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Health & Wellbeing

Magic mirror charts muscular activity in real time

March 12, 2009 Let’s be honest, for most people exercising is a bit of a pain and the following day you can wind up sore in muscles you didn’t even know you were using. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a system that could help lessen such painful surprises by displaying muscular activity in real time.Read More

Bionic eye begins to see real-world results

For those suffering from degenerative eye diseases, abilities which most of us take for granted like following white lines on roads and sorting socks can have a huge impact on quality of life. "Bionic-eye" technologies that can artificially restore sight are creeping closer to reality and now one of the most promising systems to grace our pages - the Argus II Retinal Implant - is beginning to reap rewards in the real world with positive outcomes reported in the preliminary results of the device's feasibility study and personal stories beginning to emerge of the difference this technology can make to peoples lives.Read More

How smoking accelerates the aging process

Wrinkly skin, breathlessness and a chesty cough are regularly associated with heavy smoking. They can belie a person's age by making someone seem older than they actually are, but until now, scientists have known little about the biological mechanisms that appear to accelerate the aging process.Read More

Neuroscientists identify the neural circuitry of first impressions

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it had better be a good one. When encountering someone for the first time, we are often quick to judge whether we like that person, and research shows that people make relatively accurate and persistent evaluations based on rapid observations of even less than half a minute. Now neuroscientists at New York University and Harvard Universityhave identified the neural systems involved in forming first impressions of others. Read More

Equitable societies are better for everyone

March 3, 2009 In rich societies, poorer people have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. Likewise, large inequalities of income are often regarded as divisive and corrosive. Now, in a groundbreaking book, UK-based researchers go beyond either of these ideas to demonstrate that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them — the well-off as well as the poor. The authors forcefully demonstrate that nearly every modern social and environmental problem — ill-health, lack of community, life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison populations — is more likely to occur in a less equal society, and adversely affects all of those within it.Read More

Study confirms effects of early environment in brains of suicide victims

McGill University and Douglas Institute scientists have discovered that childhood trauma can actually alter your DNA and shape the way your genes work. This confirms in humans earlier findings in rats, that maternal care plays a significant role in influencing the genes that control our stress response. Using a sample of 36 brains; 12 suicide victims who were abused; 12 suicide victims who were not abused and 12 controls, the researchers discovered different epigenetic markings in the brains of the abused group. These markings influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function, a stress-response which increases the risk of suicide.Read More

Drug Testing & Analysis Podcast - a viable test for hGH?

As the incidence of drugs escalates in 21st century living, their detection and analysis have become increasingly important. Sport, the workplace, crime investigation, homeland security, the pharmaceutical industry and the environment are just some of the high profile arenas in which analytical testing has provided an important investigative tool for uncovering the presence of extraneous substances. Now there's a new scientific magazine entitled Drug Testing and Analysis which will explore the analytical techniques used to determine controlled and potentially controversial compounds. As a promotion for the first issue, publishers Wiley-Blackwell have made public a podcast of an interview with Professor Richard Holt of the University of Southampton on the current state of human Growth Hormone use, abuse and detection in sports.Read More

Memory surgery: common drug takes the panic out of traumatic memories

Memory-induced panic attacks can be absolutely crippling for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - the suffocating, gripping fear associated with traumatic memories can destroy victims' careers, relationships and the normal functioning of their lives. But a team of Dutch clinical psychologists are developing an almost magical cure, using a single dose of a common and fairly harmless beta-blocking drug that seems to be able to separate the panic emotion from the factual elements of the memory - leaving patients with an apparently lasting ability to recall and talk about the traumatic incident without the usual devastating rush of fear. Read More

The most insidious invention in history?

Further irrefutable proof that the slot machine is one of the most insidious inventions in history came from the 800 year old University of Cambridge this week. Researchers used fMRI brain-imaging to find that near misses (two identical fruits on the pay line and another just above or below) activate the same reward pathways in a gambler's brain as a win. What's more, slot machine manufacturers seem aware of this, as machines are programmed to deliver near misses almost one in three, enticing losers to keep gambling. Hardly seems fair does it?Read More

Major UK study examines the long-term effects of Ecstasy use

Ecstasy use is widespread across the globe, and has been for more than 20 years now. While there are occasional deaths and more frequent hospitalizations related to Ecstasy use, some argue that as illicit drugs go, it has far fewer negative effects than the real bad boys - heroin, crack, ice - so why is it treated by lawmakers as a class A or schedule 1 drug with penalties attached to it as severe as with heroin? The counter-argument is that Ecstasy's long term effects on the brain aren't well understood - but a recent UK review by a government advisory council has sifted through more than 20 years' worth of evidence to come to the conclusion that yes, Ecstasy can be shown to cause cognitive impairment, memory loss and depression. But the effects are so slight that users still fall well within the normal ranges. The report concludes with a recommendation that Ecstasy be re-classified down to the level of class B drugs like marijuana.Read More

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