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April 1, 2007, 9:32 PM CT

The formation of social memories

The formation of social memories
Is there a specific memory for events involving people? Scientists in the Vulnerability, Adaptation and Psychopathology Laboratory (CNRS/University Paris VI France ) and a Canadian team at Douglas Hospital, McGill University (Montreal), have identified the internal part of the prefrontal cortex as being the key structure for memorising social information. Published in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, February 2007.

Social events such as a party with friends, a work meeting or an argument with a partner form an integral part of daily life. Our ability to remember these events, and more precisely to remember the people and the relationships we had with them, is essential to ensure satisfactory adaptation to our social existence. At a cerebral level, various regions of the brain, and especially the hippocampus, are directly involved in learning and memory. Some of these regions are specialised in learning certain types of information, such as the amygdale and our memory for emotions.

The Canadian and French teams (the latter led by Philippe Fossati ) have recently identified a precise region in the frontal cortex which may be specialised in recording and learning social information. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging technique, the researchers measured cerebral activity in 17 volunteers while they accomplished a memory task involving pictures of social scenes (interacting individuals) and non-social scenes (landscapes with no people). They thus identified the internal part of the prefrontal cortex, called the medial prefrontal cortex, as being the key structure in memorising social information from a picture.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 1, 2007, 9:21 PM CT

Actigraphy to assess and manage sleep disorders

Actigraphy to assess and manage sleep disorders
Actigraphy, the use of a portable device that records movement over extended periods of time, and has been used extensively in the study of sleep and circadian rhythms, provides an acceptably accurate estimate of sleep patterns in normal, healthy adult populations and in-patients suspected of certain sleep disorders, as per practice parameters reported in the April 1st issue of the journal SLEEP.

The practice parameters, authored by the American Academy of Sleep Medicines (AASM) Standards of Practice Committee, were developed as a guide to the appropriate use of actigraphy, both as a diagnostic tool in the evaluation of sleep disorders and as an outcome measure of therapy efficacy in clinical settings with appropriate patient populations.

Actigraphy is indicated to assist in the evaluation of patients with advanced sleep phase syndrome, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and shift work disorder. Additionally, there is some evidence to support the use of actigraphy in the evaluation of patients suspected of jet lag disorder and non-24 hour sleep/wake syndrome. Further, when polysomnography is not available, actigraphy is indicated to estimate total sleep time in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

In patients with insomnia and hypersomnia, there is evidence to support the use of actigraphy in the characterization of circadian rhythms and sleep patterns and disturbances. In assessing response to treatment, actigraphy has proven useful as an outcome measure in patients with circadian rhythms and insomnia.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 29, 2007, 10:35 PM CT

Should single parents stay that way?

Should single parents stay that way?
In an age when cohabitation and divorce are common, single parents concerned about the developmental health of their children may want to choose new partners slowly and deliberately, new research from The Johns Hopkins University suggests.

The reason for taking your time? The more transitions children go through in their living situation, the more likely they are to act out, Johns Hopkins sociologists Paula Fomby and Andrew Cherlin report. They also observed that the effect of family upheaval on children varies by race.

In their paper, "Family Instability and Child Well-Being," reported in the recent issue of the American Sociological Review, Fomby and Cherlin note that with each breakup, divorce, remarriage or new cohabitation, there is a period of adjustment as parents, partners, and children establish their places in a new family setting. Studying a nationally representative sample of mothers and their children, the scientists observed that children who go through frequent transitions are more likely to have behavioral problems than children raised in stable two-parent families and maybe even more than those in stable single-parent families.

Looking at children's scores on a mother-reported assessment of behavior problems with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 (similar to how an IQ test is scored), the authors observed that a child who experienced three transitions would have a behavior problems score about 6 points higher in comparison to a child who had experienced no transitions. Experiencing multiple transitions was also linked to children's more frequent delinquent behavior, including vandalism, theft and truancy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 27, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

A Remedy For What Ails Medicine

A Remedy For What Ails Medicine
Today men and women attend medical school in equal numbers. But for most women who go on to academic medicine, that's also where the numbers stop adding up. Just twelve percent of women faculty members are promoted to full professor, compared with one-third of male faculty. Furthermore, in the nation's 125 medical schools, on average there are only thirty-five women full professors compared with 188 male full professors per school. Finally, women hold only eight percent of clinical science department chairs and eight percent of deanships.

