Here’s How to Make Oat Milk

When I moved to Berlin over a year ago, one of the first, out-of-the-ordinary things I noticed at the grocery store was oat milk. I’d never seen this back in the U.S., and I was intrigued, so I tossed a box of the stuff into my cart and went on my way. Normally, I’m not a huge alternative milk drinker—yes, I’ve made nut milks in the past for fun, but in general I find these drinks too watery to be true substitutes for dairy milk. But this oat milk was different. It was rich and creamy, and if someone had told me it was actually dairy, I just might have believed them.

Now it seems that oat milk has made its way to the States, because people online are obsessed—to be honest, I’m pretty obsessed, too. Because I love a good kitchen project, I decided to see what it would take to make oat milk without having to pay the hefty price its often sold for at the grocery store. I thought it would be similar to making nut milk, but, to my surprise, it’s actually way easier.

There are a handful of different oat milk-making methods online, so I tried out a couple from two of my favorite recipe blogs to see if I could do it myself. Here’s everything I learned in the process, plus exactly how to make oat milk in practically no time at all.

Recipe 1: Homemade Oat Milk from Oh She Glows

Soak the oats first.

Audrey Bruno

My first recipe came from the beloved vegan website, Oh She Glows. In it, you’re directed to first rinse a cup of oats thoroughly, then soak them in water for 20 minutes or up to a day before doing anything else. I thought for sure this recipe would be the better one, because I figured soaking would be the best approach, since that’s what you have to do to make nut milk. It turns out, the soaking may not have been the best choice after all (more on that later).

Use steel-cut oats if available, but old fashioned oats will work just fine, too.

It’s not always easy to find the ingredients I need in Berlin. Sometimes they just don’t have certain things (like, there’s no vanilla extract here!) and sometimes they do and I just don’t know what it’s called or where to find it. I spent a good, long time at the supermarket scouring the aisles for steel-cut oats with no success.

I wound up using the only oats I could find instead—old-fashioned oats. Even though the recipe called for steel-cut, I didn’t notice any problems with the swap. If you want to try it with steel-cut oats instead, I’m sure the results will be pretty similar.

After you soak the oats, rinse them again, blend for 10 seconds, then strain through a cloth and sieve.

Audrey Bruno

Since the oats have been soaked, they’ll be a lot easier to blend than if they hadn’t, so you only need to blend them for a very short amount of time—8 to 10 seconds, as directed by Oh She Glows.

After you’ve rinsed the soaked oats, add them to a blender with 3 cups of water (you can add more water than that if you want, but the end result will be, well, more watery). Blitz them for those 10 seconds, and then pour the liquid over a cloth-lined sieve until the liquid fully passes through, leaving the oat pulp behind. I’m impatient, so I squeezed the liquid out of the cloth and that sped up the process a lot.

The resulting milk was light and creamy, but it was missing the heft that gives a dairy-free product that can’t-believe-it’s-not-real quality.

Recipe 2: Oat Milk from Minimalist Baker

Use old-fashioned oats, and don’t worry about soaking them—just blend everything together.

Audrey Bruno

This recipe was beyond easy. Rather than soaking the oats, Minimalist Baker directs you to simply put all your ingredients into a blender, and then let it ride at max power for a full minute.

Add four cups water and one cup oats (and any other ingredients you like, like dates or vanilla extract) to a blender. Cover and let it blend at a high speed for just a minute. Then, strain the liquid over a cloth-lined sieve. Again, I squeezed the liquid out to make the process go faster.

And that’s it! The milk I was left with had a mouthfeel that really reminded me of dairy. That’s probably because more of the actual oat was in the drink, since I didn’t strip its fiber by soaking it, and because the longer blend time resulted in a finer, leftover pulp. The flavor was more like oatmeal than milk, but I was kind of into it.

If you prefer something light and frothy, go for recipe 1. If you’d rather have something silky and a bit heavier, recipe 2 is the one for you.

