Monday, January 4, 2021

People vary with regard to their temperature & spiciness preferences for unknown reasons; these preferences correlate, & were not associated with age, gender & cultural background, which suggests that they may be innate

Some like it hot: Preference for temperature and pungency consumption is associated with sensitivity to noxious heat. Ruth Defrin  Michal Dekel‐Steinkeller  Gideon Urca. European Journal of Pain, October 21 2020.

Rolf Degen's take:


Background: Individuals vary in their temperature and pungency preferences; whereas some individuals prefer to bath in, or consume food and beverages at very high temperatures, others prefer lukewarm temperatures. Similarly, pungent food may be preferred by some, but not by others. The aim was to investigate, for the first time whether temperature and pungency preferences are associated with variations in thermal sensitivity or ethnic origin related to pungency consumption.

Methods: 115 healthy volunteers participated. The thresholds for warm (WST) and heat‐pain (HPT) sensations were measured over the tongue and dorsal hand, and the participants’ preferred drinking and bath temperatures were measured. In addition, data on the participants’ ethnic background as well as temperature and pungency preferences and household habits regarding eating, drinking and bathing were collected.

Results: The reported drinking and bathing preferences correlated significantly with the measured drinking and bath temperatures, respectively, validating subjects’ reports. Tongue and hand HPT, but not WST, correlated with both the reported and the measured drinking and bathing preferences, as well as with pungency preferences. Neither ethnic origin nor gender affected HPT or temperature preferences; however, males preferred a greater level of spiciness than females.

Conclusions: The association of the reported and measured preferences with noxious heat sensitivity in both relevant and irrelevant body regions, and lack of an ethnicity effect may suggest that these qualities are innate. The association of HPT and spiciness preferences correspond with the mutual activation of the tongue vanilloid receptors by noxious heat and capsaicin.

Significance: People vary with regard to their temperature and spiciness preferences for reasons yet unknown. The study revealed that these preferences correlate with one another and were associated with the sensitivity to noxious heat but not with age, gender and cultural background, which suggests that they may be innate.

The historian Fred Shannon said in 1945 that local soil heterogeneity limited the ability of American farmers to learn from the experience of their neighbors, & that this contributed to their "traditional individualism"

Learning is Caring: Soil Heterogeneity, Social Learning and the Formation of Close-knit Communities. Itzchak Tzachi Raz. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, December 2020.

This paper studies the impact of social learning on the formation of close-knit communities. It provides empirical support to the hypothesis, put forth by the historian Fred Shannon in 1945, that local soil heterogeneity limited the ability of American farmers to learn from the experience of their neighbors, and that this contributed to their "traditional individualism." Consistent with this hypothesis, I establish that historically, U.S. counties with a higher degree of soil heterogeneity displayed weaker communal ties. I provide causal evidence on the formation of this pattern in a Difference-in-Differences framework, documenting a reduction in the strength of farmers' communal ties following migration to a soil-heterogeneous county, relative to farmers that moved to a soil-homogeneous county. Using the same design, I also show that soil heterogeneity did not affect the social ties of non-farmers. The impact of soil heterogeneity is long-lasting, still affecting culture today. These findings suggest that, while understudied, social learning is an important determinant of culture.

Keywords: Culture, Individualism, Community, Social Learning, Agriculture, Persistence

JEL Classification: N51, N52, N91, N92, N31, N32, Z10, Z13, O13, D83, D70

Gendered Fitness Interests: An individual's socio-political views covary with the sex of their children or the numbers of relatives of each sex

Gendered fitness interests: A method partitioning the effects of family composition on socio-political attitudes and behaviors. Robert C. Brooks, Khandis R. Blake. Evolution and Human Behavior, January 4 2021.

