TIME Research

This Is How People Judge How Smart You Are

How smart we are is best conveyed through our voice

A new study from researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business suggest that when giving a pitch, an interviewee’s voice—not what they’ve written down—is what’s most convincing when it comes to gauging intellect.

In the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers conducted several experiments using MBA students. They videotaped the students while they were giving elevator pitches. Prospective employers or professional recruiters then watched, listened to or read transcripts of those pitches.

The researchers found that the evaluators rated the job candidates as more intelligent, thoughtful, and competent when they heard their pitch as opposed to when they read it. Showing the evaluators the video didn’t impact the results of the evaluations any more than hearing the candidate’s voice.

“Our data does not show that appearances don’t matter,” says study author Nicholas Epley, a professor at he University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “What they show is that your intelligence is not necessarily something I can see on your body, but I think it’s a cue that we can pick up or hear in your voice.”

MBA students didn’t expect this to be the case. “People seem to be afraid of sounding stupid or something, but in fact, they seem to be in danger of seeming stupid when they type,” says Epley.

In the context of a job interview, Epley says their data suggests that if there’s an opportunity to speak to someone directly, you should take it.

Epley also adds that the study sheds light on why people treat each other terribly on the Internet. “We think this gets to something really fundamental in social life,” he says. “We think this speaks to a broader capacity to recognize that other people are human beings. And the capacity to recognize someone’s mind, we think comes quite literally through their voice. So much of our conversations and interactions with each other are done digitally with the voice stripped out. I don’t think it’s any accident that people online people seem to treat each other as mindless idiots.”

Though the study is still preliminary, it reminds us that in certain contexts we can fail to recognize someone’s mind, or humanity, because they may not have much of a voice.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Weird Thing That Packs on Calories—And Pounds

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A new study says an increase in food brands is leading us to overeat

A quick trip down the frozen-food aisle at the supermarket can be anxiety-ridden. Given the sheer range of options for everything from popcorn to cereal to tomato soup, it’s tough to know what to buy (if you’re not going based on cost alone). Now, a new study suggests having so much variety may be wreaking havoc on our waistlines.

The new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows having so many different brands of the same food may be making us overeat. The researchers asked people nearly 200 people about their consumption of pepperoni pizza. In the study, there were over 70 different pepperoni pizza brands consumed, and the calorie content varied by well over 300%. The researchers then compared the eating habits of people who regularly ate multiple varieties of pizza to people who only regularly consumed the same brand.

The researchers found that the people who ate multiple brands of pizza were more likely to view pizza as less filling compared to people who ate one brand, and they were more likely to overeat when they were eating pizza to avoid being hungry later, suggesting they were unable to accurately compensate for the calories they were consuming on a given day.

“It would appear that this high variability of food items makes it more difficult for people to learn about food and manage their consumption which exposes a new feature of Western diets and which has potential public health implications,” study author Charlotte Hardman, a lecturer in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool said in a statement.

The findings suggest that having so many options may distort people’s perception of how filling a given food is. Historically, our ability to regulate our own expectations of food satiety was based on sensory experiences with that food. The researchers suggest that the influx of brands for foods that have the same taste, but not necessarily the same calories, may be throwing us off. And that might be bad news for the number on the scale.

TIME Research

Can Antidepressants Be Safe for Kids?

A new study looks into how antidepressants can best be used to help kids quickly without initial side effects

Currently, antidepressants carry a “black box warning” cautioning people that the pills can cause an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. But researchers in a new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry have taken a closer look at what exactly is causing these behaviors, and how to avoid them.

The warning was first affixed to antidepressants 10 years ago, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that a phenomena of increased “suicidality”—which means suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as opposed to actual suicide—could occur in young people who begin taking antidepressants.

As TIME has previously reported, many in the psychiatry community were upset by the addition of the warning, saying it discourages prescribing the drugs to people who need them. Depression is the greatest risk for suicide, not antidepressants, they argue.

In the new study, researchers decided to take a closer look at what exactly was happening when young people started on antidepressants. It’s been known for some time that often, when people take antidepressants, the individuals’ symptoms can get worse before they get better. Dr. Adam Kaplin, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his colleagues looked closely at this period, and how this adjustment period might be mitigated in young people.

Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) cause serotonin levels to rise. But there is a receptor in the brain called the 5-HT1AR, which acts like a break and prevents this from happening. Eventually, the receptor regulates, and allows serotonin levels to increase, but before that happens, patients can feel worse. The researchers tested this with mice, and showed that mice became anxious when they were first given an SSRI. But when the researchers gave these mice drugs that blocked the 5-HT1AR receptor in addition to the SSRI, the mice fared better.

“Not only did it completely reverse that anxiety, it made them less anxious than they were at baseline. It made the SSRI’s positive effects kick in almost immediately,” says Kaplin.

Currently, fluoxetine (Prozac) is the slowest-acting SSRI, and the only one approved for kids ages 8 to 12, the authors say. The researchers used a computer simulation to determine how long the adjustment period is for other types of SSRIs as well. They found that starting with half the normal dose and slowly increasing to the full dose over the course of a month was the best strategy for limiting the downside that comes with the adjustment period.

The researchers say they hope their study sheds light on what’s happening when kids start on antidepressants, and what an appropriate dosing strategy may look like. “We are saying, Look, these drugs are perfectly safe once you understand them, and you understand that you have to start them low and go slow or add something that blocks the 5-HT1AR receptor,” says Kaplin. “We are trying to say this is not a mystery. We understand the mechanism.”

Currently there are no drugs that effectively block the 5-HT1AR receptor in the way the researchers would like, but Kaplin says they are looking for a company that may be interested in developing one for human use.

 

TIME medicine

Puerto Rico Governor Signs Executive Order to Legalize Medical Marijuana

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The order goes into immediate effect

The governor of Puerto Rico signed an executive order Sunday to permit the use of medical marijuana in the U.S. territory.

“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life,” Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a statement. “I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.”

Padilla noted that research supports the use of marijuana to relieve pain and symptoms from disorders that range from multiple sclerosis to glaucoma.

Puerto Rico’s health secretary has three months to release a report on how the executive order will be implemented in the territory and what its impact will be, the Associated Press reports. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 U.S. states.

[AP]

TIME Research

Parents May Pass On Sleepwalking to Their Kids

Somnambulant parents likely to have kids who walk in their sleep too

Kids are more likely to sleepwalk if their parents also did, a new study suggests.

The new research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that over 60% of kids who developed somnambulism had parents who were both sleepwalkers.

The study authors looked at sleep data for 1,940 kids whose history of sleepwalking and sleep terrors (episodes of screaming and fear while falling asleep) as well as their parents sleepwalking were reported through questionnaires.

The data showed that kids were three times more likely to become a sleepwalker if they had one parent who was, and seven times more likely to sleep walk if both parents had a history of it. The prevalence of sleepwalking was 61.5% for kids with dual parent sleepwalking history.

The overall prevalence of sleepwalking in childhood reported among kids ages 2.5 to 13 years old was 29.1%, while the overall prevalence of sleep terrors for kids between age 1.5 to 13 was 56.2%. Kids who had sleep terrors were more likely to also develop sleepwalking, compared to kids who did not have them.

“These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors,” the study authors write. “This effect may occur through polymorphisms in the genes involved in slow-wave sleep generation or sleep depth. Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately.”

TIME Crime

Mother Tosses Baby Off Bridge, Then Jumps

The mother is charged with attempted homicide

A teen mother was seen throwing her baby over a Pennsylvania bridge and into the water below, before jumping off the bridge herself.

The apparent attempted murder-suicide happened Sunday around 1:45 p.m in the city of Allentown, KTLA 5 reports. Witnesses said the 19-year-old mother was seen pushing the baby in a stroller before throwing the child, and then herself, over the Hamilton Street Bridge.

The mother was found unconscious under the bridge and the baby was found 700 yards downstream. Police officers were able to perform CPR on the child. Both the mother and the baby are expected to survive, according to Allentown Police Capt. William Reinik.

The mother has been charged with attempted homicide, NBC10.com reports.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Kind of Sugar Triggers Unhealthy Cravings

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Fructose may mess with how our brains process rewards, a new study says

A new study shows a type of sugar found naturally in fruit may increase cravings for high-calorie foods.