Audrey Bruno

In my opinion, recipe 2 was both the easiest and the tastiest of the two oat milks I made. It was so simple, I honestly might do it all the time. That being said, recipe 1 was good, too—it was light and frothy and very thirst quenching, it just didn’t taste as authentically like dairy as the other one did. Either one you choose, they’re both easy to make and affordable to boot—definitely a worthy addition to your cooking routine.

Testing the reproducibility of social science research

Today, in Nature Human Behavior, a collaborative team of five laboratories published the results of 21 high-powered replications of social science experiments originally published in Science and Nature, two of the most prestigious journals in science. They failed to replicate the results of more than a third of the studies and turned up significantly weaker evidence for the remainder compared to the original studies.

In addition, prior to conducting the replications, the team set up prediction markets for other researchers to bet money on whether they thought each of the findings would replicate. The markets were highly accurate in predicting which studies would later succeed or fail to replicate.

“It is possible that errors in the replication or differences between the original and replication studies are responsible for some failures to replicate,” says Gideon Nave, an assistant professor of marketing of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and one of the project’s leads, “but the fact that the markets predicted replication success and failure accurately in advance reduces the plausibility of these explanations.”

The team included researchers from Penn, the University of Innsbruck, the Stockholm School of Economics, the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Open Science, the National University of Singapore, the University of Virginia, California Institute of Technology, the University of Göteborg, Harvard University, Spotify Sweden, LMU Munich, the University of Amsterdam, and the Harbin Institute of Technology.

The researchers tried to replicate one main finding from every experimental social science paper published between 2010 and 2015 that met the team’s requirements of involving randomized controlled experiments conducted either with college students or online. To extend and improve on prior replication efforts, the team obtained the original materials and received the review and endorsement of the protocols from almost all of the original authors before conducting the studies. The studies were preregistered to publicly declare the design and analysis plan, and the study design included large sample sizes so that the replications would be likely to detect support for the findings even if they were as little as half the size of the original result.

“To ensure high statistical power,” says Felix Holzmeister of the University of Innsbruck, another of the project’s leaders, “the average sample size of the replication studies was about five times larger than the average sample size of the original studies.”

The team found that 13 of the 21 replications, or 62 percent, showed significant evidence consistent with the original hypothesis, and other methods of evaluating replication success indicated similar results, ranging from 57 to 67 percent. Also, on average, the replication studies showed effect sizes that were about 50 percent smaller than the original studies. Together this suggests that reproducibility is imperfect even among studies published in the most prestigious journals in science.

“These results show that ‘statistically significant’ scientific findings,” says Magnus Johannesson of the Stockholm School of Economics, another project leader, “need to be interpreted very cautiously until they have been replicated even if published in the most prestigious journals.”

The prediction markets the research team established correctly predicted the outcomes for 18 of the 21 replications. Market beliefs about replication were highly correlated with replication effect sizes.

“The findings of the prediction markets suggest that researchers have advance knowledge about the likelihood that some findings will replicate,” notes Thomas Pfeiffer of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, another of the project leaders. The apparent robustness of this phenomenon suggests that prediction markets could be used to help prioritize replication efforts for those studies that have highly important findings but relatively uncertain or weak likelihood of replication success.

“Using prediction markets could be another way for the scientific community to use resources more efficiently and accelerate discovery,” adds Anna Dreber of the Stockholm School of Economics, another project leader.

This study provides additional evidence of the challenges in reproducing published results, and addresses some of the potential criticisms of prior replication attempts. For example, it is possible that higher-profile results would be more reproducible because of high standards and the prestige of the publication outlet. This study selected papers from the most prestigious journals in science.

Likewise, a critique of the Reproducibility Project in Psychology suggested that higher-powered research designs and fidelity to the original studies would result in high reproducibility. This study had very high-powered tests, original materials for all but one study, and the endorsement of protocols for all but two studies, and yet still failed to replicate some findings and found a substantially smaller effect sizes in the replications.

