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August 26, 2009, 7:11 AM CT

New technology helps Parkinson's patients speak louder

New technology helps Parkinson's patients speak louder
Jessica Huber, at left, an associate professor in Purdue's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, and graduate student Meghan Moran demonstrate a new technology developed in Huber's lab that helps Parkinson's patients overcome the tendency to speak too quietly. The system works by playing a recording of ambient sound, which resembles the noisy chatter of a restaurant full of patrons. A sensor placed on the neck detects that the person has begun to speak and tells the device to play the babble through an earpiece worn by the patient. Patients also wear a mask and sensors in elastic bands placed around the rib cage to precisely record respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory data.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock

Scientists have developed a new technology that helps Parkinson's patients overcome the tendency to speak too quietly by playing a recording of ambient sound, which resembles the noisy chatter of a restaurant full of patrons.

"People with Parkinson's disease usually have voice and speech problems," said Jessica Huber, an associate professor in Purdue's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. "At some point in their disease they will have some form of voice or speech disorder that generally occurs a little later in the disease".

Parkinson's affects 1.5 million people in the United States and is one of the most common degenerative neurological diseases. About 89 percent of those with Parkinson's have voice-related change, which is correlation to how loudly they speak, and about 45 percent have speech-related change, or how clearly they speak.

"A major treatment is to get people to speak louder, which also may cause them to articulate more clearly," Huber said.

The most common treatment, the Lee Silverman voice therapy program, trains patients to speak louder in one-hour sessions four days a week for a month.

"Some Parkinson's patients do great with this approach, but others do not," Huber said. "They forget to keep speaking louder the minute they have left the treatment room. Lee Silverman tends to work less for people with later stages of disease or those who have some cognitive decline. So I wanted to know whether there was an easier way to cue people during treatment, rather than telling them, 'Try to be twice as loud,' or 'Try to focus on this sound meter and achieve this loudness.'".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 26, 2009, 7:08 AM CT

Immune System's Role In Bone Loss

Immune System's Role In Bone Loss
Rita Effros, UCLA professor of pathology and laboratory medicine
Got high cholesterol? You might want to consider a bone density test.

A new UCLA study sheds light on the link between high cholesterol and osteoporosis and identifies a new way that the body's immune cells play a role in bone loss.

Published Aug. 20 in the journal Clinical Immunology, the research could lead to new immune-based approaches for treating osteoporosis. Affecting 10 million Americans, the disease causes fragile bones and increases the risk of fractures, resulting in lost independence and mobility.

Researchers have long recognized the relationship between high cholesterol and osteoporosis, but pinpointing the exact mechanism connecting the two has proved elusive.

"We've known that osteoporosis patients have higher cholesterol levels, more severe clogging of the heart arteries and increased risk of stroke. We also knew that drugs that lower cholesterol reduce bone fractures too," said Rita Effros, professor of pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "What we didn't understand was why".

Effros suspected a clue to the mystery involved oxidation - cell and tissue damage resulting from exposure of the fatty acids in cholesterol to molecules known as free radicals.

In the study, UCLA scientists focused on low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called "bad" cholesterol. They examined how high levels of oxidized LDL affect bone and whether a type of immune cell called a T cell plays a role in the process.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 26, 2009, 7:00 AM CT

Asthma patients had better results with oral controllers

Asthma patients had better results with oral controllers
Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a peer-evaluated comparative effectiveness study performed by HealthCore, Inc. in its August edition. The study demonstrated that asthma patients in general had better clinical outcomes with oral controllers than inhaled corticosteroids.

"WellPoint's National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee requested the comparative effectiveness study to help ensure that its drug formulary for asthma therapies was aligned with their real-world use and outcomes," said Dr. Joseph Singer, vice president of clinical affairs for HealthCore, the outcomes research subsidiary for WellPoint, Inc. "We believe the study to be the first comprehensive comparative effectiveness research study on all asthma controller medications".

"Clinical superiority of the inhaled products has been well documented in clinical trials and the HealthCore study confirmed this for those who take their medicine properly," Singer said. "However, we were surprised to discover that in looking at all patients in real-world settings, oral controllers appeared to be a better choice of therapy because of better compliance. Patients with the best outcomes were those who were compliant with inhaled corticosteroids".

