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February 6, 2009, 6:24 AM CT

Young teens really are shortsighted

Young teens really are shortsighted
As per popular stereotype, young teenagers are shortsighted, leaving them prone to poor judgment and risky decision-making when it comes to issues like taking drugs and having sex. Now a newly released study confirms that teens 16 and younger do think about the future less than adults, but explains that the reasons may have less to do with impulsivity and more to do with a desire to do something exciting.

The study, by researchers at Temple University, the University of California, Los Angeles, Georgetown University, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Colorado, is reported in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal Child Development

The scientists looked at more than 900 individuals ranging in age from 10 to 30 and from an ethnically and socio-economically diverse group to determine how people of different ages think about the future consequences of their decisions. They used a new questionnaire and an experimental task called delay discounting, which measures the extent to which people prefer immediate but smaller rewards over delayed but larger ones.

Compared with adults, the scientists found, teenagers consider the future less and prefer immediate rewards over delayed ones (for example, $700 today versus $1,000 a year from now). But it may not be impulsivity that guides their lack of forethought. Instead, the study observed that teens are shortsighted more due to immaturity in the brain systems that govern sensation seeking than to immaturity in the brain systems responsible for self-control.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:20 AM CT

Exploring genetic causes of schizophrenia

Exploring genetic causes of schizophrenia
A newly released study shows that schizophrenia is caused, at least in part, by large, rare structural changes in DNA referred to as copy number variants (CNVs) not the tiny, single letter alterations (single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that researchers have pursued for years. The findings are published February 6 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics

Schizophrenia is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, but researchers have yet to determine significant genetic links. Over the past two decades, dozens of genes and SNPs have been identified as possible candidates, but the current study dismisses them.

"The literature is replete with dozens of genes and SNPs identified as linked to schizophrenia," says first author Anna Need, PhD, a postdoctoral associate in the Center for Human Genome Variation at the Duke Institute for Genome and Sciences Policy. "But we systematically retested all the leading candidates and concluded that most, if not all of them, are false positives." Need says she believes the prior studies were too small to properly assess the role of SNPs.

Need worked with senior author David Goldstein, of the Center for Human Genome variation, and a team of geneticists to scan the genome of schizophrenia patients and healthy controls for SNPs and copy number variants (CNVs). While none of the previously heralded SNPs appeared significant in schizophrenia, several CNVs emerged as potentially causative.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:09 AM CT

Alcohol advertising may lead to underage drinking

Alcohol advertising may lead to underage drinking
Alcohol advertising and marketing may lead to underage drinking. A large systematic review of more than 13,000 people, reported in the open access journal BMC Public Health, suggests that exposure to ads and product placements, even those supposedly not directed at young people, leads to increased alcohol consumption.

Lesley Smith and David Foxcroft from Oxford Brookes University collated information from seven rigorously selected studies, featuring information on 13,255 participants. This systematic review, funded by the Alcohol and Education Research Council (AERC), is the first to study the effects of advertising, product placement in films, games, sporting events and music videos, depictions of drinking in various media, and exposure to product stands in shops. As per Smith, "Our work provides strong empirical evidence to inform the policy debate on the impact of alcohol advertising on young people, and policy groups may wish to revise or strengthen their policy recommendations in the light of this stronger evidence".

The authors observed that exposure to TV alcohol advertisements was linked to an increased tendency to drink, as were magazine advertisements and concession stands at sporting events or concerts. Hours spent watching films, playing games and watching music videos also correlated with young peoples' tendency to consume alcoholic beverages. Smith said, "All seven studies demonstrated significant effects across a range of different exposure variables and outcome measures. One showed that for each additional hour of TV viewing per day the average risk of starting to drink increased by 9% during the following 18 months. Another observed that for each additional hour of exposure to alcohol use depicted in popular movies there was a 15% increase in likelihood of having tried alcohol 13 to 26 months later".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 5, 2009, 6:18 AM CT

Gene aberrations that affect learning

Gene aberrations that affect learning
Mental deficiency is the most frequently occurring, yet least understood handicap in children. Even a mild form can lead to social isolation, bullying and require assistance with simple tasks. The most common variety, non-syndromic mental deficiency (NSMD), is defined as affecting an otherwise normal looking child. With few physical clues in affected children to point scientists towards candidates to study, progress in identifying genetic causes of NSMD has been very slow. Yet that is beginning to change.

