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March 20, 2011, 10:19 PM CT

How do consumers estimate a good time?

How do consumers estimate a good time?
Consumers estimate they'll spend more time enjoying activities when the tasks are broken down into components, as per a newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research But using the same process for an unpleasant event decreases time estimates.

"It has been well established that predicted consumption time plays a central role in consumers' assessments and purchase decisions," write authors Claire I. Tsai and Min Zhao (both University of Toronto). "If consumers foresee spending a lot of time using a product or service (such as gym membership or cable TV), they are more likely to purchase it".

In three experiments with 500 participants the authors observed that consumers' predicted consumption time was influenced by their evaluation of the consumption experience (positive or negative) and the way the experience was represented. "Unpacking a pleasurable event into several subactivities increases the time consumers expect to spend on the event," the authors write.

When consumers face an unpleasant event, the more constituent components they consider, the greater displeasure they expect. "People have a lay belief that they will spend more time on pleasant events than unpleasant ones, so the changes in predicted enjoyment or displeasure caused by unpacking systematically influence the amount of time consumers expect to spend using a product or service," the authors write.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 20, 2011, 9:58 PM CT

Major clue in long-term memory making

Major clue in long-term memory making
Image shows the formation of dendritic spines during long-term potentiation in a single synapse. Signaling activity is color coded (red = high activity of Cdc42, blue = low activity). Activity is high only in the growing spine, and this shows Cdc42 helps to strengthen a synapse for long-term memory storage.

Credit: Ryohei Yasuda, Duke University Medical Center

You may remember the color of your loved one's eyes for years. But how?.

Researchers think that long-term potentiation (LTP) � the long-lasting increase of signals across a correlation between brain cells -- underlies our ability to remember over time and to learn, but how that happens is a central question in neuroscience.

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have found a cascade of signaling molecules that allows a commonly very brief signal to last for tens of minutes, providing the brain framework for stronger connections (synapses) that can summon a memory for a period of months or even years.

Their findings about how the synapses change the strength of connections could have a bearing on Alzheimer's disease, autism and mental retardation, said Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and senior author.

"We observed that a biochemical process that lasts a long time is what causes memory storage," said Yasuda, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.

This work was reported in the March 20 issue of Nature

The scientists were investigating the signaling molecules that regulate the actin cytoskeleton, which serves as the structural framework of synapses.

"The signaling molecules could help to rearrange the framework, and give more volume and strength to the synapses," Yasuda said. "We reasoned that a long-lasting memory could possibly come from changes in the building block assemblies."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:22 PM CT

Brain research could hold key to alcohol problems

Brain research could hold key to alcohol problems
Scientists are using an innovative technique that combines brain stimulation and the measure of brain activity to investigate difficulties linked to giving up alcohol, with the hope of developing more effective therapies for alcohol dependence.

Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, in collaboration with Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, has developed a new non-invasive technique, which it hopes will directly measure activity in the frontal brain regions.

Frontal brain regions are important for making decisions and for stopping behaviours that cause us harm.

Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre Director, Professor Dan Lubman, said it was important to learn as much as possible about the brain so effective therapies for the therapy of alcohol dependence could be developed.

"Alcohol is a significant health issue in our community and a better understanding of the brain will lead to improved screening and therapy programs," Professor Lubman said.

Until recently, directly investigating activity in the frontal brain region and the relationship between the brain and a person's ability to stop drinking has been extremely difficult.

However, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre has developed a new technique which allows scientists to directly stimulate and measure frontal brain activity in patients with alcohol problems.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:19 PM CT

Length of time lived with obesity

Length of time lived with obesity
New research shows the number of years individuals live with obesity is directly linked to the risk of mortality, with individuals who live with obesity for more than 15 years tripling their risk.

The research, undertaken by experts from Monash University and the University of Copenhagen, shows that the duration of obesity is a strong predictor of mortality - independent of the actual level of Body Mass Index (BMI).

