The Science of Kissing

Kissing remains popular among the people of the world, and in a new book former scibling Sheril Kirshenbaum delves into the emerging science behind the age-old practice. For one, the sensory experience of osculation (as sucking face is more formally known) forges new neuronal connections in the brain. On Dean’s Corner, Dr. Jeffrey Toney says “these new connections represent learning, memory and can enhance sensory perception and even healing.” We at Scienceblogs recommend five to nine servings a day. Dr. Toney also shares a video which demonstrates affection throughout the animal kingdom, including among bonobos, who are known to exercise their synapses in the French style. Sheril provides other insights in a 2009 post on The Intersection, writing that “up to ten percent of humanity doesn’t even touch lips” and kissing “may have evolved from primates feeding their babies mouth-to-mouth.” If that doesn’t quite set the mood, maybe some Marvin Gaye will do.

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Excelsior?

We heard recently that 36% of university students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” upon graduation, although they may have bettered their Xbox skills, social lives, and tolerance to alcohol. Physics professor Chad Orzel isn’t surprised by this number, saying it “seems consistent with my experiences both as a student and as a faculty member.” According to Chad, laziness is just human nature, and there are other important (if not academic) lessons that college provides. The new statistics, drawn from a book called Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, also jibe with professor Ethan Siegel’s experience. But while the book’s authors blame underachievement on a lack of rigor in college curriculum, Ethan says “a quarter to a third of students in college aren’t intrinsically motivated to be there.” The solution, he says, is to make sure students are pursuing their passion, even if it’s in a garage rather than a lecture hall.