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April 17, 2008, 7:29 PM CT

Slight Of Hand Is Not So Slight

Slight Of Hand Is Not So Slight
Typing on a keyboard or scribbling on paper may be similar activities, but there is a significant difference in how the body moves, as per new motor development research.

"In language we start with letters that lead to syllables that lead to words, and we use grammar to put everything together," said Howard N. Zelaznik, a Purdue University professor of health and kinesiology. "One of the fundamental questions in motor control is whether there is an alphabet that guides movement.

"We wanted to know if discrete skills, which have a definite beginning and end, such as typing, are controlled identically to continuous skills, such as scribbling, which do not have such a clear beginning and end. Or, are continuous movements composed of a series of discrete movements that are knotted together? On both accounts, the answer is no".

Zelaznik was part of research team led by Viktor Jirsa, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and a professor of movement sciences at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseilles, France, and Raoul Huys, a research associate at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique as well as at the University of the Mediterranean. Purdue graduate students Breanna Studenka and Nicole Rheaume also were part of the team. Their research findings were published Thursday (April 17) in the Public Library of Science's Computational Biology online journal.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:27 PM CT

Keep Boys and Girls Together

Keep Boys and Girls Together
Prof. Analia Schlosser
Boys and girls may learn differently, but American parents should think twice before moving their children to sex-segregated schools. A new Tel Aviv University study has observed that girls improve boys' grades markedly at school.

"Being with more girls is good for everybody," says Prof. Analia Schlosser, an economist from the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University. "We find that both boys and girls do better when there are more girls in the class." She investigated girls and boys in mixed classrooms in the elementary, middle, and high-school grades of the Israeli school system.

In an unpublished paper, Prof. Schlosser concluded that classes with more than 55 percent of girls resulted in better exam results and less violent outbursts overall. "It appears that this effect is due to the positive influence the girls are adding to the classroom environment," says Prof. Schlosser. She carried out the study while on a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University, and will study the effects of gender in higher education lecture halls next.

This is one of few studies of its kind to use scientific data to address the question of gender effects in school.

The Report Card

Boys with more female peers in their classes show higher enrollment rates in both advanced math and science classes, but overall benefits were found in all grades for both sexes.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 10, 2008, 9:24 PM CT

Wine may protect against dementia

Wine may protect against dementia
There may be constituents in wine that protect against dementia. This is shown in research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The findings are based on 1,458 women who were included in the so-called Population Study of Women from 1968. When they were examined by physicians they were asked to report how often they drank wine, beer, and liquor by selecting from seven categories on a scale from never to daily. The scientists know nothing about how much they drank on each occasion, or how correct the estimates were. For each beverage the women reported having drunk more than once a month, they were classified as a consumer of that particular beverage.

Thirty-four years after the first study, 162 women had been diagnosed with dementia. The results show that among those women who reported that they drank wine a considerably lower proportion suffered from dementia, whereas this correlation was not found among those who had reported that they regularly drank beer or liquor.

The group that had the lowest proportion of dementia were those who had reported that the only alcohol they drank was wine, says Professor Lauren Lissner, who directs the study in collaboration with Professor Ingmar Skoog, both with the Sahgrenska Academy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 10:03 PM CT

Your neighborhood can affect your health

Your neighborhood can affect your health
Research carried out at the Peninsula Medical School, South West England, has found strong links between neighbourhood deprivation and the physical and intellectual health of older people.

Two studies were conducted, both using data on participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

The first study investigated over 7,000 individuals aged 52 and older who lived in urban areas across England. The study observed that even when individual differences in education and income were taken into account, people who lived in the most deprived areas were significantly more likely to have poorer cognitive function than those living in the least deprived areas. These findings represent a cause for concern because poor cognitive function in older people is closely associated with the risk of developing dementia.

Meanwhile, the second study, which involved 4,148 individuals aged 60 and over, assessed whether mobility disability and neighbourhood deprivation are linked. Over a two-year period, 13.6% of those in the most deprived areas developed problems with mobility in comparison to 4.0% of those in the least deprived areas. As with the first studies, these figures took into account individual differences in income, education, and health.

Dr. Iain Lang from the Peninsula Medical School, who led the research for both studies, commented: These findings show the first direct links between the state of a neighbourhood and levels of functioning among its middle-aged and older residents. For both men and women, those living in deprived areas have poorer cognitive function and higher rates of mobility problems than their counterparts in better areas.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:58 PM CT

How Fast You'll Age is Written in the Bones

How Fast You'll Age is Written in the Bones
Two x-rays used in Dr. Kalichman's research. The hands of a 22-year-old man at top are compared with the hands of a 74-year-old man at bottom. The two men were not related
Perhaps the aging process can't be stopped. But it can be predicted, and new research from Tel Aviv University indicates that people may live longer and lead healthier lives as a result.

Scientists have developed a new biological marker that represents the age of a body's bones. It reveals that the speed of physical aging is strongly influenced by genetics.

Christened the osseographic score (OSS), this new marker can be used by doctors as a scientific tool for predicting a person's general functioning and lifespan, says Tel Aviv University scientist Dr. Leonid Kalichman, an instructor at The Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions. He is a co-author of the study published in Biogerontology and the American Journal of Human Biology (2007), which was conducted in partnership with Dr. Ida Malkin and Prof. Eugene Kobyliansky, both from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

Add Years to Your Life.

If a doctor can determine that a person is aging "biologically faster" than he or she should, measures such as vitamin supplements and exercise can help slow down the process, says Dr. Kalichman.

