Friday, October 31, 2008

Research news: Therapy plus zoloft helps kids with anxiety

The News:
Therapy plus Zoloft helps kids with anxiety
Article Last Updated: 10/30/2008 12:38:51 PM MDT
CHICAGO—A popular antidepressant plus three months of psychotherapy dramatically helped children with anxiety disorders, the most common psychiatric illnesses in kids, the biggest study of its kind found.
The research also offers comfort to parents worried about putting their child on powerful drugs—therapy alone did a lot of good, too.
Combining the drug sertraline, available as a generic and under the brand name Zoloft, with therapy worked best. But each method alone also had big benefits, said Dr. John Walkup, lead author of the government-funded research. It's estimated that anxiety disorders affect as many as 20 percent of U.S. children and teens.
In many cases, symptoms almost disappeared in children previously so anxious that they wouldn't leave home, sleep alone, or hang out with friends, said Walkup, a Johns Hopkins Hospital psychiatrist.
"What we're saying is we've got three good treatments," he said.
Sertraline is among antidepressants linked with suicidal thoughts and behavior in children with depression. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Research news: Heart ticks a bit better after time shift

The News:
Heart ticks a bit better after time shift
The cause each fall is probably the hour of sleep we gain with the end of daylight saving time.
By Karen Kaplan Los Angeles Times
Article Last Updated: 10/29/2008 11:01:23 PM MDT
Turning your clock back one hour Sunday for the end of daylight saving time could do your own ticker some good.
Researchers have found a 5 percent drop in heart-attack deaths and hospitalizations the day after clocks are reset each year to standard time, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Swedish researchers also found that the onset of daylight saving time in the spring appears to increase the risk of heart attacks.
Physicians can now add daylight saving time to the list of everyday events that affect heart attacks, said Dr. Ralph Brindis, a vice president of the American College of Cardiology who practices in Oakland, Calif. The risk also rises on holidays and anniversaries, although no one knows why, he said.
"This study is fascinating," Brindis said.
The culprit probably is lack of sleep. Scientists have known that sleep deprivation is bad for the heart — the body responds by boosting blood pressure, heart rate and the tendency to form dangerous clots — but they didn't realize a single hour could have a measurable effect.
More than 1.5 billion people change their clocks twice a year to make the most of the available sunlight. William Willett, a British builder, proposed the idea in 1905 after watching Londoners sleep through so many perfectly good hours of morning sunshine. (He also complained that his afternoon golf games were cut short by an unnecessarily early dusk.) Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Research news: Undecided voters may already have decided, study suggests

The News:
Undecided Voters May Already Have Decided, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (Oct. 29, 2008) — Do "undecided" voters actually make their choices before they realize? That is a question University of Virginia psychology professor Brian Nosek and his colleagues are trying to answer.
"Many people, especially early in the political process, declare themselves as undecided," Nosek said. "But while they have consciously said that they are undecided, they unconsciously may have already made a choice."
And in a close election, undecided voters may determine the outcome the moment they make their decisions known on Election Day.
Nosek and colleagues Mahzarin Banaji of Harvard University and Tony Greenwald of the University of Washington developed the Implicit Association Test to assess mental associations that may be different than what people know or say about themselves.
A dozen years of research and hundreds of published studies suggest that people have implicit belief systems that may contradict their declared beliefs. These implicit beliefs can affect actions, such as how they vote at the moment it comes time to explicitly decide. Read on...

The Research:
Check out the researcher's website Project Implicit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Research news: How social pressure increases voter turnout

The News:
How Social Pressure Increases Voter Turnout: Evidence From A Large-scale Field Experiment
ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2008) — New research by political scientists concludes that direct mail campaigns which include a social pressure aspect are more effective at increasing voter turnout and are cheaper than other forms of voter mobilization, including door-to-door or telephone canvassing.

Prior to the August 2006 primary election in Michigan, the researchers sent out one of four various mailings to 80,000 households encouraging them to vote--with gradually increasing levels of social pressure. The first mailing reminded voters that voting is a civic duty. The second mailing informed the voters that researchers would study their turnout based on public records. The third mailing listed a record of voter turnout among those in the household. The fourth mailing displayed both the neighborhood and household voter turnout. The third and fourth mailings also suggested that there would be a follow-up letter after the upcoming election, reporting on their household or neighborhood voter turnout. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the American Political Science Review.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Research news: Physical and interpersonal warmth linked

