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November 28, 2006, 5:08 AM CT

Boy Or Girl: How Brain Processes Words

Boy Or Girl: How Brain Processes Words
Boys and girls tend to use different parts of their brains to process some basic aspects of grammar, as per the first study of its kind, suggesting that sex is an important factor in the acquisition and use of language.

Two neuroresearchers from Georgetown University Medical Center discovered that boys and girls use different brain systems when they make mistakes like "Yesterday I holded the bunny". Girls mainly use a system that is for memorizing words and associations between them, whereas boys rely primarily on a system that governs the rules of language.

"Sex has been virtually ignored in studies of the learning, representation, processing and neural bases of language. This study shows that differences between males and females may be an important factor in these cognitive processes," said the lead author, Michael Ullman, PhD, professor of neuroscience, psychology, neurology and linguistics.

He added that since the brain systems tested in this study are responsible for more than just language use, the study supports the notion that "men and women may tend to process various skills differently from one another." One potential underlying reason, suggested by other research, is that the hormone estrogen, found primarily in females, affects brain processing, Ullman said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 4:58 AM CT

Big Bias In Who Gets Screened For Breast Cancer

Big Bias In Who Gets Screened For Breast Cancer
Certain women may miss out on routine tests that screen for early signs of breast cancer.

Elderly women, women with publicly funded health insurance and women who don't go to an obstetrician and gynecologist for routine exams are all less likely than others to get a clinical breast exam and a recommendation for a mammogram.

"A physician's recommendation is why a number of women undergo screening in the first place," said Rajesh Balkrishnan, the Merrell Dow professor of pharmacy at Ohio State University. "Foregoing these exams can increase a woman's risk of developing an advanced stage of breast cancer. There are several reasons why a doctor may not give a patient a clinical breast exam or recommend a mammogram".

Balkrishnan led a study that uncovered some of these possible reasons. The findings currently appear online at the website of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

The scientists gathered data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NAMCS contains information on a nationally representative sample of practicing physicians and patient visits throughout the United States. The scientists restricted their data set to doctor office visits by women 40 and older from 1996 through 2004.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 4:41 AM CT

Flu Can Bide Time In Icy Limbo Before Re-emerging

Flu Can Bide Time In Icy Limbo Before Re-emerging
It sounds like a campy '50s horror movie ("It Came from the Ice!"), but a Bowling Green State University biologist believes it's a very real possibility. Dr. Scott Rogers is talking about the potential for long-dormant strains of influenza, packed in ice in remote global outposts, to be unleashed by melting and migratory birds.

"We've found viral RNA in the ice in Siberia, and it's along the major flight paths of migrating waterfowl," whose pathways take them to North America, Asia and Australia, and interconnect with other migratory paths to Europe and Africa, explains Rogers.

Viruses, he says, can be preserved in ice over long periods of time, then released decades later when humans may no longer be immune to them. For instance, survivors of the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918 had immunity to the responsible strain-called H1N1-but that immunity has died with them, meaning a recurrence "could take hold as an epidemic".

H1, the first of 16 versions of the protein heamagglutinin, is what Rogers and his Russian and Israeli colleagues sought in their research, which is being reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Virology. The BGSU professor and biological sciences department chair believes it to be the first time anyone has found--and maybe even looked for--the viral RNA in ice.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 4:19 AM CT

First Robot-assisted Weight Loss Surgery

First Robot-assisted Weight Loss Surgery
UT Southwestern Medical Center surgeons are the first in North Texas to perform robotically assisted laparoscopic gastric-bypass and colon-resections surgeries.

The procedures were performed using DaVinci, a four-armed robot controlled by the surgeon via a joystick. DaVinci can provide better camera views and more precise surgical manipulations than are available in traditional laparoscopic surgeries.

The robot can offer easier access to some of the more inaccessible places in the body such as abdominal and gastrointestinal areas. As a result, laparoscopic surgeons expect the robotic procedures to grow in popularity for colon, gastric and esophageal operations, said Dr. Edward Livingston, chairman of GI/endocrine surgery.

