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Do antipsychotic medications affect cortical thinning?

Do antipsychotic medications affect cortical thinning?

People diagnosed with schizophrenia critically rely upon treatment with antipsychotic medications to manage their symptoms and help them function at home and in the workplace. But despite their benefits, antipsychotic medications might also have some negative effects on brain structure or function when taken for long periods of time.

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Feeling blue and seeing blue: Sadness may impair color perception

Feeling blue and seeing blue: Sadness may impair color perception

The world might seem a little grayer than usual when we’re down in the dumps and we often talk about “feeling blue” — new research suggests that the associations we make between emotion and color go beyond mere metaphor. The results of two studies indicate that feeling sadness may actually change how we perceive color. Specifically, researchers found that participants who were induced to feel sad were less accurate in identifying colors on the blue-yellow axis than those who were led to feel amused or emotionally neutral.

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Researchers help identify neural basis of multitasking

Dynamic reconfiguration of frontal brain networks during executive cognition in humans

What makes someone better at switching between different tasks? Looking for the mechanisms behind cognitive flexibility, researchers have used brain scans to shed new light on this question. By studying networks of activity in the brain’s frontal cortex, a region associated with control over thoughts and actions, the researchers have shown that the degree to which these networks reconfigure themselves while switching from task to task predicts people’s cognitive flexibility.

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Television viewing linked to higher injury risk in hostile people

Television viewing linked to higher injury risk in hostile people

People with hostile personality traits who watch more television than their peers may be at a greater risk for injury, potentially because they are more susceptible to the influence of television on violence and risk-taking behaviors, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered.

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The alien within: Fetal cells influence maternal health during pregnancy (and long after)

The alien within: Fetal cells influence maternal health during pregnancy (and long after)

Parents go to great lengths to ensure the health and well-being of their developing offspring. The favor, however, may not always be returned. Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother’s body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health.

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Confidence in parenting could help break cycle of abuse

Confidence in parenting could help break cycle of abuse

To understand how confidence in parenting may predict parenting behaviors in women who were abused as children, psychologists have found that mothers who experienced more types of maltreatment as children are more critical of their ability to parent successfully. Intervention programs for moms at-risk, therefore, should focus on bolstering mothers’ self-confidence–not just teach parenting skills, the researchers said.

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Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a study from Sahlgrenska Academy published in Cell Metabolism. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard. Image credit goes to: University of Gothenburg

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a new study. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.

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HIV particles do not cause AIDS, our own immune cells do

HIV particles do not cause AIDS, our own immune cells do

Researchers have revealed that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus’s direct effect on the host’s immune cells, but rather through the cells’ lethal influence on one another. HIV can either be spread through free-floating virus that directly infect the host immune cells or an infected cell can pass the virus to an uninfected cell.

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Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That’s the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, suggesting that these tiny filaments may lash together the sperm and its target.

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Predicting who will murder his wife or his family

Predicting who will murder his wife or his family

Murderers who kill intimate partners and family members have a significantly different psychological and forensic profile from murderers who kill people they don’t know, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined the demographics, psychiatric history and neuropsychology of these individuals.

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Genetic overlaps in autoimmune diseases may suggest common therapies

Genetic overlapping in multiple autoimmune diseases may suggest common therapies

Scientists who analyzed the genes involved in 10 autoimmune diseases that begin in childhood have discovered 22 genome-wide signals shared by two or more diseases. These shared gene sites may reveal potential new targets for treating many of these diseases, in some cases with existing drugs already available for non-autoimmune disorders.

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Want a better relationship and a better sex life?

Want a better relationship and a better sex life?

If men take up more of the child-care duties, splitting them equally with their female partners, heterosexual couples have more satisfaction with their relationships and their sex lives, according to new research by sociologists. The group used data from more than 900 heterosexual couples’ responses in the 2006 Marital Relationship Study (MARS).

