Seeking solace in warmth, plus the risks of payday and the impulsive brain in this week’s news

Bathing in social warmth
Physical warmth can substitute for social warmth, helping to thaw solitude’s frigid sting.People try to ward off the chill of loneliness with warm showers or baths, typically without realizing that they’re doing so, say Yale psychologists John Bargh and Idit Shalev. Individuals who feel isolated report bathing with warm water more often than socially connected peers do, the researchers report in an upcoming Emotion. Bargh and Shalev also found that feelings of loneliness spiked briefly in volunteers who held cold packs for one minute, while participants asked to relive an incident of being rejected by others felt better after holding warm packs. —Bruce Bower

Cashing out after paydays
Talk about hazard pay: People are more likely to die shortly after getting cash infusions. An analysis of U.S. death records finds that mortality climbed in the week after receiving checks for seniors on Social Security, military personnel, families that got 2001 tax rebate checks and Alaskans getting annual state payments, say economists William Evans of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Timothy Moore of the University of Maryland in College Park. Pay-related spikes in risky activities, such as drinking and driving, influenced this mortality trend, the researchers report in an upcoming Journal of Public Economics. —Bruce Bower

Impulsive juvenile offenders
Juvenile offenders’ brains are wired for impulsive behavior, a brain-scanning study suggests. Researchers led by Benjamin Shannon of Washington University in St. Louis scanned the brains of 107 incarcerated juvenile offenders that were resting quietly. In typical people, parts of the brain that oversee body movement are strongly connected to brain regions that deal with attention and self-control. But in juvenile offenders, movement-control areas were linked to a constellation of brain regions involved in spontaneous and uncontrolled thoughts. This wiring difference — and the impulsivity — may reflect stalled brain development, the researchers report online June 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. —Laura Sanders

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