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Top 10 in 2013: Monkeys, sleep, and peanut butter

Ring in the new year with a look back at the most popular stories from 2013.

1. Peanut butter sniff test confirms Alzheimer’s

U. FLORIDA ─ A dollop of peanut butter and a ruler might be a way to confirm a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

2. MOON IMPACT LEFT SEA OF MOLTEN ROCK 6 MILES DEEP

BROWN — Early in the Moon’s history, an ocean of molten rock covered its entire surface. But that wasn’t the last time the Moon’s surface melted on a massive scale.

3. 3-SECOND DISTRACTION DOUBLES WORK ERRORS

MICHIGAN STATE — Even tiny interruptions can derail your train of thought and increase mistakes, new research shows.

4. FEELING EDGY? GET SOME SLEEP

UC BERKELEY — A lack of sleep, which is common in anxiety disorders, may play a key role in firing up brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying.

(Credit: Ian 'Harry' Harris/Flickr)
“It’s been hard to tease out whether sleep loss is simply a byproduct of anxiety, or whether sleep disruption causes anxiety,” says Andrea Goldstein. “This study helps us understand that causal relationship more clearly.” (Credit: Ian ‘Harry’ Harris/Flickr)

5. DOES READING ACTUALLY CHANGE THE BRAIN?

EMORY — After reading a novel, actual changes linger in the brain, at least for a few days, report researchers.

6. SCANS SHOW EARLY BRAIN GROWTH IN BREASTFED BABIES

BROWN — Babies who are breastfed show signs of early brain development, particularly in regions associated with language, emotional function, and cognition.

7. CHEATING MONKEYS TRY TO HIDE THEIR INFIDELITY

U. MICHIGAN / U. PENNSYLVANIA — Wild gelada monkeys change their behavior to avoid getting caught cheating on sexual partners.

(Credit: Aliza le Roux via U. Michigan)
After carefully studying more than 1,000 sexual relationships among geladas, the researchers found that cheating individuals make sexual noises less frequently. (Credit: Aliza le Roux via U. Michigan)

8. LEFTIES MORE LIKELY TO HAVE SCHIZOPHRENIA

YALE — People who are left-handed are more likely to develop psychotic disorders like schizophrenia rather than mood disorders such as depression, new research shows.

9. SELF-MOVING GEL LETS MATERIAL ‘TALK TO ITSELF’

U. PITTSBURGH — Scientists have discovered a synthetic material that can rebuild itself through chemical communication.

10. FLIES OPT FOR TOXIC VEGETARIAN DIET

U. ARIZONA — Microbe-eating flies from all over the world have recently evolved to eat some of the most toxic plants on Earth instead.

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