Welcome to Sott.net
Thu, 27 Feb 2020
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness
Map

Clock

Genes help determine how you perform at night

How well people perform on tests after being deprived of sleep depends in part on their genes, new research suggests. After staying awake all night, individuals with a long version of the PER3 gene only scored half as well on cognitive tests as subjects with a short version.

What is more, the greatest differences in performance were seen during the small hours - the time when most tiredness-related accidents happen and when shift-workers have most trouble staying awake.

"It may be there are people who are genetically predisposed against shift work," says Malcolm von Schantz, at the University of Surrey, UK. But he emphasises that gene tests should not be used to discriminate against such individuals. It is very possible that carriers of the long PER3 gene have advantages at other times, he notes.

Magic Wand

Research finds that culture is key to interpreting facial emotions

Study examines how Japan and United States vary in deciphering facial cues.

Research has uncovered that culture is a determining factor when interpreting facial emotions. The study reveals that in cultures where emotional control is the standard, such as Japan, focus is placed on the eyes to interpret emotions. Whereas in cultures where emotion is openly expressed, such as the United States, the focus is on the mouth to interpret emotion.

Across two studies, using computerized icons and human images, the researchers compared how Japanese and American cultures interpreted images, which conveyed a range of emotions.

"These findings go against the popular theory that the facial expressions of basic emotions can be universally recognized," said University of Alberta researcher Dr. Takahiko Masuda. "A person's culture plays a very strong role in determining how they will perceive emotions and needs to be considered when interpreting facial expression"

Display

ISU psychologists publish three new studies on violent video game effects on youths

New research by Iowa State University psychologists provides more concrete evidence of the adverse effects of violent video game exposure on the behavior of children and adolescents.

ISU Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson, Assistant Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile, and doctoral student Katherine Buckley share the results of three new studies in their book, "Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents" (Oxford University Press, 2007). It is the first book to unite empirical research and public policy related to violent video games.

Anderson and Gentile will present their findings at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting in Boston March 29 through April 1.

Magnify

Red meat 'ups breast cancer risk'

Eating red meat significantly increases a post-menopausal woman's chance of breast cancer, research suggests.

Magic Wand

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream: New Insight Into Melatonin Production

In the April 1 issue of Genes & Development, a Korean research team led by Dr. Kyong-Tai Kim (Pohang University) describes how melatonin production is coordinated with the body's natural sleep/wake cycles.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, which helps to regulate our bodies' circadian rhythm (the roughly-24-hour cycle around which basic physiological processes proceed).

Normally, melatonin production is inhibited by light and enhanced by darkness, usually peaking in the middle of the night. Melatonin's expression pattern is mimicked by a protein called AANAT, which is a key enzyme in the melatonin biosynthesis pathway.

No Entry

Stop signs: Study identifies 'braking' mechanism in the brain

As wise as the counsel to "finish what you've started" may be, it is also sometimes critically important to do just the opposite -- stop. And the ability to stop quickly, to either keep from gunning the gas when a pedestrian steps into your path or to bite your tongue mid-sentence when the subject of gossip suddenly comes into view, may depend on a few "cables" in the brain.

Researchers led by cognitive neuroscientist Adam Aron, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego, have found white matter tracts -- bundles of neurons, or "cables," forming direct, high-speed connections, between distant regions of the brain -- that appear to play a significant role in the rapid control of behavior.

Published in the April 4 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, the study is the first to identify these white matter tracts in humans, confirming similar findings in monkeys, and the first to relate them to the brain's activity while people voluntarily control their movements.

Black Cat

Power and Sexual Harassment: Men and Women See Things Differently

In the hands of the wrong person, power can be dangerous. That's especially the case in the workplace, where the abuse of power can lead to sexual harassment.

Issues of power, workplace culture and the interpretation of verbal and non-verbal communication associated with sexual harassment were the focus of a study by Debbie Dougherty, assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Working with a large healthcare organization in the Midwest, Dougherty examined the question: why does sexual harassment occur?

"Power," she said. "It was the common answer. It came up repeatedly. However, what I found were multiple definitions of power."

Attention

Are We Raising A Nation Of Little Egomaniacs?

Stephen Scheck never liked the way some parents lavish praise on their kids in public, so he didn't do it with his two children, now freshmen in high school and college.

"My wife and I pretty early on started to notice this whole thing happening at Brownies, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H meetings or wherever that many parents seemed very invested in their children always being the star, always having a great time, always feeling successful," says Scheck, a college dean in Monmouth, Ore.

Yet he wanted the children to have high self-esteem, so the youngsters got their share of ego boosts at home. They also were steered toward sports such as swimming where they had a chance to not only compete with other kids but also achieve "personal bests." Both children were urged to play musical instruments, which gave them a sense of accomplishment. He wanted them to feel good and successful, and he certainly told them they were capable and special.

Wine

Meat And Two Neutrons: The Key To A Longer Life

Indulging in an isotope-enhanced steak or chicken fillet every now and again could add as much as 10 years to your life. Scientists have shown for the first time that food enriched with natural isotopes builds bodily components that are more resistant to the processes of ageing. The concept has been demonstrated in worms and researchers hope that the same concept can help extend human life and reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases of ageing, reports Marina Murphy in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

A team led by Mikhail Shchepinov, formerly of Oxford University, fed nematode worms nutrients reinforced with natural isotopes (naturally occurring atomic variations of elements). In initial experiments, worms' life spans were extended by 10%, which, with humans expected to routinely coast close to the centenary, could add a further 10 years to human life.

Black Cat

Toxoplasma gondii: Bizarre Human Brain Parasite Precisely Alters Fear

Rats usually have an innate fear of cat urine. The fear extends to rodents that have never seen a feline and those generations removed from ever meeting a cat. After they get infected with the brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii, however, rats become attracted to cat pee, increasing the chance they'll become cat food.

This much researchers knew. But a new study shows the parasite, which also infects more half the world's human population, seems to target a rat's fear of cat urine with almost surgical precision, leaving other kinds of fear alone.

This discovery could shed light "on how fear is generated in the first place" and how people can potentially better manage phobias, researcher Ajai Vyas, a Stanford University neuroscientist, told LiveScience.