Yesterday I drew attention to a study claiming that students who bring water into exams get better grades. I made the point that at this time of year the media are often keen to report ‘science news’ that can be framed in ways that make it relevant to college students and their assessment. However, sometimes the framing process can be somewhat perverse. Here’s an example I blogged about last year. Have a look at this video of a mouse swimming through a water maze:
Doesn’t look much like any college student I know. Looks pretty much like a mouse. And yet, when researchers at the University of Bristol published a review of how such laboratory tests show the way histone modifications and DNA (de-) methylation help stimulate the expression of neuroplasticity-related genes involved in stress-related learning and memory processes — all of this in rodents, remember — the world’s media ran with stories like this:
And they were correct to do so, of course. That is, if you take it that college students are pretty much the same thing as rodents. And that college exams are pretty much the equivalent to being forced to swim through a water maze as if your life depended on it.
You can read the full details in this blog post. Happy studying!
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.