Health

Love and drug addiction

This according to another brain scan study that will tell us what we already know.

Once again, psychologists are analyzing brain scan technology so that they can tell us something we already knew; love starts as sexual attraction. We all understand that there’s an initial sexual attraction when we meet a person with whom we will ultimately fall in love. What else would it be that gets you to look in the first place? However, brain researchers at Concordia University have used fMRI scans to track the progression of love and lust (and drug addiction, coincidentally) in the brain, tying them together in a narrative that, of course, we already know. Here it is anyway.

Early birds happier than night owls?

A new study shows that people that consider themselves "morning people" tend to be happier.

I am a self-described night owl. Creatively, socially, physically, I feel like I hit my peak after the sun goes down. Although this may sound insane, I don’t feel like I even achieve a baseline cognitive functioning until about noon, and use copious amounts of coffee to push that back to about 10 a.m. A recent study published in the journal, Emotion, found that this may mean that I am less happy, overall, than my more morning-oriented peers. This would certainly explain why I seem to resent early-birds.

Researchers at the University of Toronto undertook the study because data in the area was lacking, mostly having researched only young adults that are famously night-owlish. However, even what little research there was seemed to indicate that morning-people report feeling more happy and positive, overall. It also may explain why, as people age, they tend go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Of course, being a slave to a day job that starts at 8 a.m. probably forces that transition a little.

The researchers took a look at two different populations, a significant sample of adults aged 17-38, and a slightly smaller sample of adults aged 59-79. Using a questionairre, participants indicated their overall emotional state, health, and preferred time of day. Age and preferred “time of day” seemed to be inversely proportional. As teenagers, only about seven percent reported being a morning person, whereas in the senior citizen category, seven percent reported being night owls.  

Researchers Closer To Locating The Origin Of Schizophrenia

Researchers have found that it's not a defect in the genes, but in the cell housing the DNA.

The new year is starting with some good news for individuals stricken with schizophrenia and a host of other neurological disorders. Schizophrenia, which has been a bit of a catch-all disorder in which victims suffer from extreme paranoia, delusions, dissociative thinking and even hallucinations, has long been thought to be a genetic disorder. After more than a decade of looking for evidence of schizeophrenia in gene, new evidence shows that the disease actually originates in the cell around the gene.

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute have recently found that schizophrenia is not a genetic disorder at all. In fact, it’s an epigenetic disorder, one cause by the structures of the cell that house our DNA. Particular to disorders like schizophrenia, there is a protein that functions a bit like a storage rack in the cell called a histone. The DNA, which would not otherwise fit within a single cell, is wrapped around the histone. However, in order for the DNA to express itself the histone has a tail which undergoes a perpetual chemical reaction called acetylation, which relaxes the DNA and allows it to express. Then acetylation takes place and the DNA once again contracts around the histone. The histones and DNA create chromatin, which manages the constant cycle of relaxation and contraction that allows all the genes of a cell to functions properly.

The Light Sleeping Gene

"Unfortunately for people with the variant, the sleep perk is offset by an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes."

Are you one of those people who can get by on only a fraction of the amount of sleep that others need? Do you stay up as late as the rest of us, yet still find it in you to bound out of bed at an early hour, entirely awake and refreshed? Turns out you may be genetically inclined to needing less sleep. I'm still jealous of you, even though I guess I can now blame my sluggish oversleeping tendencies on my DNA and not just my crippling lack of willpower. Yay?

Army Treats PTSD With Virtual Dreams

The Army has invested in a project to develop a biofeedback therapy using virtual dreams to treat PTSD.

After nearly a decade at war, the United States is starting to understand the significant human costs of war after engagement. Military members that have completed their active duty, or even been placed on furlough, have returned to the States with horrific emotional scarring as a result of their combat experiences. Called “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD), the psychological condition is characterized by an array of symptoms ranging from sleeplessness or nightmares to panic attacks and violent behavior. PTSD has even been blamed for deviant behaviors like drug addiction, homicide and suicide. According to Heal My PTSD, a support website, over 300,000 present and former service members suffer from PTSD, or 20% of the entire population of the armed services. Recent breakthroughs, however, may have an answer for victims of PTSD.

Brain Imaging Shows We're Hardwired for Optimism

Optimism has helped the species to be innovative and successful, but risk-taking can be dangerous.

Humanity is a pretty optimistic species. In terms of our evolution, we’ve had to be. Humans leapt into tiny canoes and migrated across vast oceans, optimistic that they would find new land at the end of their journey. We’ve built enormous cities, flown experimental aircraft, and put people on the moon, all with incredible (some might even say unrealistic) optimism about the outcomes. Despite what may be portrayed in the media, or what may be commonly socially accepted, as a species, we’re a pretty optimistic group of organisms. However, recent studies by neuroscientists have revealed that we may actually be hardwired for maintaining a positive outlook.

Colorado Clinic Skirts FDA To Provide Stem Cell Treatments

Regenerative Sciences Inc. in Broomfield, CO provides adults with stem cell treatments to repair bones and damaged joints.

The Federal Drug Administration has yet to approve stem cell treatments, which has been heavily politicized in the previous ten years by conservative lawmakers and evangelical activists. Regardless of this fact, Chris Centeno and John Schultz have formed Regenerative Sciences Inc. in Broomfield, Colorado. The clinic, which deals entirely in stem cell treatments called a Regennex procedure, extracts stem cell tissue from the patient's bone marrow, and then injects them in the damaged joint or bone tissues. No surgery needed. The clinic has, so far, treated over 350 patients, using more than 800 injections, reporting that 89% of their knee patients and 75% of their hip patients have shown significant improvements within months.

Growing Bioartificial Organs

 

It'd be a huge relief to the medical world if we could just make new organs. We've tried faking it with some degree of success--hearts, for example, are somewhat replicable with similar machines, and dialysis can replace kidneys from an external vantage point--but some organs are too subtle to simply swap out with cyborg parts. And some people prefer not to walk around like Darth Vader, with inorganic body parts powering their newly bizarre existence. 

U.S. Races to Ease Critical Drug Shortage Nationwide

Though you may not know it if you're not in regular need of these medications, there's a serious shortage in this country of vital drugs.

    

Federal officials, pharm companies and doctors are scrambling to find medications to fill a serious shortage, including drugs that treat bacterial infections and several forms of cancer. Dr. Michael Link, Director of the American Society of Clinical Oncology told the New York Times, “These shortages are just killing us... these drugs save lives, and it’s unconscionable that medicines that cost a couple of bucks a vial are unavailable.” This year a record number of drugs are unavailable for a range of diseases, including childhood leukemia, bacterial infections, and others; 180 different medicines in all.

     For many of these medications scarcity has drive up prices as much as twenty-fold, and created life-threatening lulls in treatment for many cancer patients. In addition, those drugs that are available are falling into short supply as people fall back on other brands or types that might have similar effects.

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