February 19, 2019

    Early life pollution exposure could lead to increased risk of Alzheimer's and suicide
    Increased risk of Alzheimer's and suicide in youngsters living in polluted megacities - short science news and articles

    Researchers studied 203 autopsies in the city of Mexico from 11 months to 40 years of age and found that the proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease (APOE4) could be detected in children less than 1 years of age. Further, these individuals had a higher risk of accelerated progression of Alzheimer's with approximately 5 times more risk of committing suicide. These people were regularly exposed to fine-particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), which is 30 times thinner than hair and is associated with haze in large megacities like Mexico. This indicates that neuroprotection should start way earlier, right from prenatal period.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Environmental research


    Sleeping late could adverse affect your health including early death.
    Sleeping late could kill you early - short science articles and news

    'Night owls' - people who prefer to sleep late are at a 10% higher risk of dying early as compared to 'morning larks' who usually go to sleep early and rise with the sun, according to a new study. This could be attributed to Night owls trying to survive in a morning lark dominated world which could have severe physical and mental health consequences. While previous studies have looked at metabolic and cardiovascular problems, this is the first study which looks at overall mortality and the results are worrisome. However, all is not doomed and one could shift their behaviour by ensuring that you are exposed to light very early in the morning but not at night.

    Read the full story: Medical Express
    Scientific publication: Chronobiology International


    Increased depression and anxiety on excessive smartphone use
    Increase in loneliness, depression and anxiety linked to digital addiction - short science articles and news

    Scientists claim that overuse of smartphones could be similar to any other type of addiction. They state that behavioural addiction to smartphones leads to neurological connections similar to those seen in opioid addictions. Further, in a survey of 135 students, researchers found that high use of smartphones led to higher levels of feeling isolation, loneliness, anxiety and depression. This continuous activity gives very little time for the mind and body to relax. Also, this leads to 'semi-tasking' in which people do two or more tasks at the same time but do not focus well on either. Turning off push notifications and limiting our time online could definitely help in the long run.

    Read the full story: San Francisco State University
    Scientific publication: Neuroregulation


    Children who are avid readers are typically good readers, and children who seldom read a book voluntarily often have dyslexia.
    Reading ability determines how much children read - psychology news

    Children who are good readers will read more, and not the other way around, an extensive studies on twins has shown. Furthermore, the study revealed that how well children read is very heritable, whereas how much they read is influenced equally by genes and the environment. It was already known that how much you do something is related with how good you are in doing it, but this study shows that ability comes first, then frequency.

    Read the full story: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
    Scientific publication: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry


    Eating chillies landed a man in the emergency room with bouts of severe headache.
    A man ate world's hottest chillies and ended up with the world's most painful headache - short science news and articles

    A young man ended up in emergency care with an unbearable painful headache after consuming the world hottest chilli pepper, 'Carolina Reaper'. According to the report, the headache began immediately after having eaten the chilli. It was also accompanied by severe neck pain and crushing headache with each episode lasting for a few seconds and this continued over a few days ahead. A CT scan showed that his brain arteries were constricted and the doctors diagnosed him with 'thunderclap headache' which follows Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome (RCVS). Fortunately, the man's symptoms resolved by themselves.

    Read the full story: LiveScience
    Scientific publication: BMJ Case reports


    Meditation has long term benefits
    Dalai Lama is right - medication has long-lasting gains - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found that intensive meditation training results in sustained attention and self-control and these gains are maintained for up to 7 years later. Scientists followed 60 experienced meditators who attended a 3-month meditation retreat and who received instructions in meditation techniques from a Buddhist scholar. The participants reported an improvement in attention as well as general psychological well-being along with better stress coping skills immediately after the retreat. Further, around 40 participants were followed up for up to 7 years and it was found that the benefits of meditation were sustained for as long as 7 years.

