Flash, April 2007

  • Men or women who have been unfaithful to their romantic partners feel better after watching stories about infidelity on television. Robin Nabi of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her colleagues showed people with a history of cheating two TV programs featuring adultery, one in which the unfaithful spouse expresses regret and one in which the spouse rationalizes the behavior. Whereas the cheaters preferred programs in which the behavior was rationalized, either storyline reduced the viewer's own regret for past indiscretions.
  • Through the formative ages of four to 13, firstborn children receive 3,000 more hours of quality time with mom and dad than later-born siblings. Joseph Price, a graduate student at Cornell University, made this discovery using data from the American Time Use Survey, by comparing, for example, firstborns in one family with a second-born child of the same age in another. The disparity in parental attention is larger the further apart the siblings are in age. The results suggest that some of the psychological effects attributed to birth order could be driven by the degree of parental involvement.
  • Quitting smoking is easy for patients with brain damage to the insula, a silver dollar–size region in the cerebral cortex. Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Iowa studied a group of 69 stroke patients with brain damage who had been smokers. After their stroke, some patients kicked the habit immediately and easily. Those patients that did not suffer a relapse or a persistent desire to smoke were more likely to have damage to their insula than anywhere else in the brain. The researchers say that drugs targeted to this region may help break cigarette addiction.


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