December 12, 2018

    A rich ecosystem of microorganisms found in old painting

    Life | Dec 06, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Scientists scrutinized the painting “Incoronazione della Virgine
    A rich ecosystem of microorganisms found in old painting - science news

    A painting completed in 1620 was analyzed by scientists looking to understand what microorganisms live in such an environment. Using microscopy and microbiology techniques, the researchers concluded that a wide range of bacteria and fungi may live on old paintings.

    Interestingly, while some of them incur damage to the painting, other microorganisms may be used to protect the artwork. The study tested a decontamination formula containing spores of three Bacillus bacteria. It was found to be effective, inhibiting the growth of both the bacteria and the fungi found on the painting.

    It is important to classify the microorganisms involved in biodeterioration of art pieces. Moreover, it is interesting that the study showed that some microorganisms can actually protect paintings.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: PLOS One


    Baby born following uterus transplantation from diseased donor

    Health | Dec 05, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Babies can now be born from a deceased donor uterus from recipient women with uterine infertility
    Baby born following uterus transplantation from diseased donor - health short science news

    For the first time, a baby was born from a deceased donor uterus in a recipient with uterine infertility. The baby was born by Caesarean delivery, and the uterus was removed in the same surgical procedure.

    While livebirths had already been achieved with uteri from live donors, clinicians have continued to search for ways to use a uterus from a deceased donor, as there are very few uteri available for transplantation.

    The now reported successful transplantation of, and birth from, a deceased donor uterus may be a new treatment of uterine infertility without the need of living donors or live donor surgery.

    Read the full story: The Lancet
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    A single session of physical exercise stimulates metabolism for days

    Health | Dec 05, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    A single workout can activate POMC neurons (shown in green in yellow) in mice brains for up to 2 days. These neurons are important regulators of blood glucose levels and energy balance. Image: UT Southwestern
    A single session of physical exercise stimulates metabolism for days - health short science news

    A single workout session in mice activates neurons in the brain of mice that control metabolism for two days, a new study shows.

    With more exercise this time period becomes even longer.

    These results offer new insights into the role of the brain in fitness and could thus provide a new avenue to explore for the development of treatments to improve metabolism in, for example, diabetes patients.

    Read the full story: UT Southwestern Medical Center
    Scientific publication: Molecular Metabolism


    Vaping cannabis has a stronger effect than smoking it

    Mind and Brain | Dec 05, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Vaping cannabis gets you much higher than smoking it
    Vaping cannabis has a stronger effect than smoking it - short science news and articles

    Vaping is generally considered safer than smoking since the vaping devices heat cannabis at temperatures where the chemicals are released as vapors and theoretically don’t produce harmful materials such as tar or other cancer causing agents.

    However for infrequent cannabis users, researchers have found that vaping delivers higher amounts of cannabis and hence causes increased rates of short-term anxiety, memory loss, paranoia and distraction.

    Further, when these participants were involved in tasks to assess brain function, they had higher impairment when vaping versus smoking the same dose of cannabis indicating that higher dose of cannabis was delivered.

    Read the full story: John Hopkins Medicine
    Scientific publication: JAMA Network Open


    Where does loss of pleasure in depression arise in the brain?

    Mind and Brain | Dec 04, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Brain region for loss of pleasure identified
    Where does loss of pleasure in depression arise in the brain? - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found out the brain region associated with the loss of pleasure seen in depression.

    Using experiments conducted in marmosets, which are non-human primates, they identified the brain region ‘area 25’, which is a part of the frontal cortex. Excessive excitement of the area 25 leads to blunting of the excitement usually associated with a reward pointing towards its role in anhedonia (i.e. loss of pleasure).

    Using PET scan imaging, researchers observed that increased activation of ‘area 25’ had a trickle down effect on other brain regions which also become more active, which indicates that it is a part of a larger circuitry involved in feeling pleasure.

