I read a Nature News article recently about gun control in the USA that horrified me so much that I now have to write a bit about this horrifying topic myself. It goes without saying that there is a huge … Continue reading →... Read more »
"Vaccine". "Autism".I'm struggling to think of two words in combination which, in modern times, are any more likely to stir up emotion, debate and even argument. Indeed in these times of measles outbreaks and seemingly daily news reporting on the very, very strong requirement for vaccination to protect against the disease, it is coincidental that two research papers should now land in my inbox which mention both of those words in the title.Paradise in Zakynthos @ Wikipedia The first paper is by Ivan Gentile and colleagues* reporting on seropositivity rates to measles, mumps and rubella in cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) following MMR vaccination. The second paper, by Brittany Pequegnat and colleagues**, discusses the concept and early development of a vaccine targeting a specific type of gut bacteria which the authors speculate might have some interesting knock-on effects to some of the signs and symptoms linked to cases of autism.Although pertinent to the current measles news, I'm not on this occasions heading too far into the Gentile paper. My reasoning is two-fold: (i) the paper is fairly explanatory in that "children with ASD have a similar level and seropositivity rate of antibodies against the MMR vaccine to same-age controls" (bearing in mind the small participant numbers) and, (ii) I'm not really qualified to go into any heavy duty discussions on how this fits into the existing scientific literature on this topic; bearing in mind a similar finding previously published*** and a contrary one****. All I will say is that vaccination saves lives as per this CDC flier.The Pequegnat paper has received some media attention with headlines like: "Vaccine To Help Autism Symptoms Developed" and "Scientists develop first vaccine to help control autism symptoms". As one might expect, headlines which don't necessarily reflect the actual science reported so far...The long-and-short of the research is that based on some earlier findings of a specific gut bacterium being discovered in a group of children with autism***** - Clostridium bolteae previously called Clostridium clostridioforme (see here******) but renamed, I think, after Ellen Bolte******* - the authors applied some established know-how to begin formulating a vaccine targeting the surface sugars, polysaccharides, of C.bolteae. If you want to see the human face of the researchers involved, look no further than this article from 2012.All that talk of this research helping to 'control' autism symptoms is, at the moment, more speculation than fact. As far as I can see, the authors got no further than providing the "first description of a C.bolteae immunogen" following some initial investigation in rabbits. It is therefore a significant jump to say that this vaccine will affect the behavioural presentation of autism. Indeed, no-one really knows if it will impact on any gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms either.That being said, I am quite interested in their report and the concept that we could artificially stimulate immunity to 'undesirables' such as specific types of gut bacteria. As well as being particularly interested in all things bacteria on this blog (see here and here), a quick trawl of the scientific literature suggests that the future is now as per the paper by Sougioultzis and colleagues******** (open-access) on a C.diff toxoid vaccine. One wonders whether we might also apply similar logic to other bacterial findings related to autism such as that very interesting Sutterella work?I am also drawn to the polysaccharide bit of the Pequegnat paper and whether or not it is useful to link back to the work of Harumi Jyonouchi and colleagues on the presence of specific polysaccharide antibody deficiency (SPAD) comorbid to some cases of autism. If I am interpreting this correctly, the suggestion is that SPAD interferes with correct antibody formation to polysaccharide coated bacteria which could have implications I assume, for vaccination to/against bacteria like C.bolteae also. I could be wrong though.I'm gonna stop with this post shortly. There are other things I could say, for example, discussing the method of vaccine delivery (nanoparticle anyone?) including doing away with the big scary needle in favour of something a little more 'ouchless' (microneedles or even inhaled delivery). But that is perhaps fodder for another day.Oh, and just so you know, on purpose I posted a lovely serene picture from the beautiful island of Zakynthos instead of one of those pictures of big needles complete with crying child which, as other commentators have pointed out, might not necessarily be the best platform on which to discuss the topic of vaccination.