Surgeries for colon cancers are on the rise, while gastric bypass procedures also are becoming more common.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in America with more than 106,000 new cases in 2006.

Gastric bypass has become more popular as obesity among the nations population increases. More than 140,000 gastric bypass procedures are performed annually in the United States.

Laparoscopic surgeries, also called minimally invasive surgeries, are performed via several tiny holes rather than one long incision. This commonly results in fewer complications, shorter recovery times and less post-operative pain.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 27, 2006, 5:08 AM CT

Recovering alcoholics with poor sleep perceptions

Recovering alcoholics with poor sleep perceptions
Alcohol can initially have sleep-inducing effects among non-alcoholics, but once drinking becomes chronic, alcohol's effects on sleep become much more negative in nature. New findings indicate that individuals in early recovery from alcoholism who have inaccurate sleep perceptions are more likely to return to drinking.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"The usual perception of alcohol's effects on sleep in nonalcoholics is that it helps sleep," explained Deirdre A. Conroy, the corresponding author who conducted the research while a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. "In truth, alcohol may help people fall asleep but it commonly leads to poor quality sleep in the second half of the night and overall less deep sleep. As people drink more regularly across nights to fall asleep, they become tolerant to the sedating effects of alcohol and subsequently use more alcohol each night to help fall asleep. This escalation in drinking can lead to alcoholism."

Conroy and her colleagues examined 18 individuals with insomnia (9 males, 9 females) who were also in early recovery from alcohol dependence. Each participant underwent polysomnography (PSG) for two nights, three weeks apart. Participants also provided morning estimates of sleep onset latency (SOL) or the time it takes to fall asleep, wake time after sleep onset (WASO), total sleep time (TST), and sleep efficiency (SE), a measure of sleep continuity. After complete PSG results were recorded, participants were asked to give information about their drinking habits during two consecutive six-week follow-up periods.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 27, 2006, 5:01 AM CT

Chemotherapy Temporarily Affects The Brain

Chemotherapy Temporarily Affects The Brain
Scientists have linked chemotherapy with short-term structural changes in cognitive areas of the brain, as per a new study. Reported in the January 1, 2007 issue of CANCER (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/cancer-newsroom), a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the study reveals that within 12 months of receiving adjuvant chemotherapy, significant regions of the brain linked to memory, analysis and other cognitive functions were significantly smaller in patients with breast cancer who received chemotherapy than those who did not. Within four years after therapy, however, there were no differences in these same regions of the brain.

While the development of chemotherapy has had substantial and beneficial impact on cancer survival rates, it is also associated with significant short- and long-term adverse effects. Gastrointestinal complaints, immunosuppression, and painful mucositis, for example, are the immediate risks of the therapy.

Patients receiving chemotherapy have also long complained of problems with memory, problem-solving and other cognitive abilities. Eventhough chemotherapy was thought not to affect brain cells due to the blood-brain barrier, recent clinical studies have confirmed declines in cognitive functions in patients receiving chemotherapy. Animal studies have shown physical changes in the brain and in neurons caused by chemotherapy drugs. In human studies, however, the little data that is available is only available through imaging and is not consistent in the long-term. In addition, lack of controls in studies makes it difficult discern cancer- versus drug-effects.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 27, 2006, 4:52 AM CT

Second Cancer Risk For Stem Cell Transplant Recipients

Second Cancer Risk For Stem Cell Transplant Recipients
Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients face a significant long-term risk for developing a second cancer, especially if they were older at the time of transplant or received stem cells from a female donor, as per a new study. Published in the January 1, 2007 issue of CANCER (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/cancer-newsroom), a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the study reveals that within 10 years of an allogeneic HSCT, the relative risk of a second, solid cancer is almost twice that of the general population. In addition, cancer risk almost quadruples for patients who were over 40 years old at the time of transplant or for patients who received stem cells from a female donor.

