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By Esther Landhuis As the sun went down on a recent Friday, the hospital clinic buzzed with activity. “Loads of patients turned up without appointments,” says Sarah Tabrizi, a neurologist at University College London. It wasn’t just the typical post-holiday rush. Many rushed in, Tabrizi suspects, after hearing news last month about a potential new therapy for Huntington’s disease, a brain disorder that cripples the body and blurs speech and thinking, sometimes not too long after a person’s 30th birthday. Like other neurodegenerative disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s has no cure. Over decades biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into developing and testing pharmaceuticals for these devastating conditions, only to unleash storms of disappointment. Yet in December a ray of something approximating hope poked through when a California company released preliminary findings from its small Huntington’s study. Results from this early-stage clinical trial have not yet been published or reported at medical meetings. But some researchers have growing confidence that the drug should work for Huntington’s and perhaps other diseases with clear genetic roots. The initial data showed enough promise to convince Roche to license the drug from California-based Ionis Pharmaceuticals, which sponsored the recent Huntington’s trial. The pharma giant paid Ionis $45 million for the right to conduct further studies and work with regulatory agencies to bring the experimental therapy to market. © 2018 Scientific American

Keyword: Huntingtons
Link ID: 24536 - Posted: 01.17.2018

Two independent teams of scientists from the University of Utah and the University of Massachusetts Medical School have discovered that a gene crucial for learning, called Arc, can send its genetic material from one neuron to another by employing a strategy commonly used by viruses. The studies, both published in Cell, unveil a new way that nervous system cells interact. “This work is a great example of the importance of basic neuroscience research,” said Edmund Talley, Ph.D., a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health. “What began as an effort to examine the behavior of a gene involved in memory and implicated in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease has unexpectedly led to the discovery of an entirely new process, which neurons may use to send genetic information to one another.” While Arc is known to play a vital role in the brain’s ability to store new information, little is known about precisely how it works. In addition, previous studies had detailed similarities between the Arc protein and proteins found in certain viruses like HIV, but it was unclear how those commonalities influenced the behavior of the Arc protein. The University of Utah researchers began their examination of the Arc gene by introducing it into bacterial cells. To their surprise, when the cells made the Arc protein, it clumped together into a form that resembled a viral capsid, the shell that contains a virus’ genetic information. The Arc “capsids” appeared to mirror viral capsids in their physical structure as well as their behavior and other properties.

Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 24535 - Posted: 01.17.2018

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Our skeletons may help to keep our weight stable, according to a fascinating new study with animals. The study suggests that bones could be much more intimately involved in tracking weight and controlling appetite than scientists realized. It also raises interesting questions about whether a sedentary lifestyle could cause us to pack on pounds in part by discombobulating our sensitive bones. There is no question that our bodies like to maintain whatever weight they have sustained for any period of time. This is in large part because of our biological predilection for homeostasis, or physiological stability, which prompts our bodies to regain any weight that we lose and, in theory, lose any weight that we gain. To achieve this stability, however, our bodies have to be able to sense how much we weigh, note when that weight changes, and respond accordingly, as if we contained an internal bathroom scale. It has not been clear how our bodies manage this trick. Some years ago, scientists did discover one of the likely mechanisms, which involves leptin, a hormone released by fat cells. In broad terms, when people add fat, they produce more leptin, which then jump-starts processes in the brain that reduce appetite and should cause their bodies to drop that new weight. But obviously this system is not perfect or no one would hold on to added pounds. So for the new study, which was published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international group of researchers began to wonder whether there might be other processes at work. To find out, they first gathered groups of mice and rats. They chose both species, hoping that, if any results were common to each, this might indicate that they also could occur in other mammals, including, potentially, us. Then the scientists implanted tiny capsules into each rodent’s abdomen. Some contained weights equaling about 15 percent of each animal’s body mass. Others were empty. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 24534 - Posted: 01.17.2018

