TIME Research

What Kids’ Drawings Say About Their Intelligence

Here are examples of children's drawings. Scores are from left to right: Top: 6,10,6; Bottom: 6,10,7. Twins Early Development Study, King's College London

The number of features a child draws into their sketch of a person may say a little something about their intelligence

A large and long-term new study shows the way a 4-year-old draws a person not only says something about their level of intelligence as a toddler but is also predictive of their intelligence 10 years down the line.

A team of researchers at King’s College London had 7,752 pairs of identical and non-identical 4-year-old twins draw a picture of a child. Every sketch was rated on a scale from 0 to 12 based on the presence of features, like legs, arms, and facial features. The kids also underwent verbal and nonverbal intelligence measurement tests.

When the kids turned 14, the researchers once again tested their intelligence. They found that a higher score on their drawing was moderately associated with the child’s intelligence both at age four and at age 14. The researchers expected to see a connection at age 4, but for the results to have consistency a decade later was surprising.

The researchers also found that the drawings of identical twins were more similar than the drawings of non-identical twins, suggesting that a genetic link was involved in drawing, though its exact mechanism was unknown. For instance the kids could be predisposed (or trained) to pay attention to detail well or hold their pencil in a specific way, the researchers say.

“The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly,” said study author Dr. Rosalind Arden, the lead author of the paper in a statement. “Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life.”

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Psychological Science.

TIME Research

Having Good Neighbors Could Reduce Heart Attacks in the Over-50s

Medical Check-up
A patient has a medical check-up in Lille's Institut Pasteur (IPL) in France. BSIP/UIG—Getty Images

A study finds that participants who rate their communities the highest have an almost 70% reduced risk of heart attack

A new study by researchers from the University of Michigan appears to suggest that close community ties reduce heart-attack risk for people over 50.

Researchers say previous data shows that some aspects of a person’s neighborhood — such as the amount of violence and the prevalence of fast-food restaurants — can elevate heart-attack risk, but this is the first study that reveals the cardiovascular benefits of “neighborhood social cohesion,” reports AFP.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on Tuesday, monitored the cardiovascular health of 5,276 participants who were over the age of 50 and had never had a heart attack.

The participants, who were mostly married women with an average age of 70, were involved in an ongoing Health and Retirement Study in the U.S. Beginning in 2006, participants were asked to rate, on a seven-point scale, whether their neighbors were trustworthy, reliable and friendly, and if they felt connected to their community. During the study, 148 of the participants had a heart attack.

Although data was adjusted to account for variables such as age, race and income, the four-year study revealed that every mark-up in neighborhood cohesion on the scale led to a 17% reduction in the odds of heart disease, according to the Health Medicine Network. The study’s co-author Eric Kim told AFP that those who gave a full score out of seven had a 67% reduced risk of heart attack.

Researchers admitted, however, that the study had limitations, like a lack of access to the participants’ family histories of cardiovascular disease. “This is an observational study, so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect,” researchers emphasized.

TIME National Security

Study: Passport Officers Struggle to Spot Fake Photo IDs

Officers failed to recognize faces were different from ID photos 15% of the time in a test situation

Officials charged with issuing passports mistakenly accepted photo identification displaying a different person 14% of the time, according to the results of a study published Monday.

The study asked officials to accept or reject someone based on whether a displayed photo matched the person before them. They mistakenly accepted someone with a different photo displayed almost 15% of the time and mistakenly rejected someone whose real photo was displayed 6% of the time.

“At Heathrow Airport alone, millions of people attempt to enter the UK every year. At this scale, an error rate of 15% would correspond to the admittance of several thousand travellers bearing fake passports,” said Rob Jenkins, a psychology researcher at the University of York and study co-author.

Officers fared even worse on a separate test that asked them to match a current photo with identification photos taken two years prior. They matched the photos incorrectly 20% of the time, a figure equivalent to the performance of an untrained control group.

The study, which tested 27 Australian passport officers, found that training had little influence on officers’ ability to identify faces on passports correctly. The best way to address faulty identification is to hire people who are innately better at identifying faces, researchers concluded.

“This study has importantly highlighted that the ability to be good at matching a face to an image is not necessarily something that can be trained,” said University of Aberdeen professor Mike Burton, a study co-author. “It seems that it is a fundamental brain process and that some people are simple more adept at it than others.”

TIME Research

The Viral Ice Bucket Challenge Has Raised $15.6 Million For ALS

The ALS Association raised $50,000 in the same period last year

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The extremely viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has led to record donations to the ALS Association, raising some $15.6 million in contributions to the group and and its national affiliates since July 29 — compared with less than $50,000 in the same period last year.