“This shows that increasing power substantially is not sufficient to reproduce all published findings,” says Lily Hummer of the Center for Open Science, one of the co-authors.

That there were replication failures does not mean that those original findings are false. Nevertheless, some original authors provided commentaries with potential reasons for failures to replicate. These productive ideas are worth testing in future research to determine whether the original findings can be reproduced under some conditions.

The replications undertaken in this work follow emerging best practices for improving the rigor and reproducibility of research. “In this project, we led by example, involving a global team of researchers, ,” says Teck-Hua Ho of the National University of Singapore, another project lead. “The team followed the highest standards of rigor and transparency to test the reproducibility and robustness of studies in our field.”

All of the studies were preregistered on OSF to eliminate reporting bias and to commit to the design and analysis plan. Also, all project data and materials are publicly accessible with the OSF registrations to facilitate the review and reproduction of the replication studies themselves.

Brian Nosek, executive director of the Center for Open Science, professor at the University of Virginia, and one of the co-authors, notes, “Someone observing these failures to replicate might conclude that science is going in the wrong direction. In fact, science’s greatest strength is its constant self-scrutiny to identify and correct problems and increase the pace of discovery.”

This large-scale replication project is just one part of an ongoing reformation of research practices. Researchers, funders, journals, and societies are changing policies and practices to nudge the research culture toward greater openness, rigor, and reproducibility. Nosek concludes, “With these reforms, we should be able to increase the speed of finding cures, solutions, and new knowledge. Of course, like everything else in science, we have to test whether the reforms actually deliver on that promise. If they don’t, then science will try something else to keep improving.”

Wildfire risk doesn’t douse housing demand

Out of sight, out of mind.

That’s the conclusion of a new UNLV study which found that real estate prices for homes in wildfire-prone areas fall relative to homes in low-risk areas immediately following a blaze. But the effect is only temporary: Sale prices in risky areas rebound within one to two years.

While that may sound like a blessing to homeowners and real estate agents alike, UNLV research economist Shawn McCoy says the phenomenon may also pose somewhat of a curse.

That’s because homebuyers place such a significant premium on homes with the appealing views and beautifully isolating dense vegetation provided by mountainous high-fire risk areas that even media coverage of out-of-control blazes, mass evacuations, or deaths may not deter them. As a result, residential growth in forested areas across the United States — areas of landscape commonly referred to as the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) — significantly increased in recent years from an estimated 30.8 million housing units in 1990 to 43.4 million by 2010.

And more people living in the WUI creates ideal conditions for large-scale natural disasters.

“To the extent that homeowners value the environmental amenities in these high-risk areas,” McCoy said, “if the market participants systematically underestimate the likelihood of a fire, we may observe inefficiently increased rates of housing development in forested areas, as well as a potential decrease in the willingness among existing homeowners to take the steps needed to prevent fire from impacting their homes.”

McCoy said it is unlikely that media coverage of the recent fires in California will bring about lasting changes in homeowners’ subjective beliefs of a fire impacting their property.

“Despite an initial drop in real estate prices in risk-prone areas, the results of our study suggest that homebuyers’ initial fears about fire risk will fade, and development in risk areas may continue to increase,” he said. “This is a problem: A lot of recent work shows that wildfires are not just a result of changes in global climates, but also rapid housing development into forested lands.”

McCoy and co-author Randy P. Walsh of the University of Pittsburgh conducted the study in Colorado, but say the findings could help homeowners, legislators, insurers, and people across the U.S., which experiences over 100,000 forest wildfires annually.

In their research, McCoy and Walsh examined real estate transaction data from nearly 360,000 properties across eight Colorado counties which were affected by 18 severe wildfires between 2000 and 2012.

