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Health and longevity news archive: May-June 2006

brain cells
Brain can be made to self-repair
(Jun 29, 2006)

Stimulating a protein on the surface of the brain's stem cells helps rats recover after a stroke, US researchers have found. The discovery suggests that in humans it could be possible to provoke the body's own stem cells into repairing an injury, rather than laboriously growing and transplanting new cells.

Read more. Source: Nature

mathematics in Japanese school
Mother tongue may determine maths skills
(Jun 28, 2006)

The native language you speak may determine how your brain solves mathematical puzzles, according to a new study. Brain scans have revealed that Chinese speakers rely more on visual regions than English speakers when comparing numbers and doing sums. Our mother tongue may influence the way problem-solving circuits in our brains develop, suggest the researchers.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

human brain
The brain gets 'mellow' with age
(Jun 19, 2006)

People become more "mellow" in response to negative emotions over their lifetime, research suggests. A brain imaging study in individuals aged 12 to 79 found that emotional stability continues to improve, even into the seventh decade. And older people were found to be less neurotic than teenagers.

Read more. Source: BBC

laboratory mice
Alzheimer's vaccine 'promising'
(Jun 14, 2006)

A potential DNA vaccine for Alzheimer's disease has produced promising results in mice. In tests, it helped cut levels of key amyloid proteins thought to cause the disease by up to 50% in some parts of the brain. And unlike alternative vaccines in development, which use viruses, it produced no side effects.

Read more. Source: BBC

person eating burger
Why fast foods are bad, even in moderation
(Jun 13, 2006)

Eating a diet consisting largely of fast food could cause your waistline to bulge more than eating the same amount of fat from healthier sources. Monkeys fed a diet rich in trans-fats – commonly found in fast foods – grew bigger bellies than those fed a diet rich in unsaturated fats, but containing the same overall number of calories. They also developed signs of insulin resistance, which is an early indicator of diabetes.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

cup of coffee
Drinking coffee makes you more open-minded
(Jun 6, 2006)

The coffee you drink as a pick-me-up in the morning could also make you more open to persuasion, researchers say. Evidence from a new study suggests that this happens because caffeine revs up the brain, not because it generally boosts mood. Previous studies have show that consuming caffeine can improve one’s attention and enhance cognitive performance, with 200 milligrams (equivalent to two cups of coffee) being the optimal dose.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Albert Einstein
Inside Einstein's brain
(Jun 4, 2006)

It was, without doubt, one of the finest minds of all time. Now scientists have found that Albert Einstein's brain was not only unique in its ability to process concepts: it was also physically different. New research comparing the characteristics of Einstein's brain with that of four men of similar age has found structural differences.

Read more. Source: Independent

tree frog
Scientists reveal how frogs grip
(May 31, 2006)

The mystery of how frogs cling to surfaces - even if their feet are wet - may have been solved by scientists. A study of tree frogs has revealed their toe pads are covered in tiny bumps that can directly touch a surface to create friction. The scientists found this direct contact occurs even though the pads are covered with a film of watery mucus. The findings, published in the journal Interface, may aid the development of anti-slip devices.

Read more. Source: BBC

Music 'can reduce chronic pain'
(May 30, 2006)

Research has confirmed listening to music can have a significant positive impact on perception of chronic pain. US researchers tested the effect of music on 60 patients who had endured years of chronic pain. Those who listened to music reported a cut in pain levels of up to 21%, and in associated depression of up to 25%, compared to those who did not listen.

Read more. Source: BBC

A daily drink 'only good for men'
(May 26, 2006)

Drinking alcohol every day protects against heart disease in men but not in women, Danish research shows. A study of 50,000 people found that men who drank daily had a 41% reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared with a 7% drop in men who drank once a week. In women, the risk of heart disease fell by a third with a weekly drink but did not fall further in daily drinkers.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pill 'reverses' vegetative state
(May 25, 2006)

A sleeping pill can temporarily revive people in a permanent vegetative state to the point where they can have conversations, a study finds. Zolpidem is usually used to treat insomnia. South African researchers, writing in the NeuroRehabilitation, looked at the effects on three patients of using the drug for up to six years.

Read more. Source: BBC

chocolate cake
Why some just cannot resist food
(May 17, 2006)

Scientists have discovered why some people just can't resist food. They used scans to show the reward centres in some people's brains are particularly sensitive to food advertising and product packaging. Greater stimulation of this area by food images is likely to encourage over-eating, and obesity. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, was carried out by the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.

Read more. Source: BBC

brain scan
Autistic brains 'never daydream'
(May 13, 2006)

People with autism do not daydream, a study has found. The resting period usually gives time for areas of the brain to process emotional and reflective thoughts. The University of California research, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared brain scans of people with autism and those without. The scientists said the typical social awkwardness seen in autism may be due to this failure of this "daydreaming" brain network.

Read more. Source: BBC

man and daughter
Women 'sense qualities in a man'
(May 10, 2006)

Women are fine tuned subconsciously to detect the qualities they are looking for in a man –- just by looking at his face, US research suggests. Women can spot subtle signs of interest in children in a man's face, and accurately assess his level of the sex hormone testosterone, it claims. Child-friendly men were rated as good long-term bets, masculine men as ideal for a more short-term fling.

Read more. Source: BBC

apple pie
Americans far sicker than English
(May 3, 2006)

Middle-aged Americans are in much worse health than their English counterparts, suggests a trans-Atlantic comparison, and scientists are at a loss to explain why. The new study, which compared the health of white, 55 to 64-year-olds in the two countries, found that diabetes is twice as common in the United States compared with England, cancer 70% more prevalent and heart disease more than 50% more widespread.

Read more. Source: Nature


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