The News:
Physical And Interpersonal Warmth Linked
ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2008) — Do people trust others more when they experience physical warmth? That's the theory of CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Lawrence E. Williams, who says simply handling a hot cup of coffee can change one's attitude toward a stranger.
In a paper published in the Oct. 24 issue of Science, Williams details a study he conducted with Yale University's John A. Bargh that shows a link between the way unsuspecting subjects rated a hypothetical person's personality and whether or not they had held a warm or cold beverage just prior to the test.
"The basic scientific implication is about exploring the link between the physical world and the psychological world," said Williams, an assistant professor of marketing at CU's Leeds School of Business. "It's at the same time subtle and very powerful -- a repeated association of physical warmth that is learned over a lifetime."
Williams asserts that people naturally speak about others being "warm" or "cold," and prefer to spend time with those they perceive as "warm." Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Science.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Research news: Sticky tape gives off x-rays

The News:
Sticky Tape Gives Off X-Rays
All Things Considered, October 25, 2008 · Scientists have known for years that peeling up a strip of sticky tape can set off some subatomic fireworks. But in the current issue of the journal Nature, UCLA researchers prove that the X-rays released are both powerful and plentiful.
"There are a lot of X-rays," says Juan Escobar, a Ph.D. candidate in physics at UCLA. "There are enough that you can actually take a picture of your finger — an X-ray picture of your finger. It's very exciting. It's actually a little bit scary." Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Nature.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Research news: The Marshmallow Test--Brain scan aims to find out what's behind self-control

The News:
The marshmallow test: Brain scans aim to find out what's behind self-control
By Carey GoldbergThe Boston Globe
Article Last Updated: 10/23/2008 10:53:27 PM MDT
It is a simple test but has surprising power to predict a child's future.
A 4-year-old is left sitting at a table with a marshmallow or other treat on it and given a challenge: Wait to eat it until a grown-up comes back into the room, and you'll get two. If you can't wait that long, you'll get just one.
Some children can wait less than a minute; others last the full 20 minutes.
The longer the child can hold back, the better the outlook in later life for everything from SAT scores to social skills to academic achievement, according to classic work by Columbia University psychologist Walter Mischel, who has followed his test subjects from preschool in the late 1960s into their 40s now.
From church sermons to parenting manuals, "the marshmallow test" has entered popular culture as a potent lesson on the rewards of self-control.
It has also raised deep psychological research questions: What is involved in delaying gratification? Why does it correlate with success in life? Why do people fail at it? Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Psychological Science.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Research news: Been there, done that; brain mechanism predicts ability to generalize

The News:
Been There, Done That: Brain Mechanism Predicts Ability To Generalize
ScienceDaily (Oct. 23, 2008) — A new study reveals how the brain can connect discrete but overlapping experiences to provide a rich integrated history that extends far beyond individually experienced events and may help to direct future choices. The research, published by Cell Press in the October 23rd issue of the journal Neuron, also explains why some people are good at generalizing from past experience, while others are not.
Decisions are often guided by drawing on past experiences, perhaps by generalizing across discrete events that overlap in content. However, how such experiences are integrated into a unified representation is not clear, and fundamental questions remain regarding potential underlying brain mechanisms. It is likely that such mechanisms involve the hippocampus, a brain structure closely linked with learning and memory. The midbrain may also play a role, as its projections modulate activity in the hippocampus, and activity in both regions has been shown to facilitate encoding of individual episodes. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Cell.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Research News: Study urges more effort to build kids' math skills

The News:
Study urges more effort to build kids' math skills
By The New York Times
Article Last Updated: 10/10/2008 12:30:43 AM MDT
The United States is failing to develop the math skills of both girls and boys, especially among those who could excel at the highest levels, a new study asserts, and girls who do succeed in the field are almost all immigrants or the daughters of immigrants from countries where mathematics is more highly valued. The study suggests that while many girls have exceptional talent in math — the talent to become top math researchers, scientists and engineers — they are rarely identified in the United States. A major reason, according to the study, is that American culture does not highly value talent in math, and so discourages girls — and boys, for that matter — from excelling in the field.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in Notices of the American Mathematical Society.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Research News: When Dow says ow, practice mindfulness

The News:
When Dow says ow, practice mindfulness
By Howard Cohen, McClatchy Newspapers
Article Last Updated: 10/06/2008 12:40:45 AM MDT
Our worries. They're crescendoing like the finale of Beethoven's "Ninth": Bailouts, buyouts. Recession, depression. Enter the meditative practice of mindfulness. Born of Buddhist roots, it's increasingly recognized as a measure to calm the mind's chatter and elevate the brain's thinking and organizational processes.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Research News: Scientists explore new source of stem cells

The News:
Scientists explore new source of stem cells
Using the testicular cells of adult men, researchers have grown muscle, nerve and other kinds of tissue.
Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
Scientists have converted cells from human testes into stem cells that grew into muscle, nerve cells and other kinds of tissue, according to a study published Wednesday in the online edition of Nature. The stem cells offer another potential alternative to embryonic stem cells for researchers who aim to treat diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s by replacing damaged or malfunctioning cells with custom-grown replacements. Scientists have also derived flexible adult stem cells from skin, amniotic fluid and menstrual blood.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Nature.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Research News: Simple blood test may detect artery blocks

