Scientists from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine say that a protein-like substance called IGF-II may help improve memory. The molecule occurs naturally in the human brain and appears to reduce forgetfulness in rats:

The findings are notable in part because they showed improvement in an area of memory known as declarative memory — the ability to remember places, facts and things. Declarative memory is affected in Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, and researchers have long sought ways to improve or preserve it.

It is too early to say whether IGF-II will be useful in humans, but the substance may hold more promise than molecules that have been studied up to now, according to Elizabeth Phelps, a cognitive neuroscientist at New York University who studies human learning and memory. Phelps, who was not involved in the study, called the Nature research "rigorous" and thoroughly conducted.

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Even babies know size equals power. Researchers from Harvard and the University of California showed 144 infants videos and found they showed surprise if a larger cartoon figure yielded to a smaller one:

These reactions suggest people are either born with — or develop at a very early age — some understanding about social dominance and how it relates to comparative size, an association found in human and animal cultures alike, Thomsen said.

"To us, this is one of many studies that suggests that babies come into the world with a quite sophisticated set of basic conceptual building blocks that they use to make sense of the world and learn about it," said Thomsen, a research fellow in Harvard's department of psychology and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen.

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Finally, a new report commissioned by Nicorette says giving up cigarettes takes about five years and seven attempts for the average smoker. The survey found most smokers gave up when they began to worry about their health:

Professor Cary Cooper at Lancaster University said: "Giving up cigarettes is a very difficult and stressful time — especially during the first week when your withdrawal symptoms and cravings are at their strongest."

"To get through that first week, it's helpful to have a 'stop smoking buddy', someone who can support and encourage you when you're feeling tempted as it's much harder to renege when your friends know you're trying to give up."

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