Health & Wellness
University of Colorado at Boulder
Sun, 20 Jan 2008 16:46 CST
A new National Research Council report chaired by University of Colorado at Boulder Distinguished Professor Frank Barnes calls for a stronger research effort on the potential health effects of exposure to radio frequency energy tied to the global explosion in wireless technology like cell phones, laptops and hand-held Web-surfing gadgets.
Requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from the National Research Council last year, the report was released Jan 16. The authors did not evaluate potential human health effects of radio frequency, or RF, exposure from wireless devices, but rather made recommendations on how to meet research needs regarding the technology, said Barnes, a distinguished professor in the electrical and computer engineering department.
"This is a very, very complex issue," said Barnes. "Obviously we are not seeing immediate short-term effects of such exposure, like people dropping dead on their cell phones. But in the long term -- 10, 20 and 30 years out -- we have a lot less information about potential effects from these types of wireless devices."
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sun, 20 Jan 2008 16:10 CST
Most people know it from experience: After so many hours of being awake, your brain feels unable to absorb any more - and several hours of sleep will refresh it.
Now new research from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health clarifies this phenomenon, supporting the idea that sleep plays a critical role in the brain's ability to change in response to its environment. This ability, called plasticity, is at the heart of learning.
Reporting in the Jan. 20, 2008, online version of Nature Neuroscience, the UW-Madison scientists showed by several measures that synapses - nerve cell connections central to brain plasticity - were very strong when rodents had been awake and weak when they had been asleep.
The new findings reinforce the UW-Madison researchers' highly-debated hypothesis about the role of sleep. They believe that people sleep so that their synapses can downsize and prepare for a new day and the next round of learning and synaptic strengthening.
The human brain expends up to 80 percent of its energy on synaptic activity, constantly adding and strengthening connections in response to all kinds of stimulation, explains study author Chiara Cirelli, associate professor of psychiatry.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Sun, 20 Jan 2008 16:37 CST
An international consortium of scientists has identified multiple genes that are linked to systemic lupus erythematosus, a devastating autoimmune disease that affects between 1 million and 2 million Americans. Reporting in Nature Genetics
, the scientists also confirmed earlier findings linking lupus to several other genes - highlighting the role that genetics plays in the disease.
"These findings underscore that numerous genes, which are often immune-function related, contribute to the risk of developing lupus," said Carl D. Langefeld, Ph.D., senior author from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and co-director of the International Consortium for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Genetics
"These results suggest biologic pathways that help us understand the condition better and suggest additional genetic and non-genetic triggers," said Langefeld. "In addition, they help delineate the genetic distinctions between rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases, which could lead to earlier, more accurate diagnoses."
Sun, 20 Jan 2008 15:32 CST
Radiation from mobile phones delays and reduces sleep, and causes headaches and confusion, according to a new study.
The research, sponsored by the mobile phone companies themselves, shows that using the handsets before bed causes people to take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and to spend less time in them, interfering with the body's ability to repair damage suffered during the day.
The Red Tape Chronicles
Sat, 19 Jan 2008 18:24 CST
The folks who invented the credit score for lenders are hard at work developing a similar tool for hospitals and other health care providers.
Association for Psychological Science
Sat, 19 Jan 2008 14:57 CST
The human brain is capable of detecting the slightest visual and auditory changes. Whether it is the flash of a student's hand into the air or the faintest miscue of a flutist, the brain instantaneously and effortlessly perceives changes in our environment. Several studies have indicated, however, that even a small span of time in between pre- and post-change images can disturb the brain's ability to detect visual discrepancies.
"The pre-change scene must be memorized in some way," explained psychologists Laurent Demany, Wiebke Trost, Maja Serman and Catherine Semal from the University of Bordeaux and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). "In the visual domain, numerous experiments have shown that even a very short gap of less than 100ms can dramatically disrupt our ability to detect a local change in complex images. Following such a gap, local changes can be detected only in very simple images." This phenomenon is known as 'change blindness.'
Sat, 19 Jan 2008 00:15 CST
Hundreds of medicinal plants are at risk of extinction, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease, according to experts.
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Sat, 19 Jan 2008 12:32 CST
Why is it difficult to pick out even a familiar face in a crowd? We all experience this, but the phenomenon has been poorly understood until now. The results of a recent study may have implications for individuals with face-recognition disorders and visual-attention related ailments - and eventually could help scientists develop an artificial visual system that approaches the sophistication of human visual perception.
The study is part of the recently completed Journal of Vision
special issue titled "Crowding: Including illusory conjunctions, surround suppression, and attention
". "Crowding" is a failure to recognize an individual object in a cluttered environment. It may be due to one of the shortcuts our brains use to help us make sense of the vast amount of visual information we take in every second.
World Socialist Web Site
Sat, 19 Jan 2008 10:58 CST
Another belated disclosure from the pharmaceutical industry
Under pressure from media reports, consumer groups and federal investigators, pharmaceutical giant Merck and its partner Schering-Plough released the findings of a long-withheld company-sponsored study of the cholesterol-lowing drug Zetia this week. The study, completed in April 2006, reveals that companies had been falsely marketing the drug as an effective part of heart disease prevention. Moreover, the data indicate a link between the drug - taken by about a million Americans - and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Comment: The question to ask is: Is there more money to be made from sickness or from health?
For health clubs and fitness centers, health is lucrative. For the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry, sickness is more lucrative.
Which industry is larger and has more influence?
Fri, 18 Jan 2008 23:37 CST
Washington - A new study showing an increased risk of blood clots among women using a contraceptive skin patch prompted the Food and Drug Administration on Friday to add that finding to the drug's label.