Nicola Davis Obese patients undergoing stomach-shrinking surgery have half the risk of death in the years that follow compared with those tackling their weight through diet and behaviour alone, new research suggests. Experts say obesity surgery is cost-effective, leads to substantial weight loss and can help tackle type 2 diabetes. But surgeons say not enough of the stomach-shrinking surgeries are carried out in the UK, with figures currently lagging behind other European countries, including France and Belgium – despite the latter having a smaller population. “We don’t think this [new study] alone is sufficient to conclude that obese patients should push for bariatric surgery, but this additional information certainly seems to provide additional support,” said Philip Greenland, co-author of the latest study from Northwestern University. In the new study, one of several on obesity surgery published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers sought to explore whether stomach-shrinking operations, known as bariatric surgery, had a long-term impact on the risk of death among obese individuals, compared with non-surgical approaches to weight loss. In total, more than 33,500 participants were involved in the study – 8,385 of whom had one of three types of bariatric surgery between 2005 and 2014. The majority of participants had a BMI greater than 35; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 24533 - Posted: 01.17.2018

By Catherine Offord When Floris Klumpers zapped people with electricity while working toward his PhD in the late 2000s, he expected his volunteers’ amygdalae—key emotion centers in the brain—to light up in anticipation of a shock. “There was this idea that the amygdala is the most important structure in emotion processing—especially in fear processing,” says Klumpers, then at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “We were quite surprised, using fMRI studies, to not find amygdala activity when people were anticipating an adverse event.” Klumpers assumed he’d made a mistake, but after replicating the finding in further experimental work, he began thinking about the different stages of animals’ fear responses. First, there’s anticipation, during which an individual becomes alert and plans reactions to possible danger. Then there’s confrontation, when it has to act to avoid imminent danger. Perhaps, Klumpers reasoned, the brain’s fear-processing regions treat these two phases differently. To investigate, Klumpers, now a neuroscientist at Radboud University Medical Center, and colleagues recently collected data from more than 150 volunteers, who received mild electrical shocks to their fingers as they viewed a computer. “We have a simple cue on the screen that can predict the occurrence of an electrical stimulation,” Klumpers says. In one set of experiments, for example, a yellow square meant a shock was likely, while a blue square signaled no shock for the time being. Meanwhile, the researchers monitored participants’ heart rates and imaged their brains using fMRI. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Emotions; Stress
Link ID: 24532 - Posted: 01.16.2018

Ian Sample Science editor Donatella Versace finds it in the conflict of ideas, Jack White under pressure of deadlines. For William S Burroughs, an old Dadaist trick helped: cutting pages into pieces and rearranging the words. Every artist has their own way of generating original ideas, but what is happening inside the brain might not be so individual. In new research, scientists report signature patterns of neural activity that mark out those who are most creative. “We have identified a pattern of brain connectivity that varies across people, but is associated with the ability to come up with creative ideas,” said Roger Beaty, a psychologist at Harvard University. “It’s not like we can predict with perfect accuracy who’s going to be the next Einstein, but we can get a pretty good sense of how flexible a given person’s thinking is.” Creative thinking is one of the primary drivers of cultural and technological change, but the brain activity that underpins original thought has been hard to pin down. In an effort to shed light on the creative process, Beaty teamed up with colleagues in Austria and China to scan people’s brains as they came up with original ideas. The scientists asked the volunteers to perform a creative thinking task as they lay inside a brain scanner. While the machine recorded their white matter at work, the participants had 12 seconds to come up with the most imaginative use for an object that flashed up on a screen. Three independent scorers then rated their answers. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Attention; Brain imaging
Link ID: 24531 - Posted: 01.16.2018

