April 18, 2012

Heart Association
A new paper by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that positive psychological well-being may reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other adverse cardiovascular events. Many previous studies have shown that negative mental states, like depression, anger, and hostility, can be harmful to heart health. But the new report—an analysis of studies from the last 15 years—is the first large, systematic review of data on positive mood and cardiovascular outcomes. (Alexandra Sifferlin, Healthland, TIME)

How Persistence Rewires the Brain
In a recent study, scientists peeked into the brains of living mice as the rodents learned some new tricks. Mice who repeated the same task day after day grew more clusters of mushroomlike appendages on their neurons than mice who divided their attention among different tasks. In essence, the scientists observed a physical trace of practice in the brain. (Ferris Jabr, Scientific American)

What Makes a Line Memorable?
Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil and colleagues have taught a computer to identify memorable quotes with an accuracy approaching that of humans. It means computers might one day help writers test their latest catchy lines. (Jim Giles, New Scientist)

BOOKS
The Wolf Gift

Despite what critics might expect, Anne Rice is sympathetic and fair-minded to Christians in her new book. The Wolf Gift includes a kindly Catholic priest named Jim, brother to the novel’s werewolf hero, Reuben. “Reuben had a need to talk to somebody about this,” says Rice, “and I also thought a Catholic priest was going to be an interesting person to talk about it morally. And frankly, a supernatural hero that doesn’t have a moral concern about ripping people to shreds isn’t very interesting to me.” (Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Underwire, Wired)

EXHIBIT
Star Wars: Identities

The real and the imagined complement each other throughout. The exhibition addresses three main themes which help shape one’s identity: origins, influences, and personal choices. Within those themes are 10 components, including parents, culture, personality, and important life events. (Kathryn Greenaway, The Gazette)

Category: Field Notes

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