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Neuroplasticity - Rewiring the Brain

Can a damaged brain change its own structure and learn to replace lost functions? Conventional neuroscience once said no, but pioneers in the field have achieved miraculous transformations. From his investigation of their work, Norman Doidge tells the story of the perpetually falling woman.

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Low-income? No car? Expect to pay more for groceries

Households located in poor neighborhoods pay more for the same items than people living in wealthy ones, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Author Debabrata Talukdar (Columbia University) examines the impact of what has been dubbed the "ghetto tax" on low-income individuals. His study found that the critical factor in how much a household spends on groceries is whether it has access to a car. "Arguably, as the bigger, more cost-efficient stores move out, the poor increasingly are likely to find themselves choosing between traveling farther to purchase nutritious, competitively priced groceries or paying inflated prices for low-quality, processed foods at corner stores," Talukdar writes.

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Brain study could lead to new understanding of depression

Brain scientists have moved a step closer to understanding why some people may be more prone to depression than others.

Dr Roland Zahn, a clinical neuroscientist in The University of Manchester's School of Psychological Sciences, and his colleagues have identified how the brain links knowledge about social behaviour with moral sentiments, such as pride and guilt.

The study, carried out at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the US with Dr Jordan Grafman, chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section, and Dr Jorge Moll, now at the LABS-D'Or Center for Neuroscience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 29 healthy individuals while they considered certain social behaviours.

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Australia: New approach needed to tackle child abuse and neglect

Leading child advocates have called for a new approach to tackling child abuse and neglect amid rising rates of abuse notifications and children being brought into State care.

The arguments for a new approach are set out in the latest edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Report co-authors Melissa O'Donnell, Professor Dorothy Scott and Professor Fiona Stanley say a greater focus is needed on preventing abuse and neglect occurring in the first place.

"If there is a real commitment to protect all children, then supporting families and children before they reach the point of being abused and neglected should be a priority," said Professor Fiona Stanley, Director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

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Pre-school age exercises can prevent dyslexia

A typical characteristics of children's linguistic development are early signs of the risk of developing reading and writing disabilities, or dyslexia. New research points to preventive exercises as an effective means to tackle the challenges children face when learning to read. The results achieved at the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Motivation Research were presented at the Academy of Finland's science breakfast on 21 August.

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Canada: Farmers pleased Monsanto is getting out of cow hormone business

A group of Ontario farmers is claiming victory after Monsanto Co. agreed to sell its Posilac brand of synthetic cow hormones to drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. for $300 million.

Dave Mackay, president of the Renfrew County chapter of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and a former dairy farmer in Beachburg, Ont., told CBC News Friday that the sale is good news. Mackay, now a sheep farmer with a flock of 300, speaks for 150 farmers in Renfrew County.

"We think it's a bit of a victory," he said from his 200-acre farm near Pembroke, Ont. "We are pleased. I think we have won. Obviously, these guys are moving on."

Monsanto, an agricultural chemical company, announced the sale on Wednesday. It said the Posilac brand will become part of Lilly's Elanco animal health unit.

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Americans Show Little Tolerance For Mental Illness Despite Growing Belief In Genetic Cause

A new study by University of Pennsylvania sociology professor Jason Schnittker shows that, while more Americans believe that mental illness has genetic causes, the nation is no more tolerant of the mentally ill than it was 10 years ago.

The study published online in the journal Social Science and Medicine uses a 2006 replication of the 1996 General Social Survey Mental Health Module to explore trends in public beliefs about mental illness in America, focusing in particular on public support for genetic arguments.

Prior medical-sociology studies reveal that public beliefs about mental illness reflect the dominant mental-illness treatment, the changing nature of media portrayals of the mentally ill and the prevailing wisdom of science and medicine.

Schnittker's study, "An Uncertain Revolution: Why the Rise of a Genetic Model of Mental Illness Has Not Increased Tolerance," attempts to address why tolerance of the mentally ill hasn't increased along with the rising popularity of a biomedical view of its causes. His study finds that different genetic arguments have, in fact, become more popular but have very different associations depending on the mental illness being considered.

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Chronic stress alters our genetic immune response

Most people would agree that stress increases your risk for illness and this is particularly true for severe long-term stresses, such as caring for a family member with a chronic medical illness. However, we still have a relatively limited understanding of exactly how stress contributes to the risk for illness. In the August 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers shed new light on one link between stress and illness by describing a mechanism through which stress alters immune function.

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Why do eyelids sag with age? UCLA study answers mystery



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©American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
A UCLA study finds that lower baggy eyelids are caused by fat expansion in the eye socket.

Many theories have sought to explain what causes the baggy lower eyelids that come with aging, but UCLA researchers have now found that fat expansion in the eye socket is the primary culprit.

As a result, researchers say, fat excision should be a component of treatment for patients seeking to address this common complaint.

The study, published in the September issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, is the first to examine the anatomy of multiple subjects to determine what happens to the lower eyelid with age. It is also the first to measure what happens to the face with age using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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Solution To World's Worst Mass Poisoning Case

A solution to the world's worst case of ongoing mass poisoning, linked to rising cancer rates in Southern Asia, has been developed by researchers from Queen's University Belfast.

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©Queen's University, Belfast
Arsenic treatment system.

It is estimated that over 70 million people in Eastern India and Bangladesh, experience involuntary arsenic exposure from consuming water and rice; the main staple food in the region. This includes farmers who have to use contaminated groundwater from minor irrigation schemes.

It is estimated that for every random sample of 100 people in the Bengal Delta, at least one person will be near death as a result of arsenic poisoning, while five in 100 will be experiencing other symptoms.