By LAURA BEIL Millions of American children have been exposed to a parasite that could interfere with their breathing, liver function, eyesight and even intelligence. Yet few scientists have studied the infection in the United States, and most doctors are unaware of it. The parasites, roundworms of the genus Toxocara, live in the intestines of cats and dogs, especially strays. Microscopic eggs from Toxocara are shed in the animals’ feces, contaminating yards, playgrounds and sandboxes. These infectious particles cling to the hands of children playing outside. Once swallowed, the eggs soon hatch, releasing larvae that wriggle through the body and, evidence suggests, may even reach the brain, compromising learning and cognition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention periodically tracks positive tests for Toxocara through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The latest report, published in September in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, estimated that about 5 percent of the United States population — or about 16 million people — carry Toxocara antibodies in their blood, a sign they have ingested the eggs. But the risk is not evenly shared: Poor and minority populations are more often exposed. The rate among African Americans was almost 7 percent, according to the C.D.C. Among people living below the poverty line, the infection rate was 10 percent. The odds of a positive test rise with age, but it’s unknown whether this reflects recent infections or simply an accumulation of antibodies from past encounters. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, calls Toxocara both one of the most common parasites in the country and arguably the most neglected. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Development of the Brain
Link ID: 24530 - Posted: 01.16.2018

By Katarina Zimmer Scientists can trace the evolutionary histories of bats and humans back to a common ancestor that lived some tens of millions of years ago. And on the surface, those years of evolutionary divergence have separated us from the winged mammals in every way possible. But look on a sociobehavioral level, as some bat researchers are doing, and the two animal groups share much more than meets the eye. Like humans, bats form huge congregations of up to millions of individuals at a time. On a smaller scale, they form intimate social bonds with one another. And recently, scientists have suggested that bats are capable of vocal learning—the ability to modify vocalizations after hearing sounds. Researchers long considered this skill to be practiced only by humans, songbirds, and cetaceans, but have more recently identified examples of vocal learning in seals, sea lions, elephants—and now, bats. In humans, vocal learning can take the form of adopting styles of speech—for example, if a Brit were to pick up an Australian accent after moving down under. Yossi Yovel, a physicist turned bat biologist at Tel Aviv University who has long been fascinated by animal behavior, recently demonstrated that bat pups can acquire “dialects” in a similar way. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Language; Animal Communication
Link ID: 24529 - Posted: 01.16.2018

By PATRICK SHARKEY Over the past few years, the discussion of crime and violence in the United States has focused on police brutality, mass incarceration and the sharp rise in violence in cities like Baltimore, St. Louis and Chicago. This is entirely appropriate: Any spike in violence should garner attention, and redressing the injustices of our criminal justice system is a matter of moral urgency. But it is also worth reflecting on how much the level of violence has fallen in this country over the past 25 years and how widespread the benefits of that decline have been. From the 1970s through the early part of the 1990s, the murder rate in some cities in the United States rose to levels seen only in the most violent, war-torn nations of the developing world. In the years since, violent crime has decreased in almost every city, in many cases by more than 75 percent. For well-off urbanites, the decline of crime is most visible in sanitized, closely guarded city spaces where tourists and others can now comfortably wander about. But far more consequential have been the changes in low-income, highly segregated urban communities. Indeed, my research has shown that the most disadvantaged people have gained the most from the reduction in violent crime. Start with the lives saved. Though homicide is not a common cause of death for most of the United States population, for African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34 it is the leading cause, which means that any change in the homicide rate has a disproportionate impact on them. The sociologist Michael Friedson and I calculated what the life expectancy would be today for blacks and whites had the homicide rate never shifted from its level in 1991. We found that the national decline in the homicide rate since then has increased the life expectancy of black men by roughly nine months. That figure may not seem like much, but it is exceedingly rare for any change in society to generate such a degree of change in life expectancy. For example, researchers have estimated that if the obesity epidemic in the United States was eliminated, life expectancy would increase by a similar amount. The drop in homicides is probably the most important development in the health of black men in the past several decades. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Aggression; Attention
Link ID: 24528 - Posted: 01.15.2018