McCoy and Walsh used statistical techniques to contrast changes in real estate prices before and after wildfires across two distinct types of homes: Houses located in wildfire risk zones and otherwise similar homes located in low risk zones. They also interlay that information with property sale information and 3D modeling that took into account the homes’ risk and proximity to wildfires, as well as residents’ view of the blazes or subsequent burn scars based on how elevation and forest density would affect their line of sight.

“This modeling strategy allows us to use real estate markets as a lens to draw inferences regarding the underlying linkages between fire and fire risk perception at a very fine geographic and temporal scale,” McCoy said. “If a recent fire has the effect of inducing a significant change in the salience of fire risk, this will ultimately be reflected by a decrease in the demand for homes in fire risk areas.”

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Happy older people live longer

Happy older people live longer, according to researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. In a study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, the authors found that an increase in happiness is directly proportional with a reduction in mortality.

The study utilised data for 4,478 participants of a nationally-representative survey to look at the association between happiness, assessed in the year 2009, and subsequent likelihood of dying due to any cause, until 31 December 2015. The survey was focused on individuals’ aged 60 years and older living in Singapore.

Happiness was assessed by asking the survey participants how often in the past week they experienced the following: ‘I felt happy’, ‘I enjoyed life’ and ‘I felt hope about the future’. Their responses were considered in two distinct ways; a ‘happiness score’, and a ‘binary happiness variable — Happy/Unhappy’. A wide range of demographics, lifestyle choices, health and social factors were accounted for in the analysis.

The researchers found that among happy older people, 15% passed away until 31 December 2015. In contrast, the corresponding proportion was higher, at 20%, among unhappy older people. Every increase of one point on the happiness score lowered the chance of dying due to any cause among participants by an additional nine percent. The likelihood of dying due to any cause was 19 percent lower for happy older people. Further, the inverse association of happiness with mortality was consistently present among men and women, and among the young-old (aged 60-79 years) and the old-old (aged 75 years or older).

“The findings indicate that even small increments in happiness may be beneficial to older people’s longevity,” explained Assistant Professor Rahul Malhotra, Head of Research at Duke-NUS’ Centre for Ageing Research and Education and senior author of the paper. “Therefore individual-level activities as well as government policies and programs that maintain or improve happiness or psychological well-being may contribute to a longer life among older people.”

June May-Ling Lee, a co-author, added: “The consistency of the inverse association of happiness with mortality across age groups and gender is insightful — men and women, the young-old and the old-old, all are likely to benefit from an increase in happiness.”

Interest in the pursuit of happiness to improve the health of older people has been growing. While previous studies have linked happiness or positive emotions with a range of better health outcomes, the evidence on the effect of happiness on living longer has been inconclusive. Many of these studies do initially observe a greater extent of happiness to be associated with a lower likelihood of dying, but this link disappears once differences in demographic, lifestyle and health factors between those less and more happy are accounted for.

This is one of the few Asian studies to have assessed the association between happiness and mortality among older people, while accounting for several social factors, such as loneliness and social network, therefore extending the generalisability of the findings to non-Western populations.

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Sensitivity to how others evaluate you emerges by 24 months

Even before toddlers can form a complete sentence, they are attuned to how others may be judging them, finds a new study by psychologists at Emory University.

The journal Developmental Psychology is publishing the results, documenting that toddlers are sensitive to the opinions of others, and that they will modify their behavior accordingly when others are watching.

“We’ve shown that by the age of 24 months, children are not only aware that other people may be evaluating them, but that they will alter their behavior to seek a positive response,” says Sara Valencia Botto, an Emory PhD candidate and first author of the study.

While previous research has documented this behavior in four- to five-year-olds, the new study suggests that it may emerge much sooner, Botto says.

“There is something specifically human in the way that we’re sensitive to the gaze of others, and how systematic and strategic we are about controlling that gaze,” says Philippe Rochat, an Emory professor of psychology who specializes in childhood development and senior author of the study. “At the very bottom, our concern for image management and reputation is about the fear of rejection, one of the main engines of the human psyche.”

