Discovered: Exercise counterintuitively reduces hunger; killer whales moms are mom enough; sexual arousal makes people do gross things; a newly discovered monkey stares deep into your soul.
Working out doesn't work up an appetite. A vigorous 45-minute work-out can burn hundreds of calories, but exercise may actually lead to an immediate reduction in food cravings according to research coming out of BYU. Professor James LeCheminant and Michael Larson studied brain activity in subjects looking at images of food just after finishing an intense work-out, and again after they'd refrained from exercising. Counterintuitively, the subjects' attentional response to food was lower after exercise. "This study provides evidence that exercise not only affects energy output, but it also may affect how people respond to food cues," LeCheminant says. [BYU]
Sexy films reduce gross-out factor. When people get sexually aroused, they can do some pretty nasty things ... like drink from a cup with an insect in it, or wipe their hands with snot-filled tissues. A University of Groningen PhD student Charmaine Borg and colleagues tried to get 90 women to perform such gross tasks, and they found that those who'd just seen an erotic film were more likely to comply. The researchers conclude that as sexual arousal goes up, the "disgust response" goes down. "This results in the intriguing question of how people succeed in having pleasurable sex at all," Borg says. "These findings can indicate that lack of sexual arousal may interfere with functional sex, as it may prevent the reduction of disgust and disgust-related avoidance tendencies." Borg only studied women, but she hypothesizes that she'd find similar responses if she performed the experiment on men. [ABC News]
Mama's boy killer whales. Maybe Free Willy looked so bummed throughout the movie because he just missed his mama. Researchers led by the University of Exeter's Darren Croft analyzed a survey of killer whales off the coast of Washington and British Columbia started back in the 1970s. They found that young male orcas were three times more likely to die within a year after their mother's death than their peers who still had mom around. This may explain why mother killer whales live long past menopause; whales are the only animal besides humans who live past their capability to reproduce. Scientists speculate that mother whales may be shepherding their male offspring for evolutionary reasons, trying to ensure as many descendants as possible. "It would be great if we knew more about orca social behavior, in particular just what benefits mothers are conferring," says Michael Cant, an evolutionary biologist commenting on the work. "But working on cetaceans is just enormously challenging, and this is very rare, hard-won data." [Science Now]