----------* Gentile I. et al. Response to Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine in children with autism spectrum disorders. In Vivo. 2013; 27: 377-382.** Pequegnat B. et al. A vaccine and diagnostic target for Clostridium bolteae, an autism-associated bacterium. Vaccine. April 2013.*** Baird G. et al. Measles vaccination and antibody response in autism spectrum disorders. Arch Dis Child. 2008; 93: 832-837.**** Singh VK. et al. Abnormal measles-mumps-rubella antibodies and CNS autoimmunity in children with autism. J Biomed Sci. 2002; 9: 359-364.***** Finegold SM. et al. Gastrointestinal microflora studies in late-onset autism. Clin Infect Dis. 2002; 35 (Supplement 1): S6-S16.****** Song Y. et al. Real-time PCR quantitation of Clostridia in feces of autistic children. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 2004; 70: 6459-6465.******* Bolte ER. Autism and Clostridium tetani. Med Hypotheses. 1998; 51: 133-144.******** Sougioultzis S. et al. Clostridium difﬁcile toxoid vaccine in recurrent C. difﬁcile–associated diarrhea. Gastroenterology 2005; 128: 764–770.----------... Read more »
Pequegnat B, Sagermann M, Valliani M, Toh M, Chow H, Allen-Vercoe E, & Monteiro MA. (2013) A vaccine and diagnostic target for Clostridium bolteae, an autism-associated bacterium. Vaccine. PMID: 23602537
Milutin Milanković calculated his way through imprisonment and bombings to show how Earth’s movement helped drive ice ages, revealing how far we’ve strayed from the path we should be following into the next global freeze. ... Read more »
Petrović, A., & Marković, S. (2010) Annus mirabilis and the end of the geocentric causality: Why celebrate the 130th anniversary of Milutin Milanković?. Quaternary International, 214(1-2), 114-118. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2009.10.031
Not only is the ability to smell one of humans' most primitive senses, but it is also closely tied to memory and emotion. How do stores take advantage of our sense of smell to tempt us to buy more than we bargained for?... Read more »
Rabin MD, & Cain WS. (1984) Odor recognition: familiarity, identifiability, and encoding consistency. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 10(2), 316-25. PMID: 6242742
Researchers have found that, in 2010, about 32 million people in the U.S. have used hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), “magic mushrooms” (psilocybin), or mescaline (peyote and other cacti) at some point in their lives and many of them have used it in the recent past.
“Use of psilocybin mushrooms has increased since the 1970s in the US and worldwide, likely due to dissemination of simple home cultivation techniques, instructions on finding wild mushrooms, and information about effects and methods of psilocybin mushroom use,” Researchers wrote.
Researchers, in this study, used the data from a randomly selected sample of more than 57,000 people, who were 12 years of age or older, and who were asked for the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Researchers found that many of the users of psychedelic drugs (i.e. hallucinogenic drugs) fall in the age range of 30-34 years and men are the frequent users as compared to women. Moreover, LSD and mescaline are more common in the older adults while youngsters use "magic mushrooms" mostly.
Teri S. Krebs, one of the authors of the study, told two myths related to the psychedelics:
“Many people assume psychedelics must be addictive,” she said. “But experts agree that psychedelics do not elicit addiction or compulsive use.”
Psychedelics are not completely banned. Krebs said. “Actually regulated, medical, scientific, and religious use of psychedelics is allowed in the U.S., in other countries, and by international treaties,” she said.
After the use of psychedelics, “People report deeply personally and spiritually meaningful experiences, feelings of connection to nature, insight into problems, and greater understanding of themselves, other people, and the universe,” Krebs said. “To some extent, this is consistent with findings in clinical studies.”
“Psychedelics continue to be widely used in the US. Common reasons given for using psychedelics include curiosity, mystical experiences, and introspection,” Researchers wrote.