By Adam Bear, Rebecca Fortgang and Michael Bronstein Have you ever felt as though you predicted exactly when the light was going to turn green or sensed that the doorbell was about to ring? Imagine the possibility that these moments of clairvoyance occur simply because of a glitch in your mind’s time logs. What happened first — your thought about the doorbell or its actual ringing? It may have felt as if the thought came first, but when two events (ringing of doorbell, thought about doorbell) occur close together, we can mistake their order. This leads to the sense that we accurately predicted the future when, in fact, all we did is notice the past. In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we found that this tendency to mix up the timing of thoughts and events may be more than a simple mental hiccup. We supposed that if some people are prone to mixing up the order of their thoughts and perceptions in this way, they could develop a host of odd beliefs. Most obviously, they might come to believe they are clairvoyant or psychic — having abilities to predict such things as whether it is going to rain. Further, these individuals might confabulate — unconsciously make up — explanations for why they have these special abilities, inferring that they are particularly important (even godlike) or are tapping into magical forces that transcend the physical world. Such beliefs are hallmarks of psychosis, seen in mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but they are not uncommon in less-extreme forms in the general population. Would even ordinary people who mistime their thoughts and perceptions be more likely to hold ­delusion-like ideas? © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Attention; Schizophrenia
Link ID: 24527 - Posted: 01.15.2018

By Kelly Crowe, "Scientists identify a sixth taste sense." It's a claim that has made headlines several times over the last few years — first for fat, then for starch and even for water. Now the new candidate for the sixth taste is calcium, after scientists identified the first calcium taste receptors in fruit flies. Researchers at the University of California studied fruit fly behaviour and discovered the flies could taste toxic levels of calcium and didn't like it. Then they used genetics to show that the calcium taste sense is hardwired into the fruit fly brain. University of California professor Craig Montell believes humans might share the fruit fly's taste sensor for calcium. (UC Santa Barbara) And because fruit flies and humans share the other main taste senses — sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savoury (called "umami") — the study's lead author, Craig Montell, thinks there's a good chance that humans also have specific calcium taste receptors. "I would say there is very good reason that, given that all the other tastes have been well conserved between flies and humans, that there probably is," said Montell. But the science of taste is surprisingly complicated. Even the idea that there might be additional taste receptors is controversial. As far back as Aristotle's time, scientists have been puzzling over the question. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Chemical Senses (Smell & Taste)
Link ID: 24526 - Posted: 01.15.2018

By Linda Searing That’s the number of babies in the United States who die each year as the result of a sleep-related issue, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes vary, but child health experts believe many of the deaths would be preventable if more parents adhered to safe-sleep practices. For instance, babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, but the CDC found that 22 percent of moms placed babies on their side or stomach. Soft bedding — blankets, pillows, bumper pads — should be kept out of the sleep area, but 39 percent of moms said they used soft bedding. And it’s a good idea to share a room with an infant but not a bed with a baby. Still, 61 percent of moms told the CDC they had slept with their babies. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24525 - Posted: 01.15.2018

By Katarina Zimmer Human mothers will usually cradle their infants on their left sides, such that they can gaze into each other’s left eyes, a position thought to favor processing in the brain’s right hemisphere. A new study in Biology Letters today (January 10) shows that walruses and flying foxes are no different, having such lateralized cuddling biases during maternal care, too. “Several decades ago, it was a popular belief that [this] brain asymmetry is only a human thing,” says the lead author of the study, Andrey Giljov, a zoologist at St. Petersburg University. But recent research has shown that in addition to humans, primate mothers tend to hold their infants to the left, and some of Giljov’s previous work demonstrated that several species of mammal infants like to keep their mothers in their left visual fields when approaching their parents from behind. A bias towards keeping a social partner on a certain side, the new study explains, reflects specialization of the brain’s right hemisphere for processing social information, as visual information is handled by an animal’s contralateral brain hemisphere. The work reveals that flying foxes and walruses not only have a left-biased cuddling preference, but also tend to rest face-to-face in the position that allows mother and young to keep each other within their left visual fields. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Laterality; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24524 - Posted: 01.12.2018

