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Procrastinate much? Science offers a way to stop

procrastination Cyanide and happiness

See more comics at explosm.net

Procrastination is the thief of time that derails New Year’s resolutions and delays saving for college or retirement, but researchers have found a way to collar it.

The trick? Think of the future as now.

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Walking an extra two minutes each hour may offset hazards of sitting too long

Sitting behind a desk all day can be tough

Eat less, workout more, these are the messages we are being sent almost on a daily basis. But how do we quantify “more” and who really should listen to that advice? Well a new study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. On the bright side, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine just might do the trick.

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US clinics avoiding government oversight of ‘stem cell’ treatments

The pitfalls of stem cell therapy

Clinics across the United States are advertising stem cell treatments that attempt to take advantage of what they perceive as exceptions in FDA regulations.The therapies in question are adipose-derived autologous stem cell treatments, in which fat cells are removed from a patient, broken down to separate components that purportedly contain stem cells, and are then reinjected into the same patient.

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Pesticides alter bees’ brains, making them unable to live and reproduce adequately

Save the bees

Die hard, the bee version.

A new report suggests that a particular class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” wreaks havoc on the bee populations, ultimately putting some crops that rely on pollination in jeopardy. Specifically, these pesticides kill bee brain cells, rendering them unable to learn, gather food and reproduce. The report, however, also suggests that the effects of these pesticides on bee colonies may be reversible by decreasing or eliminating the use of these pesticides on plants pollinated by bees and increasing the availability of “bee-friendly” plants available to the insects.

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Psychologists share the three secrets to healthier eating

Three easy ways to help your diet

You don’t need a crazy diet to lose weight. In fact, your typical fad diet won’t help you keep weight off long term and could be harming your health. If you want to know the secrets of healthier eating, think of the kitchen fruit bowl. A fruit bowl makes fruit more convenient, attractive, and normal to eat than if the same fruit were in the bottom of the refrigerator.

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The adolescent brain on alcohol: Changes last into adulthood

Don't drink if you are underage

Repeated alcohol exposure during adolescence results in long-lasting changes in the region of the brain that controls learning and memory, according to a research team at Duke Medicine that used a rodent model as a surrogate for humans. The study provides new insights at the cellular level for how alcohol exposure during adolescence, before the brain is fully developed, can result in cellular and synaptic abnormalities that have enduring, detrimental effects on behavior.

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Google searches for ‘n-word’ associated with black mortality

Black lives matter

Google searches could unveil patterns in Black mortality rates across the US, according to a new study. Researchers found that those areas with greater levels of racism, as indexed by the proportion of Google searches containing the “n-word,” had higher mortality rates among Blacks. The study is the first to examine an Internet query-based measure of racism in relation to mortality risk.

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Fatal attraction: the intuitive appeal of GMO opposition

GM food is safe

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions GM crops have made to sustainable agriculture. They argue that the human mind is highly susceptible to the negative and often emotional representations put out by certain environmental groups and other opponents of GMOs. The researchers urge the general public to form opinions on GMOs on a case-by-case basis, thereby not focusing on the technology but on the resulting product.

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Mental disorders do not predict violence, so please stop

depression mental health

When Sandy Hook happened, it was so shocking that to this day, some don’t actually believe it happened. Shortly after, something frustrating happened, the shooter was labeled with aspergers. This helped drive the mental health and violence connection to the point that Time came out with an article dispelling that myth. Even now according to new longitudinal study of delinquent youth, most psychiatric disorders – including depression — do not predict future violent behavior. The only exception is substance abuse and dependence.

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Diabetes drug found in freshwater potential cause of intersex fish

Scientist looking at fish in tanks

UWM School of Freshwater Sciences researcher Nicholas Niemuth studies minnows that are being raised in water heavy with pharmaceuticals to measure the drugs’ effects.

A medication commonly taken for Type II diabetes, which is being found in freshwater systems worldwide, has been shown to cause intersex in fish –or male fish that produce eggs. The study determined exposure to the diabetes medicine metformin causes physical changes in male fish exposed to doses similar to the amount in wastewater effluent.

