November 2017 in NYU Research

Top findings from the past month.
cartoon: shoppers in a grocery store
iStock/elenabs

This month, NYU neuroscientists found that when people come across low-valued items, they are willing to pay more for products they see later, whereas when people see high-valued items, they are willing to pay less for products they view afterward. 

Mammal brains were shown to be able to distinguish between different smells in less than one-tenth of a second—much more quickly than previously thought. 

An original legal analysis by NYU College of Global Public Health found an Arkansas law that prohibits local governments from enacting civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals to be unconstitutional. 

In sociology, research by doctoral candidate Jessie Ford showed that when men have unwanted sex with women, it is often to avoid "awkwardness" and to conform to gendered expectations about male desire.  

Tandon researchers published the first large-scale study of a low-tech, high-harm form of online harassment known as doxing—and found that new abuse filters on Facebook and Instagram were somewhat effective in curbing this kind of harassment. 

Steinhardt education research showed that among (predominantly Latino and African-American) third through eighth graders, attending after-school programs that were positive, responsive, and organized predicted stronger academic skills and perceptions of academic abilities the following year. 

In medicine, government and industry efforts since 2003 to phase out chemicals used to make perfluorooctanoic acid nonstick coatings, such as Teflon™, have prevented more than 118,000 low-weight births in the U.S. Two very different drugs used to treat opioid addiction—naltrexone (or Vivitrol®) and buprenorphine-naloxone (or Suboxone®)—were shown to be equally safe and effective in in curtailing opioid use, relapse, treatment drop-out, and overdose. Blocking the action of a key protein, Perlmutter Cancer Center researchers found, freed oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing the cancer cells' growth and making them easier to kill. A study of mice showed that exposure to antibiotics in mothers could increase the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases in their offspring, because antibiotic use changes the mix of maternal microbes transferred to offspring during birth.

A team of neuroscientists developed an intervention that normalizes multiple biological functions in mice afflicted with Fragile X Syndrome—which is caused by silencing of the FMR1 gene and producing a range of mental and physical disorders. An NYU College of Dentistry study identified elevated pathogen colonization and a lack of bacterial diversity in the mouths of people with precancerous lesions that can lead to stomach cancer.

In psychology, researchers found that the vividness of imagery was the greatest predictor of which poems people found aesthetically appealing.