Frontiers in Psychology
Interesting and useful musings are associated with a happy mood
Mind wandering can be a sign of mental wellbeing, provided that your off-task musings are interesting and useful even if not related to the task at hand, finds a new study in Frontiers in Psychology.
The negative effects of mind wandering on performance and mood have recently received much attention, for example in the much-publicized study A wandering mind is an unhappy mind (Science 2010, 330:932). But Michael S. Franklin and colleagues here use a similar but more detailed experimental protocol to show that the negative effect of mind wandering on mood only holds for run-of-the-mill musings: in contrast, creative musings are a sign of mental wellbeing.
In this recent study, 105 student volunteers were equipped with a personal digital assistant, which asked them at random moments – approximately 50 times over one week – how positive or negative they felt, whether they were mind wandering, and if any musings they had were interesting, useful, or novel.
The volunteers reported that they were mind wandering 26% of the time, and they felt in general less positive when doing so. However, interesting and useful musings were selectively associated with strongly positive mood. Franklin and colleagues conclude that when people are encouraged to shift their musings to engaging topics, a wandering mind can become a happy mind.
Dr Michael Franklin
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Article title: The silver lining of a mind in the clouds: Interesting musings are associated with positive mood while mind-wandering
Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers in Microbiology
Special challenges and opportunities of cyanobacteria for the emerging field of synthetic biology
Development of a redesigned strain of light-harvesting cyanobacteria is a realistic goal that will have many applications in biotechnology, reports a review in Frontiers in Microbiology.
The emerging field of synthetic biology has already successfully used genes from naturally occurring organisms to build safe and nonpolluting strains of microbes that can take photographs or produce antimalarial drugs. In this way, sets of useful genes get “bolted” onto a simple but viable “chassis” derived from a naturally occurring microbe, as simply as assembling electronics from off-the-shelf components. Especially cyanobacteria – the first photosynthetic oxygen-producing organisms to evolve on Earth – hold great promise to transform our economy by producing renewable fuels, chemicals, and even food from sunlight and carbon dioxide. But unfortunately, synthetic biology tools for cyanobacteria are still less advanced than those that already exist for non-light-harvesting microbes such as baker’s yeast and the bacterium Escherichia coli.
Himadri Pakrasi and colleagues here review the special challenges and opportunities for synthetic biology using cyanobacteria. They describe the biotechnology tools that are already available and identify those tools that might be most worthwhile to develop, while focusing on the special challenges that light-harvesting organisms like cyanobacteria pose for synthetic biology applications.
Prof Himadri Pakrasi
Department of Biology
Washington University, USA
Article title : Synthetic Biology of Cyanobacteria: Unique Challenges and Opportunities
Journal : Frontiers in Microbiology
DOI : 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00246
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