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Archive for August, 2015

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
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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