September 25, 2007, 5:04 AM CT
Eye Movement Can Affect Problem-solving
A pair of Beckman Institute scientists has discovered that by directing the eye movements of test subjects they were able to affect the participants' ability to solve a problem, demonstrating that eye movement is not just a function of cognition but can actually affect our cognitive processes.
Prior research (Grant and Spivey, 2003) has shown a relationship between eye movements and problem-solving but Psychology Professor Alejandro Lleras, a member of the Human Perception and Performance group, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Thomas have taken that work in a groundbreaking direction.
They report in the current (Aug., 2007) issue of Psychonomic Bulletin and Review that by occasionally guiding the eye movements of participants with a tracking task uncorrelation to the problem, they were able to "substantially affect their chances of problem-solving success" to the point where those groups outperformed every control group at solving the problem. These results, they conclude, demonstrate that "it is now clear that not only do eye movements reflect what we are thinking, they can also influence how we think".
The prior work of Grant and Spivey suggested a relationship between eye movements and problem-solving by showing that certain patterns of eye movement were reflected as participants got closer to solving the problem.........
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September 25, 2007, 5:01 AM CT
Physiotherapy after knee surgery
Physiotherapy can improve the daily lives of patients who have had knee replacement surgery due to osteoarthritis in the short term, as per a research studypublished on bmj.com today.
Osteoarthritis is the commonest form of disability in older people. Total knee replacement surgery (knee arthroplasty) is a common procedure but even after surgery patients may still experience problems carrying out everyday tasks.
At present, it is not clear whether physiotherapy should be routinely provided after discharge from hospital. So scientists evaluated the evidence to determine the effectiveness of physiotherapy after elective surgery in people with osteoarthritis.
Six trials involving 614 patients were included overall in the review. Effectiveness was measured in terms of improving function, quality of life, walking, range of motion in the knee joint, and muscle strength.
The review showed a small to moderate effect of functional exercise on joint motion and quality of life at three to four months after surgery, but the effect was not sustained at one year.
The evidence is not conclusive but, given these results, it seems reasonable to refer patients for a short course of functional physiotherapy exercise after discharge to provide short term benefit, say the authors. These tentative findings also suggest that further research would be worthwhile to reduce the current level of uncertainty.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
September 25, 2007, 4:55 AM CT
Weight gain between first and second pregnancie
A slightly greater number of males than females are born worldwide every year. In recent decades, eventhough there are still more baby boys born than girls, there has been an apparent decline in the ratio of male to female newborns in several industrialized countries, including Canada, Denmark, England, Gera number of, Japan and the United States. That has led scientists to ask: Are there any factors that can influence the probability of giving birth to a baby boy or girl? A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, observed that mothers who experienced an increase in weight from the beginning of the first pregnancy to the beginning of the second pregnancy may be slightly more likely to give birth to a baby boy during their second pregnancy. The study appears online September 24, 2007 in the journal Fertility & Sterility.
The results are provocative because few biological factors are known in humans to influence the chances of either conceiving or carrying to term a baby boy or girl. Our study suggests that maternal nutritional factors might play a role, said Eduardo Villamor, assistant professor of international nutrition at HSPH and lead author of the study.
Some previous studies had looked at what factors might influence the sex ratio, but evidence of causality has been weak. Parental smoking, for example, has been linked to both lower and higher sex ratios. Maternal nutritional status had been studied, but there was little evidence to support a causal relationship with the sex ratio. One of the hypotheses that the authors of this study wanted to test was whether the increase in maternal obesity in several industrialized countries could play a role in the declining sex ratio. Their study found the opposite--maternal weight gain seemed to favor the birth of boys.........
