Urban design and childhood obesity

Children who live in more walkable neighbourhoods have a smaller waist measurement and a lower BMI (body mass index). Those are the findings of a Montreal research team led by INRS professor Tracie A. Barnett. According to the results of the study published in Preventive Medicine by Adrian Ghenadenik (lead author) with Professor Barnett (senior contributing author), urban design is a factor in the development of childhood obesity. The study suggests that infrastructure designed to encourage walking can help reduce childhood obesity. Pedestrian-friendly amenities, such as pedestrian crossing lights, wider sidewalks, and signs to help pedestrians cross the road, are thought to have a greater impact in high-density neighbourhoods. Such features can also encourage children to ride bicycles, play outside, and engage in similar activities, all of which help them burn off energy.

Source: The link between urban design and childhood obesity

Competition into conflict

Competition, while often seen as beneficial, can escalate into destructive conflict. This occurs, for instance, when athletes sabotage each other or when rival executives get caught up in a career-derailing fight. These escalations into conflict are especially likely among status-similar competitors, who are fraught with discordant understandings of who is superior to whom. We examine the link between status similarity and conflict as well as the conditions under which this link holds. We find that status-similar Formula One drivers are more prone to collide, especially when they are age-similar, perform well, are embedded in a stable role structure, and feel safe. Our inquiry deepens our understanding of when violent conflict emerges and can guide conflict prevention efforts.

Source: Escalation of competition into conflict in competitive networks of Formula One drivers

How music and rhythm shape our social brains

A universal sign of motherhood is the lullaby. The world over, mothers sing to their babies, whether Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, their favorite song from the radio, or even random notes. This universality makes the simple lullaby a great window into the human mind. In a new study, cognitive neuroscientists found that lullabies soothe both moms and babies simultaneously, while playsongs increase babies’ attention and displays of positive emotion toward their mothers.

The behavioral implications of music are vast, says Laura Cirelli of the University of Toronto Mississauga, who is presenting the new work on maternal singing at the 25th meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in Boston today. “Infant brains must be able to track auditory events in a predictive manner to make sense of music,” she explains, and many complex things are going on in their brains to make that possible.

From infancy to old age, music demands much from the human brain. Learning more about how we process music is helping scientists better understand perception, multisensory integration, and social coordination across the lifespan. Technological advancements – for example, more portable electroencephalography (EEG) and electrophysiology set-ups and- are allowing cognitive neuroscientists to study music in a variety of situations, from mother-child interactions to live concert halls.

Source: From lullabies to live concerts: How music and rhythm shape our social brains

Dealing with embarrassment


Feelings of embarrassment can be overcome through mental training. This is the finding of a study published in Springer’s journal Motivation and Emotion. By training your mind to be an observer rather than actively participating in the embarrassing situation it is possible overcome humiliating or distressing feelings, says Li Jiang of Carnegie Mellon University in the US who led the study.

Some people have such an intense fear of embarrassment that they go to great lengths to sidestep seemingly everyday situations. This could include not asking a shop assistant a question about a new product, for fear of sounding stupid, or not taking an embarrassing yet potentially life-saving medical test.

“Embarrassment prevents us from asking advice about what we should do, for example, about our mounting mortgage bills or unplanned pregnancies. In many cases, if we are to help ourselves, and others, we must overcome our fear of embarrassment in social situations,” explains Jiang.

Source: How to deal with embarrassing situations

10 Lessons from a Buddhist Monastery.

For 10 days each September, Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal welcomes a stream of spiritual seekers from all over the planet to learn about the dharma and experience for themselves the compassion, patience, and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism.

 I’d just quit my job as a teacher in the United Kingdom. Surfing on this wave of liberation, I decided to do what I’d only ever dreamed of: I packed my bag and booked a one-way flight to Nepal. I wanted to discover the far side of the world and to explore the inner reaches of the spirit.

On 4th September, I arrived in the Himalayan foothills and entered the tranquility of Kopan’s walls. For 10 days, I immersed myself in an outer world of temple bells, Buddhas, Om Mani Padme Hums, and monks swathed in robes of burgundy and gold.

Source: 10 Lessons from 10 days in a Buddhist Monastery.

Music therapy for military personnel

The military healthcare system is presented with significant challenges following recent conflicts. With advances in military medicine and technology, survival rates are higher and more service members leave combat with psychological injuries, including traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Such injuries present complex difficulties for treatment because of overlapping symptoms due to multiple health conditions, stigma of receiving care in military culture, and treatment options available within the military healthcare system.

Integrating creative arts therapies in military treatment can present challenges; many patients benefit from individualized care programs. To overcome such issues and ensure consistent, high quality treatment the researchers believe it’s important for music therapists and treatment centers to share program evaluations and successes, particularly by publishing more program evaluations and patient outcomes data in order to further validate program models, expand implementation, and provide research evidence. The paper outlines the current program models at two facilities, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Intrepid Spirit Centre at Fort Belvoir.

Source: Music therapy aids healing of military personnel

Cancer survivors are more easily fatigued

Adults who have undergone successful cancer treatment years or decades previously become fatigued more quickly than their peers who don’t have cancer histories, according to a new study in the journal Cancer from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The scientists examined data from a long-running study of normal aging, which included periodic treadmill tests of fatigability as well as 400-meter walks to test endurance. They found that, on average, participants with a history of cancer treatment reported more fatigue in the treadmill tests and were slower to complete the endurance walks, compared to participants without a cancer history.

Source: Study suggests that cancer survivors are more easily fatigued

Four Reasons to Start Doing Improv


1. Meet new people (outside the bar scene) — WIT students come from all walks of life — but they all come to improv with open minds, daring to try something new. Abandon your iPhone and share face-to-face laughs with a dozen strangers who will quickly become friends.

One student told us “you make instant friends, and you push yourself in ways that you might not initially believe possible.”

2. Unlock your creative potential — Everyone has untapped creativity — unleash yours with one of our eight-week classes. A testimonial: “You get to exercise your imagination in a way that most adults don’t get to do on a regular basis.”

Source: Say Yes to Your Creativity: Four Reasons to Start Doing Improv

Improv’s Leadership Lessons

We humans don’t make decisions based solely on data; we make them based on emotion, backed with available data. If you want to impact an audience—to influence, affect, inspire them to action—you must tap into emotion. The best way to do that is through stories.

Dan Klein, a lecturer of management at Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as a lecturer in the theater department, where he teaches improvisation, creativity and storytelling, will lead Execu/Blend™ attendees in a session called “StoryCraft.”

We process information in the world by picking out relevant details and creating stories that link those details together. There are teachable techniques that will boost your natural storytelling skills; Klein’s workshop will identify those techniques, and gives you plenty of safe opportunities to practice, learn and grow.

Source: Leadership lessons from improv – CUInsight

Improv helps  overcome memory loss

Martin tosses out an idea, and the rest of them run with it. They dance, gesture, and act out their feelings, with only a few moments to think about how they’ll express themselves.

“This is all about getting back to the root of who they are,” he said.

The class is part of a series of programs, including folk dance, film screenings, and sing-alongs, designed for people experiencing memory loss.

Reginald and Betty Evans are on their fourth class. Reginald’s memory is fading a bit, and he says these activities help keep him engaged.

“Since that day one, I think it’s helped (him) be more expressive,” Betty Evans said.

Instructors encourage the group to think on their toes and thrive in the moment, because yesterday, or even a few hours ago, might be kind of hazy.

“That playing off of each other, the laughter that comes out of that, all of that’s good for the brain,” said Pam Nolte, a teaching artist with Taproot Theater.

Source: Improv class helps dementia patients overcome memory loss