Today in Research: Depressing News for the Depressed; More

Discovered: Multitasking isn't a myth, pigeons aren't as dumb as they look and act, anti-depressants and therapy don't really work, the Brits' criminal and pirate ancestors, better treatment for blindness prevention.

  • Depressing news for the depressed: Treatment doesn't really work. In a clinical trial on depression treatment, neither real medicine nor talk therapy outperformed fake pills, found research in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Whether taking Zoloft, sugar pills, or attending therapy, around 30 percent of the participants responded to the method. Considering all the fun side effects of anti-depressants, and the cost of therapy, placebo sounds like the best medicine of all. But that means no medicine at all, which, if you think about it, is depressing. [Reuters]
  • Born to multi-task. Everyone likes to think they can juggle tasks, like Gchat and blog, for example, better than their cube-neighbors. But research has crushed those delusions, finding that most people's work suffers as a result of splitting time between multiple tasks -- until now. Looking at the brain activity of monkeys while the animals concentrated on multiple things, researchers at McGill found that their neurons split into two "spotlights" -- beams of concentration -- rather than one spotlight that jumped from task to task. To them, that means we have evolved to concentrate on two things simultaneously. "One implication of these findings is that our brain has evolved to attend to more than one object in parallel, and therefore to multi-task," explained researcher Martinez-Trujillo. Work Gchatters, celebrate: It's a real skill. [McGill]

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