    Read the full story: University of California - Davis
    Scientific publication: Journal of Cognitive Enhancement


    Listening to other people: can your brain predict the next word or not?
    The reading brain is perhaps not as pro-active as is often assumed - brain science news

    A large-scale replication study could not confirm earlier results that the brain can sometimes predict which words would come next when people read or listen to a conversation. Although this idea is intuitive and generally accepted among neuroscientists and psychiatrists, this replication study shows that the exact mechanisms underlying word prediction, if they exist, require more study, and that things might to be as assumed before.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: eLIFE


    Preventing obesity might be our only way of avoiding it
    Obesity clues revealed after studying binge eating mice- short science articles and news

    In the present times, access to calorie dense food which is pleasurable to consume (obesogenic environment) is readily available. Now researchers have found that exposure to such high fat cafeteria diet results in mice which show signs of addiction-like behaviour and binge eating responses. The mice lose their ability to control eating behaviour which leads to a negative effect on the cognitive processes which are necessary for rational control of food intake. This study points out that obesity is not merely a metabolic disease but also a behavioural problem and the focus should be on preventing obesity because once the cognitive changes promoted by high caloric food set in it could be difficult to implement the right behavioural strategies to control it.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Addiction Biology


    Adolescent nicotine exposure could lead to excessive ethanol drinking in adulthood
    Smoking at a young age could increase adult alcohol abuse - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found that rats which were injected with nicotine during their adolescence grew up to consume more alcohol as compared to those who weren't exposed to nicotine or were exposed only during their adulthood. They show that nicotine exposure at a young age alters the brain reward pathways especially the functioning of the inhibitory brain circuit mediated by GABA neurotransmitter. This alteration of the brain circuit shifts alcohol-induced brain signalling so as to cause a long-lasting increase in alcohol self-administration. This study is especially relevant since the incidence of nicotine vaping is increasing in youngsters.

    Read the full story: Penn Medicine
    Scientific publication: Cell Reports


    A simple blood test could identify individuals at risk of Alzheimers.
    A blood test to identify people at risk of Alzheimer's? - short science articles and news

    Scientists have developed a blood test which they claim could help in early identification of people with a risk of Alzheimer's disease. The hallmark of Alzheimer's is the accumulation of amyloid beta plaques in the brains of the patients. Scientists have developed a test which measures the relative quantity of the pathological and healthy form of amyloid β in the blood. These two forms absorb infrared light at a different frequency which allows determining their relative levels. Researchers claim that this could be a cheap alternative for screening people to select individuals with 70% accuracy who could then undergo further invasive testing and expensive methods to exclude false positive subjects.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: EMBO Molecular medicine


    Neurogenesis or not? A new study supports the idea that new neurons are continuously produced even in old human brains. Credit: Maura Boldrini / Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
    Old brain can produce new neurons – the debate continues - short science news - neuroscience

    A recent study claimed that no new neurons are produced in adult human brains, triggering a controversy about the subject. Now, a group of scientist published another paper providing evidence that neurons are produced in our brains, even at old age. According to this research, human brains produce new neurons through life, but in older brains, the new cells form fewer connections. The research investigated the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory and learning, and future studies are expected to help understand how the new neurons mature. 

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Cell Stem Cell


    Babies can learn the abstract relation between two objects (are they the same or not?) before they can understand language
    Babies can learn abstract relations as early as three-month-old - short science news

    At three months of age, babies cannot understand words. However, they are able to learn an abstract relationship between objects, according to a study. To tests this, scientists showed babies pairs of toys in different abstract relations: identical, different shapes or colors, familiar or new. Then they measured the time infants spent looking at a pair of objects. They concluded that infants were able to learn an abstract relation in a few as six trials. This is the earliest evidence of abstract learning in humans.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Cognition


    Coffee could worsen the neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimers
    Long-term caffeine has a negative effect on Alzheimer's disease-short science news and articles

    Even though dementia is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, the condition is also marked by neuropsychiatric symptoms like anxiety, apathy, depression, hallucination etc. While caffeine has been proposed to prevent dementia, researchers have now shown that once these other symptoms develop, caffeine might have an opposite effect. In an experiment conducted on mice which mimic the human condition, a long-term oral low dose of caffeine alters behaviour and worsens these other symptoms in the mice. Especially, symptoms like fear of new, anxiety and emotional and cognitive flexibility were worsened. This shows that your morning joe might not be that helpful after all.