Abstract: Whereas most people are biologically either male or female, their genetic interests are almost never aligned with just their own sex. Drawing on the evolutionary theory of inclusive fitness gained through relatives, we partition the effects of kin on fitness into those that derive from female versus male relatives. We argue that the balance of these female- and male-derived effects, which we call ‘Gendered Fitness Interests’ (GFI), might influence human behavior, especially the adoption of socio-political attitudes that have a gendered dimension. Our proposal builds on observations that an individual's socio-political views covary with the sex of their children or the numbers of relatives of each sex. Further, it is consistent with the relatively small average differences between women's and men's socio-political positions. We outline a method for partitioning GFI, and use simulation models to explore some of its properties. We then show that (1) the GFI component of women's and men's socio-political attitudes will converge, on average, with age. (2) The contributions of both descendent and non-descendent kin lead to considerable variation in GFI. (3) When men have longer average reproductive lifespans than women, GFI can show small male-biases. (4) Paternity uncertainty reduces the variation in GFI between individuals, and (5) Large family sizes are associated with more variation among individuals in GFI. Our proposal provides a framework for the study of the effects of kin on traits and attitudes with a gendered dimension. In this respect, it may prove generally useful in resolving the complex origins of gendered behavior.

From 2019... The 1862 Homestead Act granted 10% of the land in the United States to 1.6 million individuals; areas with greater historical exposure to homesteading are poorer and more rural today

From 2019... There’s No Such Thing As Free Land: The Homestead Act and Economic Development. Ross Mattheis, Itzchak Tzachi Raz. Harvard Job Market Paper, December 31, 2019.

Abstract: The 1862 Homestead Act provided free land conditional on five years of residency and cultivation to settlers of the American West. In total, the Act granted 10% of the land in the United States to 1.6 million individuals. This study examines the impact of the Act on long-run development. Using spatial regression discontinuity and instrumental variable designs, we find that areas with greater historical exposure to homesteading are poorer and more rural today. The impact on development is not only driven through differences in the urban share of the population; cities in homesteading areas are less developed and non-agricultural sectors are less productive. Using newly geo-referenced historical census data, we document the path of divergence starting from the initial settlement. We find that homesteading regions were slower to transition out of agriculture. The historical and empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the transitory distortions caused by the Act’s residency and cultivation requirements induced selection on settlers’ comparative advantage in agriculture. This, in turn, inhibited the development of non-agricultural sectors and the subsequent benefits of agglomeration.

Appendix C Alternative Explanations

In this section, we consider two competing hypotheses regarding channels. The first is that a higher prevalence of land consolidation and large landowners in non-homesteading regions had a positive impact on development. The second is that homesteading contributed to the development of cultural traits and values that were unfavourable for long-run economic development. We find that neither hypothesis is supported by the empirical facts.

C.1 Land Consolidation and Large Landowners

A main competing hypothesis regarding channels focus on the existence of large landowner. Some historians have argued that the large land holdings of absentee owners, often referred to as land speculators, had an adverse effect on economic development (Gates, 1973; Swierenga, 1977). Specifically, it has been argued that absentee owners slowed economic development by keeping land idle and away from settlers, contributed to the raise in farm tenancy and lower investments in agriculture, and reduced local tax collection needed to support public goods. Recent studies in economics provide causal evidence supporting some of these arguments (Raz, 2018; Smith, 2019). On the other hand, other scholars have argued that absentee landownership actually had a positive impact, stressing their important function as land retailers, their risk-bearing and informational roles, their contribution to the development of early cities, and the fact that they helped to attract settlers west (North, 1974; Swierenga, 1977).

Moreover, Cogswell (1975) finds a negative correlation between absentee landownership and farm tenancy, and argues that land “speculators may have directly reduced the proportion of tenant farmers by offering land on credit” (p. 27). Can a lower prevalence of large land owners in the homesteading region be responsible for the adverse impact on long-run development?

In the context of the Osage land cessions, this seems less plausible. Similar to privatization under the Homestead Act, land on the Osage cessions was only sold to actual settlers, in tracts not exceeding 160 acres. Nevertheless, this is not the general case for the counterfactual to homesteading,45 and it is theoretically possible that unlike homestead tracts, for which property rights were only awarded after five years, land on the Osage cessions was quickly consolidated and passed to the hands of large landowners.