“It’s huge. It’s a game changer for the ALS Association,” said ALS Association President Barbara Newhouse.

The $12 million figure represents more than half of the funds raised in all of 2012, when the national organization brought in $19 million in contributions.

The total has been boosted by a flood of celebrities participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, in increasingly creative ways. Project ALS, another charity dedicated to combatting Lou Gehrig’s disease, said it experienced a surge in fundraising after Ben Stiller and Ricky Gervais took the Challenge and asked people to contribute to that organization specifically. The charity raised $96,000 over a single weekend, compared to just a few thousand dollars in the first weeks of August 2013.

What to do this unexpected windfall? Newhouse said the money will allow the ALS Association to “think outside the box.

“We need to take some time to make some very clear decisions about how best to spend this money,” said Newhouse, who said she will consult a number of people including the families that started and popularized the ALS challenge.

One clear priority will be research, on which the organization currently spends more than $6 million a year. Project ALS says all the money the organization receives will go toward innovative research and “staffing up.”

Both organizations said that no matter how the money is spent, the Challenge has brought invaluable awareness to their cause.

TIME medicine

These Mummified Cadavers Helped Teach Medical Students in the 1800s

The Burns Collection consists of human cadavers from the early 1800s that were anatomically dissected and preserved to teach anatomy and surgery to medical students. For the first time this portion of the collection is on display to the public as a part of traveling exhibit "Mummies of the World: The Exhibition."

TIME Research

Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Started

More than $15 million later, looking back at the origins of a viral sensation

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has quickly gone from a fundraising campaign to a viral Internet sensation, raising $15.6 million so far for the ALS Association to research Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But how did a campaign that has drawn in celebrities from Oprah and LeBron James to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg actually start?

Chris Kennedy, a golfer in Sarasota, Fla., was nominated by a friend to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, which at the time, had nothing to do with ALS. The campaign was not tied to any specific charity, and participants would select a charity of their choice for donations. Kennedy’s friend had selected a charity that benefits a young child with cancer in the area. Kennedy, passing the challenge along, then selected ALS because a relative is suffering from the disease. Kennedy nominated his wife’s cousin Jeanette Senerchia, whose husband Anthony is the one suffering from ALS. Kennedy posted this video on July 15—what appears to be the first instance in which the Ice Bucket Challenge and ALS were linked.

“My cousin Chris sent me a message telling me to check my Facebook,” Jeanette Senerchia told TIME. “He nominated me as a joke because we bust each other’s chops. I was just going to donate money.” Instead, Senerchia, not to be outdone by Kennedy, accepted the challenge and posted the video on her Facebook page on July 16, nominating more people. In the beginning, they used the hashtags #takingiceforantsenerchiajr and #StrikeOutALS to support a newly-formed non profit and baseball tournament to honor Anthony.

Senerchia said their town of Pelham, N.Y., is small and the challenge started to spread like wildfire among everyone including their families and even high school friends. Soon, they couldn’t keep track of the number of videos. Eventually, it reached another man with ALS, Pat Quinn from Yonkers, N.Y. Quinn and Senerchia had a couple of mutual Facebook friends, and the campaign had spread to his online community. Quinn was diagnosed with ALS in March 2013.

Eventually, Quinn’s social network connected with Pete Frates in Boston, who has an especially large network of supporters, and is very involved with the ALS community. Frates was diagnosed a year before Quinn, and since the two had a lot in common (Frates was a former captain of the Boston College baseball team and professional baseball player in Europe) Frates has become a friend and mentor to Quinn. “Pete has been a mentor to Pat because he is a year ahead of him in progression,” said Nancy Frates, Pete’s mother.

When asked how Pete Frates gained such a large following, Nancy says, “If you met Pete you would know.” Frates has maintained friendships with people he’s met throughout his life, and they’ve all become part of his support network. Frates posted his own video on Facebook on July 31, using both the hashtags #StrikeOutALS and #Quinnforthewin—and that’s when the campaign really went viral.

The ALS Association says it started seeing an unexplained uptick in donations on July 29, and on Aug. 4, it was clear something was really taking off. The organization said Monday that it’s received more than $15 million from existing donors and 307,598 new donors. Nancy Frates said her family has received emails from other smaller ALS groups who have said their donations are also up. “Everyone is being made aware of this disease and the reality of it,” Frates said.

“What started out as a small gesture to put a smile on Anthony’s face and bring some awareness to this terrible disease has turned into a national phenomenon and it is something we never could have dreamed of,” Kennedy said.

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