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Wed, 06 Dec 2023
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Health & Wellness


Do I know you? Researchers identify woman's struggle to recognize new faces

The woman's condition, known as prosopamnesia, is extremely rare and has only been found in a handful of people around the world, according to University of Queensland cognitive neuroscientist Professor Jason Mattingley.

"For many years, scientists have been interested in how people learn to recognise new faces, and people who have difficulty with faces often have trouble interacting in social settings," he said.

The woman - whose identity remains protected - presented herself to researchers after experiencing social embarrassment when she found she was unable to recognise colleagues, people to whom she had already been introduced.

The research, in collaboration with colleagues at Macquarie and La Trobe universities, is published in this month's edition of Current Biology. The work suggests the woman's "disability" might lie in her inability to encode or recognise new faces, rather than her ability to perceive them.

"She reports relying heavily on featural cues such as hair colour and style, eyeglasses, and eyebrows to recognise new acquaintances," Professor Mattingley said.

On a battery of standard face-recognition tests, the woman consistently registered scores that indicated her ability to recognise new faces was severely impaired.


The Age of Autism: The last word

This is my 113th and final Age of Autism column. United Press International, which has been the hospitable home for this series, is restructuring, and I'm off to adventures as yet unknown -- although I intend to keep my focus on autism and related issues.

Why? Because it is the story of a lifetime.


Why is yawning contagious?

Rather than being a precursor to sleep, yawning is designed to keep us awake, say US researchers. But why does seeing someone else yawn make you to do the same?

Yawning is an involuntary action that everyone does. We start before we are born and most creatures on the planet do it - even snakes and fish.

New research suggests rather than being a precursor to sleep, the purpose of yawning is to cool the brain so it operates more efficiently and keeps you awake.

The average yawn lasts six seconds.

The theory could explain a puzzling question about subconscious human behaviour - why many of us yawn when we see or hear another person doing it, or even read about it or even just think about it?

Life Preserver

Doctors Treating Older Anorexics

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kelli Smith was nervous as she walked into the Philadelphia treatment center, seeking help at last for her anorexia. Looking around at the other patients, she was struck by how young they seemed.

Comment: Who promotes and who profits from women's self-destructive eating disorders?

The reader might want to read Naomi Wolf's book, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, to understand the war waged by patriarchy/psychopathy against women. In the author's own words:
'Beauty' is a currency system like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.

Black Cat

OxyContin makers fined for profiting off lies which led to deaths

Purdue Pharma L.P., the maker of OxyContin, and three of its executives were ordered Friday to pay a $634.5 million fine for misleading the public about the painkiller's risk of addiction.

©Getty Images
OxyContin is a pain medicine that can be deadly if abused.

Comment: This story is just another in a long line that shows how white collar businessmen and the rich are treated differently than everyone else. A fine and a criminal conviction means nothing to the super-rich.

Black Cat

Race in Medical Care: Skin Color Matters with Patient Care

Study Finds Doctors Have Racial Bias When Treating patients.

The color of your skin may affect the care you receive at the doctor's office -- as a new study has found evidence of racial basis in medical care.

Researchers found unintentional racism, feelings physicians are unaware of, can affect how doctors diagnose and treat patients.

Evil Rays

Electrical fields from everyday equipment and materials could increase infection risk

Electrical fields generated by everyday electrical equipment such as computers, and excess static charge created by many modern materials, could be bad for your health, says new research published by Imperial scientists.

The study, published in the Atmospheric Environment journal in August 2007, strongly indicates that prolonged exposure to the electric fields generated in everyday indoor environments may cause increased risk of respiratory diseases and infection from small airborne particles such as allergens, bacteria and viruses. The study also found that such risks may be far higher than previously thought.

Better Earth

New study measures narcissistic CEOs' effect on corporate strategy, performance

Companies led by more narcissistic chief executives tend to make more frequent strategy changes, undertake larger and more frequent acquisitions, and have more extreme and irregular fluctuations in performance, according to new research from Penn State's Smeal College of Business.

Arijit Chatterjee, graduate lecturer, and Donald Hambrick, Smeal chaired professor of management, gauged the level of narcissism exhibited by 111 CEOs of computer software and hardware companies and compared it to the subsequent strategies and performance of their companies.

"Highly narcissistic CEOs -- defined as those who have very inflated self-views, and who are preoccupied with having those self-views continuously reinforced -- can be expected to engage in behaviors and make decisions that have major consequences not only for the individuals who interact directly with them, but also for broader sets of stakeholders," the researchers wrote.

They used five indicators to measure CEO narcissism: the prominence of the CEO's photograph in the company's annual report, the frequency of the CEO's name appearing in company news releases, the use of first person singular pronouns (I, me, mine, my and myself) by the CEO in interviews, and the CEO's cash and non-cash pay compared to the company's second-highest executive.

Using these measurements, Chatterjee and Hambrick developed an index, ranking the CEOs according to their levels of narcissism.

Red Flag

LSD use in psychotherapy to be tested in Swiss clinic

The use of LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) in psychotherapy is to be studied for the first time in 35 years.

A trial to determine whether patients with anxiety relating to advanced-stage illnesses can be safely given LSD-assisted psychotherapy and whether it improves their anxiety symptoms has been approved by a Swiss ethics committee.

Comment: Those "political concerns" had to do with revelations that LSD was used on subjects during mind control experiments in the 50's and 60's by the CIA under a program called MK-Ultra, amoungst others.

Read: Gov't settles with CIA brainwashing survivor

Magic Wand

Children's ability to describe past event develops over time

In the first study to examine how children talk about the time-related features of their experiences--when, how often, in what order events occur--researchers have found intriguing changes as children grow older. The study's findings may have implications for understanding these aspects of cognitive development as well as for questioning child witnesses and victims.

The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the University of Cambridge. It appears in the July/August 2007 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers analyzed forensic interviews of 250 4- to 10-year-old children who were alleged victims of sexual abuse, focusing on the kinds of references to time they made when describing these real-life events.

The children made increasing numbers of references to time-related characteristics of experienced events as they grew older, the researchers found. However, witnesses under 10 seldom mentioned specific times or dates, or what happened before reported events or actions. There were dramatic increases to such references at the age of 10.

References to the sequence of events or parts of events were most common, and their increase with age may be related to children's developing capability to elaborate. Children were more likely to mention time spontaneously when asked to recall what happened than when they were asked specific recognition questions. This is pertinent because information retrieved from memory by recall is much more likely to be accurate than information retrieved in response to questions that ask children to select among options offered by the interviewer (such as "Did he ..."" or "Was it x or y"").