An insight about eye contact and a study that might interest moms-to-be were among the notable discoveries of the week:
- Scientists Have a Theory on Why You Break Eye Contact: Researchers in Japan suggest there's a surprising neurological reason why people avert their gaze during conversation, and it has to do with an overworked brain. They theorize that when you need to come up with words, particularly complicated ones, maintaining eye contact depletes the very brain resources you need to find them. This, it turns out, has some interesting cultural implications.
- New Species Looks Like an Ant and Bee Had a Baby: If an ant and a bee had a baby, it would probably look a lot like two new species of desert bee mesmerizing researchers. Perdita prodigiosa and Perdita pilonata are unusual in that they both have "distinctive ant-like males." Yes, it's only the guy bees who look like ants, and it might be because they stay home so much.
- Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Baby's Asthma Risk: A large study out of Denmark suggests that fish oil during pregnancy may help lower a child's risk of asthma. And while they're not ready to recommend that pregnant women take fish oil, the lead researcher says his team was surprised by the "magnitude" of the reduction. The find could lead to "precision medicine" for some women.
- Surprisingly Few Cheetahs Are Left: The cheetah is rapidly disappearing and risks extinction if urgent measures aren't taken to save the mighty cat. A new report estimates that only 7,100 of the world's fastest mammals are left in the wild, the vast majority of them living outside of protected areas. A host of factors is at play, including a staggering loss of native habitat.
- A Low-Cost Remedy Eases Symptoms of Mentally Ill: It's a simple idea: bring depression sufferers together with "grandmothers" for a good heart-to-heart talk on a park bench. But what researchers learned from the "friendship bench" study could change the lives of millions in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer from common mental disorders where services are scarce. The "grandmothers" are actually trained lay medical workers, and the results they achieved were impressive.
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