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Wed, 19 Jun 2019
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Magic Wand

Similar brain chemicals influence aggression in fruit flies and humans

Serotonin is a major signaling chemical in the brain, and it has long been thought to be involved in aggressive behavior in a wide variety of animals as well as in humans. Another brain chemical signal, neuropeptide Y (known as neuropeptide F in invertebrates), is also known to affect an array of behaviors in many species, including territoriality in mice. A new study by Drs. Herman Dierick and Ralph Greenspan of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego shows that these two chemicals also regulate aggression in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

In a series of studies that used drug treatments and genetic engineering we have produced flies that make increased or decreased amounts of serotonin, or whose nerve cells that use serotonin or neuropeptide F are silent or inactive. Our investigations showed that the more serotonin a fly makes, the more aggressive it will be towards other flies. Conversely, presence of neuropeptide F has an opposite modulatory effect on the flies' behavior, reducing aggression. Serotonin and neuropeptide F are part of separate circuits in the brain, circuits which also differ to some extent between males and females. Male flies are much more aggressive.

Both of these chemical modulators affect aggression in mammals, and finding these effects in flies suggests that the molecular and neural roots for this complex social behavior are of ancient evolutionary origin.

Attention

Scientists discover new virus caused deaths of transplant recipients from single donor

Scientists in the Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues in the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia and 454 Life Sciences have discovered a new virus that was responsible for the deaths of three transplant recipients who received organs from a single donor in Victoria, Australia.

The previously unknown virus, which is related to lymphocytic choreomeningitis virus (LCMV), was found using rapid sequencing technology established by 454 Life Sciences and bioinformatics algorithms developed in the Greene Laboratory with support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Known strains of LCMV have been implicated in a small number of cases of disease transmission by organ transplantation, however, the newly discovered virus is sufficiently different that it could not be detected using existing screening methods.

Wine

Antioxidant found in many foods and red wine is potent and selective killer of leukemia cells

A naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and vegetables as well as red wine, selectively kills leukemia cells in culture while showing no discernible toxicity against healthy cells, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. These findings, which were published online March 20 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and will be in press on May 4, offer hope for a more selective, less toxic therapy for leukemia.

"Current treatments for leukemia, such as chemotherapy and radiation, often damage healthy cells and tissues and can produce unwanted side effects for many years afterward. So, there is an intensive search for more targeted therapies for leukemia worldwide," said corresponding author Xiao-Ming Yin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Leukemia is not a single disease but a number of related cancers that start in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. Meaning literally "white blood" in Greek, leukemia occurs when there is an excess of abnormal white blood cells. There are both acute and chronic forms of leukemia, each with many subtypes that vary in their response to treatment. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 44,000 new leukemia cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2007, and there will be about 22,000 leukemia-related deaths.

Health

Infant botulism case confirmed

A Mendocino County child is recovering and doing well after being diagnosed with infant botulism earlier this month, the Public Health Department reported Tuesday.

According to a press release, the child's mother reported that, in addition to being breastfed, the infant was fed Earth's Best Organic baby food.

While there is no confirmed link between this case and the baby food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has initiated an ongoing recall for the following jars of Earth's Best baby food because of the risk of contamination with Clostridium botulism, a bacterium which can cause botulism.

The affected baby food is:

Question

Death raises questions on psychiatric drugs

In the final months of Rebecca Riley's life, a school nurse said the little girl was so weak she was like a "floppy doll."

The preschool principal had to help Rebecca off the bus because the 4-year-old was shaking so badly.

And a pharmacist complained that Rebecca's mother kept coming up with excuses for why her daughter needed more and more medication.

None of their concerns was enough to save Rebecca.

Rebecca - who had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity and bipolar disorder, or what used to be called manic depression - died Dec. 13 of an overdose of prescribed drugs, and her parents have been arrested on murder charges, accused of intentionally overmedicating their daughter to keep her quiet and out of their hair.