This concern for reputation manifests itself in everything from spending money on makeup and designer brands to checking how many “likes” a Facebook post garners.

“Image management is fascinating to me because it’s so important to being human,” Botto says. “Many people rate their fear of public speaking above their fear of dying. If we want to understand human nature, we need to understand when and how the foundation for caring about image emerges.”

The researchers conducted experiments involving 144 children between the ages of 14 and 24 months using a remotely controlled robot toy.

In one experiment, a researcher showed a toddler how to use the remote to operate the robot. The researcher then either watched the child with a neutral expression or turned away and pretended to read a magazine. When the child was being watched, he or she showed more inhibition when hitting the buttons on the remote than when the researcher was not watching.

In a second experiment, the researcher used two different remotes when demonstrating the toy to the child. While using the first remote, the researcher smiled and said, “Wow! Isn’t that great?” And when using the second remote, the researcher frowned and said “Uh-oh! Oops, oh no!” After inviting the child to play with the toy, the researcher once again either watched the child or turned to the magazine.

The children pressed the buttons on the remote associated with the positive response from the researcher significantly more while being watched. And they used the remote associated with the negative response more when not being watched.

During a third experiment, that served as a control, the researcher gave a neutral response of “Oh, wow!” when demonstrating how to use the two remotes. The children no longer chose one remote over the other depending on whether the researcher was watching them.

The control experiment showed that in the second experiment the children really did take into account the values expressed by the experimenter when interacting with the toy, and based on those values changed their behavior depending on whether they were being watched, Botto says.

A final experiment involved two researchers sitting next to one another and using one remote. One researcher smiled and gave a positive response, “Yay! The toy moved!” when pressing the remote. The second researcher frowned and said, “Yuck! The toy moved!” when pressing the same remote. The child was then invited to play with the toy while the two researchers alternated between either watching or turning their back to the child.

Results showed that the children were much more likely to press the remote when the researcher who gave the positive response was watching.

“We were surprised by the flexibility of the children’s sensitivity to others and their reactions,” Botto says. “They could track one researcher’s values of two objects and two researchers’ values of one object. It reinforces the idea that children are usually smarter than we think.”

Botto is continuing to lead the research in the Rochat lab for her PhD thesis. She is now developing experiments for children as young as 12 months to see if the sensitivity to being evaluated by others emerges even earlier than the current study documents.

And she is following the 14- to 24-month-old children involved in the published study, to see if the individual differences they showed in the experiments are maintained as they turn four and five. The researchers are measuring social and cognitive factors that may have predictive power for individual differences — such as language ability, temperament and a child’s ability to pick up on social norms and to understand that people can have beliefs different from their own.

“Ultimately, we hope to determine exactly when children begin to be sensitive to others’ evaluations and the social and cognitive factors that are necessary for that sensitivity to emerge,” Botto says.

Such basic research may translate into helping people in a clinical environment who are at the extremes of the spectrum of such sensitivity, she adds.

“It’s normal and necessary to a certain extent to care about our image with others,” Botto says. “But some people care so much that they suffer from social anxiety, while others care so little that it is not optimal in a society where cooperation is essential.”

Diet has bigger impact on emotional well-being in women than in men

Women may need a more nutrient-rich diet to support a positive emotional well-being, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University at New York.

Mounting evidence suggests that anatomical and functional differences in men’s and women’s brain dictate susceptibility to mental disease. However, little is known about the role of dietary patterns in gender-specific psychological wellbeing. A team of researchers led by Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, conducted an anonymous survey of 563 participants (48 percent men and 52 percent women) through social media to investigate this issue. Begdache and her team found that men are more likely to experience mental well-being until nutritional deficiencies arise. Women, however, are less likely to experience mental well-being until a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are followed.

According to Begdache, these results may explain reports from previous studies that show that women are at a greater risk for mental distress when compared to men, and emphasize the role of a nutrient-dense diet in mental wellbeing.