Krebs, T., & Johansen, P. (2013). Over 30 million psychedelic users in the United States F1000Research DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.2-98.v1... Read more »
Krebs, T., & Johansen, P. (2013) Over 30 million psychedelic users in the United States. F1000Research. DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.2-98.v1
Leading up to the debate on gene patenting, this week marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix. On April 25th, 1953 the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and other colleagues on the structure of DNA was published in Nature. Without this milestone achievement, we wouldn’t ...... Read more »
Hall JM, Lee MK, Newman B, Morrow JE, Anderson LA, Huey B, & King MC. (1990) Linkage of early-onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21. Science (New York, N.Y.), 250(4988), 1684-9. PMID: 2270482
WATSON JD, & CRICK FH. (1953) Molecular structure of nucleic acids; a structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. Nature, 171(4356), 737-8. PMID: 13054692
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium. It spreads through cough or sneeze from subjects with an active infection. While in most cases the disease is asymptomatic, a minority of latent infections does become active (i.e. the subject develops symptoms), and when it does, if left untreated, the disease can be deadly. According to the CDC one third of the world's population are infected with TB, and while in the US the incidence of the disease has been declining over time, it is still a huge problem in parts of the world like Asia and sub-saharan Africa. While normally the chance of a latent TB infection becoming active is one in ten, the chance is much higher for HIV-positive subjects because their immune system is already debilitated by the HIV virus. As the CDC reports:"TB is a leading killer of people living with HIV (PLHIV)."A regimen of 3-4 drugs has been available for years to keep latent infections from becoming active. Sadly, TB infections from multidrug resistant strains (MDR) have been steadily increasing, setting back the progress made in the past decades.From the World Health Organization:"Drug resistance arises due to improper use of antibiotics in chemotherapy of drug-susceptible TB patients. This improper use is a result of a number of actions including, administration of improper treatment regimens and failure to ensure that patients complete the whole course of treatment. Essentially, drug resistance arises in areas with weak TB control programmes. A patient who develops active disease with a drug-resistant TB strain can transmit this form of TB to other individuals."One of the countries plagued by MDR TB strains is North Korea, where the incidence of TB has dramatically advanced over the past years, reaching one of the highest incidences outside sub-saharan Africa. In this week's issue, Science Magazine describes a joint effort between two countries that, according to the recent news, you'd least expect to pair up: North Korea and the United States. In collaboration with Stanford University, the Korean ministry of Public Health opened in 2010 a National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL). "NTRL researchers can now diagnose TB cases that are resistant to first-line drug combinations, making it possible to spot patients who need more aggressive therapy. And the lab will soon add capacity to screen for extensively drug-resistant TB, known as XDR—the worst strains, some of which are close to impossible to treat."The Science report covers stories of hope in the midst of desperation. It points to pressing issues the North Korean government has to address within its borders, and focusing on them would seem a more reasonable and logical strategy than polishing nuclear arsenals. Let's hope that the roots of this collaboration grow deeper than any political discrepancies. Let's hope that a common enemy will put an end to the empty, unfounded threats and pave the way to a broader, more civilized way of communication between countries. Stone, R. (2013). Public Enemy Number One Science, 340 (6131), 422-425 DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6131.422... Read more »