    Read the full story: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Pharmacology


    Sometimes personal beliefs are difficult to separate from the law and this may influence court decisions
    Gender bias may influence decisions in court - short science news - psychology

    Judges are not immune to gender bias in deciding court cases, a new study suggests. The study investigated this bias in a group of judges and another group of lay people, in some “fake” court cases where traditional gender roles were challenged. The judges were more prone to take decisions that supported traditional gender roles. For example, they encouraged women to engage in more family activities, at the expense of their careers and discouraged men from participating in family care. Interestingly, the gender bias worked both ways, sometimes against women and sometimes against men. This research shows that the ideology and life experiences might influence court decisions, even in the case of professionals.

    Read the full story: Society for personality and social psychology
    Scientific publication: Social Psychological and Personality Science


    Water molecules near cell membranes change their position when electrical charges move. Tracing their position allows scientists to infer how the electrical charges change with time. Credit: J. Caillet / EPFL
    Water molecules used to record electrical activity of cell membranes - short science news - neuroscience news

    Every cell has a membrane that separates electrical charges; these charges are important for many biological processes, including communication between brain cells. Tracking electrical particles at cellular level provides insight into how cells work, but this is not very easy to do. A new method, just published, allows real-time, non-invasive tracking of electrical charges using water molecules. These molecules change their position based on the electrical charges. The new technique has many applications, such as the study of ion channels or understanding how nerve cells work in the brain.

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Craving for unhealthy food increases the willingness to pay more for it
    We are willing to pay more for the unhealthy food we crave for- short science news and articles

    Researchers have found that even if we aim to eat healthier, craving for unhealthy food overshadows the significance of health, amplifying the value of tempting unhealthy food. Importantly, this happens irrespective of hunger indicating that craving and hunger are at least partially distinct. Surprisingly, people were willing to pay more for the exact same snack food item if they were just exposed to it and made to recall fond memories associated with its consumption. For example, craving Snickers doesn't make you hungrier but increases the desire to have it. Dangerously, there is a spillover effect since people were willing to pay more for items to which they were not exposed to like chocolates, nuts and candy bars.

    Read the full story: New York University
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Increasing the use of legal cannabis could decrease the opioid epidemic in the USA
    Legal Cannabis associated with the lower opioid use- short science news and articles

    Overprescription of opioids is one of the major problems associated with the opioid epidemic of USA. Hence alternative methods of management of pain are sought for actively in the US. Marijuana is an important potential alternative to opioids and heroin which can relieve pain at a comparably lower risk of addiction and negligible risk of overdose. Now, researchers have found that medical and adult-use marijuana laws are associated with lesser prescription of opioids especially amongst Medicaid claiming individuals. This could have a positive impact on the opioid epidemic in the USA.

    Read the full story: University of Kentucky
    Scientific publication: JAMA internal medicine


    Its time to change our class timings to sync with our biological clocks
    Poor grades due to unsynced class time and biological rhythm - short science articles and news

    Researchers divided students into 'morning larks', 'daytime finches' and 'night owls' depending on their activity in the day and compared their class timings to academic grades. They found that for example, if night owls took early morning classes they ended up with lower grades due to the 'social jet lag', a situation in which the peak alertness of an individual doesn't coincidence with work timings. This social jet lag has also been associated with increased obesity and excessive alcohol and tobacco use. Maybe it is time for us to tailor the natural biological rhythm of students with their class timings.

    Read the full story: University of Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Observing someone else activates mirror neurons
    Social factors synchronise the brains of monkeys

    When one animal is watching another animal doing a task, such as reaching for food, its so-called mirror neurons become active, as if the observer itself was reaching for food. Now scientists have discovered that the activity of mirror neurons in monkeys depends on social factors, such as dominance, proximity to other animals and competition for food. This social component in mirror neuron function could explain why deficiencies in these neurons might play a role in autism, and suggest that they are important for social cohesion within a group, especially when a social task (concert playing, team sports) is involved.