To assess the likelihood of this possibility, we utilize census data on the average size of farms, available at the civil townships level in 1930,46 and use the discontinuity in homestead assignment across the historical Osage boundary to examine effects on farm sizes. The results of the analysis are presented in table C.1. We do not find any statistically significant effects. Not only that, but the point estimates are highly unstable across specification and bandwidth, which suggests that the lack of statistical significance is not likely to be driven by low power alone.

C.2 Values and Culture

Another competing hypothesis we consider is that settlement under the Homestead Act shaped values and culture, which in turn affected economic activity. We will consider two separate hypotheses.

The first is that the settlement under the Act contributed to the creation of more egalitarian communities with a closely knit social structure. Some historians have argued that the adverse conditions during the first years of settlement draw homesteaders to rely on each other’s assistance. Lee (1979) notes that "Homestead neighbors shared labor, provisions and most important of all, each other’s company" (p. 552). Moreover, he argues that the relative equality of possessions and social status in homesteaders’ communities helped prevent disputes and divisions. The common practices of labor sharing and mutual assistance and the relative social equality shaped the social nature of the newly formed communities, making them more egalitarian and cohesive and strengthening within them the sense of communal values.

Collectivism, or communal values, have been found to be negatively associated with economic growth (Gorodnichenko and Roland, 2011).47 It is thus possible in theory that homesteading led to stronger communal values relative to communities that were not settled under the Act, which in turn lowered economic development in the long-run.48

We use the IV strategy and county level data to examine this hypothesis. Table C.2 presents the results. In column (1), we use survey data from the Moral Foundations Questionnaire49 to measure the relative importance of universal values over communal values. We follow the procedure in Enke (2019) to aggregate individual level data to the county level. There does not seem to be any association between homesteading and the prevalence of universal values. In columns (2)-(4), we examine effects on the share of religious adherents, the divorce-to-marriage ratio, and the fraction of single female households with children out of total households with children. These measurements were found to be correlated with collectivism or communal values. We do not find any evidence for an impact of the Act on on these outcomes. Moreover, the point estimates across the different outcomes are not aligned. The point estimate suggest a positive effect on religiosity, but also on divorces and the relative importance of universal values over communal values, and a negative impact on single parenthood.

Another hypothesis is that acquiring land for “free” affected homesteaders’ view regarding the importance of economic success as a mean to achieve personal welfare, and therefore the degree to which they (and latter, their children) were willing to exert effort in the labor market. This in turn contributed to a lower economic development in the long-run.

In order to test the plausibility of this hypothesis, we look for effects of the Act on labor market participation. To do so, we use the RD strategy and full count census data for years 1880, and 1900- 1940. The results are presented in Figure C.1. We do not find any association between historical homesteading and labor force participation. The RD estimate of β from equation (1) are insignificant in all years. Moreover, the point estimates are positive in some years, while negative in others.

Distorting the view of our climate future: The misuse and abuse of climate pathways and scenarios

Distorting the view of our climate future: The misuse and abuse of climate pathways and scenarios. Roger Pielke Jr., Justin Ritchie. Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 72, February 2021, 101890.