    Read the full story: Neurosciencenews
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    Plant cells know where is up and down thanks to their mother cell

    Life | Dec 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    PIN is only found in the upper end of each cell and marks polarity (magenta). Image: Matouš Glanc
    Plant cells know where is up and down thanks to their mother cell - life short science news

    For plants, it is important to know where is up and where is down, so that roots can grow down into the soil, and the rest of the plant can grow up to the light. Which each cell division as the plant grows, polarity in one of the two daughter cells is lost.

    Biologists have now found that polarity is reestablished through a signal from the mother cell (i.e. from the cell that divided into two new cells), and is not signaled by neighboring cells. This signal depends on enzymatic activity and leads to the proper location of certain proteins such as PIN (a plant hormone transporter) that signal polarity.

    Such signaling makes it possible that plants grow in the correct way.

    Read the full story: Institute of Science and Technology Austria
    Scientific publication: Nature Plants


    Social deficits in autism reversed by microbiota

    Mind and Brain | Dec 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Gut bacteria could restore social deficit in autism through the vagal nerve and oxytocin signaling in the brain
    Social deficits in autism reversed by microbiota - brain short science news

    The number of effects that gut bacteria (microbiota) exert on the brain keeps increasing.

    Now, scientists found that Lactobacillus reuteri reverses social deficits in several mouse models of autism. L. reuteri does not do this by restoring the normal intestinal bacteria population (which differs in autistic patients from that found in healthy controls), but through the vagal nerve that connects the gut and the brain, and the neuropeptide oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes social behavior by activating the reward center in the brain.

    Thus, microbial treatment of social deficits in autism might become reality in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: Baylor College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    A wonder gene discovered, permitting to eat without gaining weight

    Health | Dec 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Removing the RCAN1 gene in mice prevents obesity, even when the animals are fed a high fat diet. Image: Flinders University
    A wonder gene discovered, permitting to eat without gaining weight - health short science news

    Researchers have found that when the gene RCAN1 is knocked out in mice, the animals can eat as much as they want and do not put on weight, even when they are fed a high fat diet.

    Also, these mice lacking RCAN1 have a higher metabolic rate; they expend more calories as heat than they store as fat. For humans to prevent obesity, it will no longer be necessary to go the gym to work out to burn calories or eat less.

    Scientists are already in the process of developing drugs that make this possible by targeting the protein that RCAN1 makes.

    Read the full story: Flinders University (through Eurekalert.com)
    Scientific publication: EMBO Reports


    Controlling alcohol intake could help weight loss in diabetes

    Mind and Brain | Dec 04, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Limiting alcohol intake might help with controlling weight in diabetes
    Controlling alcohol intake could help weight loss in diabetes - short science news and articles

    Researchers studied 5000 people who were overweight and had diabetes for a period of 4 years. They found that people who abstained for alcohol consumption over these four years lost significantly more weight (5% more) as compared to those who drank any amount of alcohol during this period.

    Also, those who were heavy drinkers but abstained from alcohol during these four years did not have severe weight loss as was feared by the researchers.

    This shows that heavy alcohol drinkers are at a risk of not losing sufficient weight during treatment of diabetes which is necessary for their long term overall health. So, one intervention could be to limit the alcohol intake in patients with diabetes to manage their weight.

    Read the full story: University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
    Scientific publication: Obesity


    Increasing soil carbon to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement and feed the world

    Earth | Dec 03, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Soil is precious: it stores enormous amounts of carbon and is essential for food production
    Increasing soil carbon to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement and for food production - climate change short science news

    As the amount of carbon in soil is double the amount of carbon in trees and plants, the degradation of one third of the world’s soils is of concern, as it limits food production and adds almost 500 gigatons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. A group of leading scientists have therefore formulated eight steps to reduce climate change and to increase food production. These steps should lead to a decrease of carbon loss, and an increase of carbon uptake, by involving local communities and global policies, and making use of the latest technologies and monitoring systems.

