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July 29, 2008, 11:54 PM CT

Staying ahead of the drug-taking and genetic manipulation

Staying ahead of the drug-taking and genetic manipulation
The race to ensure that researchers stop drug-taking athletes from damaging sport by using performance enhancing drugs or undergoing genetic manipulation is a constant challenge, as per a major four-decade review by three of the World's leading experts on doping in sport.

Writing in the recent issue of the European-based Journal of Internal Medicine, they say that significant advances have been made in the fight against drugs in sport over the last 40 years. However, the authorities face a constant battle to keep up with both the athletes who use drugs and their rogue scientific advisors.

"A cardinal feature of doping is that some athletes will experiment with any new substance that might improve their performance" says Professor Don Catlin, Founder and former Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory at the University of California, USA, and CEO of the Anti-Doping Research Institute.

"They do not wait for regulatory approvals. If they can obtain a supply they will try it. This means that researchers need to anticipate and develop tests even before the drug has been misused by athletes.

"Considerable concerns have also been expressed about gene doping, a prohibited spin off of gene manipulation, a medical advance that has been developed to alter a person's DNA to fight diseases like muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 22, 2008, 8:30 PM CT

How carrots help us see the color orange

How carrots help us see the color orange
One of the easiest ways to identify an object is by its color -- perhaps it is because children's books encourage us to pair certain objects with their respective colors. Why else would so a number of of us automatically assume carrots are orange, grass is green and apples are red?

In two experiments by Holger Mitterer and Jan Peter de Ruiter from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, perception of color and color constancy (the ability to see the same color under varying light conditions) were examined using different hues of orange and yellow. By using these hues on different objects, the scientists hoped to show that knowledge of objects can be used to identify color.

In one experiment, half of the participants saw traditionally-colored orange objects in their respective hue, while the other participants saw the same objects in an ambiguous hue between yellow and orange. The participants that saw the ambiguous hue on traditionally-colored orange objects later called the item with that ambiguous hue "orange". Apparently, seeing the ambiguous hue on a traditionally-colored orange objects led participants to redefine that hue to be proper "orange".

In the second experiment, participants saw the same hues, but now on objects that could be any color (e.g., a car). Some participants were shown objects that ranged from the ambiguous color from the first experiment to a strong yellow hue, while others were shown objects in a range of strong orange hues to the ambiguous color. Just as in the first experiment, participants then had to identify a sock that had been colored with an ambiguous hue. This second experiment revealed no differences between the two groups, showing conclusively that it was only the knowledge of how objects are naturally colored that made them redefine the colors in the first experiment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 20, 2008, 5:00 PM CT

Loud music can make you drink more

Loud music can make you drink more
Commercial venues are very aware of the effects that the environment in this case, music can have on in-store traffic flow, sales volumes, product choices, and consumer time spent in the immediate vicinity. A study of the effects of music levels on drinking in a bar setting has observed that loud music leads to more drinking in less time.

Results would be reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Prior research had shown that fast music can cause fast drinking, and that music versus no music can cause a person to spend more time in a bar," said Nicolas Guguen, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Universit de Bretagne-Sud in France, and corresponding author for the study. "This is the first time that an experimental approach in a real context found the effects of loud music on alcohol consumption."

Scientists discretely visited two bars for three Saturday evenings in a medium-size city located in the west of France. The study subjects, 40 males 18 to 25 years of age, were unaware that they were being observed; only those who ordered a glass of draft beer (25 cl. or 8 oz.) were included. With permission from the bar owners, observers would randomly manipulate the sound levels (either 72 dB, considered normal, or 88 dB, considered high) of the music in the bar (Top 40 songs) before choosing a participant. After the observed participant left the bar, sound levels were again randomly selected and a new participant was chosen.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 17, 2008, 9:14 PM CT

Bullying-suicide link explored in new study

Bullying-suicide link explored in new study
Scientists at Yale School of Medicine have found signs of an apparent correlation between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children, as per a new review of studies from 13 countries reported in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

"While there is no definitive evidence that bullying makes kids more likely to kill themselves, now that we see there's a likely association, we can act on it and try to prevent it," said review lead author Young-Shin Kim, M.D., assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine's Child Study Center.

