SUV DRIVERS FLOUT TRAFFIC LAWS? A London study suggests that drivers of sport utility vehicles are more likely to disobey laws involving cell phones and seat belts. Researchers observed passing motorists at different times and locations in London. The results, published in the British Medical Journal, show that SUV drivers were almost four times more likely to be using a cell phone -- which is against the law in London -- and also more likely not to use seat belts. The authors believe that SUV drivers feel safer inside their larger cars and thus are more likely to take risks.
COLOR KEEPS IT TOGETHER Team uniforms don't just look cool -- they actually help the brain overcome its limitations in tracking a large number of objects at one time. The human brain has a hard time tracking more than three objects or people at one time, but if the objects are all the same color, our ability increases exponentially. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University tested volunteers who were asked to count colored dots on a screen. The participants were able to keep track of many more dots at once when the dots were all the same color. Scientists believe that having uniforms of the same color helps players keep track of their teammates on the field. This research was published recently in Psychological Science.
PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE Americans' circle of close confidants has shrunk in size by one-third -- or about one person -- in the last two decades, according to Duke University research published in the American Sociological Review. The survey of U.S. adults compared answers from 2004 to answers from 1985. Researchers call the shrinkage "dramatic" -- people in 2004 named about one less close friend they "discussed important matters with" compared to 20 years before. The percentage who said they had no one to discuss important things with more than doubled. In the age of increased communication, these results suggest Americans may actually be more isolated from one another. However, it's also possible that Americans' definition of what constitutes a "close confidant" has also shifted over time, which might account for the discrepancies.
STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.