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Don’t touch that dial: TV’s subliminal influence on women’s perception of pregnancy and birth

Study shows TV's subliminal influence on women's perception of pregnancy and birth

In an era where popular culture is increasingly recognized for its impact on lay understanding of health and medicine, few scholars have looked at television’s powerful role in the creation of patient expectations, especially regarding pregnancy and birth.

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Anti-aging tricks from dietary supplement seen in mice

Anti-aging tricks from dietary supplement seen in mice

In human cells, shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, are both a sign of aging and contribute to it. Scientists have found that the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can stimulate telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, with positive effects in a mouse model of atherosclerosis.

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How long have primates been infected with viruses related to HIV?

How long have primates been infected with viruses related to HIV?

Disease-causing viruses engage their hosts in ongoing arms races: positive selection for antiviral genes increases host fitness and survival, and viruses in turn select for mutations that counteract the antiviral host factors. Studying such adaptive mutations can provide insights into the distant history of host-virus interactions. A study of antiviral gene sequences in African monkeys suggests that lentiviruses closely related to HIV have infected primates in Africa as far back as 16 million years.

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‘Memory region’ of the brain also involved in conflict resolution

'Memory region' of the brain also involved in conflict resolution

The hippocampus in the brain’s temporal lobe is responsible for more than just long-term memory. Researchers have for the first time demonstrated that it is also involved in quick and successful conflict resolution.

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Happiness spreads, but depression isn’t contagious

Happiness spreads but depression doesn't

Having friends who suffer from depression doesn’t affect the mental health of others, according to research. The team found that having friends can help teenagers recover from depression or even avoid becoming depressed in the first instance. The findings are the result of a study of the way teenagers in a group of US high schools influenced each others’ mood. The academics used a mathematical model to establish if depression spreads from friend to friend.

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Don’t I know that guy? Neuroscientists pinpoint part of the brain that deciphers memory from new experience

Don't I know that guy? Neuroscientists pinpoint part of the brain that deciphers memory from new experience

Research assistant Jeremy Johnson feeds a rat on the behavioral track used to determine where the brain decides what is new and what is familiar.
Image credit goes to: Johns Hopkins University

You see a man at the grocery store. Is that the fellow you went to college with or just a guy who looks like him? One tiny spot in the brain has the answer. Neuroscientists have identified the part of the hippocampus that creates and processes this type of memory, furthering our understanding of how the mind works, and what’s going wrong when it doesn’t.

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Nicotine changes marijuana’s effect on the brain

Study finds nicotine changes marijuana's effect on the brain

How scientists study the effects of marijuana on the brain is changing. Until recently marijuana research largely excluded tobacco users from its participant pool, but scientists have found reason to abandon this practice, uncovering significant differences in the brains of individuals who use both tobacco and marijuana and the brains of those who only use marijuana.

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How influential are peer reactions to posts on Facebook news channels?

They Came, They Liked, They Commented: Social Influence on Facebook News Channels

An experiment to determine the effects of positive and negative user comments to items posted by media organizations on Facebook news channels showed, surprisingly, that the influence of user comments varied depending on the type and number of user comments. Negative comments influenced the persuasiveness of a news article, while positive comments did not, and a high number of likes did not have the expected bandwagon effect.

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Study shows poor sleep contributes to MS-related fatigue

Kessler Foundation study shows poor sleep contributes to MS-related fatigue

New research confirmed that sleep disturbances significantly contribute to MS-related fatigue, a common and often disabling symptom among individuals with MS. Review of the pertinent literature showed that sleep may be the dominant factor in fatigue in MS. This was also the finding in Dr. Strober’s study of 107 employed individuals with MS of whom 61% reported poor sleep.

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The stomach is the way to a woman’s heart, too

The stomach is the way to a woman's heart, too

You’ve heard that romance starts in the kitchen and not in the bedroom. Well, researchers at Drexel University finally have the science to support that saying – but not the way you might think. Researchers found that women’s brains respond more to romantic cues on a full stomach than an empty one. The study explored brain circuitry in hungry versus satiated states among women who were past-dieters and those who had never dieted.