Evil Rays

Wi-Fi: Children at risk from 'electronic smog'

Britain's top health protection watchdog is pressing for a formal investigation into the hazards of using wireless communication networks in schools amid mounting concern that they may be damaging children's health, 'The Independent on Sunday' can reveal.

Sir William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency, wants pupils to be monitored for ill effects from the networks - known as Wi-Fi - which emit radiation and are being installed in classrooms across the nation.

Sir William - who is a former chief scientific adviser to the Government, and has chaired two official inquiries into the hazards of mobile phones - is adding his weight to growing pressure for a similar examination of Wi-Fi, which some scientists fear could cause cancer and premature senility.

Wi-Fi - described by the Department of Education and Skills as a "magical" system that means computers do not have to be connected to telephone lines - is rapidly being taken up inschools, with estimates that more than half of primary schools - and four-fifths of secondary schools - have installed it .

Attention

Media as a Manipulator and Stress Inducer: Study describes impact of post 9-11 media exposure to dreams

Research finds assocation between 9/11 television viewing and increases in stress

BOSTON - Dream journals being kept by students in a college psychology class have provided researchers with a unique look at how people experienced the events of 9/11, including the influence that television coverage of the World Trade Center attacks had on people's levels of stress.

Reported in the April 2007 issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study data finds that for every hour of television viewed on Sept. 11 - with some students reporting in excess of 13 hours watched - levels of stress, as indicated by dream content, increased significantly. In addition, the study found that time spent talking with family and friends helped individuals to better process the day's horrific events.

"We had not set out to conduct a scientific study of TV viewing and trauma," says lead author Ruth Propper, PhD, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. "But it so happened that students enrolled in one of my courses during the fall 2001 semester were already in the process of keeping dream journals on a nightly basis. As the events of 9/11 were unfolding, I realized there was a valuable opportunity to find out what impact both media coverage and social interactions were having on individuals throughout the course of this tragedy."

Evil Rays

Shocking!!! 9-11 Dreams Study Suggests TV Coverage Boosted Stress

A study of Americans' dreams in the weeks before and after Sept. 11, 2001, suggests that TV coverage of the terror attacks actually increased viewers' stress levels.


Comment: DUH!!! Too bad they couldn't have taken the research to the next step to discover that this is exactly the reason that such television coverage is repeated endlessly - it's not an accident.


Health

Family turmoil and violence results in stress-induced physical problems in young, Cornell psychologist finds

Adolescents who are chronically exposed to family turmoil, violence, noise, poor housing or other chronic risk factors show more stress-induced physiological strain on their organs and tissues than other young people.

However, when they have responsive, supportive mothers, they do not experience these negative physiological changes, reports a new study from Cornell.

But the research group also found that the cardiovascular systems of youths who are exposed to chronic and multiple risk factors are compromised, regardless of their mothers' responsiveness.

The study, led by environmental and developmental psychologist Gary Evans, is published in the March issue of Developmental Psychology. It is the first study to look at how maternal responsiveness may protect against cumulative risk as well as the first, according to the researchers, to look at cardiovascular recovery from stress in children or youths.

Magic Wand

To understand the big picture, give it time -- and sleep

Memorizing a series of facts is one thing, understanding the big picture is quite another. Now a new study demonstrates that relational memory -- the ability to make logical "big picture" inferences from disparate pieces of information - is dependent on taking a break from studies and learning, and even more important, getting a good night's sleep.

Led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), the findings appear on-line in today's Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Relational memory is a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle," explains senior author Matthew Walker, PhD, Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at BIDMC and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). "It's not enough to have all the puzzle pieces - you also have to understand how they fit together."

Adds lead author Jeffrey Ellenbogen, MD, a postdoctoral fellow at HMS and sleep neurologist at BWH, "People often assume that we know all of what we know because we learned it directly. In fact, that's only partly true. We actually learn individual bits of information and then apply them in novel, flexible ways."

For instance, if a person learns that A is greater than B and B is greater than C, then he or she knows those two facts. But embedded within those is a third fact - A is greater than C - which can be deduced by a process called transitive inference, the type of relational memory that the researchers examined in this study.