This week we look at a brain chemical that can make you trust or suspect other people, the role of sleep in memory and other exciting new research and perspectives.
You may have heard oxytocin described as the "cuddle hormone" because it's involved in the bond between romantic partners and between a mother and child. Studies have shown that it makes a person more trusting of others if he or she was already somewhat trusting. But now there's evidence that the chemical does not make everyone want to snuggle. New research finds that oxytocin can make someone who's suspicious of others even more hostile and uncooperative, reports ScienceNews.
Memory and sleep
Just knowing that you will have to recall something later makes you remember it better, a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience finds. The process of memory consolidation occurs during sleep, and it's common sense that if you don't sleep the night before a test, you won't perform as well as if you had. The study shows that it's not only facts that you remember better, but also learned skill sets, I reported for CNNHealth.com.
Kicking the habit
Will you quit smoking? A brain scan may be able to tell. Participants had functional magnetic imaging done of their brains while watching ads promoting smoking cessation. Researchers report in the journal Health Psychology that a reaction in the brain's prefrontal cortex was associated with reductions in smoking during a month after the brain scan. HealthDay via USA Today reports.
Scoring extra points with the kids
The mental health of young girls may benefit from playing video games with parents, Time's Healthland reports. The teens who played video games with a parent said they felt more closeness to their family and less aggression, and reported better behavior, than those who played alone or with friends. Researchers at Brigham Young University say it's the face-to-face time and interaction with parents that matters. It appears that boys did not display the same benefits, however.
'For fitter or fatter'
Marriage counselors are seeing more and more couples seeking therapy because of one spouse's athletic habits, which leave the other spouse feeling like an "exercise widow," the Wall Street Journal reports. Marathon trainings and other sporting excursions take away from family time, but are hard to give up. And sometimes getting buff attracts the attention of others, making the non-fit spouse feel insecure. The best solution is if both spouses engage in sports together, but it can still work out if one person just doesn't feel like it.