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On Wikipedia, politically controversial science topics vulnerable to information sabotage

On Wikipedia, politically controversial science topics vulnerable to information sabotage

Wikipedia reigns. It’s the world’s most popular online encyclopedia, the sixth most visited website in America, and a research source most U.S. students rely on. But Wikipedia entries on politically controversial scientific topics can be unreliable due to information sabotage.

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Can your brain control how it loses control?

Can your brain control how it loses control?

A new study may have unlocked understanding of a mysterious part of the brain — with implications for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. The results open up new areas of research in the pursuit of neuroprotective therapies.

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Scientists discover what controls waking up and going to sleep

Scientists discover what controls waking up and going to sleep

Fifteen years ago, an odd mutant fruit fly caught the attention and curiosity of Dr. Ravi Allada, a circadian rhythms expert at Northwestern University, leading the neuroscientist to recently discover how an animal’s biological clock wakes it up in the morning and puts it to sleep at night. The clock’s mechanism, it turns out, is much like a light switch.

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Cognitive decision making as the collapse of a quantum superstate

New model describes cognitive decision making as the collapse of a quantum superstate


Decision making in an enormous range of tasks involves the accumulation of evidence in support of different hypotheses. One of the enduring models of evidence accumulation is the Markov random walk (MRW) theory, which assigns a probability to each hypothesis. In an MRW model of decision making, when deciding between two hypotheses, the cumulative evidence for and against each hypothesis reaches different levels at different times, moving particle-like from state to state and only occupying a single definite evidence level at any given point.

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Study details ‘rotten egg’ gas’ role in autoimmune disease

Penn study details 'rotten egg' gas' role in autoimmune disease

The immune system not only responds to infections and other potentially problematic abnormalities in the body, it also contains a built-in brake in the form of regulatory T cells, or Tregs. Tregs ensure that inflammatory responses don’t get out of hand and do damage. In autoimmune diseases, sometimes these Treg cells don’t act as they should.

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Research advances potential for test and vaccine for genital and oral herpes

Research advances potential for test and vaccine for genital and oral herpes

Findings from a pair of new studies could speed up the development of a universally accurate diagnostic test for human herpes simplex viruses (HSV), according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The work may also lead to the development of a vaccine that protects against the virus.

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Researchers resurrect ancient viruses in hopes of improving gene therapy

Researchers resurrect ancient viruses in hopes of improving gene therapy

The Anc80 virus delivered genes to the mouse retina that fluoresce green when expressed. Pictured here, the delivered genes are active in the retina’s color-detecting cells.
Image credit goes to: Livia Carvalho

It sounds like the start of a horror movie, but Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) have reconstructed an ancient virus that is highly effective at delivering gene therapies to the liver, muscle, and retina. This discovery could potentially be used to design gene therapies that are not only safer and more potent than therapies currently available, but may also help a greater number of patients.

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Study of 83,000 veterans finds cardiovascular benefits to testosterone replacement

Study of 83,000 veterans finds cardiovascular benefits to testosterone replacement

A Veterans Affairs database study of more than 83,000 patients found that men whose low testosterone was restored to normal through gels, patches, or injections had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from any cause, versus similar men who were not treated. The study also found that men who were treated but did not attain normal levels did not see the same benefits as those whose levels did reach normal.

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Music and the mind: Can music help people with epilepsy?

Can music help people with epilepsy?

The brains of people with epilepsy appear to react to music differently from the brains of those who do not have the disorder, a finding that could lead to new therapies to prevent seizures, according to research.

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Good for the relationship: A reframing of sexting

How common is sexting?

The practice of sexting may be more common than generally thought among adults. More than eight out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the prior year, according to new research.

