Harry Potter and the well of medical research

The Spec:

HARTFORD, CONN. Who knew the world of Harry Potter was such a rich source of material for medical researchers?

For more than a decade, the stories of the phenomenally popular series have played a role in studies on everything from genetics to social cognition to autism. PubMed, an online database of medical studies, lists 30 studies that invoke the young wizard. A few examples: Harry Potter and the Recessive Allele, Harry Potter and the Structural Biologist’s (Key)stone, and Harry Potter Casts a Spell on Accident-Prone Children.

This last study found that emergency department visits among children decreased significantly when new Harry Potter books went on sale. Conversely, a 2003 study in New England Journal of Medicine found that the books were actually causing an ailment dubbed “Hogwarts headache” among young readers who spent too much time reading the lengthy books.

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