    Read the full story: Nature
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Maybe being a night-owl is not good after all

    Mind and Brain | Dec 03, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Sleeping late could be bad for you
    Maybe being a night-owl is not good after all - short science news and articles

    In a review article published recently, researchers have been able to show that night owls are at an increased risk of health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. One of the primary reasons for this is because they have unhealthier eating patterns and diets.

    The increased risk of diabetes (2.5 times) was due to the change in the way glucose is metabolized in the body. Glucose which normally decline to its lowest level at night, is increased in night owls because they eat shortly before going to bed and the body cannot follow the normal biological process.

    Also, this problem was seen in shift workers especially those working in rotating shifts since they have to constantly adjust their work hours which decreases their insulin sensitivity and affects the glucose tolerance.

    Read the full story: Northumbria University
    Scientific publication: Advances in Nutrition


    Kids in rural regions spend less time outdoors

    Life | Dec 03, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    In rural areas, children tend to prefer spending time in front of screens instead of going outside
    Kids in rural regions spend less time outdoors - short science news headlines

    A troubling trend is revealed by a new study, showing that even kids from rural areas now spend more time in front of screens and less time outside.

    The study investigated children from rural South Carolina, USA. The results of the study show that screen time was higher than outdoor time for almost all groups tested.

    This change in the behavior of the youth may have profound negative implications for their development. Moreover, it is likely that the same trend occurs currently all over the world.

    Read the full story: PsyPost
    Scientific publication: Environment and Behavior


    Do bigger brains mean smarter brains?

    Mind and Brain | Dec 03, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    The general belief is that a bigger brain means a smarter person, but is it true?
    Do bigger brains mean smarter brains - short science news

    For almost two centuries scientists have been looking for an association between the size of the brain and intelligence, but the connection remained unclear. Now, a new research study brings new data to shine some light on this matter.

    The study used MRI information to assess the brain size and correlated this with performance during cognitive tests and educational parameters. It included over 13,600 people. The study claims that indeed bigger brains make people more intelligent, but the effect is small. The size of the brain only explained 2% of the variability in intelligence.

    This implies that other factors are more important in determining how smart a person is. Such factors may include education, alimentation, stress, parenting style, among others.

    Read the full story: University of Pennsylvania
    Scientific publication: Psychological Science


    Stimulating the brain for treatment of depression

    Mind and Brain | Nov 30, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Stimulating the OFC could acutely improve mood
    Stimulating the brain for treatment of depression - short science news and articles

    Researchers have identified the lateral orbitofrontal cortex are a new region for treatment of depression by electrical stimulation. Stimulating the lateral OFC seems to produce brain activity patterns similar to naturally experienced positive mood states.

    Importantly, these effects were not seen in patients with mood symptoms indicating that brain stimulation works to act on only the mood-related circuits. The study was conducted in epilepsy patients who also suffered from depression and who had electrodes placed in the brain for specific medical reasons to identify origins of their seizure activity.

    The effects of electrical stimulation were acute and produced a sustained effect indicating it should be explored for its clinical application.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    This is the most “influential” film ever, according to science

    Life | Nov 30, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Scientists developed an algorithm to measure how influential a film is
    This is the most “influential” film ever, according to science - science news

    An original study investigated over 47,000 films listed on the internet movie database IMDb to understand which one is the most influential film of all times. The top criterion was the number of times one particular movie has been referenced to by subsequent films, similar to how the impact of a scientific paper is measured.

    According to the researches, the most influential film ever was “The Wizard of Oz”, followed by “Star Wars” and “Psycho”. All the films found in the top 20 were produced before 1980. The algorithm used to rank the movies provides an alternative to the standard box office rankings.

    The same algorithm was also used to rank directors and actors. When applied to actors, Samuel L. Jackson, Clint Eastwood and Tom Cruise ranked as the top three.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Applied Network Science


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