Posted by: Emily Read more Source
September 24, 2007, 10:03 PM CT
A search for biomarkers for colorectal cancer
Scientists at the Zhejiang University, Hangzhou have discovered that mimecan and Thioredoxin Domain-Containing Protein 5 (TXNDC5) were differentially expressed in colorectal adenoma. The research article describing this work entitled Differential Expression of Mimecan and Thioredoxin Domain-Containing Protein 5 in Colorectal Adenoma and Cancer: A Proteomic Study will be featured in the October 2007 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
Adenoma is the major precursor lesion of colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide. The elucidation of the molecular mechanism underlying adenoma is essential for early detection, prevention and intervention of colorectal cancer.
The research team, led by Maode Lai, a professor of molecular pathology, found 27 differentially expressed proteins in colorectal adenoma using two dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) and mass spectrometry. Western-blot analysis clearly validated 2 differentially expressed proteins, mimecan downregulation and TXNDC5 upregulation in colorectal adenomas and cancers.
Adenoma is a very important step in the development of cancer. Discovering the biomarker of adenoma will improve the early detection and prevention of cancer, said Lai. 2-DE is an efficient traditional approach for the identification of differentially expressed proteins in cancer biology. Using this technology, we first identified 27 differentially expressed proteins in individual-matched colorectal normal, adenoma and cancer tissues.........
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September 24, 2007, 9:58 PM CT
New treatment for shoulder pain
Inflammation of a tendon triggered by calcium deposits, or calcific tendinitis, can effectively be treated with a simple and cost effective percutaneous method as per a recent study conducted by scientists from the Hospital de Basurto in Bilbao, Spain.
We started treating calcific tendinitis as the result of the request of several members of our hospital staff that were suffering with this condition, said Jose Luis del Cura, MD, lead author of the study. The results we obtained in these few cases encouraged us to offer this therapy to our patients. Later, in collaboration with the rheumatology department of our hospital, we conducted a study to evaluate the efficacy of the procedure, said Dr. del Cura.
The study consisted of 67 shoulders that were treated with sonographically guided percutaneous needle lavage i.e. injections of lydocaine or saline. As per the study, one year after therapy, 91% of shoulders had considerably or completely improved. Of the 67 shoulders treated, 64% had perfect motion and the calcifications had resolved completely or nearly completely in 89% of the patients.
A significant amount of the patients (about half of them) experienced a transitory limited recurrence about two months after the therapy, which we found surprising, said Dr. del Cura. When the recurrence did occur, the symptoms were different; milder and predominately at night, lasted several weeks and finally disappeared, commonly without sequels. We hypothesized that this may have been the result of reparative changes inside the tendon, he said.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
September 23, 2007, 12:09 AM CT
Is there really a 'mommy' gene in women?
Basic principles of biology rather than women's newfound economic independence can explain why fewer of them are getting married and having children, and why the trend may only be temporary, says a Queen's researcher.
"Only in recent times have women acquired significant control over their own fertility, and a number of are preferring not to be saddled with the burden of raising children," says Lonnie Aarssen, a Biology professor who specializes in reproductive ecology. "The question is whether this is just a result of economic factors and socio-cultural conditioning, as most analysts claim, or whether the choices that women are making about parenthood are influenced by genetic inheritance from maternal ancestors that were dominated by paternal ancestors." .
In a paper reported in the current issue of Oikos - an international journal of ecology - Dr. Aarssen suggests that because of inherited inclinations, a number of women when empowered by financial independence are driven to pursue leisure and other personal goals that distract from parenthood.
"The drive to leave a legacy through offspring can be side-tracked by an attraction to legacy through other things like career, fame, and fortune - distractions that, until recently, were only widely available to men".........
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September 23, 2007, 11:05 AM CT
Struggles of children with language impairments
For the first time, a new study has looked into how language impairments affect a childs ability to understand and retell a script-based story.
When we experience an event frequently, for example going to a restaurant, we remember the kinds of activities that are part of that event. This is called a script and a number of scientists think that we store information in our brain as scripts. So if you are listening to a story that takes place at a restaurant and you have been to a restaurant before, you would expect characters in the story to order food, eat food, and pay for their meal.
But how do you understand the story when you dont even know the scripts?
