Discovered: a doorway effect, walking fish, thinking when leaning to left, ADHD meds get the all clear and cellphone distracted drivers get some vindication.
- Something to blame for why you forgot what you were doing. Annoying: moments where you get up to get something and then stand around for a minute trying to remember what it is you were doing. Why does that happen? The doorway? The mere act of walking into another room may trigger some sort of memory shuffle in your brain. It's called the "doorway effect," and University of Notre Dame researchers, as Scientific American tells it, think there's something there. "[W]alking through doorways caused forgetting," and participants "responses were both slower and less accurate when they'd walked through a doorway into a new room than when they'd walked the same distance within the same room." Sure, it may have also had to do with the idea that "remembering is easier in the room in which you originally took in the information." But at least it gives the forgetful a starting point to figure when information slowly drifts away. [Scientific American]
- Things look smaller if you're leaning to the left. Not in a political sense, actually just physical leaning to the left made participants perceive quantities (like, for example, the height of the Eiffel Tower) to be smaller. The study, by Erasmus University researchers who roped in a bunch of undergrads to answer questions while standing on a Nintendo Wii balance board, gets pretty technical to read into. But the graspable idea, as The Guardian explains, is just how much our thinking gets altered when something small, like balance, is just slightly off enough to "unconsciously influence" our perception of things. One question: what about leaning to the right? [The Guardian]
- Maybe the 'cellphone use = car crash' link was overstated. That's the finding of a new analysis of prior studies by a Wayne State University researcher, but even if his calculations are correct it doesn't seem like his conclusion is getting traction. "I don't think this study is going to change the conversation about distracted driving," said another researcher who came to the opposite conclusion (cellphone use does increase distracted driving) to Reuters. Not that anyone wants some Blackberry-addled driver to wave around this article as proof that they can handle multi-tasking while driving, but, at least, there's some evidence to unsimplify the only "blame the cellphone" theory for terrible driving. [Reuters]
- ADHD medication gets the 'all clear' once again. This is the second time recently that a major analysis found that ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin don't raise heart risk in users. Which is probably comforting news as a jittery college finals season finishes up. In November the finding, from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the prescriptions didn't up the risk of heart problems in youth. Today, as the AP informs, a similar result was found in adults. The Adderall and Ritalin takers had "the same number of heart attacks, strokes and sudden heart-related deaths as adults who didn't use those drugs." [The Associated Press]
- Well, this fish isn't exactly walking but ... When we imagine "walking fish" we picture something akin to the Finding Nemo creatures suddenly deciding they'd like walk upright on the ocean floor. Scientific discoveries sometimes pale in comparison, even if they sort of imply how evolution occurred a long, long time ago. In the video below, via New Scientist, the African lungfish is filmed slowly "walking," it looks like a hobbled hop (and not quite as evolutionarily impressive as tool-wielding fish). But, it's just one step: "This shows us — pardon the pun — the steps that are involved in the origin of walking," said researcher Neil Shubin at the University of Chicago to Live Science/MSNBC. "What we're seeing in lungfish is a very nice example of how bottom-walking in fish living in water can easily come about in a very tetrapod-like pattern." [New Scientist, MSNBC]