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July 3, 2008, 9:01 PM CT

Woman aquires new accent after stroke

Woman aquires new accent after stroke
A woman in southern Ontario is one of the first cases in Canada of a rare neurological syndrome in which a person starts speaking with a different accent, McMaster University scientists report in the recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences

The puzzling medical phenomenon known as foreign-accent syndrome (FAS) arises from neurological damage, and results in vocal distortions that typically sound like the speaker has a new, "foreign" accent.

This particular case, however, is even more unusual because the English-speaking woman did not acquire an accent that sounds foreign but one that instead sounds like Maritime Canadian English.

The woman, referred to here as Rosemary, was recovering from a stroke two years ago, when her family noticed a change in her speech. They asked medical personnel at the Integrated Stroke Unit of Hamilton General Hospital why their mother was suddenly speaking with what sounded like a Newfoundland accent. It was at that point that the medical team joined forces with scientists in McMaster's Cognitive Science of Language program to study the case.

"It is a fascinating case because this woman has never visited the Maritimes, nor has she been exposed to anyone with an East Coast accent," says one of the study's authors, Alexandre Svigny, associate professor of cognitive science in the Department of Communication Studies & Multimedia at McMaster University. "Her family lineage is Irish and Danish, and neither of her parents ever lived anywhere but in southern Ontario."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 3, 2008, 8:55 PM CT

Disclosing violence to primary care or obestetrics

Disclosing violence to primary care or obestetrics
Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) observed that patients who disclose intimate partner violence (IPV) to their clinicians of any type did not experience serious harm. However, those who disclosed IPV in a primary care or obstetrics/gynecology setting received the most benefit. The findings, which appear in the Biomedical Central Public Health Journal, also conclude that disclosures made in an emergency department setting were more problematic from the patient's point of view.

Scientists studied 27 IPV survivors recruited through community support programs in Massachusetts. The participants were given in-depth interviews to ascertain types of medical encounters relating to abuse, with encounters described as either single interactions or continued contact over a period of time.

Participants described disclosure of IPV to medical personnel. They also reported episodes in which they were asked about or treated for an IPV related problem in which they did not disclose. The scientists determined the medical specialty in which the encounters occurred, and limited their focus to emergency department, obstetrical/gynecological care, and primary care. The scientists also labeled whether harms occurred as a result of any disclosure as well as the perceived helpfulness (beneficial or not).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 2, 2008, 10:38 PM CT

ETH Zurich and IBM improve diagnosis of osteoporosis

ETH Zurich and IBM improve diagnosis of osteoporosis
With the goal of developing an accurate, powerful and fast method to automate the analysis of bone strength, researchers of the ETH Zurich Departments of Mechanical and Process Engineering and Computer Science teamed up with supercomputing experts at IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory. The breakthrough method developed by the team combines density measurements with a large-scale mechanical analysis of the inner-bone microstructure.

Using large-scale, massively parallel simulations, the scientists were able to obtain a dynamic "heat map" of strain, which changes with the load applied to the bone. This map shows the physician exactly where and under what load a bone is likely to fracture. "With that knowledge, a physician can also detect osteoporotic damage more precisely and, by adjusting a surgical plate appropriately, can best determine the location of the damage," explains Dr. Costas Bekas of IBM's Computational Sciences team in Zurich. "This work is an excellent showcase of the dramatic potential that supercomputers can have for our everyday lives".

The joint team utilized the massively large-scale capabilities of the 8-rack Blue Gene /L supercomputer to conduct the first simulations on a 5 by 5 mm specimen of real bone. Within 20 minutes, the supercomputer simulation generated 90 Gigabytes of output data. "It is this combination of increased speed and size that will allow solving clinically relevant cases in acceptable time and unprecedented detail", says Professor Ralph Mller, Director of the ETH Zurich Institute for Biomechanics.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 2, 2008, 10:35 PM CT

Healthy or diseased?

Healthy or diseased?
Prof. Dr. Karsten Suhre
Researchers from the Institute for Bioinformatics and Systemic Biology of the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Faculty for Biology of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have shown that biological indicators for diseases caused or influenced by environmental factors can be detected by the systemic analysis of the body's metabolism (metabolomics). The procedure presented here is also suitable for pre-clinical drug testing and allows for the early detection of possible side effects of a new medication.

Metabolomics aims to determine the totality of all small molecules of a cell or a tissue. The exponents of bioinformatics analyzed data collected in the framework of a pre-clinical metabolomics study in healthy and diabetic mice. In each case, a subgroup of the animals was treated with the diabetes drug RoziglitazoneTM. Then, more than 800 metabolites were quantitatively determined in a blood plasma sample of a total of forty mice, representing the factors "healthy/diabetic" and "treated/untreated".

Karsten Suhre, who led the work at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, explains the results: "It transpired that in a number of cases the ratios between the concentrations of certain metabolites were much more informative than their absolute concentrations." By a subsequent clustering of the test statistics of such metabolite pairs, it is possible to identify groups of metabolites which discriminate the animals by the factors "healthy/diabetic" or "treated/untreated".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 2, 2008, 10:30 PM CT

Weight Watchers Versus Fitness Centers

Weight Watchers Versus Fitness Centers
In the first study of its kind, using sophisticated methods to measure body composition, the nationally known commercial weight loss program, Weight Watchers, was in comparison to gym membership programs to find out which method wins in the game of good health. A University of Missouri researcher examined the real-life experiences of participants to determine which program helps people lose pounds, reduce body fat and gain health benefits. The answer is that both have pros and cons and that a combination of the two produces the best results.

Participants who attended Weight Watchers for 12 weeks lost an average of 5 percent of their body weight, or about nine pounds. However, Steve Ball, assistant professor of exercise physiology in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, observed that a large percentage of the lost weight was lean tissue and not fat.

