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The brain needs to remember faces in 3-dimensions

2010-09-09
Milan, 9 September, 2010 – In our dynamic 3D world, we can encounter a familiar face from any angle and still recognize that face with ease, even if the person has, for example, changed his hair style. This is because our brain has used the 2D snapshots perceived by our eyes (like a camera) to build and store a 3D mental representation of the face, which is resilient to such changes. This is an automatic process that most of us are not consciously aware of, and which appears to be a challenge for people with a particular type of face-blindness, as reported in the September ...

There is more to motor imagery than mental simulation

2010-09-09
Milan, 9 September 2010 – The human brain is a powerful simulation machine. Sports professionals and amateurs alike are well aware of the advantages of mentally rehearsing a movement prior to its execution and it is not surprising that the phenomenon, known as motor imagery, has already been extensively investigated. However, a new study published in the September 2010 issue of Elsevier's Cortex (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/cortex) suggests that there may be more to motor imagery than previously thought. A group of neuroscientists in Italy have shown that the brain is ...

Health reform fails the disadvantaged

2010-09-09
A new study¹ looking at the effects of the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform on access to care, health status and ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in healthcare, shows that the legislation has led to improvements in insurance coverage as well as a decline in financial barriers to care. However, to date, it has not increased people's access to a personal physician or improved their self-rated health. Neither has it reduced healthcare inequalities between ethnic or income groups. The research by Jane Zhu from Harvard Medical School and team suggests that health reform ...

Biofeedback for your brain?

2010-09-09
Philadelphia, PA, 9 September, 2010 - There is new evidence that people can learn to control the activity of some brain regions when they get feedback signals provided by functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). Dr. Andrea Caria and colleagues used this specialized imaging technique during training sessions in three groups of healthy participants who were asked to assess visual emotional stimuli (negative or neutral pictures). The scientists were interested in the signals generated by the insula, a brain region implicated in emotion regulation. While performing ...

Carnegie Mellon researchers develop method to help computer vision systems decipher outdoor scenes

Carnegie Mellon researchers develop method to help computer vision systems decipher outdoor scenes
2010-09-09
PITTSBURGH—Computer vision systems can struggle to make sense of a single image, but a new method devised by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University enables computers to gain a deeper understanding of an image by reasoning about the physical constraints of the scene. In much the same way that a child might use a set of toy building blocks to assemble something that looks like a building depicted on the cover of the toy set, the computer would analyze an outdoor scene by using virtual blocks to build a three-dimensional approximation of the image that makes sense ...

High stress hormone levels linked to increased cardiovascular mortality

2010-09-09
Chevy Chase, MD—High levels of the stress hormone cortisol strongly predict cardiovascular death among both persons with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). In stressful situations, the body responds by producing the hormone cortisol. The effects of cortisol are intended to help the body recover from stress and regain a status of homeostasis, however chronically elevated cortisol levels have been associated with cardiovascular ...

Appetite hormones may predict weight regain after dieting

2010-09-09
Chevy Chase, MD—Many people have experienced the frustration that comes with regaining weight that was lost from dieting. According to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), the levels of appetite hormones in the body prior to dieting may serve as a predictor of weight regain after dieting. "Treating obesity with drugs or dietary programs can be very effective in the short-term, but the long-term success of maintaining the weight lost is usually poor," said Ana Crujeiras, PhD, of Compejo Hospitalario ...

Drug-resistant malaria suggests a health policy change for pregnant women and infants

2010-09-09
September 9, 2010 – Malaria remains a serious global health problem, killing more than one million people per year. Treatment of the mosquito-borne illness relies on antibiotics, and the emergence of drug-resistant malaria is of growing concern. In a report published online today in Genome Research (www.genome.org), scientists analyzed the genomic features of a Peruvian parasite population, identifying the genetic basis for resistance to a common antibiotic and gaining new insights that could improve the efficacy of diagnosis and treatment strategies. The World Health ...

Researchers design more accurate method of determining premature infants' risk of illness

Researchers design more accurate method of determining premature infants risk of illness
2010-09-09
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford University researchers have developed a revolutionary, non-invasive way of quickly predicting the future health of premature infants, an innovation that could better target specialized medical intervention and reduce health-care costs. "What the PhysiScore does is open a new frontier," said Anna Penn, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and a neonatologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. "The national push toward electronic medical records helped us create a tool to detect patterns not readily ...

