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Can classical music make you smarter?

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You may recall a hubbub some years ago about classical music and its beneficent effects on developing young brains. It was 1993, to be exact, when Nature published a little article titled "Musical and Spatial Task Performance," which described how students who listened to Mozart while performing a complex paper-folding task enjoyed an IQ boost of up to 10 points. Naturally, in a culture where giving your kids a competitive advantage is a top concern of parents (especially if it's as easy as pushing "play"), the study had a major impact: classical music sales jumped, and franchises like Baby Einstein were born. Not only that, but legislation was passed, too: in 1998 Georgia mandated that new mothers be given classical CDs, and not about to be left behind in the great Southern baby brain race, the same year Florida required day care centers to pipe symphonies through their speakers.

But has foisting the masterworks of long-dead Austrian composers on the ears of our Britney-loving kids really accomplished anything? According to a recent Scientific American article, many scientists don't think so. Citing a New York psychologist who tried to reproduce the now-famous Mozart experiment on his own, "The effect is only one and a half IQ points, and it's only confined to this paper-folding task." Furthermore, a team of German Ministry of Education researchers dug deep into the supposed phenomenon, and concluded that "there is no compelling evidence that children who listen to classical music are going to have any improvement in cognitive abilities," adding "It's a myth."

On the other hand, there are plenty of researchers -- like author of The Mozart Effect for Children Don Campbell -- who maintain that certain types of music have beneficial organizing effects on the brain, and help to relieve stress, modulate mood and, yes, think more clearly. So, the jury is officially still out, but now we've got to know -- does listening to music (classical or otherwise) help you think?

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A Simple Way to Charge Your iPhone in 5 Minutes
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Spotting the “low battery” notification on your phone is usually followed by a frantic search for an outlet and further stress over the fact that you may not have time for a full charge. On iPhones, plugging your device into the wall for five minutes might result in only a modest increase of about three percent or so. But this tip from Business Insider Tech may allow you to squeeze out a little more juice.

The trick? Before charging, put your phone in Airplane Mode so that you reduce the number of energy-sucking tasks (signal searching, fielding incoming communications) your device will try and perform.

Next, take the cover off if you have one (the phone might be generating extra heat as a result). Finally, try to use an iPad adapter, which has demonstrated a faster rate of charging than the adapter that comes with your iPhone.

Do that and you’ll likely double your battery boost, from about three to six percent. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of extra juice might keep you connected until you’re able to plug it in for a full charge.

[h/t Business Insider Tech]

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Trying to Save Money? Avoid Shopping on a Smartphone
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Today, Americans do most of their shopping online—but as anyone who’s indulged in late-night retail therapy likely knows, this convenience often can come with an added cost. Trying to curb expenses, but don't want to swear off the convenience of ordering groceries in your PJs? New research shows that shopping on a desktop computer instead of a mobile phone may help you avoid making foolish purchases, according to Co. Design. Ying Zhu, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, recently led a study to measure how touchscreen technology affects consumer behavior. Published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, her research found that people are more likely to make more frivolous, impulsive purchases if they’re shopping on their phones than if they’re facing a computer monitor. Zhu, along with study co-author Jeffrey Meyer of Bowling Green State University, ran a series of lab experiments on student participants to observe how different electronic devices affected shoppers’ thinking styles and intentions. Their aim was to see if subjects' purchasing goals changed when it came to buying frivolous things, like chocolate or massages, or more practical things, like food or office supplies. In one experiment, participants were randomly assigned to use a desktop or a touchscreen. Then, they were presented with an offer to purchase either a frivolous item (a $50 restaurant certificate for $30) or a useful one (a $50 grocery certificate for $30). These subjects used a three-point scale to gauge how likely they were to purchase the offer, and they also evaluated how practical or frivolous each item was. (Participants rated the restaurant certificate to be more indulgent than the grocery certificate.) Sure enough, the researchers found that participants had "significantly higher" purchase intentions for hedonic (i.e. pleasurable) products when buying on touchscreens than on desktops, according to the study. On the flip side, participants had significantly higher purchase intentions for utilitarian (i.e. practical) products while using desktops instead of touchscreens. "The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers' favor of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers' preference for utilitarian products," Zhu explains in a press release. The study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on "experiential thinking" than subjects using desktop computers, whereas those with desktop computers demonstrated higher scores for rational thinking. “When you’re in an experiential thinking mode, [you crave] excitement, a different experience,” Zhu explained to Co. Design. “When you’re on the desktop, with all the work emails, that interface puts you into a rational thinking style. While you’re in a rational thinking style, when you assess a product, you’ll look for something with functionality and specific uses.” Zhu’s advice for consumers looking to conserve cash? Stow away the smartphone when you’re itching to splurge on a guilty pleasure. [h/t Fast Company]

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