In the review, Kim and colleague Bennett Leventhal, M.D., analyzed 37 studies that examined bullying and suicide among children and adolescents. The studies took place in the United States, Canada, several European countries (including the United Kingdom and Gera number of), South Korea, Japan and South Africa.

Almost all of the studies found connections between being bullied and suicidal thoughts among children. Five reported that bullying victims were two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children were.

Not just the victims were in danger: "The perpetrators who are the bullies also have an increased risk for suicidal behaviors," Kim said.

However, the way the studies were designed made it impossible for scientists to determine conclusively whether bullying leads to suicide, Kim said. In addition, the authors report that most of the studies failed to take into account the influence of factors like gender, psychiatric problems and a history of suicide attempts.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 16, 2008, 7:48 PM CT

Teen smokers struggle to kick the habit

Teen smokers struggle to kick the habit
Most teenagers who smoke cigarettes make repeated attempts to quit but most are unsuccessful, as per new research from the Universit de Montral and funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.

"The study observed that teen smokers make their first serious attempt to quit after only two and a half months of smoking, and by the time they have smoked for 21 months they have lost confidence in their ability to quit," says Dr. Jennifer O'Loughlin, the study's lead author and a researcher from the Universit de Montral's department of social and preventive medicine.

Dr. O'Loughlin analyzed data from 319 Montreal teens who completed reports on their smoking habits every three months for five years. The study, published online (today) in the American Journal of Public Health, observed that teen smokers progress through stages or milestones in their attempts to stop smoking. These stages are:.
  • Confidently declaring that they have stopped smoking forever, one to two months after their first puff;
  • Expressing a conscious desire to quit with a growing realization that quitting requires serious effort;
  • Over the next two years, as cravings and withdrawal symptoms increase, gradually losing confidence in their ability to quit;
  • A year later, they are smoking daily and now realize they still smoke because it is very hard to quit;

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 16, 2008, 7:15 PM CT

Why We Overestimate Future Choices

Why We Overestimate Future Choices
When people make choices for future consumption, they select a wider variety than when they plan to immediately consume the products. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examines the reasons behind this diversification of choices.

"Consumers' tendency to diversify their choices more for future than for present consumption has been demonstrated to be a robust phenomenon and to occur in a variety of situations," write authors Linda Court Salisbury (Boston College) and Fred M. Feinberg (University of Michigan).

Prior explanations for this diversification focused on the fact that people aren't sure how their tastes for items might change over time. The new study proposes that "stochastic noise" (unpredictability or randomness) explains the over-diversification phenomenon.

The authors performed computer simulations of decision-making processes involving snacks. They then compared the simulations to real data collected from undergraduates. "We isolate and quantify three main potential drivers of diversification: relative brand attractiveness ("how strongly some brands are preferred to others"), brand attractiveness uncertainty ("how uncertain consumers are of how much they like each available brand"), and degree of stochastic inflation ("how much more uncertain consumers are about how much they'll like each brand in the future, versus in immediate consumptive experiences").........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 14, 2008, 5:15 PM CT

Passive Learning Too Imprints On The Brain

Passive Learning Too Imprints On The Brain
A view of the left hemisphere of the brain (with the left part of the image being the forward part of the brain) illustrating the Action Observance Network regions. (image courtesy Emily Cross)
It's conventional wisdom that practice makes perfect. But if practicing only consists of watching, rather than doing, does that advance proficiency? Yes, as per a research studyby Dartmouth researchers.

In a study titled "Sensitivity of the Action Observation Network to Physical and Observational Learning" reported in the journal Cerebral Cortex in May 2008, Dartmouth scientists determined that people can acquire motor skills through the "seeing" as well as the "doing" form of learning.

"It's been established in prior research that there are correlations in behavioral performance between active and passive learning, but in this study we were surprised by the remarkable similarity in brain activation when our research participants observed dance sequences that were actively or passively experienced," says Emily Cross, the principal investigator and PhD student at Dartmouth. Cross, who earned her degree in June, is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Gera number of.

