Most Recent Links

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 1 - 20 of 26028

By Kim Tingley Men have a far greater appetite for sex and are more attracted to pornography than women are. This is the timeworn stereotype that science has long reinforced. Alfred Kinsey, America’s first prominent sexologist, published in the late 1940s and early 1950s his survey results confirming that men are aroused more easily and often by sexual imagery than women. It made sense, evolutionary psychologists theorized, that women’s erotic pleasure might be tempered by the potential burdens of pregnancy, birth and child rearing — that they would require a deeper emotional connection with a partner to feel turned on than men, whose primal urge is simply procreation. Modern statistics showing that men are still the dominant consumers of online porn seem to support this thinking, as does the fact that men are more prone to hypersexuality, whereas a lack of desire and anorgasmia are more prevalent in women. So it was somewhat surprising when a paper in the prestigious journal P.N.A.S. reported in July that what happens in the brains of female study subjects when they look at sexual imagery is pretty much the same as what happens in the brains of their male counterparts. The researchers, led by Hamid Noori at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany, weren’t initially interested in exploring sexual behavior. They were trying to find ways to standardize experiments that use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fM.R.I.) to observe how the brain responds to visual stimuli. In order to do that, they needed to compare past studies that used similar methods but returned diverse results. They happened to choose studies in which male and female volunteers looked at sexual imagery, both because doing so tends to generate strong signals in the brain, which would make findings easier to analyze, and because this sort of research has long produced “inconsistent and even contradictory” results, as they note in their paper. Identifying the reasons for such discrepancies might help researchers design better experiments. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Brain imaging
Link ID: 26622 - Posted: 09.18.2019

Damian Carrington Environment editor Air pollution particles have been found on the foetal side of placentas, indicating that unborn babies are directly exposed to the black carbon produced by motor traffic and fuel burning. The research is the first study to show the placental barrier can be penetrated by particles breathed in by the mother. It found thousands of the tiny particles per cubic millimetre of tissue in every placenta analysed. The link between exposure to dirty air and increased miscarriages, premature births and low birth weights is well established. The research suggests the particles themselves may be the cause, not solely the inflammatory response the pollution produces in mothers. Damage to foetuses has lifelong consequences and Prof Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said: “This is the most vulnerable period of life. All the organ systems are in development. For the protection of future generations, we have to reduce exposure.” He said governments had the responsibility of cutting air pollution but that people should avoid busy roads when possible. A comprehensive global review concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. Nanoparticles have also been found to cross the blood-brain barrier and billions have been found in the hearts of young city dwellers. While air pollution is reducing in some nations, the evidence of harm caused by even low levels is rapidly increasing and 90% of the world’s population live in places where air pollution is above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Neurotoxins
Link ID: 26621 - Posted: 09.18.2019

/ By Gitit Ginat In 1978, at the age of 18, Celine Sabag took a trip to Israel. There, she met a 25-year-old bus driver and spent three weeks touring Jerusalem with him. “He was nice and polite,” she recalls. When the man invited her to his parents’ empty apartment, she accepted the invitation. The pair had been sitting together and laughing for about an hour when the door opened. “I turned to look,” says Sabag, “and my gut told me: ‘Something awful is about to happen.’” Four young men were standing in the doorway. They entered the living room, the fourth locking the door behind him. “I believe they had done it before,” she says. At first, Sabag was dubious. “I said: ‘Fighting? No way. What do I have to do with fighting?’” Sabag returned that night to her hotel, and then fled back to her home in France. She felt guilt and shame, and did not tell anyone that five men had raped her that night in the apartment. Shortly after her homecoming, she tried to commit suicide, the first of many attempts. Desperate for help, Sabag entered therapy. She saw psychiatrists and psychologists and started taking psychiatric medication. She also tried alternative approaches like movement therapy. Though some of the treatments helped, they didn’t eliminate the relentless flashbacks of the rape, her overwhelming fear of unknown men in corridors and on elevators and stairways, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Copyright 2019 Undark

