Science of the Spirit


Chinese doctors discover 24-year old woman with missing cerebellum

© (L)Feng Yu et al. (R) Wikipedia
MRI reveals that there is no recognizable cerebellar structure in the woman’s brain (Feng Yu et al). Right: A picture of a MRI scan of the human head
No cerebellum: this is the diagnosis for a Chinese woman who has reached the age of 24 without knowing her dizziness and nausea had really serious roots. This discovery adds her to a club of just nine known survivors who have lived without "little brain."

A casual visit to the hospital turned into a shock for a 24-year-old Chinese woman, who has been suffering from inability to walk steadily for all her life and from nausea and vomiting that started a month prior to the visit. Doctors at the Chinese PLA General Hospital of Jinan Military Area Command in Shandong Province, East China found out she had a large part of her brain literally missing, which they characterized as "an extremely rare condition" in a case study, published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Brain.

The results of computed tomography (CT) and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed that the patient had complete absence of the cerebellum - an explanation for her otherwise mysterious "mild mental impairment and medium motor deficits." The space where this part of the brain is supposed to be was filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which protects the organ - both mechanically and immunologically.

As the woman's mother reported, she grew up in a family of five "normal" siblings and parents with no brain disorders. But the girl never entered school, as she couldn't speak intelligibly until the age of six. She also never ran and jumped - in fact, she started walking on her own only being seven years old. However, nothing prevented the woman from leading a normal life - she is married and has a daughter. Astonishingly, her pregnancy and delivery were described as "uneventful".

Spanking undermines trust and compassion

© Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
Spanking erodes developmental growth in children and decreases a child's IQ, a recent Canadian study shows.

This analysis, conducted at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, offers new evidence that corporal punishment causes cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties.

Debates around physical punishment typically revolve around the ethics of using violence to enforce discipline. This inquiry synthesized 20 years of published research on the topic and aims to "shift the ethical debate over corporal punishment into the medical sphere," says Joan Durant, a professor at University of Manitoba and one of the authors of the study.

Residents adopt puppies left behind by dog who died saving commuters in India

sacrifice_ dog
© Unknown
A dog is being hailed as a hero after reportedly jumping into a seemingly ordinary puddle, which, hidden to the six people not far behind him, contained a live wire.

The incident occurred at 8:45 p.m. on Sept. 3. Several people had just disembarked from the Gummidipoondi-Chennai Central local train.

The Times of India describes that as six men came out of Central station, they paused; in that moment, a stray dog barked and jumped into a puddle, after which he instantly became lifeless.

Seconds later, the commuters realized that the pool of water, which they had been about to step into, contained a live wire snapped from an electrical line.

According to the Times of India, the dog had barked to keep the commuters from approaching the dangerous puddle; when they paid no attention to his bark, the dog took its final leap, leaving the humans "stunned by what they saw as an act of supreme sacrifice."

As Dawn Williams, general manager of Blue Cross said, "On Wednesday night, a broken high voltage wire fell in a pool of collected rainwater inside the railway premises. The frantic dog kept barking but people shooed it away. It dashed ahead, jumped in the water, and gave up its life."
People 2

A wife's happiness is more crucial than her husband's in keeping marriage on track, Rutgers study finds

A new Rutgers study finds that a happy wife means a happy life.
When it comes to a happy marriage, a new Rutgers study finds that the more content the wife is with the long-term union, the happier the husband is with his life no matter how he feels about their nuptials.

"I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life," said Deborah Carr, a professor in the Department of Sociology, School of Arts and Science. "Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives."

Carr and Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, co-authored a research study published in the October issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family on marital quality and happiness among older adults.

The study, done by the two Big Ten universities, differs from previous research, according to Carr, because it examines the personal feelings of both spouses to determine how these marital appraisals influence the psychological well-being of older adults. Researchers analyzed data of 394 couples who were part of a national study of income, health and disability in 2009. At least one of the spouses was 60 or older and on average, couples were married for 39 years.
Magic Wand

Meditation may mitigate migraine misery

Meditation might be a path to migraine relief, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

"Stress is a well-known trigger for headaches and research supports the general benefits of mind/body interventions for migraines, but there hasn't been much research to evaluate specific standardized meditation interventions," said Rebecca Erwin Wells, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study published in the online edition of the journal Headache.

The study was designed to assess the safety, feasibility and effects of a standardized meditation and yoga intervention called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in adults with migraines.