Abstract: Climate science research and assessments under the umbrella of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have misused scenarios for more than a decade. Symptoms of misuse have included the treatment of an unrealistic, extreme scenario as the world’s most likely future in the absence of climate policy and the illogical comparison of climate projections across inconsistent global development trajectories. Reasons why such misuse arose include (a) competing demands for scenarios from users in diverse academic disciplines that ultimately conflated exploratory and policy relevant pathways, (b) the evolving role of the IPCC – which extended its mandate in a way that creates an inter-relationship between literature assessment and literature coordination, (c) unforeseen consequences of employing a temporary approach to scenario development, (d) maintaining research practices that normalize careless use of scenarios, and (e) the inherent complexity and technicality of scenarios in model-based research and in support of policy. Consequently, much of the climate research community is presently off-track from scientific coherence and policy-relevance. Attempts to address scenario misuse within the community have thus far not worked. The result has been the widespread production of myopic or misleading perspectives on future climate change and climate policy. Until reform is implemented, we can expect the production of such perspectives to continue, threatening the overall credibility of the IPCC and associated climate research. However, because many aspects of climate change discourse are contingent on scenarios, there is considerable momentum that will make such a course correction difficult and contested - even as efforts to improve scenarios have informed research that will be included in the IPCC 6th Assessment.

Keywords: Climate changeClimate scenariosEnergy scenariosIPCCRCPsSSPs

Copernicus monitoring, data 2003—2020, show the decreasing trend of wildfire emissions

Official EU info on how wildfires in the Americas and tropical Africa in 2020 compared to previous years. Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Dec 14 2020.

The article is about the points in which there was a great media focus, but this graph is the one that caught our attention (global total estimated wildfire carbon emission for January 1—December 7, 2020):

CAMS data show a slightly decreasing trend since 2003, with 2020 one of the low years.

We can only show an image, data downloading is a really obscure, cumbersome set of methods.

Paris Agreement cost of $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030 would reduce emissions in 1% of what is needed to limit average temperature rise to 1.5C; global costs from extreme weather have declined 26% over the last 28 years

Welfare in the 21st century: Increasing development, reducing inequality, the impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies. Bjorn Lomborg. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 156, July 2020, 119981.


Climate change is real and its impacts are mostly negative, but common portrayals of devastation are unfounded. Scenarios set out under the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) show human welfare will likely increase to 450% of today's welfare over the 21st century. Climate damages will reduce this welfare increase to 434%.

Arguments for devastation typically claim that extreme weather (like droughts, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes) is already worsening because of climate change. This is mostly misleading and inconsistent with the IPCC literature. For instance, the IPCC finds no trend for global hurricane frequency and has low confidence in attribution of changes to human activity, while the US has not seen an increase in landfalling hurricanes since 1900. Global death risk from extreme weather has declined 99% over 100 years and global costs have declined 26% over the last 28 years.

Arguments for devastation typically ignore adaptation, which will reduce vulnerability dramatically. While climate research suggests that fewer but stronger future hurricanes will increase damages, this effect will be countered by richer and more resilient societies. Global cost of hurricanes will likely decline from 0.04% of GDP today to 0.02% in 2100.

Climate-economic research shows that the total cost from untreated climate change is negative but moderate, likely equivalent to a 3.6% reduction in total GDP.

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢.

Long-term impacts of climate policy can cost even more. The IPCC's two best future scenarios are the “sustainable” SSP1 and the “fossil-fuel driven” SSP5. Current climate-focused attitudes suggest we aim for the “sustainable” world, but the higher economic growth in SSP5 actually leads to much greater welfare for humanity. After adjusting for climate damages, SSP5 will on average leave grandchildren of today's poor $48,000 better off every year. It will reduce poverty by 26 million each year until 2050, inequality will be lower, and more than 80 million premature deaths will be avoided.

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.

More effective climate policies can help the world do better. The current climate discourse leads to wasteful climate policies, diverting attention and funds from more effective ways to improve the world.

7. Conclusion

As municipalities, counties, and even countries declare a “climate emergency,” it is apparent that global warming is often being presented as an existential challenge requiring urgent and strong climate policies to avoid devastation.

This article has shown that these claims are misleading and often incorrectly describe the issue and its future. While climate change is real, human caused, and will have a mostly negative impact, it is important to remember that climate policies will likewise have a mostly negative impact. Thus, we must account for the effects of both to find the policies that will achieve the highest welfare gains.