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Switching mouse neural stem cells to a primate-like behavior

Switching mouse neural stem cells to a primate-like behavior

When the right gene is expressed in the right manner in the right population of stem cells, the developing mouse brain can exhibit primate-like features. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) succeeded in mimicking the sustained expression of the transcription factor Pax6 as seen in the developing human brain, in mouse cortical progenitor cells. This altered the behavior of these cells to one that is akin to that of progenitors in the developing primate neocortex. Consequently, the mouse progenitors generated more neurons – a prerequisite for a bigger brain.

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Excessive workout supplement use: An emerging eating disorder in men?

Excessive workout supplement use: An emerging eating disorder in men?

In an effort to build better bodies, more men are turning not to illegal anabolic steroids, but to legal over-the-counter bodybuilding supplements to the point where it may qualify as an emerging eating disorder, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention.

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Cellular zombies: Mutant cells that can’t copy DNA keep dividing when they shouldn’t

Mutant cells that can't copy DNA keep dividing when they shouldn't

Sequential images of abnormal divisions in a mutant cell leading to abnormal nuclei and chromosome rearrangement. Chromosomes are displayed in pink, cell membranes in green. The cell undergoes two aberrant divisions.
Image credit goes to: Susan Forsburg

Researchers at USC have developed a yeast model to study a gene mutation that disrupts the duplication of DNA, causing massive damage to a cell’s chromosomes, while somehow allowing the cell to continue dividing.

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How to tell the difference between bipolar disorder and depression

How to tell the difference between bipolar disorder and depression

Many patients with bipolar disorder, a debilitating mental condition that can take a person from the sluggishness of severe depression to super-human energy levels, are often misdiagnosed as having major depressive disorder, or MDD. But now as an alternative to reliance on patient interviews, scientists are closing in on an objective test that could help clinicians distinguish between the two — and provide better treatment.

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Mans best friend: Dogs process faces in specialized brain area

How Dogs React to Faces vs. Everyday Objects

The study involved dogs viewing both static images and video images on a screen while undergoing fMRI. It was a particularly challenging experiment since dogs do not normally interact with two-dimensional images, and they had to undergo training to learn to pay attention to the screen.
Image credit goes to: Photo by Gregory Berns, Emory University

Ever feel like your pet knows what you look like? While historically animals are depicted as, well slow… new research is proving otherwise. To pet owners this might not be big news, but scientists found that dogs have a specialized region in their brains for processing faces. The research provides the first evidence for a face-selective region in the temporal cortex of dogs.

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Preventing addiction relapse by erasing drug-associated memories

Team advances therapy preventing addiction relapse by erasing drug-associated memories

Recovering addicts often grapple with the ghosts of their addiction–memories that tempt them to relapse even after rehabilitation and months, or even years, of drug-free living. Now, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made a discovery that brings them closer to a new therapy based on selectively erasing these dangerous and tenacious drug-associated memories.

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Stem cells: From pluripotency to totipotency

From pluripotency to totipotency

While it is already possible to obtain in vitro pluripotent cells (ie, cells capable of generating all tissues of an embryo) from any cell type, researchers from Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla’s team have pushed the limits of science even further. They managed to obtain totipotent cells with the same characteristics as those of the earliest embryonic stages and with even more interesting properties. Read the rest of this page »

New approach for making vaccines for deadly diseases

Protection against dengue disease by synthetic nucleic acid antibody prophylaxis/immunotherapy

Researchers have devised an entirely new approach to vaccines – creating immunity without vaccination. The team has demonstrated that animals injected with synthetic DNA engineered to encode a specific neutralizing antibody against the dengue virus were capable of producing the exact antibodies necessary to protect against disease, without the need for standard antigen-based vaccination. Importantly, this approach, termed DMAb, was rapid, protecting animals within a week of administration.

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Perfectionism linked to burnout at work, school and sports

Perfectionism linked to burnout at work, school and sports

Concerns about perfectionism can sabotage success at work, school or on the playing field, leading to stress, burnout and potential health problems, according to new research. In the first meta-analysis of the relationship between perfectionism and burnout, researchers analyzed the findings from 43 previous studies conducted over the past 20 years. It turns out perfectionism isn’t all bad.

