Dogs, don't skip breakfast
"Eating a morning meal increases search accuracy in dogs, a new study suggests," reports BBC News. "Researchers at the University of Kentucky tested the search performance of trained dogs after either consuming breakfast or fasting. The study found the canines searched more accurately 30 minutes after a meal than those who searched when hungry."
Cute baby animals
"It's Friday – need some help concentrating at work?" asks The Independent. "They may make you inadvertently, and embarrassingly, exclaim 'awwwwww,' but it appears that cute images of animals may have another – more workplace-acceptable – use. Seeing pictures of cute animals may boost workers' performance in jobs that require concentration, a team at Hiroshima University has shown. The study, which involved 130 college students, showed that looking at pictures of baby animals could improve your concentration by a tenth. Researchers also found that people who looked at pictures of baby animals performed better than those who looked at adult animals."
Educated and owing
"A study by Ohio State University has found that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to take on irresponsible levels of debt," says Pacific Standard magazine. "No, they aren't talking about the loans you ran up getting that PhD in Etruscan socio-linguistics. They're talking about buying wide-screen TVs on your ninth credit card, because that 0-per-cent teaser rate was just irresistible. Apparently, people with lots of education tend to believe themselves so capable of paying down debt, they rack it up with less consideration. The Ohio study found that people with college degrees were more likely than those with only high-school educations to pay more than 40 per cent of their monthly income to debt. Forty per cent represents a level of debt, the authors claim, at which job loss or a health crisis would likely result in a debt default. Basically, it's the point at which you long ago should have stopped borrowing, but didn't."
Mice can harmonize?
"Mice can 'sing' like a choir by matching the pitch of their voice to that of others, scientists claim," reports The Daily Telegraph. "Brain features used by humans and song-learning birds to manipulate the sounds we make are also shared to an extent by mice, a study found. The finding contradicts a long-held assumption that mice cannot learn to adapt their voices – a trait thought to be common only to humans, bats and a handful of bird and large mammal species. … Researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans found that when two male mice of different types were housed together, they slowly began to match the pitch of their songs to each other – a basic form of vocal learning."
A rat changes its mind
"A team of mind readers can now pinpoint exactly when a rat feels uncertain about its choices, simply by measuring its brain activity," says Inside Science News. "Doubt, they've discovered, creeps into the mind slowly. It starts with a few nerve cells near the front of the brain that get themselves into a tizzy. More and more cells join in, until a line is crossed and the mental maelstrom shakes up established patterns of brain activity – allowing rats, and possibly humans as well, to question their old beliefs about the world and explore new options."
A royal turn of phrase
"Prince Philip has long been known for his outrageous statements, and now he is to get a phrase of his own coining attributed to him in the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary," reports The Daily Beast. "The latest edition of the OED will say that Prince Philip introduced the term 'blue-arsed fly' after he was recorded using the term to abuse a photographer in 1970," on a royal tour of Australia.
THOUGHT DU JOUR