    Read the full story: Duke Health
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Materal and childhood infection could lead to Autism like symptoms
    Infections in mothers and newborns could affect the brain circuits linked to autism- short science articles

    Evidence in rodents has shown that infections during pregnancy or immediately after birth activates the immune system such that it could result in the emergence of behavioural symptoms of Autism such as anxiety, social interaction problems, dysregulated communication and increased stereotypical behaviour later in life. Researchers have now found that early life immune activation leads to a persistent change in signal flow from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) pathway which is critically implicated in autism. This could give us more insights into Autism and help us develop strategies to prevent it.

    Read the full story: McLean Hospital
    Scientific publication: The Journal of Neuroscience


    Intelligence has long term benefits for cooperation in the society
    Intelligence and not niceness leads to success- short science articles

    We all are taught to be nice to engender cooperation amongst ourselves. A few researchers developed a game to identify which other factors lead to cooperation when people interact in social situations. They discovered that people with higher IQ had higher levels of cooperation which in turn leads to more earnings in the game. The failure of an individual with low intelligence to not estimate future consequences and hence not follow the correct strategy could explain these results. The researchers further assert that focusing on intelligence in childhood could increase our economic success but also improve the level of cooperation in society in later life. So it pays to be nice but it's only a small effect. It pays more to be intelligent.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol


    A prosthetic memory system for boosting our memory.
    A prosthetic memory system in humans?? - short science technology articles

    Scientists have successfully implemented a prosthetic system using a person's memory pattern. They recorded the neural firing patterns in the hippocampus (the part of the brain involved in memory formation) while performing a memory task and synthesized a mathematical model for the correct responses. When the prosthetic system was stimulated with the correct-answer codes, the study participants displayed a 35% increase in memory. Scientists claim that feeding correct brain pattern firings could assist patients to boost innate memory functions.

    Read the full story: Wake Forest University


    stress in utero could have long term consequences
    Unborn child's brain could be affected by mothers' stress - short science articles

    Stress experienced by a pregnant mother could affect the brain connectivity of an unborn child. Using fetal resting state functional MRI, researchers studied 47 human fetuses in utero in mothers coming from low-resource and high-stress urban setting with several mothers suffering from anxiety, stress and depression. They discovered that mothers with a higher level of stress had fetuses with decreased efficiency of organized neural systems. This could be a critical period of development and these children could have long-term neurological and psychological problems.

    Read the full story: Cognitive Neuroscience Society


    HAE-4 antibody could help clear the brain plaques
    Alzheimer's plaques in mice removed by antibodies - science daily

    Alzheimer's disease is characterized by sticky plaque formation in the brain which damages nearby neurons and this happens way before the symptoms of Alzheimer's appear. Researchers have now developed specific antibodies (HAE-4) which dissolve these APOE plaques in mice which are genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer's. Specifically, the plaques in the brain are cleared since HAE-4 antibodies only target those plaques which are attached to the neurons in the brain. This could our new step towards the development of drug therapy.

    Read the full story: Washington University
    Scientific publication: Journal of Clinical Investigation


    Scientists grow brain in adish
    Stanford scientists grow brain balls in petri-dish -short science articles

    A team from Stanford have developed pinhead-sized replicas of different parts of the human brain in a laboratory dishware. While previously several labs were able to grow brain tissue in the laboratory, these used to contain other organ cells too. However, the current method developed by Stanford University results in only neural tissue to grow in a Petri dish. These brain balls assist researchers to identify pathological mechanisms that could be disrupted in epilepsy, autisms and other neurological disorders. This could also assist in identifying the reasons for faulty brain development seen in preterm babies. Could this be our first step towards personalized psychiatry?

    Read the full story: Stanford University


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