeating the experiment, the colonies continued to behave as they did while they were disturbed, even after the perturbations stopped. Ants had switched tasks and positions in the nest, and so the patterns of encounter took a while to shift back to the undisturbed state. No individual ant remembered anything but, in some sense, the colony did.

Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate?

The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for large-scale consciousness – like those humans and other mammals enjoy – result from a shared resonance among many smaller constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity in each moment. As a particular shared resonance expands to more and more constituents, the new conscious entity that results from this resonance and combination grows larger and more complex. So the shared resonance in a human brain that achieves gamma synchrony, for example, includes a far larger number of neurons and neuronal connections than is the case for beta or theta rhythms alone. What about larger inter-organism resonance like the cloud of fireflies with their little lights flashing in sync? Researchers think their bioluminescent resonance arises due to internal biological oscillators that automatically result in each firefly syncing up with its neighbors.

Community choirs reduce loneliness and increase interest in life for older adults: Study shows no major changes in cognition or physical function -- ScienceDaily

Overall, the researchers found that older adults who sang in a choir for six months experienced significant improvements in loneliness and interest in life. However, no substantial group differences occurred in the cognitive or physical outcomes or for health care costs. The overall six-month retention rate was 92 percent.

Subtle visual cues nudge users to reveal more in online forum -- ScienceDaily

The researchers used a dynamic graphic representation of people standing in a crowd to convey crowd size. The size of the crowd suggested by the icon changed randomly for participants so that they were not merely jumping on the bandwagon of a large crowd, according to the researchers. The connectivity icon showed a network map with one circle labeled "You" to suggest the participant's place in the network. This icon also changed randomly. The researchers, who report their findings today (November 6) at the Association for Computing Machinery's annual Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in Jersey City, NJ, tested the icons on a sexual health forum because while people tend to be reluctant to share information about their sexual behavior, disclosure is important to help them access health information, as well as help them make better health decisions. "In a marginalized -- or stigmatized -- group, it's often hard to get people to talk or to reveal personal information. However, we found that once the users got the sense that they were in the same boat as others, or that they were connected to others in the same network, they were more willing to disclose their private information and revisit the forum." said Andrew Gambino, doctoral student of mass communication, Penn State. "What we've found is a very basic design solution to increase participation in this group. This might be a way for small groups, particularly ones that deal with stigmatized or marginalized topics, to survive."

If pigeons were brilliant, would they flock? Study finds people flock, or behave similarly to others, despite reasoning abilities -- ScienceDaily

Frey explained that flocking, in life, can be good or bad. It can be good for schools of fish, flocking birds, or team cyclists in a race -- where in each case group members gain a greater ability to obtain food, be safe or to win. But flocking can be undesirable in a stock market fall or a riot, for instance, where safety, survival or "winning" can be jeopardized. ." ..These games show that sophisticated human reasoning processes may be just as likely to drive the complex, often pathological, social dynamics that we usually attribute to reactive, emotional, nondeliberative reasoning," the researchers conclude. "In other words, human intelligence may as likely increase as decrease the complexity and unpredictability of social and economic outcomes."

Faster. Slower. How We Walk Depends on Who We Walk With, and Where We Live. - The New York Times

People in Uganda, it turned out, walked much more quickly than those in Seattle when they were by themselves, their pace averaging about 11 percent swifter than lone walkers in the United States. But they were slower in groups. Both men and women in Mukono strolled at a more leisurely pace when they were with others, especially children. Their pace when accompanied by children was about 16 percent slower than when they were alone, whether they carried the children or walked beside them. The opposite was true in Seattle. There, people sped up when they walked with other people. Men were particularly hurried when walking with other men, but both men and women increased their pace if they had children in tow. Their average walking speed when they carried or accompanied children was about 20 percent speedier than when they walked alone.

The Real Heroes Are Dead | The New Yorker

Dan Hill says that Susan will understand someday, as he does. “What she doesn’t understand is that she knew him for four or five years. She knew a sixty-two-year-old man with cancer. I knew him as a hundred-and-eighty-pound, six-foot-one piece of human machinery that would not quit, that did not know defeat, that would not back off one inch. In the middle of the greatest battle of Vietnam, he was singing to the troops, saying we’re going to rip them a new asshole, when everyone else was worrying about dying. If he had come out of that building and someone died who he hadn’t tried to save, he would have had to commit suicide. “I’ve tried to tell Susan this, in a way, but she’s not ready yet for the truth. In the next weeks or months, I’ll get her down here, and we’ll take a walk along the ocean, and I’ll explain these things. You see, for Rick Rescorla, this was a natural death. People like Rick, they don’t die old men. They aren’t destined for that and it isn’t right for them to do so. It just isn’t right, by God, for them to become feeble, old, and helpless sons of bitches. There are certain men born in this world, and they’re supposed to die setting an example for the rest of the weak bastards we’re surrounded with.”

How does helping people affect your brain? Study shows neurobiological effects of giving social support -- ScienceDaily

"Humans thrive off social connections and benefit when they act in the service of others' well-being," according to the authors. A previous study by Dr. Inagaki, also published in Psychosomatic Medicine, found that giving social support has positive effects on brain areas involved in stress and reward responses. That study suggested that providing support -- not just receiving it -- may be an important contributor to the physical and mental health benefits of social support.

Narcissistic elites

Previous elites poured themselves into institutions and were pretty good at maintaining existing institutions, like the U.S. Congress, and building new ones, like the postwar global order. The current generation sees institutions as things they pass through on the way to individual success.