In Part 1 of this topic, we explored the reasons why we like certain songs. But what transforms that likable melody into an earworm? Or is likability even a contributing factor? We took the biochemical/neurological route in Part 1, so now we’re gonna go all psychology for this one with a paper published in 2011 in Psychology of Music.Let’s get some terminology out of the way first. We all have internally-directed thought (all that stuff you think to yourself), and we also experience spontaneous cognitions, which are those “common, everyday experiences that occur against a backdrop of deliberate goals-directed mental processes.” Musical imagery is associated with this. Involuntary musical imagery (INMI) is when a piece of music comes unbidden into your mind and repeats outside of your conscious control. It is the “earworm”, “brain worm,” “sticky music,” “cognitive itch,” and/or “stuck song syndrome.” This 2011 study looked to see if there were any patterns in everyday life that lead to an INMI episode, basically what prompts an earworm. The researchers first wanted to catalog known instances of earworms. So they used a radio feature where listeners could contact the presenter/DJ to describe their earworm experiences, and they used an online survey on the radio’s website to collect earworms. This survey allowed people to answer questionnaires and even write descriptions of the songs stuck in their heads. Their results showed eight dominant themes to describe INMI triggering. These themes were then grouped into four abstract categories (listed from most common cause to least):Music exposure – this theme is divided into recent and repeated. Recent exposure is when you hear music and then later have an INMI experience. Repeated exposure is when you hear the music on multiple occasions before an earworm occurs.Memory triggers – this theme relates to INMI episodes that are triggered not when you hear a song but when you remember a song. This can happen through Association in which you might sight a person, situation, word, sound, or rhythm that triggers the earworm. Or it may happen through Recollection, a personal memory that acts as the trigger. It may also be the result of Anticipation, an upcoming event that is connected to a tune.Affective states – this theme is more situational. Your mood, stress level, and emotions can all cause earworms.Law attention states – this theme is abstract in that it relates to circumstances where the demands on your brain are low. These times are usually when you are dreaming or when your mind wanders.This is a psychology study and so delves into involuntary retrieval theory and states of mind. I won’t go in to all of that. I’ll simply say that this study is interesting because it categorizes the cues associated with earworms. A simple but effective exercise. If you are like me, then you probably read most or all of those and thought, “Yep, that’s how it happens with me,” or something similar.A recent study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, looked into this question of earworms a bit more. These researchers wanted to know what gets stuck and why. This study first uses a survey designed to collect earworm experiences, focusing on the cues that cause them, the nature of re-experiencing the song, and if commonly stuck songs are liked or disliked.This survey found that a person’s connection to the song predicted which songs became earworms (you usually know your earworm well), and it is usually the result of recent exposure (supporting the "music exposure" results of the previous study). It also showed that the song itself was unique to the individual, and that people generally liked the song stuck in their heads but less so the more often it got stuck. That makes sense; the longer that song is in there the more you just go AHH! You know how you repeat only part of the song over and over, usually the chorus? This science says you aren’t alone, this is how it happens with a lot of people. However, if you are a musician or someone who listens to music constantly or for a large part of the day, you are more likely to develop an earworm. When the researchers had people keep an earworm diary, they found similar results.Next, the scientists ran a few lab experiments. The first experiment tried to induce an earworm by having participants evaluate songs, then engage in an unrelated task (solving a maze), and then report any earworms. They found no effects of music type but that song order affected both earworm duration and the likelihood that the earworm would return. The last song you hear is probably the one that will get stuck in your head. The next lab experiment investigated the role of cognitive load (how strained your brain is). They used the method of the first experiment with the exception that they made the tasks harder (Sudoku puzzles of various difficulty levels), making the brain work more (hard puzzle = large cognitive load). They found that the last song became an earworm more often regardless of cognitive load, but it played for a longer time in people with more challenging puzzles. Also, if a person reported the last song as an earworm playing during the puzzle then they were more likely to