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Fri, 29 Sep 2023
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Health & Wellness


Boys more likely with early-stage embryo transfer

Women undergoing assisted reproduction may be interested to learn that transfer of a "blastocyst-stage" embryo increases their odds of having a boy.

Blastocytes are the multiplying ball of cells that eventually implants in the uterus to become an embryo.

During in vitro fertilization, the most advanced embryos are typically selected for transfer. Findings from laboratory studies have indicated that these embryos are usually male. But whether this difference actually results in more boys than girls being born was unclear.

Dr. Alan B. Copperman, from the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, and colleagues assessed the sex-ratio of 1,284 offspring derived from either embryo transfer at day 3 or from blastocyst-stage transfer.

Magic Wand

Odors can make learning spatial information faster

Memory and sleep are intricately linked in the learning process. Studies on rats have shown that spatial information such as the path through a maze is stored in the hippocampus region of the brain. This has also been shown in humans, and the ability to memorize information has been strongly linked to sleep for some time. However, there are competing models on what the hippocampus and slow wave sleep are doing to reinforce memories. On one side, researchers believe that the hippocampus repeatedly relives the learning experience, and that slow wave sleep serves to keep the learning process covert. The other main contender, called downscaling, involves the slow wave sleep suppressing other synaptic activity so that the new connections are reinforced. Although these ideas are similar in that the activities of the hippocampus and slow wave sleep are nearly identical, they have rather different implications in their role. The problem is that the studies that are used to determine the role of the hippocampus and sleep are passive observational studies of how the brain responds to learning tasks, which makes it very difficult to sort out cause and effect.


Mass. Girl's Overdose Raises Questions

HULL, Mass. - 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.


Teenage girls more at risk from 'cyber-bullying'

Teenage girls are becoming more at risk of 'cyber-bullying', a new study has claimed.

Those who were bullied in this way - by text message or e-mail - are also more likely to have fewer friends and are more likely to feel lonely at school, the report by Nathalie Noret of York St John University and Professor Ian Rivers of Queen Margaret's University Edinburgh.

The report, which was presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference at the University of York on Wednesday, was based on results from a survey of nearly 15,000 secondary school pupils over a period of five years.


An Outrage Lie and Propaganda! Alcohol, tobacco worse than drugs

New "landmark" research finds that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana or Ecstasy and should be classified as such in legal systems, according to a new British study.

In research published Friday in The Lancet magazine, Professor David Nutt of Britain's Bristol University and colleagues proposed a new framework for the classification of harmful substances, based on the actual risks posed to society. Their ranking listed alcohol and tobacco among the top 10 most dangerous substances.

Nutt and colleagues used three factors to determine the harm associated with any drug: the physical harm to the user, the drug's potential for addiction, and the impact on society of drug use. The researchers asked two groups of experts - psychiatrists specializing in addiction and legal or police officials with scientific or medical expertise - to assign scores to 20 different drugs, including heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamines, and LSD.


Anything but a good night's sleep on Ambien

A school board president accused of attacking his estranged wife claims he was on Ambien and doesn't remember the incident.

Comment: Ambien's serious side effects are actually fairly well known at this point. Of course, most people think these side effects 'won't happen to them' - difficult to tell whether his dismay is genuine or not - could be.

Magic Wand

Experience affects new neuron survival in adult brain; study sheds light on learning, memory

Experience in the early development of new neurons in specific brain regions affects their survival and activity in the adult brain, new research shows. How these new neurons store information about these experiences may explain how they can affect learning and memory in adults.

A team of researchers headed by Fred Gage, PhD, of the Salk Institute, found that experience enhances the survival of new neurons in a brain area called the dentate gyrus, and that more of these new neurons were activated when exposed to the same experience later. This change in function may be a mechanism for long-term memory. The findings are published in the March 21 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

"The results identify a critical period for experience-induced enhancement of new neuron survival in the hippocampus," says Elizabeth Gould, PhD, of Princeton University, who was not affiliated with the study. The hippocampus contains the dentate gyrus.


Why We Give In To Temptation

We've all had our moments of weakness when trying to control ourselves; eating that donut on your diet, losing your temper with your kids, becoming upset when you're doing your best not to. It isn't like we plan on these lapses in judgment. It's more like they just sort of happen.

There is scientific evidence that explains this phenomenon of everyday life. Self regulation, our strength to inhibit impulses, make decisions, persist at difficult tasks, and control emotions can be spent just like a muscle that has been lifting heavy weights. When we spend our strength on one task (trying to control your emotion around a petulant boss), there is less to spend on others (avoiding the Ben & Jerry's when we get home).


You Have No Right, Woman! S.C. Lawmakers Advance Abortion Bill

With calls of emotional blackmail from opponents, a measure requiring women seeking abortions to first review ultrasound images of their fetuses advanced Wednesday in the South Carolina Legislature.

The legislation, supported by Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, passed 91-23 after lawmakers defeated amendments exempting rape or incest. The House must approve the bill again in a routine vote before it goes to the Senate, where its sponsor expects it to pass with those exemptions.

Some states make ultrasound images available to women before an abortion, but South Carolina would be alone in requiring women to view the pictures.


Brain damage turns man into human chameleon

In his 1983 fake documentary 'Zelig', Woody Alan plays a character, Leonard Zelig, a kind of human chameleon who takes on the appearance and behaviour of whoever he is with. Now psychologists in Italy have reported the real-life case of AD, a 65-year-old whose identity appears dependent on the environment he is in. He started behaving this way after cardiac arrest caused damage to the fronto-temporal region of his brain.

Comment: Strange... it sounds a lot like psychopathy.