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March 30, 2018

Weekend reads: Meet the people who can summon goosebumps at will

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Why do some people get sick more than others? It's unclear why some people find themselves getting sick all the time while others virtually never catch a cold—but research suggests it could have something to do with your stress level, social network, and socio-economic status growing up. Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, has conducted various studies on the subject and in one found that people exposed to at least six months of stress were more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus. "The two most potent stressors are long-term conflicts with people and being unemployed or underemployed. They have health consequences," he said. Cohen said his other research has shown "the people with the lowest levels of social integration were roughly four times as likely to get sick [as] those with the most social integrations." He also found in a separate study that people who grew up in low-income households were more likely to get sick than those who grew up more affluent.

    Poor hearing might increase your risk for accidents. Hearing loss might make you more prone to accidents, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Nicholas Bakalar writes for the New York Times' "Well." For the study, researchers tracked various injuries related to driving, leisure, sports, or work, and found that a person's risk of injury steadily increased with hearing loss. Specifically, the study found a 60% increase in injury risk among those with a little hearing trouble, a 70% increase in injury risk among those with moderate trouble hearing, and a 90% increase in injury risk among those with significant hearing loss. Neil Bhattacharyya, senior author on the study and a professor of otolaryngology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, compared hearing loss to using headphones in public. "Not hearing warning signs when jogging, cycling—that can put you in harm's way. Hearing loss is not just a social nuisance. It can predispose you to injury," he said.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Can you summon goosebumps at will? For most people, goosebumps appear and disappear uncontrollably—but it turns out some people can make them come and go at will. James Heathers, a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University, got interested in the phenomenon when he encountered it in an old case study from 1938. After some additional research, he launched a survey to learn more about people who can control their goosebumps and found 32 people who said they could do it. Some of the respondents said they needed to induce an emotional reaction to bring on the goosebumps, while others just needed to concentrate.

    Don't call these kitties 'house' cats. Some American pet owners are taking their cats with them on outdoor excursions. Take for instance Vladimir, the family cat of Cees and Madison Hoffman and their young son. The family takes him hiking, kayaking, and even rappelling. The family keeps the cat on a leash, using a harness they started adjusting him to when he was just seven weeks old. Karen Nguyen takes her cat, Waffles, camping. Nguyen doesn't take Waffles walking much, though, because she usually gets distracted and stops to eat grass.

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