In a small study of 24 people published in the journal PNAS, researchers found that fructose — which we primarily consume as an added sweetener in processed foods — was associated with activity in some areas of the brain that process rewards.

MORE: This Is the No. 1 Driver of Diabetes and Obesity

The researchers gave the volunteers cherry-flavored drinks that were sweetened with fructose on one day and drinks sweetened with glucose on another day, and asked them to report their hunger levels.

Neuroimaging scans of the participants showed more activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and visual cortex of their brains, which are involved in reward processing, when they looked at images of food after they ingested fructose compared to glucose.

The researchers also showed the men and women images of high calorie foods and asked if they would like to have food now, or if they would like a monetary bonus later on. When drinking fructose, the individuals were more likely to say they wanted the food reward right away rather than money later on.

“These findings suggest that ingestion of fructose relative to glucose results in greater activation of brain regions involved in attention and reward processing and may promote feeding behavior,” the study authors write. It’s possible, they suggest, that fructose has less appetite suppressing effects compared to glucose. As TIME has previously reported, the two types of sugar are metabolized differently in the body.

The findings are still preliminary and the study sample was small, but this isn’t the first time that fructose has been linked to possibly unhealthy effects. A previous 2015 study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that, when compared to other types of sugars and sweeteners, fructose was linked to worsening insulin levels and glucose tolerance—a driver for pre-diabetes—and it was linked to harmful fat storage and markers for inflammation and high blood pressure.

So does that mean you should give up eating fruit? No, says study author Dr. Kathleen A. Page, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California told the New York Times. “It has a relatively low amount of sugar compared with processed foods and soft drinks,” she said.

TIME Addiction

Health Experts Angry FDA Still Doesn’t Regulate E-Cigarettes

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Prominent medical groups are asking the government to hurry up

A year has passed since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new regulations for e-cigarettes, cigars and waterpipe tobacco, to prevent them from being sold to minors and to require manufacturers to add health warnings to labels—but the new rules still haven’t gone into effect.

Now, public health experts are urging action, arguing it’s unacceptable that it’s taken so long given data shows use of these products among minors has spiked.

Earlier this week, 31 health and medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Heart Association wrote a letter to President Obama asking for the federal government to finalize the “long-overdue” regulation. The medical groups say cigar and e-cigarette brands are using marketing tactics that they feel appeal directly to young people, like promoting candy and fruit-flavored products, and they want regulations to put an end to it.

“It’s no wonder use of e-cigarettes by youth has skyrocketed,” the letter reads. “This process has already taken far too long. We cannot afford more delays that allow tobacco companies to target our kids with a new generation of tobacco products.”

Health experts are concerned over a recent U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that showed e-cigarette use among middle school and high school students tripled between 2013 to 2014 and hookah use doubled. The report showed that e-cigarette use among high schoolers increased from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014, which is a rise from approximately 660,000 students to 2 million.

“My concern is always the first-time users,” says Shyam Biswal, a professor in the department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s bad it took so long to make a dent in [conventional] tobacco users, and we are now starting something else, and we are just waiting and waiting and waiting. We don’t have the data that e-cigarettes are a gateway [to other tobacco products], so we just wait. It should not be like that.”

In a statement sent to TIME, the FDA said it “remains concerned about the significant increase in e-cigarette and hookah usage among youth.” The agency wrote:

These staggering increases in such a short time underscore why FDA intends to regulate these additional products to protect public health. Rulemaking is a complex process, and this particular proposed rule resulted in more than 135,000 public comments for the agency to review and consider. FDA is committed to moving forward expeditiously to finalize the rule that will extend its authority to additional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and other currently unregulated tobacco products.

Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education, said he hopes that when the regulation is finalized there are no loopholes. “Given that the White House has blocked eliminating menthol from cigarettes for years despite strong evidence—including from the FDA’s own analysis that doing so would protect public health—I am not holding my breath,” he said.

Several states and local governments have regulated items like e-cigarettes on their own. Data shows at least 42 states and 1 territory currently prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors.