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Scientists create worlds first genetically modified human embryos

CRISPR-Cas9

A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher. In a world first, China has successfully created genetically modified human embryos. It was certainly an amazing piece of science, but the paper was rejected by both Nature and Science. Not because the study was flawed, or because the data was falsified, the paper was rejected for ethical reasons.

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Whooping cough: A small drop in vaccine protection can lead to a case upsurge

Whooping-cough

In 2012 the USA saw the highest number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases since 1955. New research finds that a likely explanation for this rise in disease is a drop in the degree of vaccine protection for each vaccinated individual. The team worked with 60 years of pertussis disease data to determine what best explained the recent increase in the disease.

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Researchers find genetic link between overactive and underactive immune systems

Girl getting sick

In the largest genetic study to date of a challenging immunodeficiency disorder, scientists have identified a gene that may be a “missing link” between overactive and underactive immune activity. The gene candidate also plays a key role in autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even allergies.

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Type 1 diabetes: On the way to an insulin vaccine

Little girl and Doctor checking blood sugar levels

Pseudoscience claims about vaccines are seemingly hitting a fever pitch. Despite that, a new vaccine may be on the horizon for children at risk for diabetes, and that is a good thing. Researchers have found that children at risk for type 1 diabetes, who were given daily doses of oral insulin, developed a protective immune response to the disease that could lay the groundwork for a vaccine against the chronic illness.

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Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

Henize 2-10 galaxy

Image credit goes to : NASA

While mass media was busy misquoting Stephen Hawking and arguing about black holes, astrophysicists have been hard at work trying to solve still unanswered questions about them. Now a team has not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn’t supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were like in the early universe.

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Botox makes unnerving journey into our nervous system

Botox injections take interesting trip though the nervous system

New research might bring a frown to even the most heavily botoxed faces, with scientists finding how some of the potent toxin used for cosmetic surgery escapes into the central nervous system. Researchers have shown how Botox – also known as Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A – is transported via our nerves back to the central nervous system.

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Kids with ADHD must squirm to learn

Cats with adhd

For decades, frustrated parents and teachers have barked at fidgety children with ADHD to “Sit still and concentrate!” But new research shows that if you want ADHD kids to learn, you have to let them squirm. The foot-tapping, leg-swinging and chair-scooting movements of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are actually vital to how they remember information and work out complex cognitive tasks.

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Study links brain anatomy, academic achievement, and family income

Family income can have lasting changes in the brain

Image credit goes to: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Many years of research have shown that for students from lower-income families, standardized test scores and other measures of academic success tend to lag behind those of wealthier students. Well now a new study offers another dimension to this so-called “achievement gap”After imaging the brains of high- and low-income students, they found that the higher-income students had thicker brain cortex in areas associated with visual perception and knowledge accumulation.

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Artificial blood vessel lets researchers assess clot removal devices

endovascular clot removal

For the first time, researchers have created an in vitro, live-cell artificial vessel that can be used to study both the application and effects of devices used to extract life-threatening blood clots in the brain. The artificial vessel could have significant implications for future development of endovascular technologies, including reducing the need for animal models to test new devices or approaches.

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Could maple syrup help cut use of antibiotics?

Maple syrup covered waffles

Another reason to have those waffles… well maybe. Researchers have found that a concentrated extract of maple syrup makes disease-causing bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics. In an ever increasing antibiotic resistant world, this news is almost as sweet as the syrup (okay no more bad puns). The findings suggest that combining maple syrup extract with common antibiotics could increase the microbes’ susceptibility, leading to lower antibiotic usage.

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Brain development suffers from lack of fish oil fatty acids

brain development omega 3

While being inundated with advertisements directed at moms to be, skeptical parents should question the supposed health benefits of anything being sold. However, while recent reports question whether fish oil supplements support heart health, scientists have found that the fatty acids they contain are vitally important to the developing brain. Meaning there might actually be truth in advertising — this time at least.