Alison Abbott The brain’s navigation system — which keeps track of where we are in space — also monitors the movements of others, experiments in bats and rats suggest. In a study published in Science1 on 11 January, neuroscientists in Israel pinpoint individual brain cells that seem specialized to track other animals or objects. These cells occur in the same region of the brain — the hippocampus — as cells that are known to map a bat’s own location. In a second paper2, scientists in Japan report finding similar brain activity when rats watched other rats moving. The unexpected findings deepen insight into the mammalian brain’s complex navigation system. Bats and rats are social animals that, like people, need to know the locations of other members of their group so that they can interact, learn from each other and move around together. Researchers have already discovered several different types of cell whose signals combine to tell an animal where it is: ‘place’ cells, for example, fire when animals are in a particular location, whereas other types correspond to speed or head direction, or even act as a kind of compass. The latest reports mark the first discovery of cells that are attuned to other animals, rather than the self. “Obviously, the whereabouts of others must be encoded somewhere in the brain, but it is intriguing to see that it seems be in the same area that tracks self,” says Edvard Moser, a neuroscientist at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim, Norway, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for revealing elements of the navigation system. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited,

Keyword: Hearing
Link ID: 24523 - Posted: 01.12.2018

By Jessica Wright, The prevalence of autism in the United States remained relatively stable from 2014 to 2016, according to a new analysis. The results were published January 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers report the frequency of autism in the U.S. as 2.24 percent in 2014, 2.41 percent in 2015 and 2.76 percent in 2016, respectively. The new data come from the National Health Interview Survey—a yearly interview in which trained census workers ask tens of thousands of parents about the health of their children. These questions include whether a healthcare professional has ever told them that their child has autism. The new figures, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), represent the highest autism prevalence in the U.S. reported by the agency to date. “We cannot consider autism as rare a condition as people previously thought,” says lead researcher Wei Bao, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa. The peak is likely to result from the fact that the data are based on parent reports. These reports may capture children with relatively mild autism features better than do approaches that rely on medical records, Bao says. Autism’s reported prevalence in the U.S. has climbed steadily in the past few decades. Researchers attribute most of this increase to changes in how the prevalence is measured, increased awareness of the condition and shifts in the criteria for diagnosing autism. © 2018 Scientific American,

Keyword: Autism
Link ID: 24522 - Posted: 01.12.2018

By Asha Tomlinson, Tyana Grundig, CBC News Barb Litt, 49, decided to have gastric band surgery at a private clinic in Toronto two years ago because she'd hit a low point in her life. She was depressed, unemployed and desperate to lose weight. But rather than shedding a few pounds, the mother of two ended up gaining a $12,000 debt she can't shake and a shooting pain in her side that ultimately required a second operation in hospital to remove the silicone band around her stomach that was supposed to shrink her appetite. A new Marketplace investigation reveals Litt's painful experience is hardly unique. The clinic that performed Litt's surgery, Slimband, no longer offers the procedure. Its former chief surgeon had his licence temporarily suspended by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons last April, following years of complaints from clients. But the financing company linked to the clinic, Credit Medical, is still busy collecting money from clients like Litt, who took out high-interest loans to pay for the procedure. Because of the many complications with gastric bands, including erosion, bleeding, slippage and blockages, 2,363 of the devices have had to be surgically removed in public hospitals across Canada, excluding Quebec, since 2010, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Each removal costs between $3,000 and $14,000, meaning taxpayers are on the hook for up to $33 million. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 24521 - Posted: 01.12.2018

Helen Shen For someone who’s not a Sherlock superfan, cognitive neuroscientist Janice Chen knows the BBC’s hit detective drama better than most. With the help of a brain scanner, she spies on what happens inside viewers’ heads when they watch the first episode of the series and then describe the plot. Chen, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has heard all sorts of variations on an early scene, when a woman flirts with the famously aloof detective in a morgue. Some people find Sherlock Holmes rude while others think he is oblivious to the woman’s nervous advances. But Chen and her colleagues found something odd when they scanned viewers’ brains: as different people retold their own versions of the same scene, their brains produced remarkably similar patterns of activity1. Chen is among a growing number of researchers using brain imaging to identify the activity patterns involved in creating and recalling a specific memory. Powerful technological innovations in human and animal neuroscience in the past decade are enabling researchers to uncover fundamental rules about how individual memories form, organize and interact with each other. Using techniques for labelling active neurons, for example, teams have located circuits associated with the memory of a painful stimulus in rodents and successfully reactivated those pathways to trigger the memory. And in humans, studies have identified the signatures of particular recollections, which reveal some of the ways that the brain organizes and links memories to aid recollection. Such findings could one day help to reveal why memories fail in old age or disease, or how false memories creep into eyewitness testimony. These insights might also lead to strategies for improved learning and memory. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited,

Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 24520 - Posted: 01.11.2018

James Gorman Humans, chimpanzees, elephants, magpies and bottle-nosed dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror, according to scientific reports, although as any human past age 50 knows, that first glance in the morning may yield ambiguous results. Not to worry. Scientists are talking about species-wide abilities, not the fact that one’s father or mother makes unpredictable appearances in the looking glass. Mirror self-recognition, at least after noon, is often taken as a measure of a kind of intelligence and self-awareness, although not all scientists agree. And researchers have wondered not only about which species display this ability, but about when it emerges during early development. Children start showing signs of self-recognition at about 12 months at the earliest and chimpanzees at two years old. But dolphins, researchers reported Wednesday, start mugging for the mirror as early as seven months, earlier than humans. Diana Reiss a psychologist at Hunter College, and Rachel Morrison, then a graduate student working with Reiss, studied two young dolphins over three years at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Dr. Reiss first reported self-recognition in dolphins in 2001 with Lori Marino, now the head of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy. She and Dr. Morrison, now an assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of North Carolina Pembroke collaborated on the study and published their findings in the journal PLoS One. Dr. Reiss said the timing of the emergence of self-recognition is significant, because in human children the ability has been tied to other milestones of physical and social development. Since dolphins develop earlier than humans in those areas, the researchers predicted that dolphins should show self-awareness earlier. Seven months was when Bayley, a female, started showing self-directed behavior, like twirling and taking unusual poses. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Consciousness; Evolution
Link ID: 24519 - Posted: 01.11.2018

By Matthew Hutson Imagine searching through your digital photos by mentally picturing the person or image you want. Or sketching a new kitchen design without lifting a pen. Or texting a loved one a sunset photo that was never captured on camera. A computer that can read your mind would find many uses in daily life, not to mention for those paralyzed and with no other way to communicate. Now, scientists have created the first algorithm of its kind to interpret—and accurately reproduce—images seen or imagined by another person. It might be decades before the technology is ready for practical use, but researchers are one step closer to building systems that could help us project our inner mind’s eye outward. “I was impressed that it works so well,” says Zhongming Liu, a computer scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who helped develop an algorithm that can somewhat reproduce what moviegoers see when they’re watching a film. “This is really cool.” Using algorithms to decode mental images isn’t new. Since 2011, researchers have recreated movie clips, photos, and even dream imagery by matching brain activity to activity recorded earlier when viewing images. But these methods all have their limits: Some deal only with narrow domains like face shape, and others can’t build an image from scratch—instead, they must select from preprogrammed images or categories like “person” or “bird.” This new work can generate recognizable images on the fly and even reproduce shapes that are not seen, but imagined. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Vision; Brain imaging
Link ID: 24518 - Posted: 01.11.2018

Richard Harris The results of an IQ test can depend on the gender of the person who's conducting the test. Likewise, studies of pain medication can be completely thrown off by the gender of the experimenter. This underappreciated problem is one reason that some scientific findings don't stand the test of time. Colin Chapman found out about this problem the hard way. He had traveled to Sweden on a Fulbright scholarship to launch his career in neuroscience. And he decided to study whether a nasal spray containing a hormone called oxytocin would help control obesity. The hormone influences appetite and impulsive behavior in obese men. "I was really excited about this project, from what I understood about how the brain works, I thought it was kind of a slam dunk," he says. Chapman set up the experiment and then left for a few years to attend Harvard Law School. When he returned, the findings were not at all what he expected, "and I was really disappointed because this was my baby, it was my big project going into neuroscience." But Chapman, who is now a graduate student at the University of Uppsala, says his idea turned out to be right after all. "There was another research group that around the same time came up with the same idea," he says. "And they ran basically the same project and they got exactly the results I was expecting to get." © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Pain & Touch
Link ID: 24517 - Posted: 01.11.2018