Ohio State Researchers Identify Universal Facial Expression

Researchers have identified a single, universal facial expression that is interpreted across many cultures as the embodiment of negative emotion. It consists of a furrowed brow, pressed lips and raised chin, and because we make it when we convey negative sentiments, such as “I do not agree,” researchers are calling it the “not face.”

The look proved identical for native speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL).

The study, published in the journal Cognition, also reveals that our facial muscles contract to form the “not face” at the same frequency at which we speak or sign words in a sentence. That is, we all instinctively make the “not face” as if it were part of our spoken or signed language.

The researchers believe that this evidence of the “not face” to be unprecedented. They also believe that this evidence my help answer the big question: where did language come from? Researchers believe the evidence demonstrates a strong link between facial emotion and language.

For this new study, the researchers hypothesized that if a universal “not face” existed, it was likely to be combination of three basic facial expressions that are universally accepted to indicate moral disagreement: anger, disgust and contempt. Why focus on negative expressions? According to the researchers, Charles Darwin believed that the ability to communicate danger or aggression was key to human survival long before we developed the ability to talk. So the researchers suspected that if any truly universal facial expressions of emotion exist, then the expression for disapproval or disagreement would be the easiest to identify.

Researchers hope to identify the facial expressions that go along with other grammatical markers, including positive ones. Though think the work may take decades as no expression stands out quite like the “not face”.

OSU Researcher Disproves “Dumb Blonde” Urban Myth

The study of 10,878 Americans found that white women who said their natural hair color was blonde had an average IQ score within 3 points of brunettes and those with red or black hair.

While jokes about blondes may seem harmless to some, it can have real-world implications, according to Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and a research scientist at The Ohio State University. Research shows that stereotypes often have an impact on hiring, promotions and other social experiences.

This study provides compelling evidence that there shouldn’t be any discrimination against blondes based on their intelligence.

The study found that the average IQ of blondes was actually slightly higher than those with other hair colors, but that finding isn’t statistically significant. The results for blond white men were similar – they also had IQs roughly equal to men with other hair colors.

The study was published last week in the journal Economics Bulletin.

OSU Faculty Evaluates PulseNet, food-born illness electronic network.

Tainted food is responsible for about 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States each year.

About 276,000 cases of foodborne illness are avoided each year because of PulseNet, a 20-year-old network coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new research has found. PulseNet links U.S. public health laboratories so that they can speedily share details about E. coli, Salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.

The averted illnesses translate to $507 million in annual savings on medical bills and lost productivity, according to a study led by Robert L. Scharff of The Ohio State University and Craig Hedberg of the University of Minnesota.

PulseNet has created a climate that encourages better business practices and swift response to trouble, Scharff said, and that likely explains most of the avoided illnesses in the study.

In the face of public scrutiny, lawsuits and lost revenue, businesses have responded with better self-policing, Scharff worked with experts from the CDC and elsewhere to assign a value to PulseNet, both in terms of illnesses prevented and dollars saved. The team analyzed data from 1994 to 2009.

The results, published in conjunction with PulseNet’s 20th anniversary, appear in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

OSU Researches Cooking Oils and Heart Health.

Researchers at The Ohio State University found that men and women with higher linoleic acid levels tended to have less heart-threatening fat nestled between their vital organs, more lean body mass and less inflammation.

Risk of heart disease and diabetes may be lowered by a diet higher in a lipid found in grapeseed and other oils, but not in olive oil, a new study suggests.
And higher linoleic acid levels also meant lower likelihood of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

But there’s a catch. Low-cost cooking oils rich in linoleic acid have been disappearing from grocery shelves, fueled by industry’s push for plants that have been modified to produce oils higher in oleic acid.

These finding could have obvious implications in preventing heart disease and diabetes, but also could be important for older adults because higher lean body mass can contribute to a longer life with more independence, said Ohio State’s Martha Belury, a professor of human nutrition who led the research.

Previous research found that taking linoleic acid supplements increased lean body mass and lowered fat in the midsection. As little as a teaspoon and a half was all it took, Belury said. The current study is the first study to examine linoleic acid alongside body composition and other health markers in people who hadn’t been given supplements or prescriptive diets, she said.

Because of previous research showing cardiovascular benefits of linoleic acid, the American Heart Association in 2009 recommended people take in at least 5 to 10 percent of their energy in the form of omega-6 fatty acids, which includes linoleic acid.

But U.S. consumption of linoleic acid is declining because of genetic modification of plants for food manufacturers seeking oils higher in oleic acid. There’s been a pronounced shift in the last five years, she said, and it is linked to the push against trans fats. When linoleic acid is made solid (hydrogenated) for processed foods, it is more likely to convert to trans fat than its oleic cousin.

So oils, notably safflower, sunflower and soybean, now routinely contain less linoleic acid – it often makes up less than 20 percent of the fatty acids in commonly purchased oils, based on food labels and confirmed by testing in her lab.

Grapeseed oil for now remains an excellent source of linoleic acid, which constitutes about 80 percent of its fatty acids, she said. Corn oil also remains a decent source.

Ohio State Research Teams Links Stress to Memory Loss

This is the first study of its kind to establish the relationship between short-term memory and prolonged stress. In the case of the mice, that meant repeat visits from a larger, nasty intruder mouse. Sustained stress erodes memory, and the immune system plays a key role in the cognitive impairment, according to a new study from researchers at The Ohio State University.

Mice that were repeatedly exposed to the aggressive intruder had a hard time recalling where the escape hole was in a maze they’d mastered prior to the stressful period.

They also had measurable changes in their brains, including evidence of inflammation brought on by the immune system’s response to the outside pressure. This was associated with the presence of immune cells, called macrophages, in the brain of the stressed mice.

The research team was able to pin the short-term memory loss on the inflammation, and on the immune system. Their work, which appears in The Journal of Neuroscience , builds on previous research substantiating the connections between chronic stress and lasting anxiety.

The work in mice could one day lead to treatment for repeated, long-term mental assault such as that sustained by bullying victims, soldiers and those who report to beastly bosses, the researchers say.

The researchers’ work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Aging and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.