Jacques L. Michaud, a geneticist at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the Centre of Excellence in Neuromics of the Universit de Montral, has led a multidisciplinary team which has identified mutations in a novel gene in children with NSMD. Their study is published in today's issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) and includes collaborators from McGill University in Canada, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Nathan S Kline Institute in the U.S. and the Universit Paris Descartes in France.

"NSMD is a disorder that has a number of causes," says Dr. Michaud. "By linking this gene to one kind of NSMD, we better understand the causes and we can work towards a way of identifying and treating this incapacitating condition".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 5, 2009, 6:08 AM CT

How much screen time is enough for children with asthma?

How much screen time is enough for children with asthma?
Urban children with asthma engage in an average of an hour more of screen time daily than the maximum amount American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends. This is the first study to examine screen time among children with asthma.

"We know that both asthma and excessive screen time can be linked to other difficulties, including behavior problems, difficulty with attention, poor school performance and obesity," said Kelly M. Conn, M.P.H., of General Pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong and main author of the study, which was published recently in Academic Pediatrics. (Academic Pediatrics changed its name from Ambulatory Pediatrics this year.) The study was conducted out of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

As a part of a larger study on how to more effectively treat asthma, Conn and her colleagues surveyed parents of urban children with asthma in Rochester, NY, to better understand their screen time viewing habits. Screen time includes TV watching and video tapes, playing video and computer games and using the Internet. The study observed that 74 percent of the 226 children whose parents were surveyed exceeded more than two hours of screen time per day. On average, these children with asthma watched 3.4 hours daily.

"Even though these findings are preliminary, a message for parents would be to remain aware of the amount of time your child is spending in front of screens and try to encourage your child to participate in a range of activities," Conn said. The types of programs children watch are also important; young children should watch shows meant for their age group, rather than watching PG-13 or R-rated movies, or playing Teen-rated games.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 4, 2009, 6:31 AM CT

Divorce, antidepressants, or weight gain

Divorce, antidepressants, or weight gain
Your mother's wrinkles or lack there of, may not be the best predictor of how you'll age. In fact, a newly released study claims just the opposite. The study, involving identical twins, suggests that despite genetic make-up, certain environmental factors can add years to a person's perceived age. Results just published on the web-based version of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), reveal that factors like divorce or the use of antidepressants are the real culprits that can wreak havoc on one's face.

"A person's heritage may initially dictate how they age but if you introduce certain factors into your life, you will certainly age faster. Likewise, if you avoid those factors you can slow down the hands of time," said ASPS Member Surgeon and study author Bahaman Guyuron, MD, professor and chairman, department of plastic surgery, University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "In this study, we looked at identical twins because they are genetically programmed to age exactly the same, and in doing so we essentially discovered that, when it comes to your face, it is possible to cheat your biological clock".

During the study, Dr. Guyuron and colleagues obtained comprehensive questionnaires and digital images from 186 pairs of identical twins. The images were evaluated by an independent panel, which then recorded the perceived age difference between the siblings.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 4, 2009, 6:24 AM CT

Happy Employees Are Critical For Organization

Happy Employees Are Critical For Organization
One's happiness might seem like a personal subject, but a Kansas State University researcher says employers should be concerned about the well-being of their employees because it could be the underlying factor to success.

Thomas Wright, Jon Wefald Leadership Chair in Business Administration and professor of management at K-State, has observed that when employees have high levels of psychological well-being and job satisfaction, they perform better and are less likely to leave their job -- making happiness a valuable tool for maximizing organizational outcomes.

"The benefits of a psychologically well work force are quite consequential to employers, particularly so in our highly troubled economic environment," Wright said. "Simply put, psychologically well employees are better performers. Since higher employee performance is inextricably tied to an organization's bottom line, employee well-being can play a key role in establishing a competitive advantage".