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 26620 - Posted: 09.18.2019

By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online A drug used to treat enlarged prostates may be a powerful medicine against Parkinson's disease, according to an international team of scientists. Terazosin helps ease benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by relaxing the muscles of the bladder and prostate. But researchers believe it has another beneficial action, on brain cells damaged by Parkinson's. They say the drug might slow Parkinson's progression - something that is not possible currently. Cell death They studied thousands of patients with both BPH and Parkinson's. Their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest the alpha-blocker drug protects brain cells from destruction. Parkinson's is a progressive condition affecting the brain, for which there is currently no cure. Existing Parkinson's treatments can help with some of the symptoms but can't slow or reverse the loss of neurons that occurs with the disease. Terazosin may help by activating an enzyme called PGK1 to prevent this brain cell death, the researchers, from the University of Iowa, in the US and the Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders, China, say. When they tested the drug in rodents it appeared to slow or stop the loss of nerve cells. To begin assessing if the drug might have the same effect in people, they searched the medical records of millions of US patients to identify men with BPH and Parkinson's. They studied 2,880 Parkinson's patients taking terazosin or similar drugs that target PGK1 and a comparison group of 15,409 Parkinson's patients taking a different treatment for BPH that had no action on PGK1. Patients on the drugs targeting PGK1 appeared to fare better in terms of Parkinson's disease symptoms and progression, which the researchers say warrants more study in clinical trials, which they plan to begin this year. Lead researcher Dr Michael Welsh says while it is premature to talk about a cure, the findings have the potential to change the lives of people with Parkinson's. © 2019 BBC

Keyword: Parkinsons
Link ID: 26619 - Posted: 09.17.2019

Teen girls — but not boys — who prefer to go to bed later are more likely to gain weight, compared to same-age girls who go to bed earlier, suggests a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings by researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, and other institutions appear in JAMA Pediatrics. A total of 804 adolescents (418 girls and 386 boys) ages 11 to 16 took part in the study. The children responded to questionnaires on their sleep habits and wore an actigraph — a wrist device that tracks movement. Researchers measured their waist size and calculated their proportion of body fat using a technique called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. They also estimated the children’s social jet lag — the difference between their weeknight and weekend bedtimes. Those who stayed up far later on weekends than weeknights were considered to have high social jet lag. The authors noted that previous studies had found that adults who preferred to stay up late and had high social jet lag were more likely to gain weight than those who went to be earlier and did not have social jet lag. The researchers undertook the current study to determine if the same associations would be seen in young people. For girls, staying up later was associated with an average .58 cm increase in waist size and a .16 kg/m2 increase in body fat. Each hour of social jet lag was associated with a 1.19 cm larger waste size and a 0.45 kg/m2 increase in body fat. These associations were reduced—but still remained—after the researchers statistically adjusted for other factors known to influence weight, such as sleep duration, diet, physical activity and television viewing. Although the researchers found slight associations between these measures and waist size and body fat in boys, they were not statistically significant. The researchers concluded that improving sleep schedules may be helpful in preventing obesity in childhood and adolescence, especially in girls.

Keyword: Obesity; Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 26618 - Posted: 09.17.2019

Scott Neuman New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he will push for a ban on some electronic cigarettes amid a health scare linked to vaping — a move that would follow a similar ban enacted by Michigan and a call from President Trump for a federal prohibition on certain vaping products. Speaking in Manhattan, Cuomo, a Democrat, said the state's Public Health and Health Planning Council and state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker would issue an emergency regulation banning flavored e-cigarette products. "Vaping is dangerous," the governor said. "At a minimum, it is addicting young people to nicotine at a very early age." The push at the state and federal levels to ban certain vaping products comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that 380 confirmed or probable cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarettes had been identified in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with six confirmed deaths. Earlier this month, Michigan imposed a similar ban. Bills to halt the sale of flavored vaping products have been introduced in California and Massachusetts. Last week, Trump, appearing beside Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, announced that his administration would move toward a federal ban of flavored vaping products. "Vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, but we can't allow people to get sick and allow our youth to be so affected," the president said. © 2019 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 26617 - Posted: 09.17.2019