“The biggest takeaway is that women may need a larger spectrum of nutrients to support mood, compared to men,” said Begdache. “These findings may explain the reason why women are twice more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression and suffer from longer episodes, compared to men. Today’s diet is high in energy but poor in key nutrients that support brain anatomy and functionality.”

Evidence suggests that our ancestors’ diet, which was a high-energy-nutrient-dense diet, contributed significantly to brain volumes and cognitive evolution of humankind, said Begdache.

“Males and females had different physical and emotional responsibilities that may have necessitated different energy requirements and food preference,” she said. “Thus, gender-based differential food and energy intake may explain the differential brain volumes and connectivity between females and males. Therefore, a potential mismatch is happening between our contemporary diet and the evolved human brain which is disturbing the normal functionality of certain systems in the brain.

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Marijuana found in breast milk up to six days after use

With the legalization of marijuana in several states, increased use for both medicinal and recreational purposes has been documented in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Although national organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that breastfeeding mothers do not use marijuana, there has been a lack of specific data to support health or neurodevelopmental concerns in infants as a result of exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or other components of marijuana via breast milk.

To better understand how much marijuana or constituent compounds actually get into breast milk and how long it remains, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted a study, publishing online August 27 in Pediatrics.

Fifty-four samples from 50 women who used marijuana either daily, weekly or sporadically — with inhalation being the primary method of intake — were examined. Researchers detected THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, in 63 percent of the breast milk samples for up to six days after the mother’s last reported use.

“Pediatricians are often put into a challenging situation when a breastfeeding mother asks about the safety of marijuana use. We don’t have strong, published data to support advising against use of marijuana while breastfeeding, and if women feel they have to choose, we run the risk of them deciding to stop breastfeeding — something we know is hugely beneficial for both mom and baby,” said Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, principal investigator of the study, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of clinical research at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months. Early breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of obesity, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome and with improved immune health and performance on intelligence tests. In mothers, breastfeeding has been associated with lower risks for breast and uterine cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Cannabinoids — marijuana’s active compounds, such as THC — like to bind to fat molecules, which are abundant in breast milk. This stickiness has suggested that, in women who use marijuana, these compounds can end up in breast milk, raising concerns about their potential effects on nursing babies.

“We found that the amount of THC that the infant could potentially ingest from breast milk was relatively low, but we still don’t know enough about the drug to say whether or not there is a concern for the infant at any dose, or if there is a safe dosing level,” said Chambers, co-director of the Center for Better Beginnings at UC San Diego. “The ingredients in marijuana products that are available today are thought to be much more potent than products available 20 or 30 years ago.”

The samples of breast milk used for the study were obtained from mothers who joined the Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository at UC San Diego, a program that focuses on looking at the numerous benefits of breast milk at the molecular level. Chambers and her research team collaborated with Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego to measure the levels of marijuana in the samples.

Chambers said the results are a stepping stone for future research. More studies need to be done, not only to determine the long-term impact of marijuana in breast milk for children, but more specifically: “Are there any differences in effects of marijuana in breast milk for a two-month-old versus a 12-month-old, and is it different if the mother smokes versus eats the cannabis? These are critical areas where we need answers as we continue to promote breast milk as the premium in nutrition for infants.”

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Materials provided by University of California – San Diego. Original written by Michelle Brubaker. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

One in 3 US veteran firearm owners keeps a gun loaded and unlocked

One third of United States Armed Forces Veterans store at least one firearm loaded with ammunition and unlocked, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that reports on the first survey of a nationally representative sample of this group regarding storage practices. Unsafe firearm storage practices appeared to be strongly related to perceptions about the need to keep firearms for protection. This easy access to lethal means increases suicide risk in an already vulnerable population.