Happiness is a broad and subjective word, but a person's well-being includes the presence of positive emotions, like joy and interest, and the absence of negative emotions, like apathy and sadness, Wright said.

An excessive negative focus in the workplace could be harmful, such as in performance evaluations where negatives like what an employee failed to do are the focus of concentration, he said. When properly implemented in the workplace environment, positive emotions can enhance employee perceptions of finding meaning in their work.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Genetic link between sleep disorders and depression

Genetic link between sleep disorders and depression
A study in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP was the first to use twin data to examine the longitudinal link between sleep problems and depression. Results of this study demonstrate that sleep problems predict later depression; the converse association was not found. These findings are consistent with the theory that early therapy of sleep problems may protect children from the development of depression.

Results of the study indicate that the stability of sleep problems across time is mainly caused by genetic factors (46 percent of the genetic influences on sleep at age 10 were the same as those that influenced a child at age 8). The stability of depression is mainly caused by non-shared environmental influences (19 percent of the non-shared environmental influence on depression at age 10 remained the same from the age of eight).

As per main author Alice M. Gregory, senior lecturer in the department of psychology at Goldsmiths College in London, the most surprising result of the study concerned the reasons why there appears to be links between sleep problems and depression at different points in a young person's life.

"We reported in a study previously, that genes were the most important factor in explaining the association between sleep problems and depression in eight year olds," said Gregory. "However, when we examined this issue at age 10, we observed that genes were less important in explaining the association and that environmental influences had become more important. This could be because environmental experiences are becoming more relevant as children grow older and could therefore play a role in both sleep problems and depression".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:10 AM CT

Drug improves learning and memory

Drug improves learning and memory
WASHINGTON A team of Arizona psychology experts, geneticists and neuroresearchers has reported that a safe and effective drug used to treat vascular problems in the brain has improved spatial learning and working memory in middle-aged rats. Eventhough far from proving anything about human use of the drug, the finding supports the scientific quest for a substance that could treat progressive cognitive impairment, cushion the cognitive impact of normal aging, or even enhance learning and memory throughout the life span.

The finding appears in the recent issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association. The drug in question, Fasudil, has been used for more than 10 years to treat vascular problems in the brain, often helping with recovery from stroke.

In this study, the scientists injected hydroxyfasudil, the active form of Fasudil, into middle-aged (17-18 months old) male rats daily starting four days before behavioral testing and continuing throughout testing. Injection made it easy to give the drug to rats, but people take it in pill form.

Rats were tested on the water radial-arm maze, which assessed how well they remembered which of the radiating arms had a reward, a sign of accurate spatial learning and working memory. Rats given a high dose (0.3750 mg per kg of weight) of hydroxyfasudil successfully remembered more items of information than those given a low dose (0.1875 mg per kg). Both dosed groups performed significantly better than control-group rats given saline solution. On this same test, the high-dose group showed the best learning (fewest total errors) and best working memory (measured two different ways).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 30, 2009, 6:27 AM CT

Smoking and depression

Smoking and depression
eenagers who smoke could be setting themselves up for depression during the later part of life, as per a groundbreaking new Florida State University study.

Psychology Professor Carlos Bolanos and a team of scientists observed that nicotine given to adolescent rats induced a depression-like state characterized by a lack of pleasure and heightened sensitivity to stress in their adult lives. The findings, published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, suggest that the same appears to be true for humans.

"This study is unique because it is the first one to show that nicotine exposure early in life can have long-term neurobiological consequences evidenced in mood disorders," Bolanos said. "In addition, the study indicates that even brief exposure to nicotine increases risk for mood disorders during the later part of life".

The Florida State scientists injected adolescent rats twice daily with either nicotine or saline for 15 days. After the therapy period ended, they subjected the rats to several experiments designed to find out how they would react to stressful situations as well as how they would respond to the offering of rewards.

They observed that behavioral changes symptomatic of depression can emerge after one week of nicotine cessation and -- most surprising -- that even a single day of nicotine exposure during adolescence can have long-lasting effects.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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