Researchers identify genes tied to deadliest ovarian cancers

2010-09-09
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have identified two genes whose mutations appear to be linked to ovarian clear cell carcinoma, one of the most aggressive forms of ovarian cancer. Clear cell carcinoma is generally resistant to standard therapy. In an article published online in the September 8 issue of Science Express, the researchers report that they found an average of 20 mutated genes per each ovarian clear cell cancer studied. Two of the genes were more commonly mutated among the samples: ARID1A, a gene whose product normally suppresses tumors; ...

Study identifies critical 'traffic engineer' of the nervous system

Study identifies critical traffic engineer of the nervous system
2010-09-09
Athens, GA—A new University of Georgia study published in the journal Nature has identified a critical enzyme that keeps traffic flowing in the right direction in the nervous system, and the finding could eventually lead to new treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. "There was no medical or any other applied science drive for this project; it was purely curiosity about how transport inside cells works," said study co-author Jacek Gaertig, professor in the cellular biology department in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "But ...

Novel sensing mechanism discovered in dendritic cells to increase immune response to HIV

Novel sensing mechanism discovered in dendritic cells to increase immune response to HIV
2010-09-09
New York, NY (September 8, 2010) – Dendritic cells are the grand sentinels of the immune system, standing guard 24/7 to detect foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, and bring news of the invasion to other immune cells to marshal an attack. These sentinels, however, nearly always fail to respond adequately to HIV, the virus causing AIDS. Now a team of scientists at NYU Langone Medical Center has discovered a sensor in dendritic cells that recognizes HIV, spurring a more potent immune response by the sentinels to the virus. They report their findings in the September ...

House-sharing with microbes

2010-09-09
Household dust contains up to 1000 different species of microbes, with tens of millions of individual bacterial cells in each gram. And these are just the ones that can be grown in the lab! Dr Helena Rintala, speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn meeting in Nottingham describes how we share our living and working spaces with millions of microbes, not all of whom are bad news. Microbes are a part of our normal environment and can be both beneficial and detrimental to our health. "Exposure to microbes in childhood can prevent the development of allergies. ...

Yeast holds clues to Parkinson's disease

2010-09-09
Yeast could be a powerful ally in the discovery of new therapeutic drugs to treat Parkinson's disease says a scientist presenting his work at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn meeting in Nottingham today. Dr Tiago Fleming Outeiro from the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal describes how his group is slowly uncovering the molecular basis of Parkinson's disease by studying the associated human protein in yeast cells. Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder without any known cure that affects around 6 million people worldwide. The ...

Why chromosomes never tie their shoelaces

Why chromosomes never tie their shoelaces
2010-09-09
In the latest issue of the journal Nature, Miguel Godinho Ferreira, Principal Investigator at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Portugal, lead a team of researchers to shed light on a paradox that has puzzled biologists since the discovery of telomeres, the protective tips of chromosomes: while broken chromosome ends generated by DNA damage (such as radiation or cigarette smoke) are quickly joined together, telomeres are never tied to each other, thus allowing for the correct segregation of the genetic material into all cells in our body. Since telomeres erode ...

Anti-aphrodisiac protects young bedbugs

Anti-aphrodisiac protects young bedbugs
2010-09-09
Male bedbugs are known to be very unfussy when it comes to mating, mounting any well-fed bug they can see - regardless of age or gender. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology have discovered how immature bedbug nymphs, who would be harmed by the traumatic insemination technique practiced by the males, release alarm pheromones to deter this unwanted attention. Vincent Harraca, from Lund University, Sweden, worked with a team of researchers to stage encounters between males and females or nymphs. He said, "The chemical communication, as well as the ...

Scots Pine shows its continental roots

Scots Pine shows its continental roots
2010-09-09
By studying similarities in the genes of Scots Pine trees, scientists have shown that the iconic pine forests of Highland Scotland still carry the traces of the ancestors that colonised Britain after the end of the last Ice Age, harbouring genetic variation that could help regenerate future populations, according to new results published in the journal Heredity. The research was carried out by an international team from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Polish Academy of Sciences, the University of Edinburgh and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute. Today's ...

