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Health News

August 13, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Hand it to him for spunk!

We can all learn a thing or two from the optimism and hope of little kids, untarnished as they are by the burdens of life as us working adults. That’s certainly the case for a nine-year-old Baltimore, Maryland boy who last year became the first child to receive a double hand transplant.  The lad lost his hands and feet at age two to a life-threatening infection.

After an 11-hour surgery last summer, the boy has been following a rigorous therapy regimen, and is now able to freely use his new hands to throw, catch, write and do all the things that bouncy little boys do—including tossing out the first ball at a recent baseball game.

In response to a reporter asking for his favorite thing about his new hands, the budding young man said, “Just being able to wrap them around my mom.”

Thumbs up to the best response ever—hands down!

The science of cuteness

Quick!  Define “cute”!

“Well,” you might say, “everyone knows what ‘cute’ is!”  But it turns out that cute is rather scientific, according to a fascinating recent review of the subject in a Washington Post column.

That scientific knowledge helps power a multi-billion-dollar industry that sells children’s products, as well as photos of positively scrumptious babies and irresistibly adorable little animals.

According to a body of academic research, the science of cuteness begins the large eyes and heads, button noses, soft, chubby bodies, floppy little limbs and teetering gait of babies.

Decades ago, Nobel-winning Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz, often considered the father of cuteness research, studied the bonding process between baby animals and caregivers.  Lorenz held that large eyes, bulbous foreheads and small chins trigger parental caretaking behavior.

These traits are signals to parents that a baby is healthy and worth caring for, according to some researchers.

Nowadays, studies have shown that pictures of cute babies cause the brain to release dopamine, the same chemical that is released when people bond strongly with others.

Other research has shown that cuter babies get better care from their parents, and that cute kids are more likely to be engaged in friendships and play.

Manufacturers have also long been capitalizing on cute, making products rounder, and giving them softer edges and larger “eyes.”  A 2011 study along these lines actually found that consumers see car fronts like human faces and headlights like eyes—eliciting more positive reactions from cars with big, round headlights.

Cuteness is an especially powerful force in our world because it is something that can be consumed in quick, small doses.  And it has blossomed in our consumerist culture because it is incredibly good at selling things.