The Daily Briefing editorial team highlights several interesting health care stories and studies that didn't quite make this week's Briefing. What are you reading this weekend? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
Rachel Schulze's reads
Bad news for night owls: A few weeks ago, we looked at research on how being a morning person or an evening person relates to the Big Five personality traits. In a follow-up weekend read, we have some bad news for the night owls: Research published in the journal Obesity found morning people may naturally eat a healthier diet than their night owl counterparts. At breakfast, evening types were more likely to choose foods that were higher in sugar and lower in fiber, fats, and carbohydrates. And when night rolled around, evening people were eating more sugar and fat than their counterparts.
Want to become a 'super-memorizer'? Some people have a seemingly super-human ability to memorize things. But when researchers looked for clues in super-memorizers' brains about what makes them special, the researchers didn't find any obvious difference between super-memorizers' brains and the rest of us. However, the researchers did notice one subtle difference: In super-memorizers, the parts of the brain associated with memory and spatial learning appeared to be interacting more than they did in the brains of the control group. That suggests that super-memorizers aren't born with a superior ability to memorize, Rae Ellen Bichell reports for NPR's "Shots"—they have just practiced mental techniques to maximize their recall, such as "memory palaces," in which information is mentally tied it to a familiar location.
Sam Bernstein's reads
Cheese is a drug. Or at least that is what one doctor claims. In his new book, "The Cheese Trap," Neal Barnard, argues that cheese is "both fattening and addictive." According to Barnard, dairy proteins can act as mild opiates by attaching to the same receptors in the brain as heroin and other narcotics. And cheddar cheese, Barnard argues, is the worst offender at the grocery store—it has the most concentrated amount of cheese protein and can pack more calories than soda and more salt than potato chips.
Here's how we grow potatoes on Mars. Getting astronauts to Mars' surface would be hard. Feeding them there for months—or years—on end might be harder. Luckily, scientists from the International Potato Center have announced that they successfully grew potatoes in synthetic soil designed to mimic Martian soil. According to Inverse, "Scientists chose to experiment with potatoes because these crops have a high genetic capacity for adapting to extreme environments."