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Briefs: Study finds unexpected distractions can impair learning

unexpected distractions impair learning

Everyone hates it when a cell phone rings during a concert or movie, but those disturbances also can impair learning, a new study has found. Study author Jill Shelton of Washington University in St. Louis posed as a student in a psychology lecture and allowed her cell phone to ring loudly for about 30 seconds. The students exposed to the ringing scored 25 percent worse on a test of material presented before the distraction. Scores were even worse when Shelton added to the disturbance by frantically searching her handbag for the phone. The study, published online in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, also found that distractions that don't come as a surprise don't have such an impact. "If you're in an office where the phones are just ringing all the time everyday, it may initially be distracting to you, but you will probably get over it," she said.

Swine flu continues to spread

The World Health Organization said Wednesday the number of swine flu cases worldwide has reached 19,273 after the United States reported more than 1,000 new infections. WHO says the virus has been confirmed in 66 countries, with Egypt and Nicaragua the latest to report one case each. The virus is responsible for 117 deaths, mostly in Mexico. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the swine flu virus has reached every state.

Curbing depression in high-risk teens

Teenagers whose parents have a history of depression are at high risk of becoming depressed themselves. Now, a large clinical trial has found that a group cognitive behavioral program that teaches coping and problem-solving skills to high-risk teens can reduce the risk. The study also found the program was much more effective if the parents were not depressed when the intervention began. The study appears in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Patients skimp on health care to save

More people are canceling doctor appointments, not filling prescriptions and skipping screenings such as Pap smears to save money, according to a national survey of family doctors. The American Academy of Family Physicians e-mailed more than 8,000 doctors, 505 of whom completed the survey in March and April. Seventy-three percent of doctors who responded said more patients are cutting prescription dosages. Sixty percent said they had seen more health problems caused by patients skipping preventive care.

Cancer drug made for dogs approved

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug made specifically to treat cancer in dogs. Until now, all cancer drugs used in veterinary medicine were developed for use in humans. The new drug, Palladia, made by Pfizer Animal Health, has been approved to treat a cancer that accounts for about one in five cases of canine skin tumors. Canine cutaneous mast cell tumors sometimes can be easily removed, but they can lead to life-threatening disease, the FDA says. Palladia is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that works by killing tumor cells and cutting off blood supply to the tumor.

Compiled from Times wires

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Briefs: Study finds unexpected distractions can impair learning 06/03/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 6:39pm]

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