The study, "Impact of Asthma Controller Medications on Clinical, Economic and Patient-Reported Outcomes," revealed that users of oral controllers were significantly better at adhering to their medicine than users of inhaled corticosteroids and probably obtained greater therapy benefit. After the study was complete in 2008, WellPoint's National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee chose to keep the oral controller used by the vast majority of its members on the same preferred formulary tier and lift its previous authorization requirement.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:44 PM CT

Higher level of testosterone in women

Higher level of testosterone in women
The battle of the sexes rages on, this time from the trading floor. While there has long been debate about the social and biological differences between men and women, new research by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University of Chicago's Department of Comparative Human Development explores how the hormone testosterone plays an important role in gender differences in financial risk aversion and career choice.

Previous research has shown that testosterone enhances competitiveness and dominance, reduces fear, and is linked to risky behaviors like gambling and alcohol use. However, until now, the impact of testosterone on gender differences in financial risk-taking has not been explored.

The new paper, "Gender differences in financial risk aversion and career choices are affected by testosterone," has been reported in the Aug. 24, 2009 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research was conducted by Paola Sapienza, Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; Luigi Zingales, Robert McCormick Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and Dario Maestripieri, Professor in Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:42 PM CT

New prognostic marker for breast cancer

New prognostic marker for breast cancer
Elevated levels of GLI1 (glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1) protein in human breast cancer are linked to unfavorable prognosis and progressive stages of disease. Scientists writing in the open access journal BMC Cancer found increased expression of GLI1 in samples taken from more advanced and less survivable tumors.

Edgar Dahl led a team of scientists from RWTH Aachen's University Hospital who sought to evaluate whether GLI1 could represent a new prognostic marker in breast cancer therapy. He said, "GLI1, a mediator of the so-called 'hedgehog' signaling pathway, has previously been implicated in the development of different human tumor entities. We've found a positive, significant association between overexpression of GLI1 and unfavorable overall survival outcome in human breast cancer. This association has not been reported anywhere else so far, but similar tendencies were recently shown in human esophageal cancer".

The scientists studied samples of 229 invasive breast carcinomas taken from patients at the hospital, along with samples of normal human breast tissue for comparison. As well as poor survival, overexpression of the GLI1 protein was linked to tumor stage and lymph node status of the breast tumors analyzed. Dahl said, "Taken together, these results support a role of GLI1 as a new prognostic biomarker in breast cancer. Future studies will determine whether GLI1 can be successfully included into multimarker panels for early cancer detection or molecular sub-typing of breast cancer. This could support personalized breast cancer medicine".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:41 PM CT

Low-carb diets linked to atherosclerosis

Low-carb diets linked to atherosclerosis
Even as low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets have proven successful at helping individuals rapidly lose weight, little is known about the diets' long-term effects on vascular health.

Now, a study led by a scientific team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides some of the first data on this subject, demonstrating that mice placed on a 12-week low carbohydrate/high-protein diet showed a significant increase in atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries and a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. The findings also showed that the diet led to an impaired ability to form new blood vessels in tissues deprived of blood flow, as might occur during a heart attack.

Described in today's Online Version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study also observed that standard markers of cardiovascular risk, including cholesterol, were not changed in the animals fed the low-carb diet, despite the clear evidence of increased vascular disease.

"It's very difficult to know in clinical studies how diets affect vascular health," says senior author Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Research in BIDMC's CardioVascular Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "We, therefore, tend to rely on easily measured serum markers [such as cholesterol], which have been surprisingly reassuring in individuals on low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets, who do typically lose weight. But our research suggests that, at least in animals, these diets could be having adverse cardiovascular effects that are not reflected in simple serum markers".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:39 PM CT

Consumption of sugar substitutes assists weight control

Consumption of sugar substitutes assists weight control
A newly released study reported in the International Journal of Obesity reports that consumption of sugar-free beverages sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners increases dietary restraint, a key aspect of successful weight maintenance.

Scientists analyzed calorie, protein, carbohydrate, fat and beverage intake, as well as the dietary restraint of over 300 individuals. The scientists concluded, "Our findingssuggest that the use of artificially sweetened beverages appears to be an important weight control strategy among WLM [weight loss maintainers]." .

The scientists also stated, "The current study suggests that WLM use more dietary strategies to accomplish their WLM, including greater restriction of fat intake, use of fat and sugar modified foods, reduced consumption of caloric beverages and increased consumption of artificially sweetened beverages." .

