what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Being stress-free through meditation

A new study has revealed that 25 minutes of focused meditation for three consecutive days affects people’s ability to be resilient under stress.

J David Creswell, associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said that many people reported that they practiced meditation for stress reduction but they knew very little about how much people need to do for stress reduction and health benefits.

He further explained that when people initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, they have to cognitively work at it, especially during a stressful task and these active cognitive efforts might result in the task feeling less stressful but they might also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production.

Creswell’s team is now testing the possibility that mindfulness could become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity.

The study is published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. 
Rivalry brings out best in one’s athletic performance

A new study has revealed that harnessing personal rivalries could boost up an individual’s athletic performance and motivate them to work harder.

The research that surveyed runners and used data from 184 races found that even local races often produce rivals who pushed each other to higher levels of performance, and that several other factors lead to rivalry like similarity (e.g. age and gender), repeated competition and closely-decided contests.

Gavin Kilduff, from New York University, said that the rivalry between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras led them to have exhibition matches for charity in recent years, despite the fact that both players have long been retired and that the outcomes of these matches carry no financial stakes, they are still fiercely competitive with each other.

He further explained that runners actually pick one and another out at these kinds of races and also without prompting; they reported that rivalry motivated them to train and race harder and faster.

It was established that people’s behavior in competition situations depended on their relationship and history of interaction with their opponent, which suggested that they might be able to boost their own levels of motivation and performance by either forming rivalries or harnessing the ones they already have.

Kilduff did offer some caution in approaching rivalries, noting other research that suggested that people might act more unethically or engage in more risky behaviors if it means outperforming a rival and it was also suggested that rivalries may have other unexplored benefits such as promoting greater commitment and loyalty within groups.

The study is published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. 
Insect diet may have resulted in humans’ big brains

A new study has revealed that a lean-season diet of hard-to-reach ants, slugs and other bugs may have spurred the development of bigger brains and higher-level cognitive functions in the ancestors of humans and other primates.

According to the study by Washington University, challenges associated with finding food have long been recognized as important in shaping evolution of the brain and cognition in primates, including humans.

Amanda D Melin said that the study suggests that digging for insects when food was scarce may have contributed to hominid cognitive evolution and set the stage for advanced tool use.

The study provides support for an evolutionary theory that links the development of sensorimotor (SMI) skills, such as increased manual dexterity, tool use, and innovative problem solving, to the creative challenges of foraging for insects and other foods that are buried, embedded or otherwise hard to procure.

Melin added that they have found that capuchin monkeys eat embedded insects year-round but intensify their feeding seasonally, during the time that their preferred food – ripe fruit – is less abundant.

The findings suggest that the ingenuity required to survive on a diet of elusive insects has been a key factor in the development of uniquely human skills.

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