In deciding whether to take a heart-attack prevention drug, older patients often place as much or more emphasis on side effects as on effectiveness. In a study of 356 people 65 years or older, geriatrics researcher Terri R. Fried and her colleagues report in the Archives of Internal Medicine that 48 to 69 percent voiced either unwillingness or uncertainty about using an effective drug that carried a risk of fatigue, nausea, fuzzy thinking, or more severe problems.


Need to declutter? The best time is when you’re feeling most secure about your relationships, says psychology professor Margaret Clark. In experiments she and her colleagues discuss in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, people primed with security-related words such as “love” attached considerably less value to material objects—a blanket and a pen, which they valued at $33.38 and $3.23 respectively, on average—than those primed with neutral words ($66.49 and $4.18). Clark suggests that “enhancing felt security” could be useful in helping hoarders and shopaholics.


According to ecological theory, the metabolic rate of a population of animals is supposed to be independent of the body size of each individual in the group. But when John P. DeLong, a postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology, examined measurements of the metabolism of ant, bee, and termite colonies, he found the rule didn’t hold for these social insects. Colonies of big ants used significantly more energy than colonies of little ones. (The results were published in Biology Letters.)


In a study examining the brain activation patterns of 48 healthy women of varied weights, psychology doctoral student Ashley Gearhardt ’08MS and her colleagues found that, for women with high scores on a common food addiction scale, the idea of a milkshake triggered brain activity like that of drug addicts. The Archives of General Psychiatry report helps explain why weight loss can be so difficult in a sea of food advertisements.  


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