"Participants' body fat percentage did not improve at all because they lost a much higher percentage than expected of lean tissue," said Ball, MU Extension state fitness specialist. "It is advantageous to keep lean tissue because it is correlated with higher metabolism. Losing lean tissue often slows metabolism. What your body is made of is more important than what you weigh".

The majority of other Weight Watcher studies had not considered body fat percentage change and only focused on body weight.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 9:44 PM CT

Minimum drinking age of 21 saves lives

Minimum drinking age of 21 saves lives
One of the most comprehensive studies on the minimum drinking age shows that laws aimed at preventing consumption of alcohol by those under 21 have significantly reduced drinking-related fatal car crashes.

Specifically, the study reported in the July 2008 issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention observed that laws making it illegal to possess or purchase alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 had led to an eleven percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among youth; secondly, they observed that states with strong laws against fake IDs reported seven percent fewer alcohol-related fatalities among drivers under the age of 21.

The study was funded by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study, led by James C. Fell, M.S., of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), accounted for a variety of factors, such as improved safety features in cars, better roadways and tougher adult drunk driving laws, that are supposed to have contributed to a reduction in fatalities involving underage drivers who have consumed alcohol. Fell's research controlled for more variables than any other prior study on the topic, accounting for regional and economic differences, improvements in roadways and vehicles, and changes that lowered the illegal blood alcohol content for driving to.08. Yet, as per Fell, the eleven percent drop in youth fatalities is a "conservative" figure.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 9:39 PM CT

Spiritual effects of hallucinogens persist

Spiritual effects of hallucinogens persist
In a follow-up to research showing that psilocybin, a substance contained in "sacred mushrooms," produces substantial spiritual effects, a Johns Hopkins team reports that those beneficial effects appear to last more than a year.

Writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the Johns Hopkins scientists note that most of the 36 volunteer subjects given psilocybin, under controlled conditions in a Hopkins study published in 2006, continued to say 14 months later that the experience increased their sense of well-being or life satisfaction.

"Most of the volunteers looked back on their experience up to 14 months later and rated it as the most, or one of the five most, personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives," says lead investigator Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor in the Johns Hopkins departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neuroscience.

In a related paper, also reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, scientists offer recommendations for conducting this type of research.

The guidelines caution against giving hallucinogens to people who are at risk for psychosis or certain other serious mental disorders. Detailed guidance is also provided for preparing participants and providing psychological support during and after the hallucinogen experience. These "best practices" contribute both to safety and to the standardization called for in human research.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 8:41 PM CT

Encouraging European cancer trends

Encouraging European cancer trends
Effel tower
The first research to look at recent trends in European cancer incidence, mortality and survival together has shown that cancer prevention and management in Europe is moving in the right direction. However, the research reveals that variations between countries in policies for mass screening, access to health care and therapy are reflected in the different cancer rates.

The research is published in a special issue of the European Journal of Cancer (the official journal of ECCO the European CanCer Organisation) on cancer control [1] and coincides with the start of work by the European Commission to draw up a new EU Cancer Action Plan. The co-editors of the issue, Jan Willem Coebergh and Tit Albreht, expect the special issue to inform the discussions during the drawing up of the Cancer Action Plan, as well as providing information for an updated version of the European Cancer Code.

In "Recent trends in cancer in Europe: a combined approach of incidence, survival and mortality for 17 cancer sites since the 1990s", one of ten papers reported in the EJC special issue, Prof Coebergh and his team obtained data on incidence, mortality and five-year survival from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s from cancer registries in 21 European countries, and used it to analyse trends.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 30, 2008, 6:59 PM CT

The perils of overconfidence

The perils of overconfidence
Overestimating one's abilities can have hazardous consequences. The overconfident investment banker may lose millions on a "can't-miss" start up or a driver who's had one too a number of may insist on making it home in the car. Research has backed up this notion but with one glaring problem: It relies on participants to give accurate reports of their own confidence.

But Pascal Mamassian, a researcher at CNRS and Universit Paris Descartes, France, believes he has found a way to circumvent this problem. In a paper reported in the recent issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Mamassian demonstrates that overconfidence can be revealed using a natural and objective visuo-motor task.

Participants in Mamassian's study sat at a computer and were asked to press a key in synchrony with a visual "blob" that would appear on the screen. Participants would be awarded points if they succeeded and docked points if they pressed the key prematurely or too late.

Mamassian then used a mathematical model to examine how participants would need to adjust their key tapping strategy in order to maximize their gain and minimize their loss.

Mamassian observed that participants routinely failed to aim toward the optimal time, instead displaying overconfidence in their action. Specifically, "They underestimated the magnitude of their uncertainty and the cost of their error," he writes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 30, 2008, 6:55 PM CT

Watermelon May Have Viagra-Effect

Watermelon May Have Viagra-Effect
A cold slice of watermelon has long been a Fourth of July holiday staple. But as per recent studies, the juicy fruit may be better suited for Valentine's Day.

That's because researchers say watermelon has ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the body's blood vessels and may even increase libido.

"The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is in providing natural enhancers to the human body," said Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center in College Station.

"We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important healthful benefits grows longer with each study".

Beneficial ingredients in watermelon and other fruits and vegetables are known as phyto-nutrients, naturally occurring compounds that are bioactive, or able to react with the human body to trigger healthy reactions, Patil said.

In watermelons, these include lycopene, beta carotene and the rising star among its phyto-nutrients - citrulline - whose beneficial functions are now being unraveled. Among them is the ability to relax blood vessels, much like Viagra does.

Researchers know that when watermelon is consumed, citrulline is converted to arginine through certain enzymes. Arginine is an amino acid that works wonders on the heart and circulation system and maintains a good immune system, Patil said.........

Posted by: Janet      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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