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Watch out Atkins: Over eating fatty foods can alter your muscle metabolism

Fatty food might be tasty, but it can change you... literally

More bad news on the obesity front and strangely enough, on the popular diet front too — at least for diets like atkins. New research shows that even short term high-fat diets can change your metabolism. So while you might think that you can get away with eating fatty foods for a few days without it making any significant changes to your body, think again.

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The placebome: Where genetics and the placebo effect meet

Placebo_Effect

Placebos have helped to ease symptoms of illness for centuries and have been a fundamental component of clinical research to test new drug therapies for more than 70 years. But why some people respond to placebos and others do not remains under debate.

With the advent of genomics, researchers are learning that placebo responses are modified by a person’s genetics, a discovery that raises important new questions regarding the role of the placebo in patient care and in drug development: How many genetic biomarkers exist? Can the medical field harness the placebo response to enhance personalized medical treatment? What might be the impact of placebo-drug interactions? And what will this new information mean for randomized clinical trials, which depend on placebo controls to test the efficacy of new drug candidates? Should a “no-treatment” control be added to future trials?

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Neuronal disorders and energy metabolism

Neuron energy metabolism
Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. ATP energy is produced when the mitochondria transfers glucose and oxygen into water and carbon dioxide. How ATP is produced and delivered to intricate neuronal dendrites has been a mystery.
Image credit goes to: Mineko Kengaku, Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS)

Scientists in Japan have have discovered how nerve cells adjust to low energy environments during the brain’s growth process. Their study may one day help find treatments for nerve cell damage and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

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A glass fiber that brings light to a standstill

Using atoms to slow light

Atoms coupled to a glass fiber: A system that can slow down light dramatically.
Image credit goes to: TU Wien

Light is an extremely useful tool for quantum communication, but it has one major disadvantage: it usually travels at the speed of light and cannot be kept in place. A team of scientists at the Vienna University of Technology has now demonstrated that this problem can be solved – not only in strange, unusual quantum systems, but in the glass fiber networks we are already using today.

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The universe is expanding, but how fast?

Nasa swift super nova

That same galaxy in a NASA Swift image is shown, with bars indicating the location of supernova SN 2011fe. The Swift image is a false-color image with UV emission blue and optical emission red.
Image credit goes to: NASA/Swift

We are expanding, well more accurately the universe is expanding. However researchers have found certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.

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Enzyme in cosmetic products can cause allergy

lots of makeup

Papain is found naturally in papaya and is often referred to as a “plant-based pepsin” in reference to the digestive enzyme pepsin that is present in the stomach. Researchers looked at the effect of papain directly on the skin of mice as well as on skin cells in the petri dish. Skin consists of several layers joined via cellular connections called “tight junctions”. The project team showed that papain induces a breakdown of these cell-cell junctions. On the skin, papain results in a loss of the barrier function.

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Do you have the genes of a rapist?

StopRape

Rape, it’s so taboo that victims are sometimes shamed for “letting” it happening. It’s a dirty word, no one likes the word rape so we come up with other names for it — sexual assault for example. Well new research shows that close relatives of men convicted of sexual offences commit similar offences themselves more frequently than comparison subjects. The study suggests that this is due to genetic factors rather than shared family environment. The study includes all men convicted of sex crime in Sweden during 37 years.

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First human HIV-antibody trials, results are promising

HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies

While there is no cure for HIV, a select few known as HIV controllers can literally live with it. Over the years work has been done trying to figure out what makes these individuals so special and it has helped researchers in the fight against HIV. While we are still searching for a vaccine, researchers have now found that a single infusion of an experimental anti-HIV antibody called 3BNC117 resulted in significantly decreased HIV levels that persisted for as long as 28 days in HIV-infected individuals, according to Phase 1 clinical trial findings.

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Master protein enhances learning, memory and fitness?!

