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Heartbeat May Shape Our Perception of Time, Study Shows

By Ellen Barry, NY Times

Scientists have always thought our brain plays the only role in forming human perception of time. However, recent research shows that belief may not be completely accurate. In addition to the brain, heart rate also adds to our perception of time: a fast heartbeat makes time feel sped up while a slow one makes time drag. This evidence may shed some light on why people felt time moved so slowly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus restricted many people to their homes for months, leading to a very sedentary lifestyle — and simultaneously lower heart rates that made time feel like it was moving very slowly. Ultimately, the research may provide professionals with another way to detect people’s distorted perceptions beyond just examining the brain.  

by Andrew Feld

Black veterans were more often denied VA benefits for PTSD than white counterparts, newly surfaced study shows

By Laura Strickler, NBC News 

Data analyzed from 2011 through 2016 surfaced showing that Black veterans were less likely to receive VA benefits for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder than white veterans. When veterans look for treatment, they’re sometimes denied the VA benefits for their care. In this case, the care denied was specifically for the treatment of PTSD, a very serious condition that can have a huge impact on the lives of veterans. Without VA benefits, veterans with PTSD report living in a state of “constant fear,” having nightmares, and more. This data emerged because an activist group for black veterans recently filed an open records request for the data. The Department of Veterans Affairs has said that it is working to address racial disparities in VA benefits and care.  

by Annika Urban

The Effects of Covid on Maternal Deaths 

By Roni Caryn Rabin, NYTimes 

The National Center for Health Statistics reports a shocking 40% increase in maternal deaths in 2021 compared to 2020. This is a rise to 1,205 deaths in 2021 from 861 deaths in 2020. Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office claims that at least 400 maternal deaths were due to Covid. 

The pandemic exacerbated an already alarming maternal mortality rate in the United States and highlighted large racial disparities. In 2021, the maternal mortality rate in Black women rose to 69.9 deaths (2.6 times the rate among white women) and the mortality rates doubled among Native American and Alaska Native women from the previous year of 2020. 

There’s no telling what long-term effects Covid can have on both the mother and the child. Pregnant women with Covid have a sevenfold risk of dying compared to uninfected pregnant women and a higher tendency to give birth prematurely. 

However, most of the pregnant women who died of Covid were not vaccinated. According to Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, chief of the CDC’s infant outcomes monitoring, research, and prevention branch, “We know definitively that vaccinations prevent severe disease and hospitalization and prevent poor maternal and infant outcomes…we have to keep emphasizing that point.” 

by Emily Kim

Items contributed by: Andrew Feld, Annika Urban, and Emily Kim