7.1. Baseline welfare keeps increasing

This article first established how the baseline development for the world has improved dramatically and is likely to continue. Welfare has increased and will increase dramatically. While GDP per person is often criticized, it effectively captures some of the most important impacts for humans and the environment: longer life, less child deaths, better education, higher development, lower malnutrition, less poverty, more access to water, sanitation, and electricity, and better environmental performance. Most importantly, it strongly captures the most important welfare indicator, subjective well-being.

Welfare per capita has increased 16-fold from 1800 to today (Fig. 1), and it is likely to increase another 5–10 times by the end of the century. Likewise, the global income gap is closing (Fig. 2) and the world could by 2100 be less unequal than it has been in the last two hundred years (Fig. 3).

One of the main reasons we have become much better off is that we have access to much more energy. From 1800 until today, each person in the world has access to four times as much energy (Fig. 4). Because of efficiency gains, human benefits from energy have increased even more: Each person in Great Britain has obtained 18 times more domestic heating, 170 times more transport, and 21,000 times more light. This trend will continue towards 2100.

While many believe that renewables are slated to take over the world, this is unlikely to happen soon (Fig. 5). Indeed, by mid-century we will likely get less energy from renewables than we did in the last mid-century in 1950. By 2100, in the middle-of-the-road scenario, the world will still get 77% of its energy from fossil fuels.

That is why much of our progress in the 21st century will remain bound to fossil fuels (unless we innovate cheap green energy). Cutting back fossil fuels helps alleviate global warming but at the same time has real costs to human development. Thus, it is crucial to identify the size of the problem of global warming and the effectiveness of its solutions.

7.2. Climate impacts real but often vastly exaggerated

There are two major reasons why most people believe global warming is making things worse, whereas the data shows this mostly to be untrue. First, it is because of the so-called Expanding Bull's-Eye effect (Fig. 7). In just 20 years, the number of exposed houses on floodplains in Atlanta increased by 58% (while becoming more valuable). Not surprisingly, when a flood hits more houses that are each more valuable, damages will go up. But adjusted for wealth, US flooding costs have declined almost tenfold from 0.48% of GDP in 1903 to 0.057% in 2017 (Fig. 10)

Second, adaptation is often ignored and that leads to vastly exaggerated impacts. One good example is coastal flooding, where increasing sea levels might confer costs of up to $100 trillion+ per year, if we do not adapt (Fig. 8). However, if we do adapt, the cost of both flooding and adaptation in percent of GDP will decline.

Globally, climate-related deaths have declined 95% over the past century, while the global population has quadrupled (Fig. 17). When we look at all weather-related catastrophes across the globe, their share of global GDP has not increased, but rather decreased since 1990 (Fig. 18).

7.3. Costs and benefits: Paris agreement

The Paris Agreement will cost between $819 billion–$1,890 billion per year in 2030 (Table 2), most likely towards the upper end. The beneficial impact of the 2016–30 Paris Agreement will be rather small, at 1% of the cuts needed to achieve 1.5°C or an immeasurable 0.03–0.04°C temperature reduction by 2100.

The costs of the Paris Agreement are much larger than its benefits. For every dollar spent on Paris, we will likely avoid 11¢ cents of climate damage (Table 3).

7.4. Costs and benefits: optimal climate policy

Shedding unsubstantiated fears of global warming makes it easier to achieve a rational climate policy, securing the highest possible welfare. Climate decisions need to consider two costs: climate costs and climate policy costs. This paper uses Nordhaus’ DICE model to find the climate policy that realistically will deliver the lowest combined welfare loss. This optimal policy will reach 3.75°C by 2100, still aggressively halving global emissions by 2100 compared to the no-policy scenario, saving about $18 trillion or 0.4% of GDP across the next five centuries (Fig. 26).

Aiming for much stronger climate policies will end up costing humanity much more than the benefits they provide. Trying to reach 2°C, which has become the least-ambitious target discussed internationally, could end up saddling humanity with more than $250 trillion in extra costs. The current level of climate ambition voiced by almost all policymakers and campaigners, while undoubtedly well-intentioned, will in total be hugely detrimental to the world, akin to cutting off one's arm to cure a wrist ache.

