Category Archives: Small things

Ha ha ha ha ha…!

Apparently, only slightly more than one-third of our fake laughs are good enough to fool others.  The first scholarly study of the differences between genuine and fake laughter has found that subtle differences in our breathing patterns distinguishes real from concocted laughter.  Greg Bryant, an associate professor of communication studies at UCLA, says that, “Genuine laughs are produced by an emotional vocal system that humans share with all primates, whereas fake laughs are produced by a speech system that is unique to humans.”  Can you tell the difference?  Read the full article and listen to the laughs used in the study.

WHO warns of lifestyle-induced cancer epidemic

In its World Cancer Report 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the number of new cases of cancer could soar 70 per cent to nearly 25 million a year over the next 20 years.  Half of those cases could be prevented.

The authors of the report stress the need for prevention, particularly as many of the new cases are associated “with increasing use of tobacco, consumption of alcohol and highly processed foods and lack of physical activity” – the diseases of affluence.

As all booklovers know…

… books change your life.  And your mind.  Something science has recently been examining.  How do books affect us biologically?  Researchers at Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy examined the “lingering neural effects of reading a narrative.”  They  found that even days after reading the story, participants’ brain scans showed heightened activity in several areas, suggesting the potential for longer-lasting changes.

“The fact that we’re detecting th[ose changes] over a few days for a randomly assigned novel suggests that your favorite novels could certainly have a bigger and longer-lasting effect on the biology of your brain.”