This study builds upon the findings from a 2002 study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found consumers of sugar substitutes had significantly greater weight loss compared with participants who did not consume sugar substitutes.

As per Dr. Adam Drewnowski, director, Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington, "Low-calorie sweeteners and reduced-calorie products are not magic bullets, which means using these products will not result in automatic weight loss. Instead, people looking to lose or maintain weight, can use low-calorie sweeteners in addition to other tools (such as portion control, exercise, etc.) to help manage their calories." .........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:36 PM CT

What she sees in you

What she sees in you
Split face photo used in evaluation of how women determine facial attractiveness by Robert G. Franklin, graduate student in psychology and Reginald Adams, assistant professor of psychology and neurology, Penn State.

Photo Credit: Robert G. Franklin, Penn State
When it comes to potential mates, women appears to be as complicated as men claim they are, as per psychology experts.

"We have observed that women evaluate facial attractiveness on two levels -- a sexual level, based on specific facial features like the jawbone, cheekbone and lips, and a nonsexual level based on overall aesthetics," said Robert G. Franklin, graduate student in psychology working with Reginald Adams, assistant professor of psychology and neurology, Penn State. "At the most basic sexual level, attractiveness represents a quality that should increase reproductive potential, like fertility or health".

On the nonsexual side, attractiveness can be perceived on the whole, where brains judge beauty based on the sum of the parts they see.

"But up until now, this (dual-process) concept had not been tested," Franklin explained. The scientists report the findings of their tests in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

To study how women use these methods of determining facial attractiveness, the psychology experts showed fifty heterosexual female college students a variety of male and female faces. They asked the participants to rate what they saw as both hypothetical dates and hypothetical lab partners on a scale of one to seven. The first question was designed to invoke a sexual basis of determining attractiveness, while the second was geared to an aesthetic one. This part of the experiment served as a baseline for next phase.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:27 PM CT

How the modern world affects our tendency to share

How the modern world affects our tendency to share
From giving directions to a stranger to cooking a meal for loved ones, sharing is an essential part of the human experience. A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research unravels the complexities of sharing and examines how changes in our culture affect sharing.

"Sharing is a fundamental consumer behavior that we have either tended to overlook or to confuse with commodity exchange and gift giving," writes author Russell Belk (York University, Toronto). In his study, Belk explores differences between sharing, gift giving, and exchanging marketplace commodities.

"Rather than absolute distinctions, I see these as categories that share fuzzy boundaries," writes Belk. "Eventhough both sharing and gift-giving have some elements that often (but not always) make them more communal, loving, and caring than marketplace exchange, sharing differs from gift-giving in that it is non-reciprocal. The infant who receives his or her mother's nurturing care and sustenance does not incur a debt. Nor does the child who receives food, shelter, and love from parents receive an itemized bill upon leaving the nuclear family home".

Societal changes can affect the nature of sharing, notes Belk. Examples of threats to sharing appears to be the individualization of family phones and meals, the decline of free public education, and the shrinking of public broadcasting.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 24, 2009, 10:23 PM CT

Why Weight Watchers succeed

Why Weight Watchers succeed
Weight Watchers is the world's largest support group, with more than 1.5 million members worldwide. What makes overweight consumers turn to this organization for help? A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research says dieters are attracted to its combination of spirituality and treatment.

Authors Risto Moisio (California State University, Long Beach) and Mariam Beruchashvili (California State University, Northridge) undertook observations of weekly Weight Watchers meetings and conducted interviews with female members and group leaders. They conclude that Weight Watchers provides a powerful service to its clientele.

"Even if Weight Watchers' advertisements make it sound as if it were only about weight loss, the social function of weekly meetings extends far beyond the tricks of the weight loss trade," write the authors.

Interviewing members and observing meetings taught the scientists that Weight Watchers aids dieters' pursuit of well-being in a world that fails to understand them. "Pursuing weight loss is an immensely daunting project fraught with a number of troubles, whether psychological, social, or physical. To overcome these challenges, consumers turn to Weight Watchers".

Members of Weight Watchers seek to alleviate a number of psychological traumas they link to their struggles with weight, the authors found. "As consumers evolve into full-fledged Weight Watchers members, the support group becomes their spiritual and therapeutic companion," the authors write.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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