Gregory Nemec

Gregory Nemec

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That score before halftime? Sweet. The world of sports is replete with superstitions. A team that included a Yale professor and a former professional soccer player investigated one of them: if a soccer team scores just before halftime, is it more likely to win?

Analyzing several hundred thousand games, they found support for the myth. The advantage of scoring just before halftime accrued particularly to the home team.

Although they drew no definitive conclusions as to why the pattern holds true, Nils Rudi of the School of Management offered ideas—e.g., how the scoring affects
each team’s morale. The authors say their discovery goes beyond sports: a “break after a confidence-boosting event seems to be beneficial,” implying that “a recently successful decision-maker will do better when forced to have a cooling-off period before making more decisions involving risk.”

Checking for Alzheimer’s. Not long ago, a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was possible only after death, when the brain tissue could be examined for changes that signaled the presence of the disease. Now, Yale has developed a new scanning technology for positron emission tomography (PET). It lets researchers see whether a living patient’s brain cells are well connected, or whether their synapses—connections between brain neurons—have been lost.

Using the new scan method, scientists measured the number of brain synapses in 45 people diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s. They also measured each person’s cognitive performance in five key areas. Loss of synapses was strongly associated with poor performance on cognitive tests.

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