Study adds new clue to how last ice age ended

Study adds new clue to how last ice age ended
2010-09-09
As the last ice age was ending, about 13,000 years ago, a final blast of cold hit Europe, and for a thousand years or more, it felt like the ice age had returned. But oddly, despite bitter cold winters in the north, Antarctica was heating up. For the two decades since ice core records revealed that Europe was cooling at the same time Antarctica was warming over this thousand-year period, scientists have looked for an explanation. A new study in Nature brings them a step closer by establishing that New Zealand was also warming, indicating that the deep freeze up north, ...

Investigating better endpoints for immunotherapy trials

2010-09-09
Cancer immunotherapy calls for revised clinical endpoints that differ from those used for chemotherapy, according to an article published online September 8 in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Unlike chemotherapy, which acts directly on tumors, cancer immunotherapies exert their effects on the immune system, which may delay or change response patterns, perhaps owing to the dynamics of the immune system itself. For example, initial tumor burden may increase due to lymphocytic infiltration, because of T-cell proliferation, which is followed by lymphocyte-induced ...

Researchers identify potential new drug for neurodegenerative disease

2010-09-09
BOSTON, Mass. (September 8, 2010)‹Scientists have discovered a small molecule that helps human cells get rid of the misfolded, disfigured proteins implicated in Alzheimer¹s disease and other neurodegenerative ailments. This potential drug could have applications for other conditions as well. Cells create and discard proteins continuously, a process that relies on a balance between the speed with which new proteins are created and damaged ones destroyed. Protein destruction occurs through a sophisticated system that marks proteins for disposal by tagging them with ...

New study suggests changes in diagnosis and treatment of malaria

2010-09-09
LA JOLLA, CA - September 7, 2010 –A team of scientists from The Scripps Research Institute, the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), and the U. S. Naval Research Detachment in Peru has completed a study that could improve the efficacy of diagnosis and treatment strategies for drug-resistant malaria. In the new study—published online on September 9, 2010 by the journal Genome Research—the scientists analyzed the genomic features of a population of malaria parasites in Peru, identifying the genetic basis for resistance to a common antibiotic. Malaria ...

NIST researchers hear puzzling new physics from graphene quartet's quantum harmonies

2010-09-09
GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Using a one-of-a-kind instrument designed and built at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an international team of researchers have "unveiled" a quartet of graphene's electron states and discovered that electrons in graphene can split up into an unexpected and tantalizing set of energy levels when exposed to extremely low temperatures and extremely high magnetic fields. Published in this week's issue of Nature,* the new research raises several intriguing questions about the fundamental physics of this exciting material and reveals ...

New sickle cell screening program for college athletes comes with serious pitfalls, experts say

2010-09-09
The Johns Hopkins Children's Center top pediatrician is urging a "rethink" of a new sickle cell screening program, calling it an enlightened but somewhat rushed step toward improving the health of young people who carry the sickle cell mutation. Beginning this fall, all Division I college athletes will undergo mandatory screening for the sickle cell trait. The program, rolled out by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is an attempt to prevent rare but often-lethal complications triggered by intense exercise in those who carry the genetic mutation yet ...

Liver defect likely cause of DHA deficiency in Alzheimer's patients, UCI study finds

2010-09-09
Irvine, Calif. — UC Irvine researchers have discovered that markedly depleted amounts of an omega-3 fatty acid in brain tissue samples from Alzheimer's patients may be due to the liver's inability to produce the complex fat, also contained in fish-oil supplements. Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, have been associated with the chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting millions of Americans, but no cause had been identified. In postmortem liver tissue from Alzheimer's patients, the UCI team found a defect in the organ's ability to make DHA from shorter molecules ...

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Local and Regional Policy Makers report launched at major biodiversity conference in Ghent

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Local and Regional Policy Makers report launched at major biodiversity conference in Ghent
2010-09-09
Ghent, 9 September 2010 – Factoring the planet's multi-trillion dollar ecosystem services into policy-making can help save cities and regional authorities money while boosting the local economy, enhancing quality of life, securing livelihoods and generating employment. This is the finding from a major international study, launched in a report by TEEB for Local and Regional Policy Makers, being released in Belgium, Brazil, India, Japan and South Africa. In the Framework of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, the Flemish Ministry of Environment, Nature and ...
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