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Question

South Africa: Hunting Virus X

JOHANNESBURG - A virus new to humanity, or an old acquaintance dressed up in slightly new clothes, the disease that so far appears to have achieved a 100% kill rate in Johannesburg, is now up against the full might of humanity's scientific detectives.

Health

Pollution From Livestock Farming Affects Infant Health

A new study in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics explores the effects of pollution from livestock facilities on infant health and finds that production is associated with an increase in infant mortality.

Stacy Sneeringer of Wellesley College utilized data on spatial variation in livestock operations from the past two decades to identify the relationship between industry location and infant health. As livestock production has become more concentrated in larger farms, production has become more concentrated in certain areas.

Previous studies have found that animal production can result in high concentrations of potentially harmful byproducts. Effluent from livestock farms can contaminate the groundwater and air. Certain gases associated with livestock farming have been found to be toxic and to contribute to overall air pollution levels. Livestock farming has also been associated with air-borne particulate matter.

Heart

Signs Of Heart Disease Are Attributed To Stress More Frequently In Women Than Men

Research presented at the 20th annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) scientific symposium, sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF), found that coronary heart disease (CHD) symptoms presented in the context of a stressful life event were identified as psychogenic in origin when presented by women and organic in origin when presented by men. The study could help explain why there is often a delay in the assessment of women with heart disease.

"We know that there is a delay in diagnosing CHD in women and this is an important step forward in understanding why," said Alexandra J. Lansky, M.D., director of the Women's Health Initiative at CRF, director of Clinical Services at the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and an associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The investigation - "Gender Bias in the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Interpretation of CHD Symptoms: Two Experimental Studies with Internists and Family Physicians," was led by Gabrielle R. Chiaramonte, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Clinical Fellow at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The study examined the effects of patients' gender and the context of how CHD symptoms are presented (with/without mention of life stressors and anxiety) on primary care physicians' patient evaluations.

Health

Understanding The Cycle Of Violence

Researchers have long known that children who grow up in an aggressive or violent household are more likely to become violent or aggressive in future relationships. What has not been so clear is the developmental link between witnessing aggressive behavior as a child and carrying it out as an adult. What changes occur in a child that affect whether he or she will choose to deal with conflict in aggressive or violent ways?
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© Indiana University
What kids see: Understanding the cycle of violence.

According to researchers from Indiana University's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, children who grow up in aggressive households may learn to process social information differently than their peers who grow up in non-aggressive environments.

"Children with high-conflict parents are more likely to think that aggressive responses would be good ways to handle social conflicts," said John Bates, a professor of psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and a co-author of the study.

"This partly explains why they are more likely as young adults to have conflict in their own romantic relationships." Unlocking the developmental link between growing up in an aggressive or violent household and becoming the perpetrator of such behavior could prove useful for stopping the cycle of violence. According to Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and another co-author of the study, this research has implications for treatment and prevention.

Attention

Woman Declared Dead, Still Breathing in Morgue

Judith Johnson went to the Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Delaware for what she thought was a bad case of indigestion. An hour after being admitted, the hospital told Johnson's husband his wife was dead, Wilmington's News Journal reported Tuesday.

When someone at the morgue noticed Johnson's "corpse" was still breathing, Louis Johnson learned his wife was very much alive.

Popcorn

Common fibre a 'true superfood'

A fibre found in most fruit and vegetables may help ward off cancer, experts believe. An ongoing study by the Institute of Food Research suggested pectin, a fibre found in everything from potato to plums, helped to fight the disease.

People

Race and the Brain

The human brain is surely the most sophisticated data-processing machine in the world, except when it's not. In fact, in some ways our brains can be flat-out crude--like when they're dealing with matters of race.

Like all other animals, our species emerged in a world where there was critical value in distinguishing between members of your own tribe--who nurture you and protect you--and members of other tribes, who see you as a competitor for food and mates. Your very survival can turn on making this distinction quickly and reliably; as a result, the primal wiring that makes such discrimination possible is not very easy to disconnect. And in a culture like ours, in which race is an issue we grapple with nearly every day, the impulse may have heightened over time.

Comment: This article fails to mention the 'snake charmers', those pathological individuals in positions of power who can brainwash large numbers of population in the name of this or that ideology, and instill or encourage racism. Take Sarah Palin as a recent example.


Light Sabers

Risk and reward compete in brain

That familiar pull between the promise of victory and the dread of defeat - whether in money, love or sport - is rooted in the brain's architecture, according to a new imaging study.

Neuroscientists at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute have identified distinct brain regions with competing responses to risk.

Both regions are located in the prefrontal cortex, an area behind the forehead involved in analysis and planning.

Family

Pregnancy not turning minds to mush: Study

Pregnancy and motherhood may make us all go a little gooey, but it's not turning mums' brains into mush, according to mental health researchers at The Australian National University.

The study - conducted by the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) at ANU - suggests that despite fears mothers may have that pregnancy affects their cognitive functions, there is no evidence to suggest that is true. The findings have been released as part of Mental Health Week, which runs until tomorrow (Saturday).

The research team, lead by CMHR Director Professor Helen Christensen, analysed information from the PATH through Life Project database and found that neither pregnancy nor motherhood had a detrimental effect on cognitive capacity.

Evil Rays

LSD cured my headache

© Alamy
Illustration of intense headache pain and possible sources vascular temporomandibular joint TMJ syndrome and the brain itself CT scans in the background convey clinical diagnosis often involved in treatment of patients suffering from migraine type symptoms
This is the story of a man known online as Flash - a man driven to the brink of suicide by the debilitating effects of cluster headaches. After years of ineffectual treatments, Flash stumbled on what he declared was a new treatment, as controversial as it was, he claimed, effective: hallucinogenic drugs.

Flash was ridiculed by the cluster headache community for his "miracle cure". But when a survey of fellow sufferers who self-medicated with hallucinogens was published in the mainstream journal Neurology, the results gave weight to his claims. The Harvard Medical School scientists who conducted the survey have now applied for a preliminary clinical trial on the subject.