7.5. Climate policy in a world of many challenges

Yet, it is often argued that we need to proceed with strong climate policies to help the world and especially its poor. This is mostly bad advice. There are much more deadly environmental problems in the world (Fig. 27): indoor and outdoor air pollution kills almost 5 million people, while global warming kills perhaps 150,000. It is clear that global warming by any comparison is a small issue in a world still beset by problems of air pollution, lack of education, gender inequality, poor health, malnutrition, trade barriers, and international conflicts (Fig. 28). In the biggest UN-led global priority survey, global warming came in last, 16th of 16 priorities, with education, health, jobs, an end to corruption, and nutrition leading the field (Fig. 29).

There are many better ways to help than through traditional climate policies (Fig. 30). For climate, we should invest in green R&D and phase out fossil fuel subsidies. For the world's many other problems, we can do more good by halving coral reef loss, reducing child malnutrition, halving malaria infections, cutting tuberculosis deaths by 95%, expanding immunization, achieving universal access to contraception, and achieving freer trade. For a dollar spent, each of these policies would achieve hundreds or thousands of times more good than Paris.

7.6. The most important future choices

If we look at the future world outlook, we are likely to see a much richer humanity with much less poverty, more nutrition, better education, lower child mortality, longer lives, access to water, sanitation, and electricity, and better environmental performance. It will also be a world that will be less unequal and have much more access to energy.

We can see our choice of futures by looking at the five scenarios from IPCC. If we focus too much on global warming, we are likely to miss the by far most important investments in education and technological R&D to ensure we avoid the relatively poor scenarios of regional rivalry SSP3 or inequal SSP4. But even looking at the two richest scenarios from IPCC––the sustainable SSP1 and the fossil fuel-driven SSP5––an outsized focus on climate will make us choose less well. Aiming for the SSP1 is not bad. But the SSP5 world would be much better on almost all accounts. It would provide more energy, less poverty, less inequality, avoid more than 80 million premature deaths, and leave the average person in the developing world––after correcting for global warming––$48,000 better off each year by 2100. In total, choosing SSP1 in favor of SSP5 would leave the world half as rich, forgoing almost $500 trillion in extra annual welfare.

Global warming is real and long-term has a significant, negative impact on society. Thus, we should weigh policies to make sure we tackle the negative impacts without ending up incurring more costs by engaging in excessively expensive climate policies. We cannot and must not do nothing. But the evidence also manifestly alerts us to the danger that we end up with too ambitious and overly costly climate policies, and a general outlook that puts the world on a growth path that will deliver dramatically less welfare, especially for the world's poorest.

The online behaviors of Islamic state terrorists in the United States: There is reason to believe that using the Internet may be an impediment to terrorists’ success

The online behaviors of Islamic state terrorists in the United States. Joe Whittaker.  Criminology & Public Policy, January 3 2021.

Research Summary: This study offers an empirical insight into terrorists’ use of the Internet. Although criminology has previously been quiet on this topic, behavior‐based studies can aid in understanding the interactions between terrorists and their environments. Using a database of 231 US‐based Islamic State terrorists, four important findings are offered: (1) This cohort utilized the Internet heavily for the purposes of both networking with co‐ideologues and learning about their intended activity. (2) There is little reason to believe that these online interactions are replacing offline ones, as has previously been suggested. Rather, terrorists tend to operate in both domains. (3) Online activity seems to be similar across the sample, regardless of the number of co‐offenders or the sophistication of attack. (4) There is reason to believe that using the Internet may be an impediment to terrorists’ success.