Using data which followed 5,209 individuals over 48 years, the research showed that for those who had a medium number of years lived with obesity (between five years and 14.9 years), the risk of mortality more than doubled in comparison to those who had never been obese.

The risk of mortality almost tripled for those with the longest duration of obesity - more than 15 years.

The research also showed for every additional two years lived with obesity, the risk of mortality increased between six and seven per cent.

"Before now we did not know whether being obese for longer was any worse for your health than simply being obese," Dr Anna Peeters from Monash University said.

"This research shows for the first time that being obese for longer increases your risk of mortality.

Dr Peeters said the resesarch provides added support for current health policies aimed at preventing obesity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:10 PM CT

New blood analysis chip

New blood analysis chip
Schematic of the tether-free SIMBAS chip that shows some of the functional elements, such as the blood loading area, the plasma separation microtrenches, detection sites and the suction flow structures. (Ivan Dimov image)

A major milestone in microfluidics could soon lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes. The device, developed by an international team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components.

The scientists have dubbed the device SIMBAS, which stands for Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System. SIMBAS appeared as the cover story March 7 in the peer-evaluated journal Lab on a Chip.

"The dream of a true lab-on-a-chip has been around for a while, but most systems developed thus far have not been truly autonomous," said Ivan Dimov, UC Berkeley post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering and co-main author of the study. "By the time you add tubing and sample prep setup components mandatory to make prior chips function, they lose their characteristic of being small, portable and cheap. In our device, there are no external connections or tubing required, so this can truly become a point-of-care system".

Dimov works in the lab of the study's principal investigator, Luke Lee, UC Berkeley professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:04 PM CT

New Clues in Quest to Slow Aging

New Clues in Quest to Slow Aging
DNA contains all of the genetic instructions that make us who we are, and maintaining the integrity of our DNA over the course of a lifetime is a critical, yet complex part of the aging process. In an important, albeit early step forward, researchers have discovered how DNOne of the majortenance is regulated, opening the door to interventions that may enhance the body's natural preservation of genetic information.

The new findings may help scientists delay the onset of aging and aging-related diseases by curbing the loss or damage of our genetic makeup, which makes us more susceptible to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's. Keeping our DNA intact longer into our later years could help eliminate the sickness and suffering that often goes hand-in-hand with old age.

"Our research is in the very early stages, but there is great potential here, with the capacity to change the human experience," said Robert Bambara, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and leader of the research. "Just the very notion is inspiring".

In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Bambara and his colleagues report that a process called acetylation regulates the maintenance of our DNA. The team has discovered that acetylation determines the degree of fidelity of both DNA replication and repair.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 6:06 PM CT

Help to Heal An Injured Joint

Help to Heal An Injured Joint
Sensors integrated into the bandage register the knee's range of movement. (© Fraunhofer IPA)
Knee patients need patience: injuries to these joints take weeks to heal. Fraunhofer scientists have now developed a system that documents the healing process in detail. This motivates patients and at the same time helps doctors to fine-tune the course of therapy.

There's nothing like the sheer delight of sun and snow on a skiing trip. But a momentary lapse of concentration can have nasty consequences. Taking a tumble on the slopes often causes injuries - most usually to the knee. Weeks can go by before knees regain their full function, and patients are obliged to re-learn how to walk. The time it takes for the knee to heal is directly correlation to how well it reacts to the chosen therapy. But how is an orthopedic doctor to evaluate the healing process? And how are patients to know what progress they are making? Currently, doctors can only perform limited function tests, whilst patients are obliged to rely on their own subjective feelings. Now scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a system for gathering exact data on knee mobility. It shows patients as well as medical staff how the joint is doing. "It not only lets sufferers see how their healing process is coming along; it also means doctors can tell straight away whether they need to adapt the therapy," says Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Kleiner of Fraunhofer IPA. "This can give patients a psychological boost." They might not feel they are getting any better, but the system highlights every little improvement in knee mobility. "And that's very motivating," says Kleiner.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 5:59 PM CT

Radiation risks to health

Radiation risks to health
The growing concern surrounding the release of radiation from an earthquake and tsunami-stricken nuclear complex in Japan has raised fears of radiation exposure to populations in North America from the potential plume of radioactivity crossing the Pacific Ocean. To help Americans understand their radiation-related health risks, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the American Thyroid Association (ATA), The Endocrine Society and the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) issued a joint statement (http://www.endo-society.org/advocacy/policy/upload/Joint-Statement-on-Radiation-Risks-to-Health.pdf).