“We know that nearly half of all US Veterans have firearms, and like many non-Veteran adults, it is common for them to store at least one gun loaded and unlocked. The challenge we uncovered, although I think we already suspected this, is that firearm safety practices are strongly related to whether individuals keep their firearms for protection,” explained lead investigator Joseph A. Simonetti, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO, USA. “We recommend that VA providers work on communication strategies to enable Veterans to make informed decisions about firearm safety by balancing the perceived benefits of firearm access against the thoroughly demonstrated risks of that access for those with elevated suicide risk.”

The survey was completed by 3,949 US adults, of whom 561 were US Veterans who own firearms. The prevalence of unsafe firearm storage ranges substantially within the group surveyed, from 9 percent to 65 percent, across individual, household, and firearm ownership characteristics, and is strongly related to other firearm-related behaviors (e.g., carrying handguns), reasons for firearm ownership (e.g., protection versus other), number of firearms owned, and perceptions about the utility of guns stored safely and whether guns make homes safer.

Approximately one in three of the US Veterans who own firearms reported storing at least one of their firearms loaded and unlocked while 22.5 percent stored all of their firearms unloaded and locked. Sixty-six percent of Veteran firearm owners stored at least one firearm unlocked, and 46.7 percent stored at least one loaded.

Storing a firearm loaded and unlocked was more common among Veteran firearm owners who:

  • Disagreed that firearms should be stored unloaded and locked when not in use
  • Agreed that firearms are not useful for personal protection if the owner has to take time to load or unlock them
  • Agreed that having a firearm in the home makes the household safer

This data was also analyzed by gender, presence of children in the household, urban vs. rural setting, service era, type of firearm and permit, and storage approach and location.

“This information would be informative for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) initiatives aiming to address the high burden of suicide among all Veterans, including those not receiving VHA healthcare,” said Dr. Simonetti.

With Veterans accounting for nearly one in five adult suicides and two of every three Veteran suicides firearm-related, the study has important implications for the VHA. Suicide prevention is a leading clinical priority within the VHA and reducing access to common and highly lethal methods of suicide is considered essential to preventing suicide. Therefore, the VHA is expanding its efforts to promote firearm safety by developing materials to support lethal-means safety counseling by VHA providers and by distributing firearm-locking mechanisms to at-risk patients.

Previous studies had not comprehensively described firearm storage practices among a nationally representative sample of the overall or VHA-enrolled Veteran population. Studies assessing firearm-related risk perceptions in the general population have shown that only 6 percent of firearm owners agree that household firearms increase suicide risk, and that the intensity of such beliefs, along with reasons for ownership, are related to how firearms are stored. How these beliefs relate to storage practices has not been assessed among Veterans.

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People who don’t read the news better at predicting which articles will go viral

Figuring out how to make articles and videos go viral is the holy grail for any content creator. Although a magic formula remains elusive, in recent years, neuroscientists have forecasted which content will go viral by showing it to a small number of people and observing their brain activity.

Now, they’ve taken that research a step further, looking at which people are best at predicting what will go viral.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Cerebral Cortex, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory analyzed the brain responses of 40 people as they read real New York Times Health article headlines and abstracts. Which individuals were best able to predict the popularity of those articles among real readers? Those who don’t regularly read the news.

The researchers looked specifically at the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which supports judgments about something’s value. High levels of activity in that part of the brain not only reflected how much that individual wanted to read the story, but also tracked with the article’s popularity on the New York Times website.

“The problem with the brains of the frequent news readers is that they showed a high value signal to all of the articles. In other words, they responded positively to all the New York Times stories,” says study lead author Bruce Doré, a postdoctoral fellow in the Communication Neuroscience Lab of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. “It was the infrequent news readers whose brains were differentiating between the heavily shared articles and the less popular ones. Their brains were able to diagnose which articles would go viral.”

There was also another difference between frequent and infrequent news readers. When frequent news readers thought about whether to share the article, there were high levels of connection between the vmPFC and a region of the brain that supports the ability to exert deliberate control over your thoughts and feelings. This, the researchers say, could suggest that frequent readers were weighing the value of the news stories in light of their own personal goals or motivations.