Against this backdrop, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health have called "for an urgent broad national effort" to maximize the potential of women faculty in medicine and the biomedical sciences.

Five leading medical schools, Brandeis University and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), are spearheading this effort. They have launched a landmark five-year study to explore and address the dramatic under-representation of women and minority faculty in leadership and senior positions in academic medicine. The National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine, (also known as "CChange" for cultural change) is supported by a $1.4 million grant from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation of New York.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 25, 2007, 9:16 PM CT

Estrogen and Bone Protection

Estrogen and Bone Protection
Scientists at the University at Buffalo have described a novel pathway by which estradiol, the primary estrogen in humans, aids in maintaining bone density, a function critical to avoiding osteoporosis.

It is well known that estrogen is essential for healthy bone, and that when the production of estrogen is reduced, as occurs normally in postmenopausal women and pathogenically after exposure to radiation or chemotherapeutic drugs, bones become brittle and break easily. However, the mechanisms involved aren't clearly understood.

The new study observed that one way estradiol helps to maintain bone density is by stopping the activation of an enzyme known as caspase-3. Also called the executioner caspase, caspase-3 is the central player in initiating the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death of osteoblasts, the bone cells that aid in the growth and development of new bone and teeth.

Results of the study will be presented Friday, March 23, at the International Association of Dental Research meeting in New Orleans.

Peter G. Bradford, Ph.D., senior author on the study said of the results: "Basic and clinical studies have shown that estrogens can prevent both bone loss and reduce the occurence rate of bone fractures. Our research at the molecular and cellular level suggests that the underlying basis of this protective effect of estrogens involves the prevention of apoptosis in osteoblasts and that the key event in this prevention is the inhibition of caspase-3 activity".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 25, 2007, 9:05 PM CT

Low-dose aspirin beats high-dose

Low-dose aspirin beats high-dose
The use of medicines to fight cardiovascular disease has been a primary focus of research in this area for the past several decades, as combinations of interventions and medicinal treatment have gradually begun to increase long-term survival rates. Two studies presented today at the American College of Cardiology's 56th Annual Scientific Session look at the measurable impact of the use of aspirin and other maintenance therapies, and one demonstrates that lower doses of therapies may prove to be just as beneficial while also lowering side effects. ACC.07 is the premier cardiovascular medical meeting, bringing together heart specialists and cardiovascular specialists to further breakthroughs in cardiovascular medicine.

"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death today, and the major focus of research is to find better ways to help these patients through prevention, immediate intervention and long-term therapy regimens," said Douglas P. Zipes, M.D., Distinguished Professor of the Indiana University School of Medicine. "As we continue to discover the benefits of these therapies, we expect to see continued and measurable improvements in overall survival and quality of life".

Effects of Aspirin dose on Ischemic Events and Bleeding after Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI): Insights from the PCI-CURE Study (Presentation Number: 2805-9).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 25, 2007, 7:30 PM CT

Meat, neutrons and a longer life

Meat, neutrons and a longer life
Indulging in an isotope-enhanced steak or chicken fillet every now and again could add as much as 10 years to your life. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that food enriched with natural isotopes builds bodily components that are more resistant to the processes of ageing. The concept has been demonstrated in worms and scientists hope that the same concept can help extend human life and reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases of ageing, reports Marina Murphy in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

A team led by Mikhail Shchepinov, formerly of Oxford University, fed nematode worms nutrients reinforced with natural isotopes (naturally occurring atomic variations of elements). In initial experiments, worms' life spans were extended by 10%, which, with humans expected to routinely coast close to the centenary, could add a further 10 years to human life.

Food enhanced with isotopes is thought to produce bodily constituents and DNA more resistant to detrimental processes, like free radical attack. The isotopes replace atoms in susceptible bonds making these bonds stronger. 'Because these bonds are so much more stable, it should be possible to slow down the process of oxidation and ageing,' Shchepinov says.