The statement suggests that the principal radiation source of concern, in regard to impact on health, is radioactive iodine including iodine-131.This presents a special risk to health because exposure of the thyroid to high levels may lead to development of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer years later.

Radioactive iodine uptake to the thyroid can be blocked by taking potassium iodide (KI) pills. However the statement cautions KI should not be taken unless there is a clear risk of exposure to high levels of radioactive iodine. While some radiation appears to be detected in the United States as a result of the nuclear reactor accident in Japan, current estimates indicate radiation levels will not be harmful to the thyroid gland or general health. If radiation levels did warrant the use of KI, the statement recommends it should be taken as directed by physicians or public health authorities until the risk for significant exposure dissipates.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 17, 2011, 10:55 PM CT

Want more zest for life?

Want more zest for life?
Researchers at Texas A&M and Texas State found that gardening contributes to increased life satisfaction in older adults.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Tina Marie (Waliczek) Cade

Does gardening contribute to quality of life and increased wellness for elderly adults? Scientists from the Texas A&M and Texas State Universities asked these questions in a survey of people aged 50 and older. The survey revealed some compelling reasons for elderly adults to get themselves out in the garden.

Aime Sommerfeld, Jayne Zajicek, and Tina Waliczek designed a questionnaire to investigate older adult gardeners' and nongardeners' perceptions of personal life satisfaction and levels of physical activity. As per Sommerfeld, main author of the study published in HortTechnology: "The primary focus of the study was to determine if gardening had a positive impact on perceptions of quality of life and levels of physical activity of elderly adults when compared with nongardeners".

A 2007 Administration on Aging report titled A Profile of Older Americans noted that one in every eight Americans is considered an "older adult" (65+ years). The older adult population is at greater risk for disease as a result of decreased levels of exercise and poor dietary and/or lifestyle choices; a combination of moderate physical activity and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables has been reported to dramatically reduce an adult's risk for a number of chronic diseases. "Gardening is one of the most popular home-based leisure activities in the United States and has been reported as the second most common leisure activity, after walking, of adults older than age 65 years", the scientists noted.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 17, 2011, 10:44 PM CT

Free will and determinism through test methods

Free will and determinism through test methods
"The dilemma is how do we reconcile how we normally think about causal explanation with this intuition that we have that our decisions are not just the product of these inevitable causal chains," said Shaun Nichols.
UA philosophy professor Shaun Nichols examines the notions of free will and determinism through test methods used in social sciences.

Philosophers have argued for centuries, millennia actually, about whether our lives are guided by our own free will or are predetermined as the result of a continuous chain of events over which we have no control.

On the one hand, it seems like everything that happens has come kind of causal explanation; conversely, when we make decisions, it seems to us like we have the free will to make different decisions.

Most people seem to favor free will, and while a number of, across a range of cultures, reject what is referred to as determinism, they remain conflicted over the role of personal responsibility in situations that require moral judgements, said Shaun Nichols, a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at the University of Arizona.

Nichols is part of a growing number of scientists who are gaining insights into this philosophical dilemma by applying experimental methods usually used by developmental psychology experts and other social scientists. His latest findings ("Experimental Philosophy and the Problem of Free Will") are reported in the current issue of the journal Science.

Until recently, these points have been dissected using "careful and sustained thought, sharpened by dialogue with fellow philosophers," Nichols said.........

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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