By Jane E. Brody Late one morning in June, L.J.’s husband got a distressed call from one of his wife’s colleagues. “You’d better come here right away. Your wife is acting weird,” the colleague said. Ms. J., who had just returned from a doctor visit during which she underwent a minor painful procedure, kept asking her colleague for a password despite being told each time that there was none. Ms. J., a 61-year-old arts administrator in New York who did not want her full name used, seemed physically O.K., her colleague recalled. She knew who she was, she walked and talked properly, but what she said made no sense. Plus, Ms. J. could remember nothing that happened after she left the doctor’s office and made her way to work. When Ms. J. continued to behave oddly, the alarmed colleague called 911 and paramedics took her to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital. The next thing Ms. J. remembers is waking up hours later in a hospital bed and asking, “Where am I? Why am I here?” In the interim, Dr. Carolyn Brockington, a vascular surgeon and director of the hospital’s stroke unit, had examined her and ordered a CT scan and M.R.I. of her brain. All the results were normal. There was no physical weakness, no structural abnormality, no evidence of a stroke, seizure or transient ischemic attack. So, what had happened? A diagnosis of exclusion: Transient global amnesia, often called T.G.A. It is a temporary lapse in memory that can never be retrieved. “It’s as if the brain is on overload and takes a break to recharge,” Dr. Brockington said in an interview. She likened it to rebooting a computer to eradicate an unexplainable glitch. Those with T.G.A. do not experience any alteration in consciousness or abnormal movements. Only the ability to lay down memories is affected. All other parts of the brain appear to be working normally. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Learning & Memory; Stroke
Link ID: 26616 - Posted: 09.16.2019

By Ioanna Roumeliotis On any day, at any moment, Toronto’s subway can transform into a tragic stage. It's a place where every year people try to end their lives. Those acts of private despair become public spectacles that force transit workers and commuters to bear horrible witness, a collective trauma that for decades was shrouded in silence. A silence the Toronto Transit Commission is breaking. Talking openly about suicide is incredibly difficult and some consider it nothing short of dangerous. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has a different perspective — that acknowledging what's going on is a crucial part of preventing people from taking their own lives, and showing how simple things can head off tragedy. "We are worried," says John O’Grady, who's been in charge of safety at the TTC for the past 21 years, referring to the fear of a contagion effect if people talk about suicide. "But not talking about it hasn’t worked." It was the death of 27-year-old Michael Padbury three years ago that marked a cautious turning point for the TTC. In a series of tweets, a spokesperson told frustrated commuters the delays were the result of someone’s mental health anguish. It was a nod to the fact Padbury’s death was a deliberate act. And for his mother, it was an acknowledgement that her son existed. ©2019 CBC/Radio-Canada

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 26615 - Posted: 09.16.2019

Randi Hagerman Fragile X syndrome is caused by an expansion of CGG nucleotide repeats in the FMR1 gene at the end of the long arms of the X chromosome. To identify the mutation, researchers culture cells in media deficient in folic acid, which causes the ends of the X chromosome to appear as though they are about to break off. Before molecular testing, this was the only way to see the mutation. The FMR1 gene encodes the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which regulates gene expression and protein translation in the brain. FMRP is important for maintaining synaptic plasticity and the ability to make new neurons. Levels of FMRP associated with disease severity in patients with FXS. © 1986–2019 The Scientist

