Today in research: a bit of mind reading, getting shorter, mimicking Scrubs, and learning that your brain keeps on developing.

  • What's the status on those sci-fi mind-reading devices that scientists say are coming? They do not seem to be quite up to read-your-thoughts speed yet (think decades for that, according to the cited article). But when brain-scanning researchers tracked people watching, fittingly, Star Trek movie clips, the reading program was "able to produce an approximate version of what they were watching." In a separate experiment where participants watched movie trailers, the The Telegraph described the mind-reading as a "blurry but continuous video in which the movements of the shapes on screen reflect the action in the genuine Hollywood trailer."  [The Telegraph]
  • This seems like an episode of Scrubs we saw awhile ago. If only the "arrogant" doctor who had been rude to the wealthy Carolyn Bucksbaum knew that she would eventually be donating $42 million dollars to support the university of another physician who had been kinder to her, maybe the rude doctor would have been nicer too. But that isn't what happened. As Bucksbaum described to The New York Times, there's plenty of research to back her up her pledge to build an institute that trains kinder doctors: "patients who had good relationships with their doctors were more likely to follow health regimens and to overcome illness," these studies find. [The New York Times]
  • In fairness to the brain, it doesn't just shrink. Previously, says this new bit of research, most people thought that your brain stopped developing during adolescence. Not so. It seems that starting a career or going to college can be just as brain enhancing as going through your formative years, finds a brain-scanning study from the University of Alberta. Now if you add a bit of golf to the mix... [Eurekalert - Press Release]
  • There aren't many good options for the depressed. Sure, the Reuters report on a meta-analysis of research leads with an important new finding that the "depressed may be a little more likely than others to suffer a stroke down the road." Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much that a person is supposed to do with that information. Take antidepressants? Well, an earlier study found that "depressed people who take antidepressants appeared to have an increased risk of stroke compared with depressed people who weren't on the drugs." [Reuters Health]
  • So, what you thought you saw happening to your parents actually did happen.  If, by chance, you noticed your parents seeming to get shorter recently, it probably isn't because you've gotten taller. Citing recent research, The Wall Street Journal broke the news bluntly to its readership: "Yes, You Are Getting Shorter" and continued to explain that shrinking is a natural part of aging. By the way: "Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or caffeine excessively, extreme dieting and taking steroids and other medications can exacerbate height loss." It's one more unpleasant thing to think about next time you have a cigarette or cup of coffee. [The Wall Street Journal]