My Favorite Bit this week was about how younger siblings help their older siblings develop empathy. Older siblings tend to get a lot of credit from their parents for teaching their younger siblings and existing research already shows how kind and supportive older siblings positively impact the empathy of their younger sisters and brothers. This study shows that the younger siblings, even ones who are only 3-years-old, are also able to provide a “meaningful role in shaping their elder siblings’ empathic concern.”
Google has developed artificial intelligence that can predict your risk of a heart attack with pictures of your eyes; the tool was able identify people who would have a “major cardiac event or stroke” with 70% accuracy compared with the traditional European SCORE risk calculator that predicts these events with 72%, but requires a blood test. Research into the Medical uses of ketamine indicates its potential for treating depression and suicidal thoughts; it can cause noticeable improvements within 24 hours compared to the 4-6 weeks that it takes for traditional sedatives to be effective. Researchers investigating senescent cells, or cells that no longer divide to avoid spreading damaged DNA, were able to show how accumulation of these ‘retired’ cells impacts the aging process. Molecular biologist, Kirsty Spalding, also made an interesting discovery about cells: ”[a]s adults, we keep the same number of fat cells throughout our lives, regardless of whether we gain or lose weight over time.”
Education researchers at Stanford have identified the importance of teaching preschoolers math which they found to be predictive of improved reading skills (while the converse was not true). College students, though, don’t worry so much about what they learn in class as the primary value of a college education is the signaling it provides to future employers.
Finishing off your week in review is a Hodgepodge of articles that take a look at how human memory is enabled by an ancient virus that injected its DNA into one of our evolutionary ancestors, how narrative expressive writing helps ease heartache, why some black activists support the Nation of Islam despite anti-Semitic, homophobic, and sexist views espoused by the organization (it has to do with the support provided to black communities ignored by the rest of society), Yascha Mounk’s unsettling warnings about the rise of authoritarianism and how that threatens multiethnic democracies, and why the bidet has been historically shunned by the United States (it’s rooted in bigoted views about female biology and sexuality).
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Have a great rest of your week!