Posts

March 04, 2015

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4:22 AM | Vain, Deluded, Indecisive, Biased: The "Average" Australian Consumer, According To Statistics
The "average" Australian according to statistics is a 37 year-old woman with two kids, a mortgage and three bedroom house. But how "typical" are her consumer choices? Image from ShutterstockWho is the “typical” or “average” consumer? Is there such a thing? What do they look like? How do they make decisions? Am I an average (or perhaps a below average) consumer? read more
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2:41 AM | Two Of Four Known AIDS Virus Groups Originated In Gorillas
Two of the four known groups of human AIDS viruses (HIV-1 groups O and P) originated in western lowland gorillas, according researchers who conducted a comprehensive survey of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection in African gorillas. HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, has jumped species to infect humans on at least four separate occasions, generating four HIV-1 lineages -- groups M, N, O, and P. Previous research from this team found that groups M and N originated in geographically […]

March 03, 2015

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11:52 PM | You Probably Don't Have The Flu
If you ask doctors what the biggest myth about the flu is, they will tell you that it's people thinking they have the flu. Flu-like illness can be caused by many pathogens, and most people don't go to the doctor for it, making it difficult to assess how often people really have.  Older and young people are more susceptible but adults over the age of 30 only catch flu about twice a decade, according to a new paper.  The immune system responds to flu viruses by producing antibodies […]
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11:44 PM | New Hormone Mimics Effects Of Exercise, Protects Against Obesity
Scientists have discovered a new hormone that fights the weight gain caused by a high-fat Western diet and normalizes the metabolism - effects commonly associated with exercising.Hormones are molecules that act as the body's signals, triggering various physiological responses. The newly discovered hormone, dubbed "MOTS-c," primarily targets muscle tissue, where it restores insulin sensitivity, counteracting diet-induced and age-dependent insulin resistance.read more
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7:41 PM | Early life stress may result in a serotonin deficit later
If you have experienced — or are experiencing — mood disorders like anxiety or depression, you know about SSRI’s and chances are they didn’t do much for you. In fact studies indicate that the majority of people with mood and anxiety disorders who receive Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) are not helped by these medications. Sadly, they […]

Coplan, J., Fulton, S., Reiner, W., Jackowski, A., Panthangi, V., Perera, T., Gorman, J., Huang, Y., Tang, C., Hof, P. & Kaffman, A. (2014). Elevated cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in macaques following early life stress and inverse association with hippocampal volume: preliminary implications for serotonin-related function in mood and anxiety disorders, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00440

Coplan, J., Gopinath, S., Abdallah, C. & Berry, B. (2014). A Neurobiological Hypothesis of Treatment-Resistant Depression -- Mechanisms for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Non-Efficacy, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00189

