Substituting prolonged sedentary time with sleep is associated with lower stress, better mood and lower body mass index (BMI), according to new research. In addition, substituting light physical activity is associated with improved mood and lower BMI across the next year. Jacob Meyer, lead author and assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, says light activity can include walking around your home office while talking on the phone or standing while preparing dinner.
A small area of the brain in mice that can profoundly control the animals' sense of pain has been identified by Duke University researchers. Unexpectedly, this brain center turns pain off, not on. It’s also located in an area where few people would have thought to look for an anti-pain center, the amygdala, which is often considered the home of negative emotions and responses, like the fight or flight response and general anxiety.
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy does not appear to increase the child’s risk of autism, according to a new meta-analysis. The review examines 14 studies, many of which identified a connection between antidepressant use during pregnancy and autism. However, that research failed to account for ascertainment bias, which occurs when one group of patients or subjects undergoes testing more frequently than others, says study author Jeffrey Newport, director of the Women’s Reproductive Mental Health program at UT Health Austin’s Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences and a professor of psychiatry at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
The renowned biologist E.O. Wilson once quipped, “When you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.” The diversity of the world’s 10,000-plus bird species is truly staggering, ranging from 2.5-inch-long hummingbirds that weigh as little as a dime, to 9-foot ostriches that can kick hard enough to kill a human. For decades, though, scientists generally thought of birds as conforming to a single set of rules: Females are drab and silent, while males are flashy and boisterous.
A new treatment to dramatically reduce swelling after brain and spinal cord injuries offers hope to 75 million victims worldwide each year. The breakthrough in treating such injuries — referred to as central nervous system (CNS) edema — is thought to be hugely significant because current options are limited to putting patients in an induced coma or performing risky surgery. Brain and spinal cord injuries affect all age groups. Older people are more at risk of sustaining them from strokes or falls, while for younger age groups, major causes include road traffic accidents and injuries from sports such as rugby, US-style football and other contact games.
When a mother gives birth to twins, the offspring are not always identical or even the same gender. Known as fraternal twins, they represent a longstanding evolutionary puzzle. Identical twins arise from a single fertilised egg that accidentally splits in two, but fraternal twins arise when two eggs are released and fertilised. Why this would happen was the puzzle. In research published in Nature Ecology & Evolution we used computer simulations and modelling to try to explain why natural selection favours releasing two eggs, despite the low survival of twins and the risks of twin births for mothers.
The endogenous compound anandamide — often referred to as the body’s own marijuana — plays a role in erasing memories of a traumatic event, reports an international team led by Leiden University. The results may provide a starting point for the treatment of anxiety disorders such as PTSD. When you smoke a joint, the active ingredient THC makes you feel relaxed. But there are also side effects, such as an increased appetite and loss of memory.
From absorbing new languages to mastering musical instruments, young children are wired to learn in ways that adults are not (Johnson and Newport, 1989). This ability coincides with periods of intense brain plasticity during which neurons can easily remodel their connections (Hubel and Wiesel, 1970). Many children are also scandalously good sleepers, typically getting several more hours of sleep per night than their parents (Jenni and Carskadon, 2007). As sleep deprivation has negative effects on learning and memory, learning like a child likely requires sleeping like one (Diekelmann and Born, 2010).