The isotopes could be used in animal feed so that humans could get the "age-defying" isotopes indirectly in steaks or chicken fillets, for example, rather than eating chemically enhanced products themselves. Shchepinov says an occasional top-up would be sufficient to have a beneficial effect.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 25, 2007, 7:06 PM CT

Novel therapy for lipid disorders shows mixed results

Novel therapy for lipid disorders shows mixed results
Preliminary research suggests that use of a novel, potent drug to treat cholesterol disorders decreases triglycerides and increases HDL-C, the "good" cholesterol, but also raises some safety concerns, as per a research studyin the March 28 issue of JAMA. The study is being released early to coincide with its presentation at the American College of Cardiology's annual conference.

Several different classes of drugs are used to treat lipid disorders. Fibrates reduce the liver's production of a triglyceride-carrying particle and speed up removal of triglycerides from the blood. Statins reduce cholesterol levels by inhibiting an enzyme that produces cholesterol in the liver. New, more potent and selective medications are being developed to treat lipid disorders within the class of drugs known according tooxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-alpha agonists - drugs that turn on one of several cellular switches, as per background information in the article. None of the new PPAR-alpha agonists has achieved regulatory approval.

Steven E. Nissen, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine, Cleveland, and his colleagues conducted two multi-center, randomized trials to examine the safety and efficacy of a PPAR-alpha agonist known as LY518674. In one study, 309 patients with atherogenic dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides and low HDL-C) received LY518674 (in one of 4 doses, 10, 25, 50 or 100 micrograms), placebo, or the fibrate drug fenofibrate. In the other study, 304 patients with hypercholesterolemia (elevated LDL-C, the "bad" cholesterol) received placebo or the statin drug atorvastatin for four weeks, then placebo or LY518674 (in one of 2 doses, 10 or 50 micrograms) for 12 more weeks. The patients were randomized between August 2005 and August 2006.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 25, 2007, 7:03 PM CT

iPods help docs improve stethoscope skills

iPods help docs improve stethoscope skills (Photo by Joseph V. Labolito / Temple University)
Patients rely on their physicians to recognize signs of trouble, yet for common heart murmurs, that ability is only fair at best. Fortunately, the solution is simple: listening repeatedly. In fact, intensive repetition - listening at least 400 times to each heart sound - significantly improved the stethoscope abilities of doctors, according to a study presented today at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting.

After demonstrating last year that medical students greatly improved their stethoscope skills by listening repeatedly to heart sounds on their iPods, lead investigator Michael Barrett, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine and cardiologist at Temple University School of Medicine and Hospital, set out to test the technique on practicing physicians.

During a single 90-minute session, 149 general internists listened 400 times to five common heart murmurs including aortic stenosis, aortic regurgitation, mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation and innocent systolic murmur. Previous studies have found the average rate of correct heart sound identification in physicians is 40 percent. After the session, the average improved to 80 percent.

Proficiency with a stethoscope - and the ability to recognize abnormal heart sounds - is a critical skill for identifying dangerous heart conditions and minimizing dependence on expensive medical tests.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 22, 2007, 10:31 PM CT

Getting older provides positive outlook

Getting older provides positive outlook
Research conducted at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs proves not everything goes downhill when it comes to aging.

Elderly adults exhibit a better balance than younger adults in the way they process emotional information from the environment, as per research completed by Michael Kisley, assistant professor, Psychology, along with his collaborator, Stacey Wood from Scripps College and with the assistance of students at UCCS.

More than 150 participants viewed images determined to be positive (a bowl of chocolate ice cream, pretty sunsets), neutral (a chair, a fork) and negative (a dead cat in the road, a car crash). Viewing images for only seconds, participants clicked a mouse to categorize these photographs while their brain reaction was monitored.

"Whereas younger adults often pay more attention to emotionally negative information, elderly adults tend to assign equal importance to emotionally positive information," explained Kisley. "This has implications for a number of domains including, for example, decision making."

"Like prior studies, we observed that younger adults, 18-25, tended to pay more attention to emotionally negative images than to positive ones," Kisley said. "But the new finding from our study was that the elderly adults, ages 55 plus, didnt show this so-called negative bias. Instead they tended to show a better balance between paying attention to both negative and positive images."........

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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