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Goosebumps are lie detector for emotions

In a new study, researchers have suggested that the body’s natural defence mechanism against the cold could function as a type of “lie detector” for emotional reactions.
The scientists found that goosebumps frequently come after an “emotional climax” provoked by a “powerful” event or the “remarkable” actions of someone.

The way a person’s skin stood on end provided an insight into their fear, surprise, awe or admiration, the Telegraph reported.

The research concluded that while a person could lie about what they were feeling or thinking, goosebumps were not easily faked.

According to Prof Richard Smith, study leader from the University of Kentucky, goosebumps are often considered to be a result of cold or fear but they may also be a blend of fear, surprise and submission in reaction to a remarkable action performed by another person.

Smith said that the emotion of awe may be closest emotion label for this kind of experience.

In their study, the team asked volunteers from American colleges to keep a journal over a month, where they wrote down each description of when they experienced goose bumps.
While “almost everyone” reported at least one experience the average was about two or three a week, they found.

Protein missing in fat tissue favours bad over good fat

Something more than overeating and a lack of exercise causes the body to store more fat and burn less energy – a protein called p62, researchers have claimed.

According to a study by Sanford-Burnham researchers, when p62 is missing in fat tissue, the body’s metabolic balance shifts—inhibiting “good” brown fat, while favouring “bad” white fat.

These findings indicate that p62 might make a promising target for new therapies aimed at curbing obesity.  “Without p62 you’re making lots of fat but not burning energy, and the body thinks it needs to store energy,” Jorge Moscat, lead author of the study, said.
“It’s a double whammy,” he said.

Moscat, who led the study with collaborators at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen in Germany and the University of Cincinnati, had previously produced mice that completely lack the p62 protein everywhere in their bodies. As a result, the animals were obese.

They also had metabolic syndrome. In other words, as compared to mice with p62, mice lacking p62 weighed more, expended less energy, had diabetes and had a hyper-inflammatory response that’s characteristic of obesity.

While those results showed that the lack of p62 leads to obesity, “we didn’t know which tissue was responsible for these effects, because p62 was missing in all of them,” Moscat said.

Some researchers believe that muscle tissue, where energy is expended, controls obesity. Others suspect the liver is a key player, or that the brain’s appetite control centre is most responsible for obesity.

But then there’s fat itself—both white fat and brown fat. White fat is the type we think of as unwanted body fat. Brown fat, on the other hand, is beneficial because it burns calories. Many researchers now believe that brown fat somehow malfunctions in obesity, but the details are unclear.


Pronunciation style of letter ‘S’ reveals one’s gender

How can you tell if a person is male or female just by their voice?  A new study has found that the style of speech can impact perceptions of a person's gender as well, not simply the pitch of his or her voice.

The way people pronounce their “s” sounds and the amount of resonance they use when speaking contributes to the perception of gender, according to University of Colorado Boulder researcher Lal Zimman.

“In the past, gender differences in the voice have been understood, primarily, as a biological difference,” Zimman, who studied transgender people transitioning from female to male, said.

“I really wanted to look at the potential for other factors, other than how testosterone lowers the voice, to affect how a person’s voice is perceived.”

As part of the process of transitioning from female to male, participants in Zimman’s study were treated with the hormone testosterone, which causes a number of physical changes including the lowering of a person’s voice. Zimman was interested in whether the style of a person’s speech had any impact on how low a voice needed to drop before it was perceived as male.

What he found was that a voice could have a higher pitch and still be perceived as male if the speaker pronounced “s” sounds in a lower frequency, which is achieved by moving the tongue farther away from the teeth.

“A high-frequency ‘s’ has long been stereotypically associated with women’s speech, as well as gay men’s speech, yet there is no biological correlate to this association,” said CU-Boulder linguistics and anthropology Associate Professor Kira Hall, who served as Zimman’s doctoral adviser.

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