The News:
Simple blood test may detect artery blocks
By Thomas Goldsmith, McClatchy Newspapers
Article Last Updated: 10/08/2008 09:02:28 PM MDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The discovery of genetic markers showing the presence and intensity of coronary artery disease means that a diagnosis could be made with a simple blood test, said a Duke University cardiologist who led research on the link. Such a blood test — showing not only the presence of coronary disease but also the degree of blockage — could save millions of dollars annually by replacing risky procedures in which catheters are inserted into patients' arteries.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Research News: Youngsters shouldn't own "exotic" pets

The News:
Youngsters shouldn't own "exotic" pets
Pediatricians cite risk of disease
By Lindsey Tanner The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 10/06/2008 07:05:16 AM MDT
CHICAGO — Warning: Young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets — or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards or turtles, for that matter — because of risks for disease. That's according to the nation's leading pediatricians group in a new report about dangers from "exotic" animals. Besides evidence that they can carry dangerous and sometimes potentially deadly germs, exotic pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw — putting children younger than 5 particularly at risk, the report says.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Pediatrics.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Research News: Science Debate with the Presidential Candidates

The News:
Science Debate 2008
In November, 2007, a small group of six citizens - two screenwriters, a physicist, a marine biologist, a philosopher and a science journalist - began working to restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue. They called themselves Science Debate 2008, and they called for a presidential debate on science. The call tapped a wellspring of concern over the state of American science. Within weeks, more than 38,000 scientists, engineers, and other concerned Americans signed on, including nearly every major American science organization, dozens of Nobel laureates, elected officials and business leaders, and the presidents of over 100 major American universities. Among other things, these signers submitted over 3,400 questions they want the candidates for President to answer about science and the future of America.

Read the questions and answers from Barack Obama and John McCain here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Research news: Brain Pathway Responsible For Obesity Found: Too Many Calories Send Brain Off Kilter

The News:
Brain Pathway Responsible For Obesity Found: Too Many Calories Send Brain Off Kilter
ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2008) — An overload of calories throws critical portions of the brain out of whack, reveals a study in the October 3rd issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication. That response in the brain's hypothalamus—the "headquarters" for maintaining energy balance—can happen even in the absence of any weight gain, according to the new studies in mice.
The brain response involves a molecular player, called IKKß/NF-κB, which is known to drive metabolic inflammation in other body tissues. The discovery suggests that treatments designed to block this pathway in the brain might fight the ever-increasing spread of obesity and related diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
"This pathway is usually present but inactive in the brain," said Dongsheng Cai of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cai said he isn't sure exactly why IKKß/NF-κB is there and ready to spring into action in the brain. He speculates it may have been an important element for innate immunity, the body's first line of defense against pathogenic invaders, at some time in the distant past. Read on..

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Cell.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Research news: HIV's genetic footprint shows it's a century old

The News:
HIV's genetic footprint shows it's a century old
Study ties its emergence to rise of cities in Africa
By Malcolm Ritter The Associated Press
Article Launched: 10/02/2008 12:30:00 AM MDT
NEW YORK — The AIDS virus has been circulating among people for about 100 years, decades longer than scientists had thought, a new study suggests.
Genetic analysis pushes the estimated origin of HIV back to between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908.
Previously, scientists had estimated the origin at around 1930.
AIDS wasn't recognized formally until 1981 when it got the attention of public health officials in the United States.
The new result is "not a monumental shift, but it means the virus was circulating under our radar even longer than we knew," said Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, an author of the new work.
The results appear in today's issue of the journal Nature.
Researchers note that the newly calculated dates fall during the rise of cities in Africa, and they suggest urban development may have promoted HIV's initial establishment and early spread. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Nature.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Research news: On Election Day, use extra caution when driving

The News:
On Election Day, Use Extra Caution When Driving
by Patti Neighmond
Morning Edition, October 1, 2008 · Voting is your civic duty, but be careful how you get to the polls. A new study suggests that there is an increased risk of car crashes on presidential voting days.
Dr. Donald Redelmeier is a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and an internist at the largest trauma center in Toronto. He sees lots of victims from car crashes, so he thinks a lot about cars and driving. That, coupled with his own experience hurrying to fit voting into a busy schedule, made him want to examine how the rush to get to the polls affects road safety on voting day.
"We studied all the U.S. presidential elections over the last 32 years, beginning with Jimmy Carter in 1976 and ending with George Bush in 2004," he says of the research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of the American Medical Association.