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Childhood cancer cells drain immune system’s batteries

Childhood cancer cells drain immune system's batteries

Cancer cells in neuroblastoma contain a molecule that breaks down a key energy source for the body’s immune cells, leaving them too physically drained to fight the disease, according to new research. Cancer Research UK-funded scientists have discovered that the cells in neuroblastoma – a rare type of childhood cancer that affects nerve cells – produce a molecule that breaks down arginine, one of the building blocks of proteins and an essential energy source for immune cells.

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Crystal clear images uncover secrets of hormone receptors

Crystal clear images uncover secrets of hormone receptors

Many hormones and neurotransmitters work by binding to receptors on a cell’s exterior surface. This activates receptors causing them to twist, turn and spark chemical reactions inside cells. NIH scientists used atomic level images to show how the neuropeptide hormone neurotensin might activate its receptors. Their description is the first of its kind for a neuropeptide-binding G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), a class of receptors involved in a wide range of disorders and the target of many drugs.

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Paralyzed men move legs with new non-invasive spinal cord stimulation

Paralyzed men move legs with new non-invasive spinal cord stimulation

This image shows the range of voluntary movement prior to receiving stimulation compared to movement after receiving stimulation, physical conditioning, and buspirone. The subject’s legs are supported so that they can move without resistance from gravity. The electrodes on the legs are used for recording muscle activity.
Image credit goes to: Edgerton lab/UCLA

Five men with complete motor paralysis were able to voluntarily generate step-like movements thanks to a new strategy that non-invasively delivers electrical stimulation to their spinal cords. The strategy, called transcutaneous stimulation, delivers electrical current to the spinal cord by way of electrodes strategically placed on the skin of the lower back.

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We can build it better: The first artificial ribosome

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins and enzymes within the cell. The engineered ribosome may enable the production of new drugs and next-generation biomaterials and lead to a better understanding of how ribosomes function.

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Prostate cancer is 5 different diseases

Prostate cancer is 5 different diseases

Cancer Research UK scientists have for the first time identified that there are five distinct types of prostate cancer and found a way to distinguish between them, according to a landmark study. The findings could have important implications for how doctors treat prostate cancer in the future, by identifying tumours that are more likely to grow and spread aggressively through the body.

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Where memory is encoded and retrieved

Where memory is encoded and retrieved

Are the same regions and even the same cells of the brain area called hippocampus involved in encoding and retrieving memories or are different areas of this structure engaged? This question has kept neuroscientists busy for a long time. Researchers at the Mercator Research Group “Structure of Memory” at RUB have now found out that the same brain cells exhibit activity in both processes.

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Some vaccines support evolution of more-virulent viruses

Some Vaccines Support Evolution of More-Virulent Viruses

This image shows chickens in agricultural production. Image credit goes to: Andrew Read, Penn State University

Scientific experiments with the herpes virus such as the one that causes Marek’s disease in poultry have confirmed, for the first time, the highly controversial theory that some vaccines could allow more-virulent versions of a virus to survive, putting unvaccinated individuals at greater risk of severe illness. The research has important implications for food-chain security and food-chain economics, as well as for other diseases that affect humans and agricultural animals.

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Sleep not just protects memories against forgetting, it also makes them more accessible

neuroscience Sleep makes our memories more accessible

Sleeping not only protects memories from being forgotten, it also makes them easier to access, according to new research from the University of Exeter and the Basque Centre for Cognition, Brain and Language. The findings suggest that after sleep we are more likely to recall facts which we could not remember while still awake.

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Cell phone notifications may be driving you to distraction

Cell phone notifications may be driving you to distraction

Whether you are alerted to an incoming phone call or text by a trendy ringtone, an alarm bell or a quiet vibration, just receiving a notification on your cell phone can cause enough of a distraction to impair your ability to focus on a given task. In fact, the distraction caused by a simple notification — whether it is a sound or a vibration — is comparable to the effects seen when users actively use their cell phones to make calls or send text messages, the researchers found.

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