Today’s Headlines: Earworms, Brain Health and Miscarriage Misconceptions

Chewing gum may help get that song out of your head. Catchy tunes can end up playing over and over again in your head, but a group of researchers has found that chewing gum might prevent these earworms from getting stuck. The team recruited 98 people and had them listen to catchy music. “After playing the participants two different catchy tunes the researchers asked them to try not to think of the songs they had just heard over the next three minutes. Each time the participant thought of the song, they were instructed to hit a key.” A third just listened to the songs, a third listened while tapping their fingers, and the rest listened while chewing gum. “Those who chewed gum reported hearing the song less than those with no activity or who just tapped their fingers.” Those who chewed the gum were 33% less likely to have the song come back into their head. The researchers think the act of chewing gum may make the music harder to hear, which prevents it from catching in your brain as easily. (Fox)

Mediterranean diet found to be good for brain health. The Mediterranean diet has been found to have a variety of health benefits including lower blood pressure and rates of heart disease. But new research has found it may also help your brain. “The study involved 447 cognitively healthy participants, 55 to 80 years of age. Two groups followed the Mediterranean diet and added either 30 grams of mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) a day, or five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day. The third group, acting as a control, was advised to follow a low-fat diet. Most subjects were followed for just over four years. The results showed that, compared with the control group, memory function remained stronger in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group, while frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition benefited in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group. The changes observed in cognition were small and showed that oils and nuts helped slow decline rather than actually prevent it.” The researchers think anti-inflammatory agents like antioxidants present in nuts and plant oils may be helping to block damaging processes that normally lead to brain decline. The results point to the need for variety in a healthy diet. (WSJ)

Most people believe common myths about miscarriage. Miscarriage is a tragic and challenging event, but researchers have found that many buy into myths about miscarriage that can make the tragedy more painful. “More than half of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey incorrectly believed miscarriages are rare and many thought they could occur for reasons that actually don’t affect miscarriage risk at all. Miscarriages are not uncommon, yet almost half of those women who have suffered a miscarriage have felt guilt and a sense of isolation about what happened. Men were more than twice as likely as women to think miscarriages were rare, the survey found. 76 percent believed a stressful event could cause miscarriage and 64 percent thought lifting heavy objects could cause miscarriages, but neither stress nor lifting causes pregnancy loss. Other things that do not cause miscarriage include past sexually transmitted infections, past abortions, past use of an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control or previously using other birth control, getting into an argument or not wanting the pregnancy. Yet, more than one in five respondents thought at least one of these could cause miscarriage.” The researchers say the problem is that most people get their information from unreliable sources that may make them attribute the miscarriage to something they did. In reality, most miscarriages are caused by genetic problems that couldn’t have been prevented. (CBS)