December 8th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
A lot of fascinating discussions about what's going on in your brain - such as the implications of binge drinking, the rise of depression, and the symptoms of concussions - are bubbling this week.
Do intelligent people drink more?
A blog post in Psychology Today claiming that more intelligent people are more likely to binge drink has met with some heated reaction. The author Satoshi Kanazawa wrote in October that "more intelligent children, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, grow up to consume alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children." The basis of this argument: Data showing correlations between intelligence and drinking.
His explanation is that alcohol consumption is relatively recent in human history, and intelligent creatures seek evolutionarily novel stimuli. In fact, that was also the rationale behind a highly controversial study from earlier this year suggesting that higher IQ is linked to liberalism, atheism, and male sexual exclusivity.
Kanazawa's blog post has come under fire in the Huffington Post and an even more scathing critique in Psychology Today. Psychologist Stanton Peele points out in the Huffington Post that college graduates are the "most likely to drink but the least likely to binge drink," according to a government survey he cites. Education is not the same as intelligence, but the two tend to be associated, he said. And, moderate drinking has been associated with health benefits such as lower cardiovascular risk.
As to whether evolutionary psychology as a whole is "dangerous bull--," as Peele suggests, is perhaps not so clear-cut.
Cleaner, but more depressed
It's no secret that depression is on the rise in America, and one possible explanation is that we're just too clean. Dr. Charles Raison, Emory University psychiatrist and CNNHealth Mental Health Expert, says that our ramped-up hygiene may be getting rid of bacteria that we need to fight inflammation, which can lead to depression. Raison and colleagues wrote about this in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Allergists have also speculated that our society's over-cleanliness has led to a rise in food allergies. Does this mean exposure to outcast microorganisms would help? That remains to be seen.
Not just a head bump
Drowsiness in a high school female athlete may not be a sign of sleep deprivation - it could be a concussion. A study in the Journal of Athletic Training shows that boys and girls say they have distinct symptoms of concussion, Time reports. For the high school guys, concussion symptoms include amnesia and disorientation.
Dentist the menace
If you're terrified of the dentist, you're not alone. A large study of England, Wales and Northern Ireland found that 19 percent of women, but only 10 percent of men, have extreme anxiety when going to the dentist, according to the BBC. If you have a serious fear of getting your teeth fixed and want support, check out Dental Fear Central.
More than luck
Are you destined to get ahead? Making good financial decisions, or doing well at gambling, may come from genetics. You might be getting lucky in the market because of the "warrior gene," which influences how good you are at maximizing value from such decisions, according to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Nature reports. Apparently, those with the genetic variant MAOA-L make risky calls about 41 percent of the time, but are good at ruling out bad choices. Of course, this is a small and preliminary study in this area. MAOA is called the "warrior gene" because it has been linked to aggression in the past.
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.