Estrogen-Related Receptor gamma protein

In this image, ERRγ is shown (stained red) in the hippocampus, the area of the brain largely responsible for memory. The new work could point to a way to enhance learning.
Image credit goes to: Salk Institute

You’re supposed to stay fit, the key to successful aging is to be active. Science doesn’t quite understand why, but staying fit helps keep our brain in shape as we get older. I hate to run, hate it, but I exercise my brain often. Truthfully, some people seem built to run marathons and have an easier time going for miles without tiring. Other individuals might be born with a knack for memorizing things, from times tables to trivia facts. These two skills―running and memorizing―are not so different as it turns out.

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It’s all hype: Few commercial weight-loss programs are effective

snake oil salesman

In a bid to help physicians guide obese and overweight patients who want to try a commercial weight-loss program, a team of Johns Hopkins researchers reviewed 4,200 studies for solid evidence of their effectiveness but concluded only a few dozen of the studies met the scientific gold standard of reliability.

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Researchers find protein that triggers lupus-associated immune system activation

lupus arm band

Researchers have identified an inflammatory molecule that appears to play an essential role in the autoimmune disorder systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known simply as lupus. In their report the team describes finding that a protein that regulates certain cells in the innate immune system – the body’s first line of defense against infection – activates a molecular pathway known to be associated with lupus and that the protein’s activity is required for the development of lupus symptoms in a mouse model of the disease.

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Gender differences in moral judgements linked to emotion

comics-SMBC-time-travel-Hitler

You can see more funny stuff like this over at SMBC

If a time machine was available, would it be right to kill Adolf Hitler when he was still a young Austrian artist to prevent World War II and save millions of lives? Should a police officer torture an alleged bomber to find hidden explosives that could kill many people at a local cafe? When faced with such dilemmas, men are typically more willing to accept harmful actions for the sake of the greater good than women. For example, women would be less likely to support the killing of a young Hitler or torturing a bombing suspect, even if doing so would ultimately save more lives.

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Smoking, bad for you, good for MRSA

MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant superbug, can cause life-threatening skin, bloodstream and surgical site infections or pneumonia. It has been a tough battle finding ways to fight it and research now shows, cigarette smoke may make matters worse. The study shows that MRSA bacteria exposed to cigarette smoke become even more resistant to killing by the immune system.

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New therapy halts artery plaque growth and suppresses inflammation

heart disease

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 deaths are due to heart attacks. In fact it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Largely attributed to diet, most medications solely aim at lowering cholesterol. However, a research team showed that a nanotherapeutic medicine can halt the growth of artery plaque cells resulting in the fast reduction of the inflammation that may cause a heart attack, offering a new way to treat people at risk for heart disease.

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Beta secretase inhibitors offer treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

alzhemers

With each new amyloid-targeting treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that has been developed, there has been a corresponding concern. For example, antibodies targeting amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) produce inflammation in the brain in some patients. Gamma secretase inhibitors tend to produce adverse effects by interacting with Notch, an important pathway for cellular signaling. However, a new target for alzheimer’s is offering some new hope.

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Underage drinking has lasting effects on the brain and epigenetics

underage drinking

The rise of underage drinking has almost left a sense that it is acceptable or even free of long-term consequences. Unfortunately because the brain continues forming long into the early twenties, environmental factors can have a large impact on the development. In fact, research shows that binge-drinking during adolescence may perturb brain development at a critical time and leave lasting effects on genes and behavior that persist into adulthood.

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Sleep may be critical to avoid miscarriage

Pregnant Mother Resting on Sofa

If you are trying to have a baby, a good night’s sleep is more important than ever. A recently published research report shows that the womb has its own “body clock” that needs to synchronize with the mother’s body clock to ensure optimal conditions for fetal growth and development. The inability of a mother’s body clock to synchronize with the womb’s clock may be at least part of the reason why some women have difficulty carrying a pregnancy to full term.

