Infants Can Recognize When Someone is Being a Bully

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iStock

Despite their tiny brains being only half the size of an adult’s, babies remain an underestimated intellectual power. Their cognitive functioning improves rapidly, with the cerebellum—the part of the brain responsible for movement—growing by 110 percent in the first three months alone. More than 100 billion neurons are packed into their softball-sized noggins to help facilitate development.

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has illustrated just how potent all that neurological activity can be. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlights, in a controlled experiment, infants could distinguish between benevolent leadership and fear-mongering bullies.

In the study, 96 infants aged 21 months were exposed to a series of cartoon sequences that depicted an assertive leader, a bully, and an individual with no apparent influence ordering three characters to go to bed. (The leader was denoted by having the subordinate characters bow; the “bully” smacked them with a stick.) The children watched as the characters either listened to their guardian or disobeyed by remaining awake. The infants appeared more interested and engaged when the leader’s instructions were disobeyed, while they maintained interest in both the bully being respected and ignored. Both outcomes appeared equally plausible to the kids.

An example of how infants were conditioned to observe a study on authority
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

How can researchers really know what infants are processing? By using a technique called the “violation of expectation.” While babies can’t verbally articulate their feelings, researchers can collect insight by studying their eye gaze, which holds when something is capturing their attention. When a baby observes an event that contradicts their expectations, they tend to stare at it for longer periods of time. In this study, when a “leader” was disobeyed, the babies stared because it was an unpredictable event. They anticipated the authority figure would be respected. When the bully’s orders were processed, they stared at both outcomes, suggesting they considered each (obeying the bully to avoid punishment or ignoring the bully because they were now alone) to be plausible.

By anticipating obedience with a leader, disobedience when a bully left the scene, or ignored directions by a third, powerless character, the infants had the ability to recognize different kinds of authority, the study suggests. Because the third character was portrayed as likeable, it didn’t appear that a child’s personal preference for a figure was a factor in their expectations. Even more adorable research will be needed in order to better understand how babies are influenced by supervisors, but it's clear they're noticing a lot more than you might think.

[h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

How to Relieve a Tension Headache in 10 Seconds, According to a Physical Therapist

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iStock.com/SIphotography

The source of a pounding headache isn't always straightforward. Sometimes over-the-counter painkillers have no effect, and in other cases all you need is a glass of water to ease the pain. When it comes to a specific type of a headache, Prevention recommends a treatment that takes about 10 seconds—no fancy medications or equipment required.

If you're experiencing pain throughout your head and neck, you may have a tension headache. This type of headache can happen when you tense the muscles in your jaw—something many people do when stressed. This tightening triggers a chain reaction where the surrounding muscles in the head and neck become tense, which results in a painful, stiff feeling.

Fortunately, there's a way to treat tension headaches that's even easier than popping an Advil. David Reavy, a physical therapist known for his work with NFL and NBA athletes, recently suggested a solution to Prevention writer Christine Mattheis called the masseter release. To practice it yourself, look for the masseter muscle—the thick tissue that connects your jawbone to your cheekbone on either side of your face—with your fingers. Once you've found them, press the spots gently, open your mouth as wide as you can, close it, and repeat until you feel the muscle relax. Doing this a few times a day helps combat whatever tension is caused by clenching your jaw.

If that doesn't work, it's possible that the masseter muscle isn't the source of your headache after all. In that case, read up on the differences among popular pain killers to determine which one is the best match for your pain.

[h/t Prevention]

Why Do Hangovers Get Worse As You Get Older?

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iStock/OcusFocus

“I just can’t drink like I used to” is a common refrain among people pushing 30 and beyond. This is roughly the age when it starts getting harder to bounce back from a night of partying, and unfortunately, it keeps getting harder from there on out.

Even if you were the keg flip king or queen in college, consuming the same amount of beer at 29 that you consumed at 21 will likely have you guzzling Gatorade in bed the next day. It’s true that hangovers tend to worsen with age, and it’s not just because you have a lower alcohol tolerance from going out less. Age affects your body in various ways, and the way you process alcohol is one of them.

Because your body interprets alcohol as poison, your liver steps in to convert it into different chemicals that are easier to break down and eliminate from your body. As you get older, though, your liver produces less of the enzymes and antioxidants that help metabolize alcohol, according to a study from South Korea. One of these enzymes—called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)— has been called the “primary defense” against alcohol. It kicks off the multi-step process of alcohol metabolization by turning the beer or booze—or whatever you imbibed—into a chemical compound called acetaldehyde. Ironically, this substance is even more toxic than your tipple of choice, and a build-up of acetaldehyde can cause nausea, palpitations, and face flushing. It usually isn’t left in this state for long, though.

Another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) helps convert the bad toxin into a new substance called acetate, which is a little like vinegar. Lastly, it’s converted into carbon dioxide or water and expelled from your body. You’ve probably heard the one-drink-per-hour recommendation, which is roughly how long it takes for your liver to complete this whole process.

So what does this mean for occasional drinkers whose mid-20s have come and gone? To summarize: As your liver enzymes diminish with age, your body becomes less efficient at metabolizing alcohol. The alcohol lingers longer in your body, leading to prolonged hangover symptoms like headaches and nausea.

This phenomenon can also partly be explained by the fact that our bodies tend to lose muscle and water over time. People with more body fat don’t break down alcohol as well, and less water in your body means that the booze stays concentrated in your system longer, The Cut reports. This is one of the reasons why women, who tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men, often suffer worse hangovers than their male counterparts. (Additionally, women have fewer ADH enzymes.)

More depressingly, as you get older, your immune system deteriorates through a process called immunosenescence. This means that recovering from anything—hangovers included—is more challenging with age. "When we get older, our whole recovery process for everything we do is harder, longer, and slower," gastroenterologist Mark Welton told Men’s Health.

This may seem like a buzzkill, but we're not telling you to put down the pint. However, if you're going to drink, just be aware of your body’s limitations. Shots of cotton candy-flavored vodka were a bad idea in college, and they’re an especially bad idea now. Trust us.

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