Nineteen adults were randomly assigned to two groups with 10 receiving the MBSR intervention and nine receiving standard medical care. The participants attended eight weekly classes to learn MBSR techniques and were instructed to practice 45 minutes on their own at least five additional days per week.

Study participants were evaluated before and after the trial period using objective measures of disability, self-efficacy and mindfulness. They also maintained headache logs throughout the trial to capture the frequency, severity and duration of their migraines.

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During brain surgery violinist plays Mozart to conquer 20-year hand tremor (VIDEO)

Naomi Elishuv during brain surgery (an image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube)
A violinist played Mozart during her brain surgery in an Israeli clinic to help neurosurgeons correct her hand tremor. For 20 years the tremor halted her career, but after the operation she will be able to play professionally again.

Naomi Elishuv was a professional violinist of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra before diagnosed with a hand tremor. She then had to stop her career.

On Tuesday, Elishuv underwent surgery at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to suppress the symptoms of her disease.

The operation was unique: Professor Yitzhak Fried, Director of Functional Neurosurgery, who operated on Naomi, said that this was the first time he "operated on a patient who played an instrument during surgery. I am so pleased that we had the opportunity to enjoy a private concert from a most talented and honorable musician," he told Israeli media.

Fried explained that during the operation the doctors implanted and positioned a brain pacemaker with electrodes in the area of the brain disturbance. The device emits impulses to suppress the tremor that was disturbing Elishuv's violin-playing.

When a worker is "allergic" to ponerized behavior: Networking can make some feel "dirty," new study

If schmoozing for work leaves you with a certain "ick" factor, that's not just awkwardness you're feeling.

Professional networking can create feelings of moral impurity and physical dirtiness, shows a new study.

That can hold people back from networking more, reducing career opportunities and lowering job performance, says study co-author Tiziana Casciaro, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. The study was co-written with fellow researchers Prof. Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Prof. Maryam Kouchaki at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

In professional networking, "people feel that they cannot justify their actions to themselves, and the lack of justification comes from the difficulty people have in framing some forms of networking as motivated by a concern for other people versus a selfish concern," says Prof. Casciaro, who teaches organizational behaviour at Rotman and researches networks and organizations.

Despite the importance of networking in the business world, there has been little study of its psychological impacts. The findings in this study are based on several laboratory experiments, in addition to a study of lawyers at a large North American legal firm.

Can your blood type affect your memory?

Bags of Blood
© Wikipedia
Bags of blood collected during donation.
People with blood type AB may be more likely to develop memory loss in later years than people with other blood types, according to a study published in the September 10, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

AB is the least common blood type, found in about 4 percent of the U.S. population. The study found that people with AB blood were 82 percent more likely to develop the thinking and memory problems that can lead to dementia than people with other blood types. Previous studies have shown that people with type O blood have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, factors that can increase the risk of memory loss and dementia.

The study was part of a larger study (the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke, or REGARDS Study) of more than 30,000 people followed for an average of 3.4 years. In those who had no memory or thinking problems at the beginning, the study identified 495 participants who developed thinking and memory problems, or cognitive impairment, during the study. They were compared to 587 people with no cognitive problems.

Are you more ethical in the morning?

Night Owl
© Thinkstock
If you're a night owl, you're probably grouchy if you're awake at 6:30 a.m. Now, research shows that you're also more likely to cheat at that hour. Likewise, early birds face the same dilemma at midnight.

"Even within the same day, a given person could be ethical at one point in time and unethical at another point in time," the authors wrote.

While earlier research indicated that people become more ethical throughout the day, this study also took into account people's natural circadian rhythms over two experiments.

First, participants were paid depending on the number of matrix puzzles they said they solved. The sessions were held in the morning, and night owls were more likely to over-report their numbers.

Stress kills: Even small stressors may be harmful to men's health

© Shutterstock
Older men who lead high-stress lives, either from chronic everyday hassles or because of a series of significant life events, are likely to die earlier than the average for their peers, new research from Oregon State University shows.

"We're looking at long-term patterns of stress - if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have a series of stressful life events, that could affect your mortality," said Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU.

Her study looked at two types of stress: the everyday hassles of such things as commuting, job stress or arguments with family and friends; and significant life events, such as job loss or the death of a spouse.

Both types appear to be harmful to men's health, but each type of stress appears to have an independent effect on mortality. Someone experiencing several stressful life events does not necessarily have high levels of stress from everyday hassles, Aldwin said. That is determined more by how a person reacts to the stress.

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