The placid sounds of a babbling brook might be just the thing to help ease your stress at the workplace and boost your productivity, a new study finds.Some open-plan offices use sound “masking systems” that increase the background noise of a room to reduce distractions such as voices, explained the authors of the study.”If you’re close to someone, you can understand them. But once you move farther away, their speech is obscured by the masking signal,” study co-author Jonas Braasch, an acoustician and musicologist at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, said in a society news release.

Source: Stressed at Work? Try ‘Natural’ Sounds to Relax – US News

A new imaging study of preschoolers has seemingly identified gender differences in the way autism may manifest itself in the brain.”This research adds to a growing body of evidence that there are differences between boys and girls with autism,” said study lead author Christine Wu Nordahl.”This is not surprising given that there are so many more males with autism than females,” said Nordahl, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis MIND Institute.

Source: Autism May Differ in Brains of Boys and Girls – US News

Whether or not a three year-old will share with others strongly hinges on how well that child can predict and understand another’s sadness when left out, according to researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich.In a new study, researchers asked preschool children of different ages to imagine how they feel, or another child would feel, depending on whether someone shares with them or not.

Source: In Preschoolers, Generosity Linked to Empathy | Psych Central News

People who hold similar beliefs tend to more closely mirror, or align with, each other’s speech patterns, according to a new study at the University of Rochester. In addition, people who are better at compromising align even more closely. The researchers designed an experiment in which participants were asked to listen to ideologically charged messages with a set sentence structure. After listening to the diatribes they were told to describe some illustrations showing characters performing simple actions, such as a waitress giving a banana to a monk.

Source: People with Similar Views Mirror Each Other’s Speech Patterns | Psych Central News

So how are your diversity initiatives going these days? Perhaps Legal is reporting that you’re compliant with rules and regulations in all relevant jurisdictions, and HR can tote up members of various social groups who have been recruited and hired. Marketing can take you smoothly through campaigns that offend no one and target everyone. Maybe all employees have had diversity-appreciation workshops and sensitivity training, while higher-ups have worked on “cultural competence” skills. With all that happening, things must be going well…

Source: Why Old Habits Die Hard | Korn Ferry Briefings and Institute