Keyword: Development of the Brain
Link ID: 26614 - Posted: 09.16.2019

By Lateshia Beachum A Tokyo-based cashier allegedly stole credit card information from 1,300 customers. According to police, he used only his brain to take the information. Yusuke Taniguchi, 34, was arrested Thursday when police said they discovered he used the stolen information to purchase bags worth an estimated $2,600 in March, according to CNN. The police intercepted that order and delivered Taniguchi’s bags themselves to catch the alleged thief, according to Vice. People close to the investigation have told news media that Taniguchi has a “photographic memory.” Police say the part-time cashier retained customer credit card information in the short amount of time it took for them to purchase their goods, according to SoraNews24. He remembered all the details until he was able to write down the information, which he would later use to shop online, police said. But science doesn’t really back the claims of his photographic memory. Scientists have not found evidence of photographic memories, but there are people with very good memories who can recall information in astounding detail — an eidetic memory — according to Daniel Burns, a professor of psychology at Union College in New York. Most people conflate having an eidetic memory with a photographic memory, but scientists who study memory draw a hard line between the two, he said. A person with an eidetic memory is able to recall an image in great detail after seeing it once, with the ability to remember the image up to four minutes. But the eidetic image is not identical even though it has many perceptual similarities, according to Burns. Furthermore, eidetic memory is most commonly found in children between the ages of 6 and 12, and it’s hardly ever found in adults, according to research. “In our mind, a ‘photographic memory’ is being able to look at something and days later call up a picture that’s identical to the actual image,” he said. “That doesn’t seem to exist.” © 1996-2019 The Washington Post

Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 26613 - Posted: 09.15.2019

By Olga Perepelkina, Kristina Astakhova We all remember “the dress.” An illusion like this shows that even a phenomenon as basic as color perception can be ambiguous. Emotions are much more complex entities than colors and thus can lead to even more confusion. Our perception of emotional expressions is related not only to the physical properties of a face, but also to a bunch of other factors affecting both the percipient (for example, a person's past experience, cultural background, or individual expectations) and the situation itself (the context). To test that idea, researchers at Neurodata Lab created a short test and asked more than 1,400 people from 29 countries to have a look at four pairs of photographs, or eight in total. The first image in each pair showed a woman with a certain facial expression. The second was identical to the first, except that it had an object added to it: a mascara brush, a book and glasses, a toothpick or a guitar. These objects added context. People then had to look at every image and indicate if the facial expressions looked emotional to them. Responses differed significantly between the photos with an added object and those without one. On average, people responded that the faces were “emotional” in most images without any additional context (in 3.52 out of four). After an object was added, subjects frequently changed their opinions and instead responded that emotions were present in only one about photo out of four (to be precise, it was 1.2 out of four). Emotional perception depends on context in the broadest sense of this word. The way we express ourselves nonverbally is affected by an array of factors, such as individual differences in age, gender, society or culture, and differences in various situational factors. © 2019 Scientific American

Keyword: Emotions
Link ID: 26612 - Posted: 09.15.2019

Ariana Eunjung Cha BARTLETT, Ill. — Danielle Rizzo’s son is screaming. He is planted in the middle of the lobby of his elementary school, clinging to rainbow-colored blocks as she gently explains that she is here — off schedule, in the middle of the day — to take him to a doctor’s appointment. But the first-grader is not listening. “Happy Meal,” he repeats over and over again. “Happy Meal!” His little brother, who is also going to the appointment, is nearby, not moving. Rizzo is relieved that the two of them are not melting down at the same time, which happens all too often, and firmly guides them out the door. Rizzo’s children, ages 7 and 6, were at the center of one of the most ethically complex legal cases in the modern-day fertility industry. Three years ago, while researching treatment options for her sons, Rizzo says she made an extraordinary discovery: The boys are part of an autism cluster involving at least a dozen children scattered across the United States, Canada and Europe, all conceived with sperm from the same donor. Many of the children have secondary diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, epilepsy and other developmental and learning disabilities. The phenomenon is believed to be unprecedented and has attracted the attention of some of the world’s foremost experts in the genetics of autism, who have been gathering blood and spit samples from the families. Autism, which affects an estimated 1 of 59 children in the United States, is a “spectrum disorder” characterized by difficulties navigating social situations and restricted or repetitive behavior. Some people who have it never speak and need daily care, while others, like actress Daryl Hannah and Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri, are highly successful in their fields. In recent years a growing movement has been challenging the notion that autism is a disorder at all. Rather, advocates argue, it’s a difference that should be celebrated as adding diversity to human communities.

