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Discovered: a 'dirty secret' of science, StarCraft's research value, how exercise effects the depressed, and three's a trend when it comes to doctor hygiene studies.

  • StarCraft is a gift to science.  Thankfully, as Scientific American reports, video gaming "research has reached a turning point: psychologists are no longer asking only whether the violence in some games corrupts young minds, or whether games are dangerously addictive, thus corrupting young minds." Well, some still are, but anyway, it's good to see some new vein being explored. So, why is StarCraft so important? "That intellectual rigor and the corresponding data trail, multiplied across hundreds of thousands of players worldwide, makes StarCraft an unparalleled resource that scientists are only now tapping for the study of attention, multitasking, and learning." Lots of data to mine, it seems. So, in a little bit when all these studies presumably hit headlines, and you wonder why participants in all these multi-tasking studies seem like StarCraft gamers, you now will know why. [Scientific American]
  • Problem: a lot of groundbreaking studies can't be replicated. As we've noted before, the pressure to deliver the "first," "groundbreaking," or attention-grabbing findings might be taking a toll on researchers. Today, the Wall Street Journal is pushing another trend. "This is one of medicine's dirty secrets: Most results, including those that appear in top-flight peer-reviewed journals, can't be reproduced." If finding's can't be reproduced, it cast's doubts on their validity. The Journal cites a few innocuous theories for why this is, one being that the lab methods are getting "more sophisticated" and that "more variables there are in an experiment, the more likely it is that small, unintended errors will pile up." But, as anyone who's glanced at Retraction Watch blog has noticed, there's also been a reported rise in errors, which The Journal also originally reported. [The Wall Street Journal]
  • A side effect of exercising for the depressed. Sure, you know exercise will make you feel better even though it's easier to wallow in front of Netflix.  But there is a new, interesting study in this vein--one that goes beyond just a "exercise is good for you" finding. The New York Times Well blog parses a study claiming that it takes longer for the depressed to recuperate after exercise. "[C]linical depression may hamper the body’s ability to recover from physical activity, prolonging the amount of time it takes for a depressed person’s heart rate to slow down and return to normal after a workout." The doctor behind the study speculated to the newspaper that "people with major depression have a dysfunctional stress response." [The New York Times Well]
  • Three's a trend with the 'are doctors not washing their hands enough?' studies. It seems like an inconceivable idea, but: In the last month, we've learned that some health care workers don't feel like it's necessary to wash their hands a lot because they wear latex gloves. And that when video cameras were installed in hospitals, doctors washed their hands more (it took surveillance cameras for this?). And today, a new study is touting itself with the headline: "2 out of 3 medical students do not know when to wash their hands." We're just perplexed. Maybe there's a complex answer for these findings about the apparent hand washing hospital problem.  [The Atlantic, Reuters, Eurekalert]

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