Baby Boomers’ Cognitive Functions Lower Than Previous Generations New Study Finds

In a nationwide study authored by OSU faculty researchers found that American baby boomers scored lower on a test for cognitive functioning than previous generations had.

Specifically, findings discovered that average cognition scores of adults at age 50 increased from one generation to the next. The data starting with the greatest generation (birth years 1890-1923) and peaking with war babies (1942-1947).

Cognitive scores declined starting with early boomers (1948-1953) and decreased even further with mid boomers (1954-1959).

Even though a prevalence of dementia has declined recently in the U.S. the new study results suggest this trend could reverse in the coming years.

Researchers pointed out that while this “sudden” reversal is shocking, the most shocking fact is that the data of decline holds true over many groups—in both men and women, across all races, across education levels and across income levels.

The data demonstrated that less wealth in addition to higher levels of loneliness, depression, inactivity and obesity along with less likelihood of being married all could play a role in this cognitive decline.

 

The Science Behind a Bad Yelp Review

Researchers found that just a couple of negative online reviews for a restaurant could determine early on how many it receives long term.

Researchers stated that online rating platforms claim to be unbiased but that their research found this wasn’t true either. With the way the platforms work the research demonstrated that popular restaurants tend to get more popular while a few initial low reviews will cause one to stagnate.

The study also found that the median income of the neighborhood where the restaurant is located could affect whether or not they get rated at all. In the poorest neighborhoods many restaurants tended not to get rated at all. The study used only economic data to determine this.

The study evaluated Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews for about 3,000 restaurants per website in Franklin County, Ohio. Franklin county is where Columbus and Ohio State are located in addition it is the home of over 20 restaurant chains.

Previous research had found that the food industry considers consumer preferences in this area to be representative of the larger, country-wide market.

The research was published in Papers in Applied Geography

Researchers Study the Hidden Danger of Confidence

A new study suggests that feeling prepared or confident, for example for a big meeting or a job interview, that this confidence and preparedness may trickle into other parts of your life where you are not nearly so prepared, thereby creating false confidence.

The Ohio State University and other researchers conducted three studies to examine this phenomenon. Researchers found that feeling prepared in one area of life made people more confident in their beliefs about things that were completely different—whether those thoughts were positive or negative.

The findings are unsettling. Knowing that any given person’s confidence in one regard to make them overly confident when thinking about other issues.

One example researchers gave of how these findings could have real life impacts, if a person had been preparing for a big presentation at work. As they come to perfect their presentation it is coming time to vote on a political candidate. The person preparing for the presentation may have been unsure about their support for a candidate, but the leak over from their presentation conference may assure them of their choice and they will stop researching that candidate.

 

New Research Questions the Correlation Between Facial Expressions and Emotions

When we interact with others it is typically a back and forth based and reading cues and responding back. Smiles mean happiness—we smile in return. We think a frown must mean the other person is sad, so we attempt to make them feel better.

We believe in facial expressions so much some businesses are developing tools to rate their customers’ satisfaction through these expressions.

However new research suggest that not only are facial expressions not a reliable indicator of inner emotion but that they are completely unreliable, and we should never trust a face to tell us what someone is feeling.

Their research question was ‘can we really detect emotion from facial articulation?’

The researchers’ conclusion? No. We cannot.

The researchers focused on creating computer programs that analyze facial expressions. This allowed them to analyze the kinetics of muscle movement in the human face and compared those movements with a person’s emotions. The researchers found that their attempts to detect or define emotions based on a subject’s facial articulations were almost always wrong.

Researchers drew further deductions. First, that context and cultural background make a huge difference when it comes to facial expressions. They deduced that not everyone who smiles is happy and likewise not everyone who is happy smiles. They even took the extreme opinion that most people who do not smile are experiencing an average level of happiness.

Researchers noted, no one walks around all day with a smile on their face even if they are having a great day and are experiencing happiness for the bulk of it.

 

Researchers Observe How Babies Learn About Music

Both researchers and lay people have long known that babies learn language by parroting the words they hear. However, a new study demonstrates that babies may also imitate singing they hear in songs.

In part of the study researchers analyzed audio recorded from 15 month old baby. The recording captured the child making sounds like the beginning of “Happy Birthday” a few hours after it heard the song played through a toy. The analysis showed that the baby was able to recreate the first six notes of the song, almost exactly. And in G major.

Researchers point out that in the first year of life children develop into very conscious music listeners. They are easily able to learn about the patterns and pitches and rhythms in the music they hear. However, researchers aren’t sure exactly how this happens.

The study is one of the first to follow an infant for a day and record its attempts at recreating music. And, at least in this one case, they found like when a baby mimics talking, this baby did the same for songs it heard.

This child wore a lightweight recording device and through a mixture of software that analyzed the data—the software is able to measure things like adult words a baby attempts to speak—and critical listening researchers were able to find patterns where it seemed the child was trying to mimic music happening around it.