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Friday, March 23, 2007

RBS tells workers have primary account with us or be disciplined

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) has warned its UK staff that they must have their primary bank account with the firm or face disciplinary action.

In a letter obtained by union Amicus, a senior executive told staff salaries must be paid into an RBS-run account.

"Failure to do so will represent a breach of group policy," it said.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stressful events kill brain cells

A single episode of severe stress can be enough to kill off new nerve cells in the brain, research suggests.

Rosalind Franklin University researchers believe their finding may give new insights into the development of depression.

Working on rats, they found that cells were lost in the hippocampus, an area of the brain which processes learning, memory and emotion.

The study features in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers found that in young rats, the stress of encountering aggressive, older rats did not stop the generation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus.

However, it did prevent the cells from surviving - leaving fewer new neurons for processing feelings and emotions.

The hippocampus is one of two regions of the brain that continues to develop new nerve cells throughout life, in both rats and humans.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sex cues ruin men's decisiveness

Catching sight of a pretty woman really is enough to throw a man's decision-making skills into disarray, a study suggests.

The more testosterone he has, the stronger the effect, according to work by Belgian researchers.

Men about to play a financial game were shown images of sexy women or lingerie.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society B study found they were more likely to accept unfair offers than men not been exposed to the alluring images.

The suggestion is that the sexual cues distract the men's thoughts, preventing them from focusing on their task - particularly among those with high natural testosterone levels.

The University of Leuven researchers gave 176 heterosexual male student volunteers aged 18 to 28 financial games to test their fair play.

But first, half of the men were shown sexual cues of some kind.

One group of 44 men were given pictures to rate; some were shown landscapes while the rest were shown attractive women.

Another group, of 37 men, were either asked to assess the quality, texture and colour of a bra or a t-shirt.

And a third group of 95 were shown either pictures of elderly women or young models.

Each group was then paired up to play a game where the men had $10, a proposer had to suggest a split, and the other man accepted or rejected the offer.

If the second man accepted the offer, the money was distributed in agreement with the offer. If he rejected it, neither partner got anything.

The game is designed as a lab model of hunting or food sharing situations.

Hmmmm. What?