“Frequent news readers may be bringing to mind idiosyncratic information that’s more unique to them,” explains Doré. “Infrequent news readers, on the other hand, responded in a way that was more reflective of how people in general respond.”

The idea that people who don’t normally read the news would be the best at determining what news will be popular runs counter to the general expectations many marketers have. After all, if you want to make a product successful, wouldn’t you ask people who regularly use products like that? In fact, the researchers themselves initially wondered whether they should only focus their study on loyal New York Times readers. Instead, they recruited study subjects more generally.

“The key insight is that if something is going to get shared widely, it has to appeal more broadly,” says senior author Emily Falk, Associate Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania. “If you’re trying to get a wide reach on an article or video or product, you shouldn’t just be talking to your most committed readers or advocates.”

By definition, the researchers say, “going viral” means that a piece of content has escaped the confines of its normal niche audience.

“If we’re trying to predict the behavior of all people — everyone who could read a New York Times article but typically doesn’t — we should find people who are representative of that population,” says Doré.

“People have become increasingly reliant on social media for streamlining their consumption of news and information,” says co-author Jean Vettel, Senior Science Lead at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, “and this research reveals the potential for understanding how objective measurements of non-expert brain activity can capture features of ideas and messages likely to be shared broadly.”

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Listening to yoga music at bedtime is good for the heart

Listening to yoga music at bedtime is good for the heart, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2018.

Dr Naresh Sen, study author, Consultant Cardiologist at HG SMS Hospital, Jaipur, India, said: “We use music therapy in our hospital and in this study we showed that yoga music has a beneficial impact on heart rate variability before sleeping.”

Previous research has shown that music can reduce anxiety in patients with heart disease. However, studies on the effects of music on the heart in patients and healthy individuals have produced inconsistent results, partly they did not state what style of music was used.

The body’s heart rate changes as a normal response to being in “fight or flight” or “rest and digest” mode. These states are regulated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, respectively, and together comprise the autonomic nervous system. High heart rate variability shows that the heart is able to adapt to these changes. Conversely, low heart rate variability indicates a less adaptive autonomic nervous system.

Low heart rate variability is associated with a 32-45% higher risk of a first cardiovascular event. Following a cardiovascular event, people with low heart rate variability have a raised risk of subsequent events and death. Failure of the autonomic nervous system to adapt may trigger inflammation, which is linked to cardiovascular disease. Another possibility is that people with low heart rate variability already have subclinical cardiovascular disease.

This study investigated the impact of listening to yoga music, which is a type of soothing or meditative music, before bedtime on heart rate variability. The study included 149 healthy people who participated in three sessions on separate nights: (1) yoga music before sleep at night; (2) pop music with steady beats before sleep at night; and (3) no music or silence before sleep at night.

At each session, heart rate variability was measured4 for five minutes before the music or silence started, for ten minutes during the music/silence, and five minutes after it had stopped. In addition, anxiety levels were assessed before and after each session using the Goldberg Anxiety Scale. The level of positive feeling was subjectively measured after each session using a visual analogue scale.

The average age of participants was 26 years. The researchers found that heart rate variability increased during the yoga music, decreased during the pop music, and did not significantly change during the silence.

Anxiety levels fell significantly after the yoga music, rose significantly post the pop music, and increased after the no music session. Participants felt significantly more positive after the yoga music than they did after the pop music.

Dr Sen noted that holistic therapies such as music cannot replace evidence-based drugs and interventions, and should only be used as an add-on.

He said: “Science may have not always agreed, but Indians have long believed in the power of various therapies other than medicines as a mode of treatment for ailments. This is a small study, and more research is needed on the cardiovascular effects of music interventions offered by a trained music therapist. But listening to soothing music before bedtime is a cheap and easy to implement therapy that cannot cause harm.”

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Materials provided by European Society of Cardiology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.