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Wed, 21 Oct 2020
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Beheaded human body can stay alive and kicking

One of the issues of a New York medical bulletin dating back to 1888 contains description of an amazing case of a sailor who was badly injured while on duty. The sailor worked at a river tugboat. One day his tugboat was towing a barge loaded with bulky boxes, which were stacked on the deck in two tiers, one above the other. The sailor was positioned on the bow of the barge as his tugboat was nearing a bridge with a low archway. By some unfortunate twist of fate, the sailor decided to check lashings on the top level boxes at that point. He stuck his head above the boxes and began examining the lashings. His eyes were looking aft as the tugboat moved up closer to the bridge. The sailor was completely unaware of the imminent danger looming a few yards away. A sharp-edged lower beam of the bridge span ran against the sailor's head, cutting a sizeable piece off his skull, approximately two inches above his right eye.


The rest of the story reads like a miracle.

Magic Wand

Sleepless for science: Flies show link between sleep, immune system in Stanford study

Go a few nights without enough sleep and you're more likely to get sick, but scientists have no real explanation for how sleep is related to the immune system. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine are finding that fruit flies can point to the answers.

What they have learned thus far is that illness and sleep disruption may be a two-way street: sick flies can't sleep, and losing sleep makes them more susceptible to infection.

"When flies get sick, they stop sleeping," said David Schneider, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. "Disrupting sleep in turn disrupts the immune system, which makes them even more infected and it's downhill from there in a 'spiral of death.'" Schneider is the senior author of a study on the sleep patterns of flies that will be published in the May 15 issue of Current Biology.

Schneider worked with postdoctoral scholar Mimi Shirasu-Hiza, PhD, who is the study's first author, to examine the connection between illness and sleep patterns by infecting fruit flies with one of two bacteria - Streptococcus pneumoniae or Listeria monocytogenes.

The infected flies lost their "day" and "night" patterns of activity, which are part of the regular changes that occur in the course of a day, called circadian rhythm. Uninfected flies alternate between 12 hours of high activity and 12 hours of low activity. The researchers found the sick flies had fewer sleep sessions and shorter periods of continuous sleep than did healthy flies. They basically just didn't sleep well, concluded the researchers.

Bulb

'Might have been' key in evaluating behavior

"What might have been" or fictive learning affects the brain and plays an important role in the choices individuals make - and may play a role in addiction, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers and others in a report that appears online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These "fictive learning" experiences, governed by what might have happened under different circumstances, "often dominate the evaluation of the choices we make now and will make in the future, " said Dr. P. Read Montague, Jr., professor of neuroscience at BCM and director of the BCM Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and the newly formed Computational Psychiatry Unit. "These fictive signals are essential in a person's ability to assess the quality of his or her actions above and beyond simple experiences that have occurred in the immediately proximal time."

Using techniques honed in previous experiments that studied trust, Montague and his colleagues used an investment game to test the effects of these "what if" thoughts on decisions in 54 subjects. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure blood flow changes in specific areas of the brain, they precisely measured responses to economic instincts.

These blood flow changes in the brain reflect alterations in the activity of nerve cells in the vicinity. In this case, they measured the brain's response to "what could have been acquired" and "what was acquired." This newly discovered "fictive learning" signal was measured, localized and precisely parsed from the brain's standard reward signal that reflects actual experience.

Magic Wand

Russian readers learn to read more accurately and faster

Children whose mother tongue is Russian and who acquired literacy in their home language before entering first grade received higher grades on reading skills tests than their peers who speak only Hebrew or those who speak Russian but have not learned how to read it. This was revealed in a study recently completed at the University of Haifa. The researcher, Dr. Mila Schwartz, pointed out that because of the linguistic complexity of the Russian language, it can be deduced that knowing how to read and write Russian will give children an advantage when learning to read other languages.

The research, which was conducted under the direction of Dr. Mark Leikin and Prof. David Share, evaluated 129 first graders that were divided into three groups: bilingual Hebrew and Russian speakers who had acquired literacy skills in Russian before being exposed to Hebrew reading skills; bilingual children who spoke but had not learned how to read Russian; and monolingual Hebrew speakers. The research involved administering tests which evaluated the children's language skills at the beginning of first grade and tests that evaluated their reading and writing skills at the end of first grade.

The results revealed that children who acquired Russian reading skills before learning to read Hebrew showed a distinct advantage over the other groups in their ability to distinguish between sounds and greater fluency and accuracy in reading. The research did not find any differences in the reading skills of monolingual Hebrew speakers and bilingual Hebrew and Russian speakers who did not read Russian. According to Dr. Schwartz, this result supports the existing theories that bilingualism alone does not enhance development of reading skills but that reading skill acquisition is easier when a child already knows how to read another language.

Vader

Spanish anaesthetist jailed for Hepatitis infection of 275 patients

A Spanish court Tuesday handed down an almost 2,000-year jail term to an anaesthetist found guilty of infecting 275 patients with the Hepatitis C virus, four of whom died.

Juan Maeso, 65, a former chief anaesthetist at the La Fe de Valence maternity unit in eastern Spain, will in effect serve a maximum 20 years in prison, as per Spanish law.

The former doctor, who was a drug addict and a Hepatitis C carrier, was found guilty of infecting 275 people in four hospitals in the Valencia region between 1988 and 1997, after a trial which opened in September 2005.

Sheeple

Mars experiment might help Earthling insomniacs

An experiment aimed at finding ways to help astronauts adapt to life on Mars could end up helping insomniacs on Earth, researchers said on Monday.

Health

Pretty pills: The dark side of the latest underground beauty trend

Just imagine if you could transform your looks by popping a pill.
No need to spend hours in the gym in pursuit of a perfect body; no fake tans, sunbeds or hours baking on the beach to get a tan; and you could say goodbye to facials and expensive anti-ageing treatments.

Just swallow a tablet with breakfast and you're done.

Magic Wand

Oklahoma Professors Develop Cancer Protein

NORMAN, Okla. - Two professors at the University of Oklahoma say they've developed a protein that can stop the spread of certain cancer cells without damaging normal cells.

Wolf

How to deal with a psychopathic 'Frankenboss'

Beyond the good, the bad and the ugly are the toxic.

Bosses, that is.

Since most of us are going to be in the workplace from age 23 to 65, we're guaranteed to run into one. Or two.

In some industries, you might bounce from a bad boss to a worse one and back again. You need deft armor and an exit strategy to protect yourself. Now.

Ambulance

Record numbers on anti-depressants

The number of prescriptions for anti-depressants has hit an all-time high, a mental health charity has revealed.

More than 31 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were written [in Britain] last year - a rise of 6 per cent on the year before, according to Mind.