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Discovered: Punishment works; traditional Chinese medicine works, too; people think the future is closer to them than the past; you really, really shouldn't text and drive.

Punishment works. When trying to achieve a certain result, reprimanding someone can work as well as rewarding him, a group of researchers at the University of Nottingham found. The researchers studied how humans react to certain incentive systems, and found that a risk of punishment functioned in a similar way to the possibility of being paid: "Participants' performance increased systematically as the amount of punishment increased, suggesting that punishment acts as a performance enhancer in a similar way to monetary reward." The researchers were hesitant to universalize their findings, though. "This is a key finding as it provides a potential route to study differences between individuals and their personality traits in order to characterise why some may respond better to reward and punishment than others." [Journal of Neuroscience]

So does traditional Chinese medicine. Like science, medicine is supposed to progress, which is why we're wary of treatments that arose before the scientific method. But a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge say that ancient methods of treating malaria remain fairly effective: "In the world's largest international clinical trial, for instance, scientists concluded that Artesunate, a derivative of the Chinese herb qinghao, should replace quinine as a treatment for severe malaria in both adults and children worldwide." The application of such discoveries will likely enhance the present search for more effective (and modern) medicine. [Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling]

People think the future is closer than the past. "The illusions that influence how we perceive movement through space also influence our perception of time," a new study performed by scientists at the University of Chicago shows. Specifically, we think that we're always on the verge of the future, but have left the past far behind. After administering a battery of tests — one of which involved a virtual-reality headset — the scientists discovered that "our perceptions of time are grounded in our experiences of movement through space: We tend to feel closer to the future because we feel like we’re moving toward it." [Psychological Science]

You really, really shouldn't text and drive. Yes, you are probably aware that texting and driving is incredibly dangerous. But how dangerous? By measuring the "reaction capacity" of drivers subjected to various distractions, a group of Australian researchers found that people who type out text messages while driving have the same ability to react to the surrounding environment — such as other cars — as someone who is legally too intoxicated to drive. Even more surprising, however, was that this extended to handsfree phone conversations conducted while driving: "Their experiment demonstrates that using a handsfree kit or sending text messages is the same as being above the legal alcohol limit." [Traffic Injury Prevention]

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