Myeloablative, allogeneic HSCT is an effective standard treatment for specific life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome, for which blood cell lineages (which originate principally in the bone marrow and circulate in the blood) are abnormal. Destroying the patient's own unhealthy stem cells in the bone marrow and replacing them with a compatible donor's stem cells offers the chance of cure for a disease that otherwise has a high mortality rate with non-transplant therapies. While the procedure can be lifesaving, it is linked to serious short-term adverse effects, such as mucostitis, infections, and liver vascular obstruction as well as the potential long-term complication of developing of a second, commonly solid cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 27, 2006, 4:42 AM CT

Human testis harbors HIV-1 in resident immune cells

Human testis harbors HIV-1 in resident immune cells
Scientists have demonstrated HIV replication within resident immune cells of the testis, providing an explanation for the persistence of virus in semen even after effective highly active antiretroviral treatment. The related report by Roulet et al., Susceptibility of human testis to human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection in situ and in vitro, appears in the recent issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

As per the most recent World Health Organization data, 39.5 million people are infected with HIV. Semen remains the main means of spreading the virus, even though highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) can successfully suppress virus in the blood. The presence of HIV in the semen despite successful HAART has intrigued scientists.

Scientists led by Dr. Nathalie Dejucq-Rainsford examined testis tissue for the presence of HIV receptors. They observed that all of the necessary cellular receptors (CD4, CXCR4, CCR5, and DC-SIGN) were present on cells located within the testis, specifically testicular macrophages.

The point was demonstrated further by using explanted organ cultures in which human testis tissue was grown in culture. This testis culture, which retained the same tissue architecture as in vivo tissue and continued to secrete testosterone, was able to support infection by HIV-1. Virus produced from the testis culture was fully active as collected virus was able to infect permissive cells in culture.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 26, 2006, 7:13 AM CT

Reversing Type 1 Diabetes In Mice

Reversing Type 1 Diabetes In Mice
New data reported in the Nov. 24 issue of Science provide further support for a protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice and new evidence that adult precursor cells from the spleen can contribute to the regeneration of beta cells. In 2001 and 2003, scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) demonstrated the efficacy of a protocol to reverse of type 1 diabetes in diabetic mice. Three studies from other institutions reported in the March 24, 2006 issue of Science confirmed that the MGH-developed protocol can reverse the underlying disease but were inconclusive on the role of spleen cells in the recovery of insulin-producing pancreatic islets. The new data from a study performed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published as a technical comment, provides additional confirmation of the ability to reverse type 1 diabetes and on the role of the spleen cells in islet regeneration.

"This data from the NIH and the earlier studies have added significantly to the understanding of how diabetes may be reversed," says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, primary author of the 2001 and 2003 studies and co-corresponding author of the current report. "It is still early, but it appears that there are multiple potential sources for regenerating islets. As a research community we should pursue all avenues. We're excited to see what will happen in humans."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 23, 2006, 5:26 AM CT

The 'Freakonomics of food'

The 'Freakonomics of food'
Do you hate Brussels sprouts because your mother did" Does the size of your plate determine how hungry you feel" Why do you actually overeat at healthy restaurants".

"You can ask your smartest friend why he or she just ate what they ate, and you wont get an answer any deeper than, 'It sounded good,'" says Brian Wansink, Ph.D.), author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," and Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Dubbed the "Freakonomics of food" by the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, Mindless Eating, uses hidden cameras, two-way mirrors, and hundreds of studies to show why we eat what and how much we eat. "The unique thing about his work is that it cleverly answers everyday questions about food and shows translates them into Good News how we can improve it," said Seth Roberts, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Take how much we eat. Wansink claims we typically dont overeat because we are hungry or because the food tastes good. Instead we overeat because of the cues around us family and friends, packages and plates, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.

Consider your holiday ice cream bowl. If you spoon 3 ounces of ice cream onto a small bowl, it will look like a lot more than if you had spooned it into a large bowl. Even if you intended to carefully follow your diet, the larger bowl would likely influence you to serve more. This tricks even the pros.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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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