15 Ways to Cure Hiccups


After suffering from the same case of hiccups for over a month, you might be desperate for a solution. You might—as 21-year-old Anna Mayer did in 1944—even reach out to the president for a special dispensation to have your local doctor excused from his military service to come back to Queens and cure you. Don't have a direct line to the president? Don't worry. You don't even have to wait till your hiccups reach the level of national crisis to try the cures below. Most of these home remedies work by overwhelming the vagus nerve—which causes hiccups when it becomes irritated—with another sensation.

1. Place a teaspoonful of sugar on the back of your tongue.

2. Stick your fingers in your ears. (The same vagus nerve has branches in your auditory system.)

3. Gargle with water long enough to interrupt the hiccup cycle.

4. Breathe into a paper bag (not so long that you pass out!) to "distract" your nervous system with ridding the body of an increasing level of carbon dioxide.

5. Eat a big spoonful of peanut butter—the process of chewing the sticky stuff should distract your breathing away from the hiccups.

6. Eat some powdered chocolate mix. Swallowing the spoonful isn't easy and should short-circuit the hiccups.

7. Place a paper towel over the top of a glass, then drink water through the towel. You'll have to "pull" harder with your diaphragm to suck up the liquid and that should reset your breathing.

8. Stick out your tongue to stimulate the opening between the vocal cords and allow yourself to breathe more smoothly.

9. Swallow a teaspoon of vinegar, if you can. Suck on a lemon for the same sour effect.

10. Hold the top of a door frame and then lean forward.

11. Some people claim you can distract yourself out of having the hiccups so try to occupy your mind with tasks like reciting the alphabet backwards.

12. Take gulps of water in rapid succession; rhythmic contractions of the esophagus override spasms of the diaphragm.

13. Drink from the "opposite" side of the glass. This one is tricky and requires you to tilt your head almost upside down.

14. Go for the tried-and-true scare tactic, which is just another form of mental distraction.

15. A long, hopefully passionate kiss supposedly does the trick—as long as your hiccups don't ruin the mood.

People Listen (and Remember) Better With Their Right Ears, Study Finds

If you’re having trouble hearing in a noisy situation, you might want to turn your head. New research finds that people of all ages depend more on their right ear than their left, and remember information better if it comes through their right ear. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in New Orleans on December 6.

Kids’ ears work differently than adults' do. Previous studies have found that children's auditory systems can’t separate and process information coming through both of their ears at the same time, and rely more on the auditory pathway coming from the right. This reliance on the right ear tends to decrease when kids reach their teens, but the findings suggest that in certain situations, right-ear dominance persists long into adulthood.

To study how we process information through both our ears, Auburn University audiologists brought 41 adult subjects (between the ages of 19 and 28) into the lab to complete dichotic listening tests, which involve listening to different auditory inputs in each ear. They were either supposed to pay attention only to the words, sentences, or numbers they heard in one ear while ignoring the other, or they were asked to repeat all the words they heard in both ears. In this case, the researchers slowly upped the number of items the test subjects were asked to remember during each hearing test.

Instructions for the audio test read 'Repeat back only the numbers you hear in the right ear.'
Sacchinelli, Weaver, Wilson and Cannon - Auburn University

They found that the harder the memory tests got, the more performance varied between the ears. While both ears performed equally when people were asked to remember only four or so words, when the number got higher, the difference between their abilities became more apparent. When asked to only focus on information coming through their right ear, people’s performance on the memory task increased by an average of 8 percent. For some people, the result was even more dramatic—one person performed 40 percent better while listening with only their right ear.

"Conventional research shows that right-ear advantage diminishes around age 13, but our results indicate this is related to the demand of the task,” one of the researchers, assistant professor Aurora Weaver, explained in a press release. In other words, when the going gets tough, the right ear steps up.

Pigeons Are Secretly Brilliant Birds That Understand Space and Time, Study Finds

Of all the birds in the world, the pigeon draws the most ire. Despite their reputation as brainless “rats with wings,” though, they’re actually pretty brilliant (and beautiful) animals. A new study adds more evidence that the family of birds known as pigeons are some of the smartest birds around, as Quartz alerts us.

In addition to being able to distinguish English vocabulary from nonsense words, spot cancer, and tell a Monet from a Picasso, pigeons can understand abstract concepts like space and time, according to the new study published in Current Biology. Their brains just do it in a slightly different way than humans’ do.

Researchers at the University of Iowa set up an experiment where they showed pigeons a computer screen featuring a static horizontal line. The birds were supposed to evaluate the length of the line (either 6 centimeters or 24 centimeters) or the amount of time they saw it (either 2 or 8 seconds). The birds perceived "the longer lines to have longer duration, and lines longer in duration to also be longer in length," according to a press release. This suggests that the concepts are processed in the same region of the brain—as they are in the brains of humans and other primates.

But that abstract thinking doesn’t occur in the same way in bird brains as it does in ours. In humans, perceiving space and time is linked to a region of the brain called the parietal cortex, which the pigeon brains lack entirely. So their brains have to have some other way of processing the concepts.

The study didn’t determine how, exactly, pigeons achieve this cognitive feat, but it’s clear that some other aspect of the central nervous system must be controlling it. That also opens up the possibility that other non-mammal animals can perceive space and time, too, expanding how we think of other animals’ cognitive capabilities.

[h/t Quartz]


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