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Sun, 15 Dec 2019
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How The Sensory-deprived Brain Compensates

Whiskers provide a mouse with essential information to negotiate a burrow or detect movement that could signal a predator's presence. These stiff hairs relay sensory input to the brain, which shapes neuronal activity. In a first, studies of this system by Carnegie Mellon scientists show just how well a mouse brain can compensate when limited to sensing the world through one whisker. Published April 4 in the Journal of Neuroscience, the results should help shape future studies of sensory deprivation that results from stroke or traumatic brain injury, say the authors.

"Our findings are the first to show this degree of brain adaptability in a setting with significantly limited sensory input," said Alison Barth, assistant professor of biological sciences and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). "This finding tells us that brain function is plastic, or reparable, when a sense like touch has been profoundly diminished. Plasticity is an important indicator that the brain is reorganizing to compensate for an injury or deficit."

For a decade, neuroscientists have known that the brain can increase its plasticity, or adapt, in response to injury that limits bodily motion. This latest study is the first to show such an impressive enhancement of brain activity in an animal with sensory loss. Losing sight, hearing, taste, smell or touch are common disabling side effects of traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Ambulance

Surprise: Ethanol as Deadly as Gasoline For Now

Fuels high in ethanol may pose an equal or greater risk to public health than regular gasoline, new findings suggest.

Magic Wand

Forming social memories

Does a specific memory exist for events involving humans? French researchers from the Vulnerability, Adaptation and Psychopathology Laboratory (CNRS/Universitי Paris VI) and Canadian researchers from Douglas Hospital, McGill University (Montreal) have identified the internal part of the prefrontal cortex as the key structure for the memory formation of social information.

Social events like a party with friends, a work meeting or a row with a spouse are an integral part of daily life. Our ability to remember these events, and more particularly to remember the people and the relationship we have with them, is absolutely vital if we are to be well adapted to our social life. Different parts of the brain, particularly the hippocampus, are directly involved in learning and memory. Some of these regions are specialized in learning certain types of information, such as the amygdala, which is specialized in the memory of emotions.

Evil Rays

Doublespeak Alert! FDA: Irradiated Food Won't Be Labeled as Such.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration has finally figured out a way to ease people's concern about food irradiation, the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation to kill bacteria and extend shelf life. The FDA solution? Simply don't tell folks it is being used.

On April 4 the FDA proposed a revision to the law requiring proper labeling for foods treated with irradiation. Apparently consumers have been a little queasy about buying foods stamped "treated with irradiation," the wording required since 1986.

So the new plan would be to change the name "irradiation" to "pasteurization" or some more fanciful term, or just forgo the crazy, cumbersome label idea all together.

Comment: Yes, There are some people who are interested in culling the human population. See 94%


Coffee

Chocolate gives people more of a buzz than passionate kisses: study

British researchers said Monday they were stunned to discover that people get more of a buzz from eating chocolate than passionately kissing their lovers.
"These results really surprised and intrigued us," said psychologist David Lewis, who led a study that recorded brain activity and heart rate from volunteers who tasted pieces of dark chocolate or kissed their partners.

Health

Neurotic Men Die Sooner Than Their More Mellow Counterparts

While mellowing with age has often been thought to have positive effects, a Purdue University researcher has shown that doing so could also help you live longer.

Dan Mroczek (pronounced Mro-ZAK), an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University, compared neurotic and non-neurotic men over time and tied change in the trait with mortality.

"We found that neurotic men whose levels dropped over time had a better chance at living longer," Mroczek said. "They seemed to recover from any damage high levels of the trait may have caused. On the flip side, neurotic men whose neuroticism increased over time died much sooner than their peers."

Coffee

"Researchers" say: If you are a male who eats bacon and smokes, you are doomed to get lung cancer.

A US study has linked eating cured meat like bacon and hot dogs with increased risk of lung disease.

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and examines the link between frequent consumption of cured meats and impaired lung function in terms of the increased odds of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), of which emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common form (and often co-exist), is characterized by swelling of the airways.

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the US and more women now die from it than men. In 2003 it claimed 122,283 American lives.

Health

Hundreds of Thousands of Iraq Veterans have Sustained Brain Injuries - With Little to No Treatment

Colorado Springs - After the 5-ton Army truck stopped tumbling down an embankment in Iraq, Gary Watts found himself standing on his head, upside down in the cab of the truck.

"All I had was a sore neck and a bad, bad headache," Watts said.

He rested for a couple of days after the July 24, 2003, accident, then went back to work. He would listen to his commander's directions but hear only pieces of sentences. Twice, he ended up in the wrong convoy in Iraq, driving a truckload of supplies to the wrong place. His bosses chewed him out, and fellow soldiers made fun of him.

Attention

Gender and ethnicity affect court rulings and prison terms

New research in the Department of Sociology at the University of Haifa found that the gender and ethnicity of judges, defendants and victims effect court rulings and prison terms. A Jew who is found guilty of attacking an Arab has a 14% chance of receiving a prison term if an Arab judge presides over the case. In the opposite case, but also heard by an Arab judge, if an Arab is convicted of attacking a Jew, he has a 77% chance of being sent to jail. Female judges send 94% of guilty defendants to jail while male judges send 84% to jail.

The research, which was conducted at the Center for the Study of Crime, Law and Society at the University of Haifa by Dr. Hagit Turjeman, under the direction of Prof. Gideon Fishman and Prof. Arye Rattner, examined 1200 cases of violence that were heard in the district courts in Haifa and Nazareth between the years of 1985 and 1999. Cases that were related to terror attacks were not included in the study. The judicial process was examined to see if the gender or ethnicity of the defendant, judge or victim affects the court ruling or punishment. The cases evaluated were grouped according to severity of the crime and criminal history of the defendant.

On a positive note, the study revealed that gender and ethnicity do not affect the probability of conviction of a crime. However, in cases where a defendant was found guilty, consistent differences were found in the sentences given by male and female and Jewish and Arab judges.

Health

No sign that ethnic groups' genes cause diabetes, international research team says

A study by U.S. and Australian researchers is helping dispel the 40-year-old "thrifty genotype theory," which purports that certain minority groups are genetically prone to diabetes.

The study, co-authored by UC Irvine anthropologist Michael Montoya, along with an epidemiologist and population geneticist, analyzed existing genetic studies published across a variety of disciplines. The team found no evidence to support the widely held thrifty genotype theory, which suggests that cycles of feast and famine early in human history created a gene that helps the body use scarce nutrients - a gene that leads to obesity and diabetes in comfortable, sedentary modern lifestyles.