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7:00 PM | Are You Allergic To Marijuana?
There are lots of good reasons not to smoke marijuana and you probably heard or read them all growing up - what you may not have heard is that marijuana, like other pollen-bearing plants, is an allergen which can cause allergic responses. A new article summarizes research on the ways in which cannabis can act as an allergen. The article draws attention to allergic responses that may be unfamiliar to marijuana users. read more
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6:22 PM | Smoking Bans Don't Lead To Smokers Quitting
Picking cultural winners in the name of public interest is a time-honored tool of government and the social engineers giving them input, but the reasons for bans are often suspect. Banning cigarettes in bars and restaurants rather than creating an evidence-based ventilation requirement was going to cut smoking, it was said, but that hasn't happened no matter what sociological Laffer curve was invoked.Pundits wanted to create a ghetto-ized underclass but now smokers happily step outside at bars […]
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6:03 PM | Weight Loss Drugs Linked To Colon Cancer In Mouse Study
Gastric bypass and similar stomach-shrinking surgeries are a popular option for obese patients looking to lose weight and they have even been linked to a decreased risk in many types of cancers - except colon cancer. A 2013 long-term study of 77,000 obese patients found that colon cancer rates were higher but a new study in mice could explain the association - and raise safety concerns for a new generation of weight-loss drugs. read more
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5:46 PM | The New York Times On Drugs - Wrong, Naive Or Misleading?
I never know what I'm going to find on the editorial pages of the New York Times. Sometimes I agree with them, and sometimes I don't. But, they usually, at the very least, make sense. That streak ended on March 2nd, when the Times printed an editorial titled "Painkillers Abuses and Ignorance." The paper really dropped the ball on this one. After reading it, I was left wondering whose ignorance was being referred to, because in 433 words, they did nothing short of a superlative job of […]
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5:45 PM | Cancer Screening Concerns About People With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities
According to new research, adults in Ontario with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are significantly less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer than the general population. Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, a Queen's researcher and lead author on the first study of its kind, found that Ontarians with IDD, such as autism and Down syndrome, were almost twice as likely to not be up-to-date with colorectal tests when compared to Ontarians without IDD.read more
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5:44 PM | Global Health Experts Question Sub-Saharan Cancer Data
Cancer data compiled by the World Health Organisation's (WHO) GLOBOCAN project has huge global influence and is used by Governments and international NGOs to determine health and funding priorities in sub-Saharan Africa. However, no independent evaluation of the data has ever been undertaken. Now global health experts believe the current data on cancer prevalence, incidence and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, which determines how billions of pounds of international development money is spent, […]
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5:30 PM | Emission Of Axions As Indirect Evidence For Dark Matter
Undefined matter under the envelope of "dark matter" makes up over 80% of the universe - but it has never been directly detected.But the search is on to narrow it down and a new paper has computationally set limits to the properties of one of the particles which might be identified as dark matter: axions. Due to the high temperature inside stars, photons can turn into axions that escape to the exterior, carrying energy with them.The simulation indicates that the emission of axions can […]
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5:09 PM | Cover Art for my new book with HUP – Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation
I have a new book due to appear (Autumn/Fall 2015) with Harvard University Press. Here’s the cover art (which is copyrighted HUP, so usual warnings apply regarding reproduction): Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation Shane O’Mara Torture is banned because it is cruel and … Continue reading →
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5:03 PM | Psychologically, Refusing A Bribe Generates More Excitement Than The Money
Sometimes losing money is more exciting than taking it. A recent study found that turning down a bribe brought greater physiological arousal than the thought of more money did.This means that the violation or enforcement of a given ethical standard is not what triggers emotional activity, but rather the actual decision to act against the monetary self-interest, according to scholars at Universitat Jaume I, who also note a major tendency to act ethically and shows the effectiveness of the […]
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5:00 PM | 'Just Say No' To Behavior-Calming Drugs For Alzheimer Patients
Doctors are writing lots of prescriptions for drugs to calm the behavior of people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, but non-drug approaches work better and carry far fewer risks, according to a new paper.  In contrast to current protocol non-drug approaches should be the first choice for treating dementia patients' common symptoms such as irritability, agitation, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, aggression, apathy and delusions, write a team in British Medical […]
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4:45 PM | The not-so frivolous function of play?
We play. Cats play. Dogs play. Horses play. Do fish play? Do cockroaches play? What is the function of play?! [P]lay is actually at the center of a spectrum of three behavior types: [exploration, play, and stereotypies]. Both exploration and … Continue reading →
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4:40 PM | Uncovering Extroversion in the Brain
I really loved the Brain Blitz presentations we did last week because they brought up a lot of questions I had never really thought of before. I was particularly struck by the question: How are personalities shown in and influenced in the brain? There are many different ways we can evaluate and measure personality, and one […]
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4:30 PM | Immune Signatures Evidence That Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is A Biological Illness
