Pulse 163: Enjoy Life Now for Long-Term Well-Being

4 August 2020
Giulio Prisco

Enjoy Life

Achieving long-term goals is important, of course. But we should also allow ourselves to relax and have fun without feelings of guilt for not always focusing on work, psychologists have confirmed.

"It's time for a rethink," said Katharina Bernecker, researcher in motivational psychology at the University of Zurich. "Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure."

Bernecker's new research shows that people's capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control, notes a press release issued by University of Zurich (see below).

"The pursuit of hedonic and long-term goals needn't be in conflict with one another," added Bernecker. "Our research shows that both are important and can complement each other in achieving well-being and good health. It is important to find the right balance in everyday life."

"It was always thought that hedonism, as opposed to self-control, was the easier option. But really enjoying one's hedonic choice isn't actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts."

So you should feel free to relax and have fun. But you may have to learn how to enjoy it.

Enjoy Relaxation for Long-Term Well-Being

Psychologists at University of Zurich have found that many people get distracted by intrusive thoughts in moments of relaxation or enjoyment. This is the results of thinking about activities or tasks that they should be doing instead.

The findings are reported in a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

On the other hand, those who can fully enjoy themselves in moments of relaxation or enjoyment tend to have a higher sense of well-being. This sense is in general and not only in the short term. And they are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

Understanding Base Editors to Improve CRISPR

Researchers at UC Berkeley have determined the 3D structure of the latest CRISPR-Cas9 base editor as it swaps out nucleic acids. This reveals why it can go off target but also how it can be improved.

CRISPR-Cas9 base editors replace one nucleic acid with another, which in many cases is all that should be needed to fix a genetic disease.

A study was published in Science. It reports how the researchers were able to observe for the first time a base editor in action, when it works and when it doesn't. It also suggests a roadmap for making the next generation of base editors more versatile and controllable for use in patients.

Health Sensors Drawn on Skin with an Ink Pen

Scientists at University of Houston have developed a new form of electronics known as "drawn-on-skin electronics." It allows multifunctional sensors and circuits to be drawn on the skin with an ink pen.

A research paper is published in Nature Communications. It describes how electronic inks, including conductors, semiconductors, and dielectrics, can be drawn on-demand in a freeform manner to develop devices. Devices may include transistors, strain sensors, temperature sensors, heaters, skin hydration sensors, and electrophysiological sensors.

The drawn-on-skin electronics are able to seamlessly collect data, regardless of the wearer's movements. See also the related development reported in Pulse 161.

Hydrogels Memorize and Forget Information

Hokkaido University researchers have found that a soft and wet material can memorize, retrieve, and forget information, much like the human brain.

A study is published in PNAS. It describes a hydrogel that mimics the dynamic memory function of the brain: encoding information that fades with time depending on the memory intensity.

Hydrogels are flexible materials composed of a large percentage of water and other chemicals. They provide a scaffold-like structure to contain the water.

The researchers found that the hydrogel memory can be programmed. And it is stable against temperature fluctuation and physical stretching.

Synthetic Lethality Targets Cancer Weaknesses

Researchers at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and UC San Diego have found a way to leverage the idea of "synthetic lethality." This results when non-lethal mutations in different genes become deadly when combined in cells.

The scientists exploited cancer-specific genetic defects to identify targets that are uniquely essential to the survival of cancer cells. In a research paper published in PNAS, the scientists report that inhibiting a key enzyme caused human cancer cells associated with two major types of breast and ovarian cancer to die. And it also reduced tumor growth in mouse studies.

Low-Power Mind-Controlled Prosthetics

By tuning into a subset of brain waves, University of Michigan researchers have reduced the power requirements of neural interfaces by 90 percent while improving their accuracy.

The research results are described in a paper published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. They could lead to long-lasting brain implants that can both treat neurological diseases and enable mind-controlled prosthetics and machines.

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