Discovered: Lighting up might not lead to dumbing down; playing music can put you on a natural high; black carbon is twice as bad as we thought; evidence that obesity is inherited.
Marijuana might not lower teen IQs. Last summer, a study making the rounds in mainstream media (including this very site) purported to show evidence that teens who frequently smoked pot would grow up to have lower IQs. But part of the scientific process involves revisiting studies with such bold claims, and upon further inspection a Norwegian researcher writing in the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds no convincing evidence that pot makes youngsters dumb. Ole Rogeberg of the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research writes, "Simulation results suggest that SES-related cognitive decline is sufficient to reproduce" those earlier findings. Basically, Rogeberg is saying that those IQ declines earlier researchers saw were normal in subjects' socioeconomic backgrounds, whether they smoked pot or not. [Los Angeles Times]
Music really can put you on a natural high. In semi-related news, musicians who talk about the transcendent high they get by playing in front of a crowd are only half exaggerating. A study published in Evolutionary Psychology shows that performing music gives the body an opiate massage similar to the "runner's high." Oxford psychology professor Robin Dunbar found that endorphins released while playing music increased pain tolerance. And a sudden rush of endorphins also often correspond to a slight high. "Psychologically, endorphin release is experienced as a mild opiate 'high,' a corresponding feeling of well-being, and light analgesia," writes Dunbar. [The Atlantic]