have the song return later (during a lower cognitive low) as compared to those people who didn’t have the song playing during their puzzle. The last experiment was an extension of the cognitive load experiment, this time using a verbal task (solving anagrams of various difficulties) instead of a puzzle. Here, the researchers found similar results to the second experiment in that song order was important, especially for more difficult tasks. However, the last song was experienced less when completing verbal tasks than nonverbal tasks.Whew. That was a lot of info in a small amount of space. If we sum up Part 1 and 2, what did we learn? Well, when you hear something you like your brain releases dopamine, the feel good, reward stuff. Your brain stores information about the kinds of songs you like and later uses that information to decide if it likes a song if you’ve never heard before. If it decides that you like it then it gives you your reward, making you want to hear that song again. Songs you enjoy are more likely to develop into earworms, particularly if they are the last song you hear, but there are other situational and emotional experiences that can trigger and earworm too (that whole science-is-never-simple thing again).“I’m gonna pop some tags – Only got twenty dollars in my pocket….” ....*sigh*Williamson, V., Jilka, S., Fry, J., Finkel, S., Mullensiefen, D., & Stewart, L. (2011). How do "earworms" start? Classifying the everyday circumstances of Involuntary Musical Imagery Psychology of Music, 40 (3), 259-284 DOI: 10.1177/0305735611418553Hyman, I., Burland, N., Duskin, H., Cook, M., Roy, C., McGrath, J., & Roundhill, R. (2013). Going Gaga: Investigating, Creating, and Manipulating the Song Stuck in My Head Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27 (2), 204-215 DOI: ... Read more »
Williamson, V., Jilka, S., Fry, J., Finkel, S., Mullensiefen, D., & Stewart, L. (2011) How do "earworms" start? Classifying the everyday circumstances of Involuntary Musical Imagery. Psychology of Music, 40(3), 259-284. DOI: 10.1177/0305735611418553
Hyman, I., Burland, N., Duskin, H., Cook, M., Roy, C., McGrath, J., & Roundhill, R. (2013) Going Gaga: Investigating, Creating, and Manipulating the Song Stuck in My Head. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(2), 204-215. DOI: 10.1002/acp.2897
The first post in a series of monthly updates on Blastocystis research mainly based on emerging papers in PubMed.... Read more »
Gould R, & Boorom K. (2013) Blastocystis surface antigen is stable in chemically preserved stool samples for at least 1 year. Parasitology research. PMID: 23609598
Dogruman-Al F, Simsek Z, Boorom K, Ekici E, Sahin M, Tuncer C, Kustimur S, & Altinbas A. (2010) Comparison of methods for detection of Blastocystis infection in routinely submitted stool samples, and also in IBS/IBD Patients in Ankara, Turkey. PloS one, 5(11). PMID: 21124983
Alfellani MA, Stensvold CR, Vidal-Lapiedra A, Onuoha ES, Fagbenro-Beyioku AF, & Clark CG. (2013) Variable geographic distribution of Blastocystis subtypes and its potential implications. Acta tropica, 126(1), 11-8. PMID: 23290980
Alfellani MA, Jacob AS, Perea NO, Krecek RC, Taner-Mulla D, Verweij JJ, Levecke B, Tannich E, Clark CG, & Stensvold CR. (2013) Diversity and distribution of Blastocystis sp. subtypes in non-human primates. Parasitology, 1-6. PMID: 23561720
Abdulsalam AM, Ithoi I, Al-Mekhlafi HM, Khan AH, Ahmed A, Surin J, & Mak JW. (2013) Prevalence, predictors and clinical significance of Blastocystis sp. in Sebha, Libya. Parasites , 86. PMID: 23566585
Malheiros AF, Stensvold CR, Clark CG, Braga GB, & Shaw JJ. (2011) Short report: Molecular characterization of Blastocystis obtained from members of the indigenous Tapirapé ethnic group from the Brazilian Amazon region, Brazil. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, 85(6), 1050-3. PMID: 22144442
by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders
Dear Science of Eating Disorders readers, please welcome Andrea, our newest contributor! Below is her introduction and first post.
Hello SEDs readers, my name is Andrea and I’m excited to be contributing to the blog. I have an undergraduate degree in sociology and I am currently a Masters student studying family relations and human development. My research is looking at the experiences of young women in recovery from eating disorders, and uses qualitative methods including narrative interviews and digital stories to explore stories of eating disorders and recovery. I am particularly interested in stories that fall outside of the “norm,” as I feel that we sometimes hear a limited, scripted story of what it means to be someone who has had and recovered from an eating disorder.