Reddit Has a Really Surprising Effect on Users' Mental Health, Study Shows

Using three other subreddits - r/happy, r/bodybuilding, and r/loseit - as their control group, the researchers determined that contributors to the mental health subreddits appeared to have trouble clearly communicating initially. However, over time, those users showed "statistically significant improvement" in both their lexical diversity and readability. "I started to notice that as they come in more, and they participate more, they're more calmed down, and they're articulating a little bit better," study author Albert Park told Healthcare Analytics News.

How social isolation transforms the brain: A particular neural chemical is overproduced during long-term social isolation, causing increased aggression and fear -- ScienceDaily

Confirming and extending previous observations, the researchers showed that prolonged social isolation leads to a broad array of behavioral changes in mice. These include increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar mice, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli. For example, when encountering a threatening stimulus, mice that have been socially isolated remain frozen in place long after the threat has passed, whereas normal mice stop freezing soon after the threat is removed. These effects are seen when mice are subjected to two weeks of social isolation, but not to short-term social isolation -- 24 hours -- suggesting that the observed changes in aggression and fear responses require chronic isolation.

CivicScience | U.S. Adults Who Exercise are Sweating it Out Solo

Turns out, adults of every generation are interested in solo exercise. Though, when it comes to working out with a friend, 50% of responders are Millennials, while 48% of those who prefer group fitness classes are from Generation X. As for those who rarely or never work out, 45% are Baby Boomers. So although most adults agree that exercising should be an individual affair, there are clear preferences in the other categories that strongly correspond to age. That said, across generations, we found that those who work out alone also tend to work out the most, indicating that they get moving several times a week. This makes sense since 21st-century adults have busy schedules that may not align with meeting up with friends, a personal trainer, or making it to a class. For many, exercising alone may just be the most practical choice.

Seniors stick to fitness routines when they work out together -- ScienceDaily

Over the 24-week period, participants who worked out with people their own age attended an average of 9.5 more classes than counterparts in the mixed-age group. Participants in the mixed-age group averaged 24.3 classes. Participants in the same-age, mixed-gender group averaged 33.8 classes, and participants in the same-age, same-gender group averaged 30.7 classes.

When there's an audience, people's performance improves -- ScienceDaily

When participants knew an audience was watching, a part of the prefrontal cortex associated with social cognition, particularly the thoughts and intentions of others, activated along with another part of the cortex associated with reward. Together these signals triggered activity in the ventral striatum, an area of the brain that motivates action and motor skills. In essence, the presence of an audience, at least a small one, increased people's incentive to perform well, Chib said, and the brain scans validated this by showing the neural mechanism for how it happens. While people were watching, participants were an average of 5 percent better at the video game -- and as much as 20 percent better. Only two participants didn't perform better in front of others.

To Find Meaning in Your Work, Change How You Think About It

Who we work with is as important as what we do. Psychologist Martin Seligman (among others) has written extensively on the importance of relationships to happiness and fulfillment (it’s a core element of his “PERMA” model for flourishing); and the now famous Harvard Grant Study found that happiness and even financial success are tied to the warmth of one’s relationships, with the study’s chief architect famously concluding, “Happiness is love. Full stop.”

Similar neural responses predict friendship | Nature Communications

Two of the “Big Five” personality traits—extraversion11,12 and openness to experience12—appear to be more similar among friends than among individuals who are not friends with one another. However, the remaining Big Five traits do not predict friendship formation well13. Similarities in conscientiousness and neuroticism are not associated with friendship formation12, and evidence for more similar levels of trait agreeableness among friends has been found in some studies12, but not in others11.

How singing your heart out could make you happier -- ScienceDaily

Prof Shakespeare said: "We found that singing as part of a group contributes to people's recovery from mental health problems. "The main way that Sing Your Heart Out differs from a choir is that anyone can join in regardless of ability. There's also very little pressure because the participants are not rehearsing towards a performance. It's very inclusive and it's just for fun. "The format is also different to a therapy group because there's no pressure for anyone to discuss their condition. "We heard the participants calling the initiative a 'life saver' and that it 'saved their sanity'. Others said they simply wouldn't be here without it, they wouldn't have managed -- so we quickly began to see the massive impact it was having. "All of the participants we spoke to reported positive effects on their mental health as a direct result of taking part in the singing workshops. "For some it represented one component of a wider progamme of support. For others it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health. "But the key thing for everyone was that the Sing Your Heart Out model induced fun and happiness."

Teens who help strangers have more confidence: Get your kids involved in service to strangers in this season of giving, researchers suggest -- ScienceDaily

In the study, researchers looked at 681 adolescents, 11-14 years old, in two U.S. cities. They tracked them for four different time points, starting in 2008 through 2011. The participants responded to 10 statements such as "I feel useless at times" or "I am satisfied with myself" to assess self-esteem. Prosocial behavior was measured by self-reports, looking at various aspects of kindness and generosity, such as "I help people I don't know, even if it's not easy for me" or "I go out of my way to cheer up my friends" or "I really enjoy doing small favors for my family." "A unique feature of this study is that it explores helping behaviors toward multiple different targets," Padilla-Walker said. "Not all helping is created equal, and we're finding that prosocial behavior toward strangers is protective in a variety of ways that is unique from other types of helping. Another important finding is that the link between prosocial behavior and self-esteem is over a one-year time period and present across all three age lags in our study. Though not an overly large effect, this suggests a stable link between helping and feeling better about oneself across the early adolescent years."