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Sun, 27 May 2018
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Magic Wand

'The eyes have it' - autism research yields surprising results

Autistic children are able to interpret the mental state of others by looking at their eyes, contrary to previous research, a new University of Nottingham study has found.

In findings that contradict previous studies, psychologists found that autistic children can 'read' a stranger's mental state based on that person's eyes. Autistic children have long been thought to be poor at interpreting people's mental states based on facial expressions, especially expressions around the eyes.

Some researchers believe that this lack of ability could be central to the social problems experienced by autistic children and adults.

But the latest findings cast doubt on this hypothesis. A study at The University of Nottingham found that autistic children were able to interpret mental states when looking at animated facial expressions. The findings also suggest that the use of moving images, rather than conventional still pictures, gives a much more accurate measure of the abilities of autistic children.

Ambulance

Alzheimer's vaccine works on mice: Japan scientist

Japanese scientists have developed an oral vaccine for Alzheimer's disease that has proven effective and safe in mice, the director of a research institute behind the project said on Thursday.

The team is preparing to move to small-scale clinical trials in humans, possibly this year, said Takeshi Tabira, director of the National Institute for Longevity Sciences in Aichi, central Japan.

Health

Cancer therapy: When all else fails? Or maybe try this first.

Lawrence Burgh has a sober outlook on life. A 48-year-old physician whose career has centred on treating seriously ill patients, Burgh was diagnosed with cancer in December 2006. Yet despite his clinical experience, he has taken an extraordinary step to try to rid himself of his illness, a step many would consider to be a medical heresy.

Comment: Sounds like the Cancer Industry is going into damage control. Can't have cheap, safe drugs usurping investors profits.


Heart

Where's Your Pain? New Insights Into How The Brain Processes Pain Location

Is that pain in your chest a heart attack or indigestion? New research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that more areas of the brain than previously thought are involved in determining the location of pain.

Spatial aspects of pain are a common problem in diagnosis, said Robert Coghill, Ph.D., senior researcher on the study and a neuroscientist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Patients cannot always distinguish pain from indigestion and pain from a heart attack, for example. Pain from a nerve injury is often felt at sites other than at the injury. And, in some cases, an injury on one side of the body results in pain on both sides.

"The scientific understanding of spatial aspects of pain is so limited that patients with widespread pain may get sent to a psychiatrist rather than a pain clinic," said Coghill.

Magic Wand

Smokers make poorer military slaves

Smokers perform worse at work than non-smokers, finds a study of US navy female service members published in Tobacco Control .

Smokers were also more likely to have a less than honourable discharge, to be demoted, to desert, and to earn less than their non-smoking colleagues, the study showed.

Historically, the prevalence of smoking among US military personnel has been higher than among civilians, say the authors. After a period of decline, smoking rates have once more started to climb.

There are currently around 59,000 women serving in the US Navy.

The findings are based on an analysis of the career progression of almost 5,500 women entering the US Navy over a period of 12 months between 1996 and 1997.

Heart

Exercise Makes You Stronger, Faster, Smarter - Even Rejuvenates You!

The stereotype of the "dumb jock" has never sounded right to Charles Hillman. A jock himself, he plays hockey four times a week, but when he isn't body-checking his opponents on the ice, he's giving his mind a comparable workout in his neuroscience and kinesiology lab at the University of Illinois.

Nearly every semester in his classroom, he says, students on the women's cross-country team set the curve on his exams. So recently he started wondering if there was a vital and overlooked link between brawn and brains - if long hours at the gym could somehow build up not just muscles, but minds.

Health

Committee rejects bill to reduce mercury in vaccinations

LITTLE ROCK - A bill to reduce mercury levels in vaccinations and require written consent before children or pregnant women could receive vaccinations containing mercury failed to get out of a Senate committee Monday.

Cut

U.N. recommends male circumcision to prevent HIV

GENEVA - The United Nations on Wednesday endorsed male circumcision as a way to prevent HIV infections in heterosexual men and said it should be made more easily available in African countries.

Two U.N. agencies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS, backed recent research showing that removing the foreskin of the penis can more than halve men's vulnerability to the virus causing AIDS from having sex with HIV-infected women.


Comment: For more information about this topic and how it can be use for manipulation purposes, see here and here.


Magic Wand

Hearing Aids: One membrane, many frequencies

Modern hearing aids, though quite sophisticated, still do not faithfully reproduce sound as hearing people perceive it. New findings at the Weizmann Institute of Science shed light on a crucial mechanism for discerning different sound frequencies and thus may have implications for the design of better hearing aids.

Research by Dr. Itay Rousso of the Weizmann Institute's Structural Biology Department, which recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that a thin structure in the inner ear called the tectorial membrane responds to different frequencies. This membrane communicates between the outer hair cells (which amplify sound in the form of mechanical vibrations) and the inner hair cells (which convert these mechanical vibrations to electrical signals and pass them on to the brain via the auditory nerve). If certain genes for this membrane are missing or damaged, total deafness ensues.

Rousso and research student Rachel Gueta, together with researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, wanted to explore the mechanical properties of the tectorial membrane. Using an atomic force microscope, which probes surfaces with a fine microscopic needle, they tested the resistance of the gel-like membrane at various points to assess precisely how rigid or flexible it was. To their surprise, the scientists found that the level of rigidity varies significantly along the length of the membrane: One end of the membrane can be up to ten times more rigid than the other.

Bomb

Neural Coding: It's only a game of chance

The validity of a leading theory that has held a glimmer of hope for unraveling the intricacies of the brain has just been called into question. Dr. Ilan Lampl of the Weizmann Institute of Science's Neurobiology Department has produced convincing evidence to the contrary. His findings recently appeared in the journal Neuron.

Cells in the central nervous system tend to communicate with each other via a wave of electrical signals that travel along neurons. The question is: How does the brain translate this information to allow us to perceive and understand the world before us?

It is widely believed that these electrical signals generate spiked patterns that encode different types of cognitive information. According to the theory, the brain is able to discriminate between, say, a chair and a table because each of them will generate a distinct sequence of patterns within the neural system that the brain then interprets. Upon repeated presentation of that object, its pattern is reproduced in a precise and controlled manner. Previous experiments had demonstrated repeating patterns lasting up to one second in duration.