Cross and her collaborators used a video game where players have to move in a particular sequence to match the position of arrows on the screen, similar to the popular Dance Dance Revolution game. The scientists measured the skill level of participants for sequences that were actively rehearsed daily, and a different set of sequences that were passively observed for an equivalent amount of time. Brain activity when watching both kinds of sequences (as well as a third set of sequences that were entirely unfamiliar) was captured using fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging. The study focused on the Action Observance Network (AON) in the brain, a group of neural regions found mostly in the inferior parietal and premotor cortices of the brain (near the top of the head) responsible for motor skills and some memory functions.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

July 14, 2008, 4:47 PM CT

Who responds best to an antidepressant

Who responds best to an antidepressant
A new Mayo Clinic study shows that variations in the serotonin transporter gene could explain why some people with depression respond better than others to therapy with citalopram (Celexa), an antidepressant medication.

The study, in the current issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, examined the serotonin transporter gene, or SLC6A4, in 1,914 study participants. The study showed that two variations in this gene have a direct bearing on how individuals might respond to citalopram. SLC6A4 produces a protein that plays an important role in achieving an antidepressant response.

In this study, scientists reviewed the influence of variations in SLC6A4 in response to citalopram therapy in white, black and Hispanic patients. Scientists observed that white patients with two distinct gene variations were more likely to experience remission of symptoms linked to major depression. No associations between the two variations and remission were found in black or Hispanic patients.

"The findings of this study represent another step in advancing individualized medicine for psychiatric patients," says David Mrazek, M.D., chair of the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology and the study's senior author. Dr. Mrazek is director of the Genomic Expression and Neuropsychiatric Evaluation (GENE) Unit at Mayo Clinic.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 14, 2008, 4:21 PM CT

Asians who immigrated to US before age 25

Asians who immigrated to US before age 25
Asian-American immigrants who came to the United States before they were 25 years old have poorer mental health than their compatriots who came to this country when they were 25 or older, as per data from the first national mental health survey of Asian-Americans.

The study is noteworthy because it shows that using traditional measures of socio-economic status number of years of school and household income to predict health outcomes is not accurate for individuals who immigrate when they are children or young adults, as per Janxin Leu, a University of Washington assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study.

Immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they were 25 attained higher levels of education and income than did older immigrants. However, 13 percent of the younger immigrants reported symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder in the prior 12 months in comparison to 9 percent of the over-25 group.

Leu and the other scientists observed that what is called subjective social status was more accurate in predicting mental health outcomes than income or education. To calculate this, they told the people surveyed to imagine a ladder with 10 rungs containing individuals who had achieved the most on the top rung and those who were least successful on the bottom. Then they were asked to place themselves on the ladder in comparison with other people.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 9, 2008, 9:08 PM CT

The Internet, alcohol and sleep

The Internet, alcohol and sleep
Girls moving through adolescence may experience unhealthy levels of weight gain, but the reasons for this are not always clear. In fact, a number of potential causes of weight gain are easily overlooked. A new study soon would be published in The Journal of Pediatrics analyzes the effect of Internet usage, sleep, and alcohol and coffee consumption on weight gain in adolescent girls.

Dr. Catherine Berkey and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Washington University led the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), which surveyed more than 5000 girls between the ages of 14 and 21 years from all 50 states. They asked the girls to reflect on their weekly habits over the past year and report the following: 1) hours of sleep per night; 2) time spent on the Internet (excluding time for work or school); 3) number of alcoholic beverages consumed; and 4) number of coffee beverages consumed. The girls also reported their height and weight at the beginning and end of the one-year study.

The scientists observed that more Internet time, more alcohol consumption, and less sleep resulted in extra weight gain during the study year. Girls aged 18 years or older who consumed 2 or more alcoholic beverages a week or slept less than 6 hours a night gained more weight than other study participants. In fact, when combined with Internet use, girls in this group have the potential to gain four extra pounds a year. The scientists did not find a link between coffee consumption and weight gain, eventhough they point out that this information was collected before high calorie coffee drinks became popular.........

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. Archives of psychology news blog

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