Health & Wellness
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00 UTC
The phenomenon was discovered by researchers at two laboratories: the Laboratoire de psychologie et neurocognition (CNRS / University of Grenoble 2 / University of Chambéry) and the Laboratoire de psychologie de la perception (CNRS / University of Paris Descartes) in cooperation with a team from the Neonatology Department of the Grenoble University Hospitals. The findings have been published on the PLoS One website.
The source of all perceptual knowledge, the sense organs and sensory systems of premature babies are less efficient than those of full-term babies, even though the latter are also not yet fully developed. Starting in the very first minutes after birth, a full-term infant is subjected to extensive tactile stimulation: it is washed, held on its mother's stomach, nursed, diapered, etc. Its body almost immediately experiences contact with skin other than its own, with towels, sheets, nipples -- in short, with objects of different textures, shapes and consistencies. It is common knowledge that a baby will flex its fingers tightly if its palm is touched by a finger, but this grasping reaction is not just a simple reflex. Even in the first hours of its life, a full-term newborn already has effective manual perception, a tactile capacity that enables it to make sense of its environment. But what about the premature infant, whose neurological functions are even less developed due to its early birth?
The new study represents the first, direct human evidence that fetuses exposed to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol may have trouble paying attention or solving problems later on. But what may be more intriguing is the study's second finding -- that this negative link disappears almost entirely if the mother forges a secure connection with her baby.
"Our results shape the argument that fetal exposure to cortisol -- which may in part be controlled by the mother's stress level -- and early caregiving experience combine to influence a child's neurodevelopment," said study author Thomas O'Connor, Ph.D., professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and director of the Wynne Center for Family Research. "If future studies confirm these findings, we'll need to not only engineer ways to reduce stress in pregnancy, but we'll need to also promote sensitive care-giving by moms and dads."
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00 UTC
One Doritos ad portrays a man backing out of a parking lot when his car strikes an innocent person who drops a bag of Doritos and falls to the ground behind the car. Rather than trying to help the innocent victim, this man throws his car into reverse and drives over the victim, killing him with the vehicle and stealing the bag of Doritos.
The message? Doritos are so valuable that it's okay to kill people just to score a bag.
A second Doritos ad shows two loser-looking gym bums being attacked by an insane junk food ninja who uses Doritos chips as throwing stars to murder the guy who stole his bag of Doritos. The message here? Doritos are so valuable that it's okay to kill others to defend your snack.
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00 UTC
A 2005 British law change outlawed the donating of sperm anonymously. UK law also has a long-standing rule that prohibits men who donate from receiving any sort of monetary compensation. Because of these rules, and the fact that many men fear having to provide their identities with the donation because the children may eventually try to find and meet them, few British men are donating sperm these days. As a result, the waiting list to receive IVF in the UK is several years.
In 2007, Denmark changed its laws and now permits anonymous donors, which has led to a surge in foreign women coming there to receive IVF treatment. Danish donors are also compensated between $60 and $200 for their donations which has helped to facilitate a large number of casual donors. The Danish sperm bank, Cryos, is the largest sperm bank in the world and is a popular destination for "infertility tourists" seeking to have children.
Preventing Head Lice
Do not think a problem with lice will not affect you or your family. Inspect your child's head regularly for lice and nits, paying particular attention to the hairline, neck and areas above the ears. If there is an outbreak at your child's school, be even more thorough. To repel lice, comb the hair twice a week with a comb dipped in a mug of warm water containing a few drops of tea tree oil.
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 16:09 UTC
Now a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis has shown that we are not the know-it-alls that we think we are.
Simine Vazire, Ph.D., Washington University assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences, has found that the individual is more accurate in assessing one's own internal, or neurotic traits, such as anxiety, while friends are better barometers of intellect-related traits, such as intelligence and creativity, and even strangers are equally adept as our friends and ourselves at spotting the extrovert in us all, a psychology domain known as "extroversion."
"I think that it's important to really question this knee-jerk reaction that we are our own best experts," says Vazire. "Personality is not who you think you are, it's who you are. Some people think by definition that we are the experts on our personality because we get to write the story, but personality is not the story -- it's the reality. So, you do get to write your own story about how you think you are, and what you tell people about yourself, but there still is reality out there, and, guess what? Other people are going to see the reality, regardless of what story you believe."
Tue, 31 Oct 2006 10:22 UTC
Nowadays, the IVF treatment I underwent to conceive her is almost commonplace, but back then women like me still felt like pioneers. The birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, had happened only a dozen years earlier. I didn't know anyone who had had a test-tube baby, as they were then called, and the whole experience felt like a leap in the dark. I was undeterred though: like most infertile women, I was driven by an all-consuming need to hold my own child in my arms, whatever the cost.
Comment: There's nothing in any way "miraculous" about forcing nature to your will.
Sat, 27 Feb 2010 07:15 UTC
University researchers studied more than 900 men and women aged between 60 and 75 with type-2 diabetes.
Evaluating brain function
Scientists evaluated mental abilities with a range of tests, including memory function and how quickly participants processed information.
They compared this with general intelligence levels, using vocabulary tests, to work out whether brain function in participants had diminished over time.
They found that brain function slowed in participants with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Fri, 26 Feb 2010 16:39 UTC
In one of the studies, published in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, researchers examined DISC1's role in forming connections between nerve cells. Numerous studies have suggested that schizophrenia results from abnormal connectivity. The fact that symptoms typically arise soon after adolescence, a time of massive reorganization of connections between nerve cells, supports this idea.
The scientists began their study by surveying rat nerve cells to see where DISC1 was most active. Unsurprisingly, they found the highest DISC1 activity in connections between nerve cells. To determine what DISC1 was doing in this location, the researchers used a technique called RNA interference to partially shut off DISC1 activity. Consequently, they saw a transient increase and eventual reduction in size and number of dendritic spines, spikes on nerve cells' branch-like extensions that receive input from other nerve cells.
Prenatal injuries can often result in self-correcting or fixable neuromotor delays, but sometimes toddlers get a more serious diagnosis, such as cerebral palsy, says Rosa Angulo-Barroso, associate professor of movement science at the U-M School of Kinesiology. Some of those diagnoses may come much later, or in mild cases, never, she says.
Angulo-Barroso and colleagues followed 15 infants at risk for neuromotor delays for two years and tested their changes in physical activity and treadmill-stepping in their homes. The infants were assisted using the treadmill by their parents.