Results: In a recent study, a team of researchers assessed impatience by requiring participants to choose between instant gratification or future monetary rewards. Would you rather have $54 right now? Or $80 next month? To see how mindset impacted decision making, researchers had the participants write about a past event beforehand that made them feel either grateful, happy or neutral. Most people who elicited happy or neutral feelings took the immediate cash payout. However, people who felt grateful were more likely to hold off for a larger cash reward.
Significance: For those looking to save money, a simple gratitude exercise may help curb impulse spending. “[M]omentary experiences of gratitude were enough to increase financial patience by 12 percent,” said David DeSteno, a psychologist with Northeastern University. “This suggests that gratitude could enhance savings behavior and self-control.”
Results: According to a large-scale study funded by the National Institutes of Health, a drug designed to treat breast cancer shows promise in improving fertility among women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The condition, which affects 5 to 10 percent of women of childbearing age, is a leading cause of infertility. The drug at the center of the research is letrozole, a current breast cancer treatment that inhibits estrogen production. In a recent study, women treated with letrozole were more likely to ovulate and to have a live birth than women who received standard treatment.
Significance: Women suffering from perhaps the most prevalent cause of infertility may be one step closer to an effective treatment. “I was pleased as we were doing this study to find a better drug, and to help women have a safe, effective and relatively inexpensive way to achieve pregnancy,” said first author Dr. Richard S. Legro of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine.
Results: Incidences of testicular cancer have increased by 58 percent among young Hispanic Americans, according to a new analysis that spans almost two decades. During the same time period, an increase of just 7 percent was observed in non-Hispanic white teens and young adults. A precise explanation for the increase remains foggy at this point.
Significance: Researchers say a variety of factors might be at play. In general, there are a few known risk factors for testicular cancer. Males with a family or personal history with the disease are inherently at greater risk, as are males whose testes have not descended. Taller people also seem more likely to develop testicular cancer. “It turns out that in the past 30 years, the height of Mexican American boys has increased to a much greater degree than heights in either the white population or the black population,” said Dr. Rebecca Johnson of Seattle Children’s Hospital. Increased marijuana use has also been associated with the new statistics.
Results: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is initiating new research to test an implantable brain chip that will help restore memory. The technology has specific potential for service members, veterans and others affected by traumatic brain injury. UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania have been selected to carry out different aspects of DARPA’s Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program. Researchers are aiming to develop and test fully implantable, wireless neuroprosthetic devices to essentially bridge the gaps that interfere with the ability to recall old memories and encode new ones.
Significance: For people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, the ability to recall memories can be directly impacted. Even simple navigation tasks like an ordinary trip to the supermarket can prove difficult. An implantable brain chip could be a game changer as there are currently no targeted treatments available to restore memory function. The research is estimated to take about four years.
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