Jon Cartwright PhysicsWeb
Wed, 21 Mar 2007 08:16 UTC
Physicists in Canada have used a conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system to control the movement of a small metal bead inside blood vessels. The experiment demonstrates that MRI systems could eventually control tiny "untethered" devices that perform truly non-invasive surgery.
In the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage, scientists climb into a submarine, shrink themselves down to the size of a red blood cell and are then injected into a dying man to break a blood clot. 40 years on, and the art of shrinking is still far away in the realms of science fiction - but the remote control of miniature devices to perform surgery in the bloodstream may not be.
The manic state that is at the ancient root of the word "maniac" might result from a screwed up body clock, new findings in mutant rodents suggest.
These novel mice could help unearth the roots of bipolar disorder - commonly known as manic-depression - which afflicts more than 1 in 40 adults, or roughly 5.7 million people, in the United States alone.
"This should allow us to develop better and more targeted therapies in the future," Colleen McClung, a neurobiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, told LiveScience.
Scientists have uncovered the first concrete evidence that playing music can significantly enhance the brain and sharpen hearing for all kinds of sounds, including speech.
"Experience with music appears to help with many other things in life, potentially transferring to activities like reading or picking up nuances in tones of voices or hearing sounds in a noisy classroom better," researcher Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, told LiveScience.
Whether you get stung by a bee or simply watch as a friend gets stung, you might start to run and hide every time a bee buzzes across your path. A new study reveals why you do this: It turns out the brain areas that respond when fear is learned through personal experience are also triggered when we see someone else afraid.
The finding, detailed in the March issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, could explain why some people are afraid of things like spiders and snakes despite little contact with them.
Study participants watched a short video of a person conditioned to fear a so-called neutral stimulus - something people normally wouldn't fear - paired with something they find naturally aversive, in this case an electrical shock.
The person in the video watched colored squares on a computer screen: When a blue square appeared, the person received a mild shock; when a yellow square appeared, there was no shock. The participant in the video responded with distress when the blue square appeared - he would blink hard, tense his cheek muscles, and move his hand.
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a 10 percent increase since the last Alzheimer's Association estimate five years ago - and a count that supports the long-forecast dementia epidemic as the population grays.
Age is the biggest risk factor, and the report to be released Tuesday shows the nation is on track for skyrocketing Alzheimer's once the baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011. Already, one in eight people 65 and older have the mind-destroying illness, and nearly one in two people over 85.
Unless scientists discover a way to delay Alzheimer's brain attack, some 7.7 million people are expected to have the disease by 2030, the report says. By 2050, that toll could reach 16 million.
Researchers are studying a pervasive psychological phenomenon in which oh man we've got to finish doing the taxes this weekend...
C'mon, admit it. Your train of thought has derailed like that many times. It's just mind-wandering. We all do it, and surprisingly often, whether we're struggling to avoid it or not.
Mainstream psychology hasn't paid much attention to this common mental habit. But a spate of new studies is chipping away at its mysteries and scientists say the topic is beginning to gain visibility.
Someday, such research may turn up ways to help students keep their focus on textbooks and lectures, and drivers to keep their minds on the road. It may reveal ways to reap payoffs from the habit.
And it might shed light on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which can include an unusually severe inability to focus that causes trouble in multiple areas of life.
Jane Dreaper BBC News
Tue, 20 Mar 2007 04:51 UTC
The UK medicines regulator is warning people to stay away from pills called BZP, the BBC has learned.
The pills are said to offer a "legal high", but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned they can cause health problems.
Mon, 19 Mar 2007 18:22 UTC
WASHINGTON A major manufacturer of dog and cat food sold under Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and other store brands recalled 60 million containers of wet pet food Friday after reports of kidney failure and deaths.
An unknown number of cats and dogs suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, Menu Foods said in announcing the North American recall. Product testing has not revealed a link explaining the reported cases of illness and death, the company said.
Is John Kerry a good enough actor to become president? As the campaign enters its final leg, with the first of the proposed televised debates approaching on Sept. 30 and a stark political choice facing the voters, the question may sound cynical, disrespectful, even uncivic. After all, an actor is an illusionist, whereas a political leader is supposed to be, as Kerry himself has put it, "the real deal."
Yet as anyone who follows modern politics knows, it takes a great deal of talent, practice, and discipline -- not to mention the combined efforts of numerous image consultants and communications experts -- for a politician to appear appealingly authentic, especially on television. As the playwright Arthur Miller wrote in a 2001 essay, "On Politics and the Art of Acting," "Political leaders everywhere have come to understand that to govern they must learn how to act."
The elaborately staged political conventions were the easy part, with everything scripted and well rehearsed. It only gets tougher from here. For the fall ad campaign, John Kerry's leading "image maker" is Robert Shrum, who has written speeches, produced ads, and developed strategies for a long list of Democratic politicians, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Bush's consultant of choice is Stuart Stevens, who produced the Bush campaign's television advertising in 2000. (Stevens also worked for Massachusetts governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci, and wrote early episodes of the television series "Northern Exposure.")
Mon, 19 Mar 2007 11:47 UTC
While studying the faces of convicted killers, a Halifax psychologist says the truth about lies can be found in facial expressions.
Dr. Steve Porter, a forensic psychologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., studies micro expressions and says the face of someone telling a lie is different from someone experiencing true emotion.
"People manifest particular concealed emotions, so how does that express itself on your face?" he told CTV.
Porter looks at emotions frame-by-frame and says it's nearly impossible for someone to mimic the complex muscle movements of such emotions as sadness, stress or despair.