Keyword: Autism; Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 26611 - Posted: 09.15.2019

Ed Yong Annika Reinhold says that she likes playing with animals (she has two cats) and “doing unconventional things that no one has done before.” When the chance came up to teach rats to play hide-and-seek, she was a natural candidate. One might question the wisdom of training rats to hide, but there’s a good reason to do so. In neuroscience, animal research is traditionally about control and conditioning—training animals, in carefully regulated settings, to do specific tasks using food rewards. But those techniques aren’t very useful for studying the neuroscience of play, which is universal to humans, widespread among animals, and the antithesis of control and conditioning. Playing is about freedom and fun. How do you duplicate those qualities in a lab? After watching YouTube videos of pets and their owners, Michael Brecht, a neuroscientist at the Humboldt University of Berlin, came up with the idea of using hide-and-seek. Reinhold, a master’s student in his lab, jumped at the chance. She knew that rats are social, intelligent, and playful, and will chase, roughhouse, and wrestle with one another, much like human children do. Perhaps they’d play with her. “I was optimistic enough to try it,” she says. She began by getting six adolescent rats accustomed to a 300-square-foot room fitted with boxes and barriers behind which they (or Reinhold) could hide. She also habituated the animals to her by stroking them, chasing them with her hands, and tickling them.

Keyword: Learning & Memory; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 26610 - Posted: 09.13.2019

By Emily Underwood Adrenaline. The word is synonymous with any activity that gets our blood racing, whether it be encountering a rattlesnake or watching the latest horror movie. But a new study reveals that when it comes with our body’s stress response, adrenaline may be less important than another hormone, one that seeps out of our bones. Our skeleton is much more than a rigid scaffold for the body, says geneticist Gérard Karsenty of Columbia University. Our bones secrete a protein called osteocalcin, discovered in the 1970s, that rebuilds the skeleton. In 2007, Karsenty and colleagues discovered that this protein acts as a hormone to keep blood sugar levels in check and burn fat. Later, his group showed that the hormone is important for maintaining brain function and physical fitness, restoring memory in aged mice and boosting performance during exercise in old mice and people. The findings led Karsenty to hypothesize that animals evolved bony skeletons to escape danger. The new study furthers that argument. Karsenty and colleagues exposed mice to several stressors, including a mild electric shock to the foot and a whiff of fox urine, a scent that triggers an innate fear response. Then, the researchers measured the osteocalcin in the animals’ blood. Within 2 to 3 minutes of being exposed to a stressor, levels of osteocalcin in the mice quadrupled, the team reports today in Cell Metabolism. A classic stressor in people had a similar effect: When the researchers asked volunteers to speak in front of an audience, osteocalcin levels also spiked. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Hormones & Behavior; Stress
Link ID: 26609 - Posted: 09.13.2019

By Maanvi Singh The world’s most widely used insecticides may delay the migrations of songbirds and hurt their chances of mating. In the first experiment to track the effects of a neonicotinoid on birds in the wild, scientists captured 24 white-crowned sparrows as they migrated north from Mexico and the southern United States to Canada and Alaska. The team fed half of those birds with a low dose of the commonly used agricultural insecticide imidacloprid and the other half with a slightly higher dose. An additional 12 birds were captured and dosed with sunflower oil, but no pesticide. Within hours, the dosed birds began to lose weight and ate less food, researchers report in the Sept. 13 Science. Birds given the higher amount of imidacloprid (3.9 milligrams per kilogram of body mass) lost 6 percent of their body mass within six hours. That’s about 1.6 grams for an average bird weighing 27 grams. Tracking the birds (Zonotrichia leucophrys) revealed that the pesticide-treated sparrows also lagged behind the others when continuing their migration to their summer mating grounds. The findings suggest that neonicotinoid insecticides, already implicated in dropping bee populations, could also have a hand in the decline of songbird populations across North America. From 1966 to 2013, the populations of nearly three-quarters of farmland bird species across the continent have precipitously dropped. The researchers dosed the birds in the lab with carefully measured amounts of pesticide mixed with sunflower oil. In the wild, birds might feed on seeds coated with imidacloprid. The highest dose that “we gave each bird is the equivalent of if they ate one-tenth of [a single] pesticide-coated corn seed,” says Christy Morrissey, a biologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. “Frankly, these were minuscule doses we gave the birds.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2019.