For this study, involving a University of Alberta researcher, the examiner read a script-based story (about two children who go to a restaurant with their mother) to 44 eight-year-old children with and without language impairments. Once the story was finished, the children were asked to tell the story back to the examiner. The children with language impairments faired very poorly when trying to recall story details.
It was observed that the children with language impairments often were only able to retell one key piece of information correlation to the story, a very surprising result as research on children without language impairments shows children as young as three-years-old can comprehend and retell basic scripts.........
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September 23, 2007, 11:01 AM CT
Genetic risk for fetal alcohol disorders
New research in primates suggests that infants and children who carry a certain gene variant may be more vulnerable to the ill effects of fetal alcohol exposure.
Reported online today (Sept. Typically 21) in biological psychiatry, the findings represent the first evidence of a genetic risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder - a condition that is characterized by profound mental retardation in its most severe form, but which is also linked to deficits in learning, attention, memory and impulse control.
By identifying a genetic marker that might signal susceptibility to these more subtle fetal alcohol-induced problems, the research fills a pressing need, says Mary Schneider, the University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of kinesiology and psychology who led the study.
"The big concern used to be the link between fetal alcohol exposure and mental retardation, but today there is increased concern over behavioral problems in these children," says Schneider. "If this genetic marker could provide a way of recognizing the most vulnerable fetal alcohol-exposed children early in life, perhaps we could help them to live more successful and satisfying lives".
The study's results may also help to explain why some children of mothers who drink during pregnancy suffer birth defects, while others seem to escape unharmed.........
Posted by: Scott Read more Source
September 23, 2007, 10:57 AM CT
Hundreds of genes controlling female fertility
Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found nearly 350 genes correlation to female fertility. Their research may open the door to much wider study in the poorly understood field of infertility.
This study gives us a way to begin to understand the causes of female infertility, said Dr. Diego Castrillon, assistant professor of pathology and senior author of a study appearing in the recent issue of the journal Genetics
It gives us a much more complete list of candidate genes to explore. Before, we didnt even know where to look.
The study was done in mice, but at the molecular level, ovarian biology is very similar in mice and humans, Dr. Castrillon said.
These discoveries might lead the way to eventually allowing clinicians to test whether an infertile woman has problems with a specific gene, allowing for improved diagnostic tests and tailored treatment in the future, said Dr. Castrillon, a specialist in the diagnosis of infertility and other diseases of women.
About 13 percent of women suffer from infertility, with the most common cause being dysfunction of the ovary. Scientists suspected genetic links in a number of cases, Dr. Castrillon said.
In mammals, the ovaries go through a developmental stage after birth in which egg cells become nestled in dormant nests called primordial follicles. Later in development, the follicles become activated by a process that scientists dont fully understand, and at puberty, egg cells begin being released for fertilization.........
Posted by: Emily Read more Source
September 23, 2007, 10:55 AM CT
Vitamin E trials 'fatally flawed'
Generations of studies on vitamin E may be largely meaningless, researchers say, because new research has demonstrated that the levels of this micronutrient necessary to reduce oxidative stress are far higher than those that have been usually used in clinical trials.
In a new study and commentary in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, scientists concluded that the levels of vitamin E necessary to reduce oxidative stress as measured by accepted biomarkers of lipid peroxidation are about 1,600 to 3,200 I.U. daily, or four to eight times higher than those used in almost all past clinical trials.
This could help explain the inconsistent results of a number of vitamin E trials for its value in preventing or treating cardiovascular disease, said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and co-author of the new commentary along with Jeffrey Blumberg, at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
The methodology used in almost all past clinical trials of vitamin E has been fatally flawed, said Frei, one of the worlds leading experts on antioxidants and disease. These trials supposedly addressed the hypothesis that reducing oxidative stress could reduce cardiovascular disease. But oxidative stress was never measured in these trials, and therefore we dont know whether it was actually reduced or not. The hypothesis was never really tested.........
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