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Math anxiety costs high-achieving students half a school year

Math worries, high achievers

"A study of first and second graders found that many high-achieving students experience math anxiety, with worry and fear undermining them so much that they can fall behind other students who don't have that anxiety," says Psych Central. "Researchers at the University of Chicago found that math anxiety was most detrimental to the highest-achieving students, who typically have the most working memory. … Worries about math can disrupt working memory. The research team found that a high degree of math anxiety undermined the performance of otherwise successful students, placing them almost half a school year behind their less anxious peers, in terms of math achievement."

Innocents can look guilty

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"Those in law enforcement are trained to 'read' body language, affect, facial expressions, mannerisms, and ways of speaking, and to believe that they can trust their gut," writes Sue Russell in Pacific Standard magazine. "They learn that if a suspect averts their gaze, touches their nose, chews a fingernail, strokes the back of their head, slouches or fidgets, they are likely lying and thus, guilty. Virtually all scientific research finds this mindset is counterproductive and even lowers the accuracy of judgments. People under stress – being wrongly accused certainly qualifies – can behave in ways impossible to distinguish from those who are lying. Yet the accused may be convicted in the court of public opinion – or worse – in large part because they don't react to tragedy or the loss of a loved one as others want them to or expect."

Your face, in your blood?

"Detectives tracking murderers, rapists and other criminals may be able to reconstruct their faces from a speck of blood left at the crime scene," says The Independent. "The significant advance in forensic investigation has been brought a step closer by scientists who believe they can produce portraits of suspects from a scrap of their DNA. The development would mean inaccurate photofits and unreliable eyewitness testimony would be consigned to history. Researchers in the Netherlands working with photographs of individuals and MRI scans of their heads have identified genetic factors that contribute to facial appearance. This technique could one day give police the capacity to reconstruct the faces of suspects as easily as their fingerprints and distribute them nationwide."

Growing yourself new skin

Asked "How long does it take to completely shed your skin?" BBC Focus magazine replies: "Your skin comprises 12 to 15 per cent of your body weight but only the very top layer, the stratum corneum, is shed. This is just 10 to 30 cells thick. You shed about 1.5 grams of skin per day but the turnover is much faster on your palms than, say, your eyelids. Overall it takes 28 to 50 days to completely renew your skin, slowing as you grow older."

Those Monday mornings

If you struggle to get out of bed on a Monday morning, you may have to blame yourself for sleeping in over the weekend, according to scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern. "The idea that staying in bed longer on Saturday and Sunday will help 'catch up' on sleep missed during the week is a myth, according to a study," reports The Daily Telegraph. "The research suggests that, rather than sending workers into the new week feeling refreshed, extra hours of sleep over the weekend can result in people feeling even more tired. The extra hours in bed are said to disrupt the circadian cycle, which governs the internal body clock and triggers when to wake up in the morning or to feel tired at night."

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Thought du jour

"The cure for 'materialism' is to have enough for everybody and to spare. When people are sure of having what they need they cease to think about it."

– Henry Ford (1863-1947), U.S. industrialist

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