Keyword: Neurotoxins; Obesity
Link ID: 26608 - Posted: 09.13.2019

By Kenneth Shinozuka What is consciousness? In a sense, this is one of the greatest mysteries in the universe. yet in another, it’s not an enigma at all. If we define consciousness as the feeling of what it’s like to subjectively experience something, then there is nothing more deeply familiar. Most of us know what it’s like to feel the pain of a headache, to empathize with another human being, to see the color blue, to hear the soaring melodies of a symphony, and so on. In fact, as philosopher Galen Strawson insightfully pointed out in a New York Times opinion piece, consciousness is “the only thing in the universe whose ultimate intrinsic nature we can claim to know.” This is a crucial point. We don’t have direct access to the outer world. Instead we experience it through the filter of our consciousness. We have no idea what the color blue really looks like “out there,” only how it appears to us “in here.” Furthermore, as some cognitive scientists like Donald Hoffman have argued in recent years, external reality is likely to be far different from our perceptions of it. The human brain has been optimized, through the process of evolution, to model reality in the way that’s most conducive to its survival, not in the way that most faithfully represents the world. Science has produced an outstandingly accurate description of the outer world, but it has told us very little, if anything, about our internal consciousness. With sufficient knowledge of physics, I can calculate all the forces acting on the chair in front of me, but I don’t know what “forces” or “laws” are giving rise to my subjective experience of the chair. © 2019 Scientific American

Keyword: Consciousness
Link ID: 26607 - Posted: 09.13.2019

Diana Kwon A few years ago, officials at Switzerland’s Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office approached Hanno Würbel, the head of the animal welfare division at the University of Bern, with the task of examining the quality of experimental design in the country’s animal research. Growing public awareness of the reproducibility crisis in science—which has emerged as researchers discover that a large proportion of scientific results cannot be replicated in subsequent experiments—had put pressure on the government authority to examine this issue, Würbel says. “They wanted to know, what is the situation in Switzerland . . . and is there anything that we need to improve?” To address this question, Würbel and his colleagues examined scientific protocols in 1,277 applications for licenses to conduct animal research that were submitted to and approved by the Swiss Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO). Their analysis, published in PLOS Biology in 2016, concluded that most of the experiments described in approved applications lacked scientific rigor. Only a fraction of the protocols included important measures against bias, such as blinding, randomization, or a clear plan for statistical analysis. It’s now one of several studies that have pointed to critical flaws in the way animal experiments are designed—and many researchers argue that these flaws are major contributors to the reproducibility crisis plaguing published pre-clinical research. In 2011, for example, scientists at the pharmaceutical company Bayer reported that they were unable to reproduce the findings from 43 of 67 projects on potential drug targets in oncology, cardiology, and women’s health. Meanwhile, a 2015 PLOS Biology paper reported that more than 50 percent of preclinical research is not reproducible. The latter study’s authors highlighted poor experimental design as one of the main causes of the problem and estimated that, in the United States alone, approximately $28 billion is spent each year on preclinical experiments that cannot be replicated. © 1986–2019 The Scientist.