Researchers have identified distinct immune changes in patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, known medically as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease. This is the first robust physical evidence that ME/CFS is a biological illness as opposed to a psychological disorder, and the first evidence that the disease has distinct stages and could help improve diagnosis and identify treatment options for the disabling disorder, in which symptoms range […]
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4:17 PM | ¿Sabe que en la demencia se pueden presentar alucinaciones?
Hablar de demencias como el Alzheimer es hacerlo de pérdida progresiva de memoria y de independencia, pero hay otros síntomas menos conocidos. El artículo original está en ¿Sabe que en la demencia se pueden presentar alucinaciones?
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4:08 PM | Suicide Rates In Older US Adults Linked To The Economy
How will we know if the economy has really gotten better, rather than using bogus claims about employment or how well Wall Street executives are doing? When senior citizens stop killing themselves. Suicide rates for adults between 40 and 64 years of age in the U.S. rose about 40% since 1999, with a sharp rise after in 2007 that continued during the economic downturn of 2008 and on, which led to disproportionate effects on house values, household finances, and retirement savings for that age […]
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3:35 PM | The First Big Challenge For A New Scientist Is Finding A Job
The typical biography of a scientist might look something like this:At a young age, a boy or girl discovers a love for science. Their dream is to become perhaps a geologist, a chemist, or a marine biologist. read more
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3:14 PM | Enzyme Modification Boosts Crop Yields
Enzymes are the workhorses of our bodies, they make biochemical reactions happen faster than they otherwise would and sometimes essential reactions would not happen at all without them. The Rubisco enzyme, the most abundant protein on the planet, has one of the most significant responsibilities in life on Earth - the conversion of carbon dioxide to organic compounds, the building blocks of all plant and animal cells.read more
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3:01 PM | The Problem with Astroturfing
In a recent TEDx talk, Sharyl Attkisson nicely demonstrates the deep problem with astroturfing, although part of her demonstration was inadvertent. The problem is actually deeper than she stated, because she herself has fallen victim to part of the deception. Astroturfing is essentially fake grassroots activism. Companies and special interests create non-profits, Facebook pages, social [...]
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2:45 PM | Insulin Resistance, Behavioral Disorders Linked
People with diabetes are prone to anxiety and depression but others with chronic diseases that require similar levels of management suffer from anxiety and depression less. Why that might be is unclear but Joslin Diabetes Center researchers have offered an explanation, gleaned by genetically modifying mice to make their brains resistant to insulin. They found that the animals exhibited behaviors that suggest anxiety and depression, and then pinpointed a mechanism that lowers levels of the key […]
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2:45 PM | Peanut Consumption Decreases Mortality
Want to lower your risk of dying from a heart attack? Go a little nuts.Peanuts are getting a modern rehabilitation.  Except for severe cases, it has been found that peanut allergies will go away if kids eat them early, and when they reach adulthood they will have less likelihood of dying from heart disease - and be an equalizer across low-income and racially diverse populations.read more
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2:45 PM | Genetic Mutations Associated With Leukemia Are Almost Inevitable With Age
A new paper based on a study of 4,219 people without any evidence of blood cancer nonetheless found that up to 20 percent of people aged 50-60 and more than 70 percent of people over 90 have blood cells with the same gene changes as found in leukemia.  That means it is almost inevitable that we will develop genetic mutations associated with leukemia as we age, according to the authors investigating the earliest stages of cancer development used an exquisitely sensitive sequencing […]
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2:45 PM | HECA School Bus Filtration System Reduces Pollutants 88 Percent
An on-board air filtration system called  high-efficiency cabin air, or HECA, developed specifically for school buses reduced exposure to vehicular pollutants by up to 88 percent, according to a new paper. study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The HECA system could help protect the 25 million American children who commute on school buses nearly every day, according to the authors from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Children are more susceptible […]
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2:45 PM | Science Is Changing - And Sharply Segregated Expertise Is Obsolete
The world's challenges demand science solutions - and fast - but it doesn't need the old style of detached experts, write a team of scientists in, ironically, one of America's most prominent and detached corporate science publications; Science magazine, a reputable legacy publication with a politician leading them. Segregated expertise, like segregated articles of taxpayer-funded science, is obsolete.read more
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1:30 PM | Stage, Not Age - Knowing Your Child's Reading Ability And How To Help Them
A child's reading progression isn't based on age, so you need to know what stage your child is up to in order to help them. Image credit:  ShutterstockLearning to read is a complicated process and parents often wonder if their child is developing reading abilities at the rate they “should”. Research agrees, however, that reading (and writing) is very much a developmental process, which can look very different for different children, regardless of their age. read more
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1:30 PM | Why Nitrate Supplementation Increases Athletic Performance
Amateur athletes are competitive and they are always looking for an advantage even if it isn't their careers, so it is no surprise that supplement stores are filled with promises of gains.Nitrate supplements, claiming to  improve the efficiency at which muscles use oxygen, have been popular for years, but do they work? A new study says they may increase performance--they decrease the viscosity of blood, aiding in blood flow, while at the same time ensuring that tissue oxygen […]
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