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An apple a day may keep the children away: Pesticides and sperm count

DangerPesticides

Ever hear that old saying an apple a day keeps the Doctor away? Well it might have the right idea, just the wrong person. New research investigating the relationship between eating fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues and the quality of men’s semen has shown a link with lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm. So for people wanting children it may be time to rethink that produce.

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Ovulation changes women’s desire for variety in products

women-shopping

We know that hormones affect who we are, even when we aren’t aware of it. In the past scientists have found that people who are hungry tend to buy more things, no surprise for those of us who have shopped hungry. However, new research shows that women seek a greater variety of products and services, specifically when they are ovulating.

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Welcome to the wikipedia for neurons

brain neuroscience

While the brain might not have more connections than stars in the universe (sorry guys), it is still complex. In fact, someone I respect defined a neuroscientist as “someone who knows how little we know about the brain.” Despite the decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain, we still don’t know much. So to help scientists make sense of the vast amount of information we already collected, researchers used data mining to create neuroelectro.org, a publicly available website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons.

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UK Researchers find parental perception of child’s weight is skewed

Childhood-Obesity

Childhood obesity affects more than double the amount of children it did 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). To figure out why the rate is increasing researchers studied the relationship between parents and their obese children to determine how to improve pediatric health. The study actually reveals how poorly parents rate their own child’s weight issues — at least until they reach extreme levels of obesity.

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Biofuel, good for the environment if you’re eating less

ethanol gas from corn

When the government first changed policy to require ethanol in gasoline, we were told it would reduce our carbon footprint. Then food prices rose significantly and corn in particular saw the largest price rise. This was because corn is a staple in production of almost any other food from eggs to beef, but the policy made environmental sense. Well it made sense, until you found out that the new policy also took into account people eating less.

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Too much attention can be a deficit

Sometimes you need to unfocus

Sometimes you need to unfocus

Sometimes being too focused on a task is not a good thing. During tasks that require our attention, we might become so engrossed in what we are doing that we fail to notice there is a better way to get the job done. For example, let’s say you are coming out of a New York City subway one late afternoon and you want to find out which way is west. You might begin to scan street signs and then suddenly realize that you could just look for the setting sun.

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Researchers find how body’s good fat talks to the brain

The typical areas where brown fat is stored in adults. (Unknown original source)

The typical areas where brown fat is stored in adults. (Unknown original source)

There are two types of fat we humans have — white and brown — unfortunately only one of them is “good fat” and it is unfortunately not the one we tend to produce. Well new research shows that brown fat tissue, the body’s “good fat,” communicates with the brain through sensory nerves, possibly sharing information that is important for fighting human obesity, such as how much fat we have and how much fat we’ve lost.

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Research on medical abortion/miscarriage may change international routines

pro-choice-symbol

Two scientific studies are expected to form the basis of new international recommendations for the treatment of medical abortions and miscarriages. One of the studies shows that it is possible to replace the clinical follow-up examinations recommended today with medical abortions that include a home pregnancy test. The other study shows that midwives can safely and effectively treat failed abortions and miscarriages in rural districts of Uganda.

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Music played by professionals activates genes for learning and memory

music professional musician

Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).

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Stereotype lowers math performance in women, no one noticed

stereotypes

Stereotypes about people can affect how we look at a person, but sometimes it causes other problems. Gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women’s math performance — but instead motivate them to perform better.

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High-fat diet causes brain inflammation and alters behavior

high fat diet

We hear in the media all the time, obesity is effecting our health. In most cases when we talk obesity we are talking about heart disease, sedentary activity, or chronic overeating. But what if a high-fat diet — regardless of obesity — has more than just an affect on your waistline? What if the consumption of fatty foods can change your behavior and your brain?

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Immunotherapy, a promising new treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimers_elderly

Alzheimer’s disease, it slowly takes things away from the person without giving anything back. Right now there is no cure and at best we can slow the progression in some cases. Time is always a factor and no two cases are the same. However, new treatments are in the works and a new study has revealed that a single dose of an immunotherapy reverses memory problems in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.

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