"While different biomarkers such as grey hair, wrinkles or elasticity of the skin can help us estimate a person's biological age, these features are hard to quantify," he says. But with the new OSS biomarker, and therapy at a younger age, "at age 90 people can function as though they are 30," says Kalichman.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:55 PM CT

A Serious Illness Occurs Later In Life

A Serious Illness Occurs Later In Life
A new study underscores the need for seniors to maintain their health -- in order to maintain their wealth.

Building on a 2003 study that observed that healthy seniors are more likely to retain their savings, Ohio State University scientists have now discovered that the during the later part of life a serious illness occurs, the more damage it does to a person's finances.

The study observed that when seniors develop a new and serious health problem -- experiencing what the scientists call a "health shock" -- early in retirement, they lose a substantial portion of their savings immediately. But if they experience the health shock during the later part of life, they will lose even more.

Study participants over 70 years of age lost 40 percent more of their savings than similar seniors who were just four years younger.

The results appear in a recent issue of the Journal of Population Economics.

The impact of health problems on seniors' finances has been studied over the years, but researchers have drawn different conclusions -- in part because they measured health and wealth in different ways, said Jinkook Lee, professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State.

This study is the first to gather a long-term perspective on how chronic illness diminishes seniors' wealth over time.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:45 PM CT

Study on egg consumption

Study on egg consumption
A study reported in the April 2008 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(1) suggests an association between high egg consumption and all-cause mortality, an unusual finding for which the scientists do not provide an explanation. The researchers, Djouss and Gaziano, analyzed data from the Physicians Health Study I which followed male physicians over a 20 year period.

The fact is, healthy adults can continue to enjoy eggs as part of a balanced diet, and the findings certainly are not strong enough to suggest that anyone change their diet. As an epidemiological study, it does not show cause-and-effect and has other inherent weaknesses. The scientists did not control for a variety of factors including intake of other foods and nutrients including saturated fat. In addition, the high egg consumers exhibited other lifestyle and dietary patterns linked to increased health risks. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Robert Eckel, co-chair of the Committee on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, comments that The study suffers from the lack of detailed dietary information that may confound the interpretation, such as patterns of dietary intake of saturated fat and trans fats.(2) This is a significant point, given that some people who eat eggs often consume them with foods high in saturated fat.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:43 PM CT

Forecasting Physicians' Choice of Prescriptions?

Forecasting Physicians' Choice of Prescriptions?
Physicians' choice of prescriptions are often influenced by patients, with patient experience with specific drugs playing a strong role, as per the Management Insights feature in the current issue of Management Science, the flagship journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®). The results have important implications for those who market pharmaceuticals.

Management Insights, a regular feature of the journal, is a digest of important research in business, management, operations research, and management science. It appears in every issue of the monthly journal.

"A Dynamic Competitive Forecasting Model Incorporating Dyadic Decision-Making" is by Min Ding of Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University and Jehoshua Eliashberg of the Wharton School.

The scientists addressed several questions: Do physicians incorporate patients' inputs into their prescription decisions? If so, to what extent modeling such inputs improves the forecasting performance in comparison to models that do not explicitly incorporate patients' inputs? Additionally, to what extent do the patients' inputs depend on the type of patients, disease, and the physicians themselves?.

Using prescription data from different therapeutic classes and doctor specialties, the empirical results indicate improvement in forecasting when patients' inputs are explicitly considered.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity

Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity
Marijuana is among the most frequently used illicit drugs by women during their childbearing years and there is growing concern that marijuana abuse during pregnancy, either alone or in combination with other drugs, may have serious effects on fetal brain development. There is good evidence that THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, crosses the placenta, that maternal marijuana abuse results in intrauterine growth retardation and that infants exposed to marijuana exhibit a temporary syndrome that includes lethargy and decreased muscle tone. Fetal exposure to THC can also result in attention deficits, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. A new study using rats observed that THC combined with mildly intoxicating doses of alcohol induced widespread nerve cell death in the brain. The study is reported in the Annals of Neurology (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana), the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Henrik Hansen and Chrysanthy Ikonomidou, at the Neuroscience Research Center of the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Department of Pediatric Neurology, University of Technology Dresden, Gera number of, scientists administered THC, a synthetic form of THC, ethanol, MK-801 (an anticonvulsant) and phenobarbital by injection to rats between 1 and 14 days old. A prior study by the same group had shown that ethanol and drugs such as sedatives, anesthetics and anticonvulsants triggered widespread nerve cell death in the developing brain of immature rodents; the current study was conducted to determine if cannabinoids had the same effect.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 6, 2008, 8:13 PM CT

More likely to choose cocaine over food

More likely to choose cocaine over food
Having a lower social standing increases the likelihood that a monkey faced with a stressful situation will choose cocaine over food, as per a research studyat Wake Forest University School of Medicine. More dominant monkeys undergoing the same stressful situation had fewer changes in brain activity in areas of the brain involved in stress and anxiety and were less likely to choose cocaine.

Robert Warren Gould, a graduate student in the laboratory of Michael A. Nader, Ph.D., presented the study results Sunday at Experimental Biology 2008 in San Diego. The presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Male cynomolgus monkeys live in a complex social structure in which the social hierarchy is established by physical aggression and maintained by clear signals. A monkey that has established his dominance over another monkey can elicit a subordinate response with no more than a meaningful look.

The scientists exposed four dominant and four subordinate monkeys to a socially stressful situation in which an individual monkey was taken out of his home cage and placed in an unfamiliar cage surrounded by four unfamiliar animals. The monkey was physically safe, but he could see and hear the animals around him engaging in aggressive behavior.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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