“I just hope that the final FDA rule does not do anything to make that process more difficult,” said Glantz.

The medical groups concluded in their letter that “further delay will only serve the interests of the tobacco companies, which have a long history of using product design and marketing tactics to attract children to harmful and addictive products.”

When asked for a comment about the letter, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget referred TIME to the FDA.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s Your Health Excuse to Have a Mint Julep

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Mint is one healthy herb

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and that means mint juleps will be on the menu. While there’s really no great health benefit imparted by bourbon, mint certainly has its qualities. If nutrition is what your after, mint soaked in booze may not be the best source, but if you need an excuse for a second mint julep, we’ve got a few.

“Without a doubt, the mojito is my favorite way to enjoy the fresh flavor of mint, but it’s mint in its natural state that I truly love,” says registered dietitian Tina Ruggiero. “Mint is available as a tea; you can buy peppermint oil and, of course, there’s the mint leaf itself.”

Ruggiero says that used in all these forms, mint has the ability to calm an upset stomach, relieve nasal symptoms from cold or allergies, and it’s a good source of Vitamins C and A. Some studies have even found that peppermint oil can be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

“While mint has trace amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium, you’d have to eat quite a bit of it to garner any particular benefit,” says Ruggiero. “Instead, use it liberally as an ingredient where appropriate, since it doesn’t add fat, calories or sodium to your meals.” (That probably means mint crushed in your Derby drink isn’t doing you much good).

Besides mint juleps or mojitos, mint can add an extra kick in the kitchen. Try adding some chopped mint to salads or smoothies, or as Ruggiero suggests, infuse cold water with mint for a refreshing and healthy drink.

Gardening enthusiasts also take note: mint is also a great addition to an herb garden.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Foods That Taste Better in May Than They Will All Year

Never know what’s growing now? Let’s take it one season at a time, with the Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year.

Often we think Spring is the season of abundance, but that’s really not true. While there’s certainly some produce that tastes its best during in spring, summer produces the more abundant yields. While the month of May is still early for some fruits and veggies, it certainly kicks off the season.

“In the produce business, we all kind of wish every month was like May. It’s a time of intense change, and it marks the official start of the summer tree fruit season,” says James Parker, the associate coordinator for Whole Foods Market’s global perishables buying office. “We also see a tremendous increase in local and regional production throughout the U.S. Because it’s domestic season, the product doesn’t have to travel as far.” That means that not only will produce in the grocery store be better quality, but it will likely be a good price too.

Parker says that in May, produce quality is still “contingent on the whims of Mother Nature.” But we will start seeing lots of fruits and vegetables that were in poor supply in the Spring and Winter months. Here are five foods to add to your shopping list this month.

Corn: You may think of July and August as peak corn season, but consider this: “You want to buy corn as close to where it’s grown as possible,” says Parker. “That’s because the longer the corn is held in storage, or the longer it has to travel, the less sweeter it becomes—its sugars convert to starch.” Not only will corn by growing in abundance in California and Florida, but southern states will start seeing large crops too, which means less delivery travel nationwide.

Blueberries: Blueberries tend to taste better if you buy them locally, and domestic production of blueberries will be happening this month in many parts of the country. Not only will blueberries be fresh and sweet, but you’re likely going to get a good deal too since berries will start competing against summer tree fruits for consumers’ attention.

Apricots: Apricots tend to have a pretty short season, but Parker says this year’s weather indicates there will be tasty apricots in May. “Most folks have them in preserves or dried, but the fresh fruit season is touch and go,” he says. If the weather is really inconsistent, Parker says it can affect the apricot quality. “But this year we had a pretty mild winter,” he says. That means there will likely be some delicious apricots available this month.

Cherries: “If you like cherries, chances are you are going to have a really good May,” says Parker. The season for cherries on the west coast is starting earlier this year, so you’ll likely be getting your fix of sweet and sour cherries this month.

Avocados: May kicks off the season for summer salads, and avocados are an especially tasty topper. “We see an overlap in domestic and import avocado production in May,” says Parker. “[Avocados] are in great quality.” In places with more temperate climates, avocados can be in season all year round, but in the U.S. May is a good time to start looking for especially delicious fruits.

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