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Sun, 28 Feb 2021
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Dengue Fever Surges in Latin America

Dengue fever is spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean in one of the worst outbreaks in decades, causing agonizing joint pain for hundreds of thousands of people and killing nearly 200 so far this year.

The mosquitoes that carry dengue are thriving in expanded urban slums scattered with water-collecting trash and old tires. Experts say dengue is approaching record levels this year as many countries enter their wettest months.

©Associated Press

Magic Wand

Tunes and Talk: Researchers Find Music and Language are Processed by the Same Brain Systems

Researchers have long debated whether or not language and music depend on common processes in the mind. Now, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have found evidence that the processing of music and language do indeed depend on some of the same brain systems.

Their findings, which are currently available on-line and will be published later this year in the journal NeuroImage, are the first to suggest that two different aspects of both music and language depend on the same two memory systems in the brain. One brain system, based in the temporal lobes, helps humans memorize information in both language and music - for example, words and meanings in language and familiar melodies in music. The other system, based in the frontal lobes, helps us unconsciously learn and use the rules that underlie both language and music, such as the rules of syntax in sentences, and the rules of harmony in music.

Clock

Females explain influence of past on future differently than males

A new study finds that young girls and women are more likely to believe that negative past events predict future events, compared to boys and men. And that, according to researchers, may help explain why females have more frequent and intense worries, perceive more risk, have greater intolerance for uncertainty, and experience higher rates of anxiety than males. The findings, from studies conducted at the University of California, Davis, are published in the September/October 2007 issue of the journal Child Development.

In two studies involving 128 people, a researcher investigated 3- to 6-year-olds' as well as adults' knowledge that worry and preventative behaviors can be caused by thinking that a negative event from the past will or might reoccur in the future. The ability to explain emotions and behaviors in relation to past events is considered a fundamental part of adult social understanding that is important for processing past trauma, assessing risk, and making decisions.

Bulb

Babies raised in bilingual homes learn new words differently than infants learning one language

Infants who are raised in bilingual homes learned two similar-sounding words in a laboratory task at a later age than babies who are raised in homes where only one language is spoken. This difference, which is thought to be advantageous for bilingual infants, appears to be due to the fact that bilingual babies need to devote their attention to the general associations between words and objects (often a word in each language) for a longer period, rather than focusing on detailed sound information. This finding suggests an important difference in the mechanics of how monolingual and bilingual babies learn language.

These findings are from new research conducted at the University of British Columbia and Ottawa. They appear in the September/October 2007 issue of the journal Child Development.

Immigration, official language policies, and changing cultural norms mean that many infants are being raised bilingually. Because nearly all experimental work in infant language development has focused on children who are monolingual, relatively little is known about the learning processes involved in acquiring two languages from birth.

Bulb

'Deviancy training' among friends may lead to more trouble

group therapy
Friendships can be beneficial, but watch out when talk about deviant topics is the best way to get a laugh in an adolescent relationship, because such interaction may well lead to questionable behavior down the road, say University of Oregon researchers.

For their study, published in the September/October 2007 issue of the journal Child Development, the researchers videotaped 16- and 17-year-olds as they interacted with close friends. The UO team was seeking to find mechanisms behind the idea that antisocial behavior is predictable based on the behavior of peers. Subjects were divided into three groups of 40 based on their earlier classifications as normal, late-starters or persistently antisocial in an on-going longitudinal study.

The findings present "a mixed bag," with both good and bad aspects of friendship, said co-author Thomas J. Dishion, professor of psychology and school psychology. "The study speaks to the power of peer influence in shaping outcomes," said lead author Timothy F. Piehler, a doctoral student in psychology.

People

When children are upset, mothers and fathers make a difference

When a young child experiences negative emotions - anger, anxiety, or distress - can his parents respond in a way that fosters the child's emotional development?

A new University of Illinois study in the September/October issue of Child Development suggests that young children benefit when mothers and fathers differ in their reactions to their child's negative emotions.

"When a young child is angry, sad, or frustrated, the best scenario seems to be if one parent comforts and problem-solves with the child while the other parent hangs back a bit and gives the child space to process what he's feeling," said Nancy McElwain, a U of I assistant professor of human development.

When that happens, the child is more likely to gain experience in understanding and controlling his emotions. He may also benefit from seeing different types of reactions, realize that there are different ways of looking at things, and thus develop more complex thinking about and understanding of emotions, she said.

Arrow Up

Study finds that U.S. high school dropout rate higher than thought and hasn't improved in years

University of Minnesota sociologists have found that the U.S. high school dropout rate is considerably higher than most people think -- with one in four students not graduating -- and has not improved appreciably in recent decades. Their findings point to discrepancies in the two major data sources on which most governmental and non-governmental agencies base their findings.

The U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) is widely used by governmental and non-governmental sources -- from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to the White House -- to report high school dropout rates. The CPS paints a rosy picture, showing dropout rates at about 10 percent in recent years and declining some 40 percent over the past generation. On the other hand, measures of high school completion based on the National Center for Education Statistics' Common Core of Data survey (CCD) paint a darker picture, with high school completion rates holding steady at about 75 percent in recent decades.

Health

Japan's Minamata Disease still lingers

The dawn is still only a faint glow beyond distant mountains, but fisherman Akinori Mori and his wife, Itsuko, are already hard at work on their boat, reeling in nets of squid, fish and crabs.

Nothing about this placid scene reveals that Japan's worst environmental disaster unfolded here.

Red Flag

Bristol-Myers Squibb to pay $515 million for doctor kickback scheme

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and its subsidiary, Apothecon, have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle a broad array of federal and state civil allegations involving their drug marketing and pricing practices, US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said today.

Comment: "And don't worry investors. We'll recover the money in more straight forward ways."


Ambulance

Superbugs claim 427 lives over past five years in Northern Ireland

Two of the deadliest hospital superbugs have helped cause the deaths of at least 427 patients in Northern Ireland over the past five years, it was revealed last night.

The serious threat of hospital- acquired infections was underlined by new Government figures which detail how many deaths have been officially registered as linked to MRSA and Clostridium Difficile since 2002.