Policy Implications: The findings of this study have two important policy implications. First, it is vital to understand the multiplicity of environments in which terrorists inhabit. Policy makers have tended to emphasize the online domain as particularly dangerous and ripe for exploitation. While this is understandable from one perspective, simplistic and monocausal explanations for radicalization must be avoided. Terrorists operate in both the online and offline domain and there is little reason to believe that the former is replacing the latter. The two may offer different criminogenic inducements to would‐be terrorists, and at times they may be inseparably intertwined. Second, when policy responses do focus on online interventions, it is vital to understand the unintended consequences. This is particularly the case for content removal, which may inadvertently be aiding terrorists and hampering law enforcement investigations.

Daily Coffee Drinking Is Associated with Lower Risks of Cardiovascular and Total Mortality in a General Italian Population: Results from the Moli-sani Study

Daily Coffee Drinking Is Associated with Lower Risks of Cardiovascular and Total Mortality in a General Italian Population: Results from the Moli-sani Study. Emilia Ruggiero et al. The Journal of Nutrition, nxaa365, Dec 31 2020,

Rolf Degen's take:


Background: An inverse relationship between coffee intake and mortality has been observed in several population cohorts, but rarely within Mediterranean countries. Moreover, the biological pathways mediating such an association remain unclear.

Objectives: We assessed the associations between coffee consumption and total and cause-specific mortality and examined the mediating roles of N-terminal pro B–type natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP), high-sensitivity Troponin I, blood glucose, lipid metabolism, and selected biomarkers of inflammation and renal function.

Methods: We longitudinally analyzed data on 20,487 men and women (35–94 years old at baseline) in the Moli-sani Study, a prospective cohort established in 2005–2010. Individuals were free from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer and were followed-up for a median of 8.3 years. Dietary data were collected by a 188-item semi-quantitative FFQ. Coffee intake was standardized to a 30-mL Italian espresso cup size. HRs with 95% CIs were calculated by multivariable Cox regression.

Results: In comparison with no/rare coffee consumption (up to 1 cup/d), HRs for all-cause mortality across categories of coffee consumption (>1 to ≤2, >2 to ≤3, >3 to ≤4 and >4 cups/d) were 0.79 (95% CI, 0.65–0.95), 0.84 (95% CI, 0.69–1.03), 0.72 (95% CI, 0.57–0.92), and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.62–1.12), respectively. For CVD mortality, a nonlinear (P for non-linearity = 0.021) J-shaped association was found (magnitude of the relative reduction = 37%; nadir at 3–4 cups/d). Circulating levels of NTproBNP explained up to 26.4% of the association between coffee and all-cause mortality, while systolic blood pressure was likely to be on the pathway between coffee and CVD mortality, although to a lesser extent.

Conclusions: In this large cohort of Italian adults, moderate consumption (3–4 cups/d) of Italian-style coffee was associated with lower risks of all-cause and, specifically, of CVD mortality. Among the known biomarkers investigated here, NTproBNP likely mediates the relationship between coffee intake and all-cause mortality.

Keywords: coffee consumption, mortality risk, cardiovascular mortality, general population, Mediterranean diet

The development of the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the study of psychological functions has entered a new phase of sophistication; largely due to an increasing physiological knowledge of its effects

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and the Understanding of Behavior. David Pitcher, Beth Parkin, and Vincent Walsh. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 72:- (Volume publication date January 2021).

Abstract: The development of the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in the study of psychological functions has entered a new phase of sophistication. This is largely due to an increasing physiological knowledge of its effects and to its being used in combination with other experimental techniques. This review presents the current state of our understanding of the mechanisms of TMS in the context of designing and interpreting psychological experiments. We discuss the major conceptual advances in behavioral studies using TMS. There are meaningful physiological and technical achievements to review, as well as a wealth of new perceptual and cognitive experiments. In doing so we summarize the different uses and challenges of TMS in mental chronometry, perception, awareness, learning, and memory.

The development of the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in the study of psychological functions has entered a new phase of sophistication. This is largely due to an increasing physiological knowledge of its effects and to its being used in combination with other experimental techniques