Keyword: Animal Rights
Link ID: 26606 - Posted: 09.13.2019

By Temma Ehrenfeld One night in her Nashville apartment, Bre Banks read a comment from her boyfriend on Facebook. They were in a shaky spell, and his words seemed proof she would lose him. She put her laptop down on the couch and headed to the bedroom to cry. “My legs seized up, and I fell,” she recalled. With her knees and forehead pressing into the carpet, she heard a voice that said, “Slit your wrists, slit your wrists.” She saw herself in the bathtub with the blood flowing. She was terrified that if she moved she would die. In one study, about a quarter of the suicide attempts were made by people who reported zero suicidal thoughts. Banks, then 25, was a disciplined graduate student with a job and close friends and had no psychiatric history. “I had never considered suicide an option,” she says. But for the next three days, she couldn’t sleep while the voice and disturbing images persisted. After seeing a therapist, she decided to teach herself techniques from dialectical behavior therapy, one of the few treatments shown to reduce suicidality. The voices and images came back over the next few months, but eventually faded. Eight years later, Banks now evaluates suicide prevention programs across Tennessee as a manager at the large mental health provider Centerstone’s research institute, and she and the same boyfriend just celebrated their 10th anniversary. Copyright 2019 Undark

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 26605 - Posted: 09.12.2019

Salvatore Domenic Morgera The human brain sends hundreds of billions of neural signals each second. It’s an extraordinarily complex feat. A healthy brain must establish an enormous number of correct connections and ensure that they remain accurate for the entire period of the information transfer – that can take seconds, which in “brain time” is pretty long. How does each signal get to its intended destination? The challenge for your brain is similar to what you’re faced with when trying to engage in conversation at a noisy cocktail party. You’re able to focus on the person you’re talking to and “mute” the other discussions. This phenomenon is selective hearing – what’s called the cocktail party effect. When everyone at a large, crowded party talks at roughly the same loudness, the average sound level of the person you’re speaking with is about equal to the average level of all the other partygoers’ chatter combined. If it were a satellite TV system, this roughly equal balance of desired signal and background noise would result in poor reception. Nevertheless, this balance is good enough to let you understand conversation at a bustling party. How does the human brain do it, distinguishing among billions of ongoing “conversations” within itself and locking on to a specific signal for delivery? My team’s research into the neurological networks of the brain shows there are two activities that support its ability to establish reliable connections in the presence of significant biological background noise. Although the brain’s mechanisms are quite complex, these two activities act as what an electrical engineer calls a matched filter - a processing element used in high-performance radio systems, and now known to exist in nature. © 2010–2019, The Conversation US, Inc.

Keyword: Attention
Link ID: 26604 - Posted: 09.12.2019

By Roni Dengler | Testosterone often gets a bad rap. The hormone responsible for male sexual development has been linked in studies to aggression and a lack of empathy. People with autism – a developmental condition that can lead to anxiety and trouble interacting with others – also have a hard time empathizing. Since the condition is four times more common in boys than girls, scientists once thought testosterone might reduce our ability to tell how others are feeling. But now, researchers find that’s not the case. “Of course, the primary suspect when we have something that is sharply differentiated by sex is testosterone,” University of Pennsylvania marketing professor Gideon Nave, who led the work, said in a press release. In the new study, Nave and colleagues report men given extra testosterone were able to read emotions just as well as those with typical hormone levels. The findings contrast a prevailing hypothesis that testosterone challenges men’s ability to empathize. Emotional Eyes In previous studies, other scientists tested whether testosterone influences empathy. They gave a few dozen women testosterone and then tested their ability to infer emotions by looking at pictures of people’s eyes. The studies concluded the testosterone lowered the women’s ability to empathize. The findings lent support for what’s known as the “extreme male brain hypothesis.” The hypothesis posits that men and women process and experience the world differently – women empathize and men systemize. Another study linking prenatal testosterone levels to autism added weight to the hypothesis.

Keyword: Hormones & Behavior; Emotions
Link ID: 26603 - Posted: 09.12.2019