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Difficult-to-read fonts 'can boost learning'

Researchers at Princeton University suggest that difficult-to-read fonts make for better learning.

They employed 28 volunteers to learn made-up information about different types of aliens in 90 seconds. One group was given the lists in 16-point Arial pure black font, which is generally regarded to be easy and clear to read. The other had the same information presented in either 12-point Comic Sans MS 75pc greyscale font or 12-point Bodoni MT 75pc greyscale. The volunteers were distracted for 15 minutes, and then tested on how much they could remember.

Researchers found that, on average, those given the harder-to-read fonts actually recalled 14 pc more. They believe that presenting information in a way that is hard to digest means a person has to concentrate more, and this leads to “deeper processing” and then “better retrieval” afterwards.

It is an example of the positive effects of what scientists call "disfluency". “Disfluency is just a subjective feeling of difficulty associated with any mental task,” the BBC quoted psychology Prof Daniel Oppenheimer, one of the co-authors of the study, as saying.
“So if something is hard to see or hear, it feels disfluent... We'd found that disfluency led people to think harder about things,” Oppenheimer added.

Secrets behind what makes people attractive revealed

A study into why some people are more attractive than others has found that it may all be due to oxidative stress and antioxidants.

Psychologists have discovered that men who were rated as the most physically attractive have the lowest levels of markers of oxidative stress. “They fit in with the idea that women evolved to find particular features attractive because those features are related to low levels of oxidative stress,” the Independent quoted psychologist Dr Steven
Gangestad, who led the study, as saying.

Researchers found that it is not a chosen trait but one that is inborn, and which has evolved over time as a way of distinguishing the virile from the weak. As cells use oxygen to make energy, they can create free radicals. These are unstable molecules that can have chemical reactions with other molecules, causing the cell damage known as oxidative stress.

Free radicals can be kept in check by antioxidants, but if there is an overabundance of radicals, the resulting oxidative stress can damage DNA and tissue.

Diabetes in Britain costing NHS £1m an hour

A huge number of people in Britain are being diagnosed with diabetes that is said to be costing the NHS one million pounds every hour.

Diabetes UK, which collected the figures, revealed one in 20 is now being treated for the condition, with 90 per cent suffering from Type 2 diabetes, which is fuelled by poor lifestyle and obesity.

As of last year, 150,000 new cases have been reported, which is a six per cent rise, and experts are extremely worried by the surge as it mirrors a six per cent rise in obesity. “These figures confirm how appalling the levels of diabetes and obesity are in this country, and they would be even worse if they included children,” the Daily Express quoted Tam Fry, of the Child Growth Foundation, as saying.

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