I myself am recovered from ED-NOS, and I am happy to be making meaning from my experiences by exploring eating disorders in an academic way. I hope to be able to add my voice to the conversation–I’ll be looking mainly at the qualitative literature on eating disorders, their treatment, and recovery. You can …
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Boughtwood, D., & Halse, C. (2009) Other than obedient: Girls' constructions of doctors and treatment regimes for anorexia nervosa. Journal of Community . DOI: 10.1002/casp.1016
It’s a very attractive idea that we can discover the truth about the stories people tell just by looking at what their eyes are doing. People for example often look to the left if they use their memory, so if they don’t, they can’t be telling anything sincere about the past. What does science make of this?... Read more »
Wiseman, R., Watt, C., ten Brinke, L., Porter, S., Couper, S., & Rankin, C. (2012) The Eyes Don’t Have It: Lie Detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. PLoS ONE, 7(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040259
The Shambulance is an occasional series in which I try to find the truth about bogus or overhyped health products. Helping me keep the Shambulance on course are Steven Swoap and Daniel Lynch, both biology professors at Williams College.
Sticking a Q-tip up one’s nose is not the source of many great insights. Yet it’s how an American doctor in the early 20th century developed the theory that became modern reflexology. He would be proud—though maybe a little confused—to see people today flocking to reflexology spas, where practitioners treat all their problems via the soles of their feet.
The American doctor in question was William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose and throat specialist. In a 1917 book, he explained the genesis of his big idea:
Six years ago I accidentally discovered that pressure with a cotton tipped probe on the muco-cutinous margin (where the skin joins the mucous membrane) of the nose gave an anesthetic result as though a cocaine solution had been applied . . . Also, that pressure exerted over any bony eminence of the hands, feet or over the joints, produces the same characteristic results in pain relief . . . This led to my ‘mapping out’ these various areas and their associated connections and also to noting the conditions influenced through them. This science I have named "Zone Therapy."
Chapter titles from Zone Therapy include "Zone Therapy for Women" (tongue depressor into the back of the throat for menstrual cramps), "Painless Childbirth" (rubber bands around the toes, among other interventions) and "Curing Lumbago with a Comb."
A nurse and physical therapist named Eunice D. Ingham extended the idea of zone therapy in the 1930s and 1940s, eventually mapping the entire body onto the soles of the feet. She called each important point on the foot a “reflex” because it reflected back to a certain organ or body part. Ingham wrote two books on the subject, now called reflexology: Stories the Feet Can Tell and Stories the Feet Have Told.
Today, the International Institute of Reflexology describes its practice as as “a science which deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which correspond to all of the glands, organs and parts of the body.” Stimulating these points “can help many health problems in a natural way.” The site insists, “Reflexology…should not be confused with massage.”
There has been some confusion and blending, though, between Western reflexology and traditional Chinese medicine. Ingham and Fitzgerald's idea of "zones" is similar to the Chinese principle of "meridians." In traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are paths that carry qi through the body and connect the acupuncture points. Reflexology groups like to say that Fitzgerald "rediscovered" the science from more ancient roots. They even claim that ancient Egyptians practiced it, based on tomb paintings showing people holding each other's feet.
Whoever thought it up first, the idea that the soles of your feet hold a miniature map of the entire rest of your body defies a scientific explanation.
“The problem is communication,” says physiologist Steven Swoap. “How does the foot talk to the pancreas?”
The foot is full of sensory nerves, Swoap explains. These can detect temperature, pain or position and send that information to the spinal cord. If the signal is something urgent—say, you stepped on a nail—the spinal cord will send a quick command back to the foot (“STOP!”). If the signal from the foot is a non-painful one (“Hey, I’m walking on grass”), it will travel all the way up the spinal cord to the brain.
“But in no instance do those sensory nerves bypass either the spinal cord or the brain and go directly to the liver, or the kidney, or the colon,” Swoap says. This means your foot can’t communicate directly with any other body part except your spinal cord or brain. Whatever stories the feet have told, they’ve had a limited audience.
Daniel Lynch, a biochemist, points out that sex organs are missing from some reflexology maps. “Why aren’t the gonads on there?” he asks. Other maps label a "testes and ovaries" region around the middle of the heel, but there's variation from one chart to the next.
Setting aside the map itself, Lynch says, “Where is the evidence that it actually works?”
The evidence is slimmer than a stiletto heel. In a 2011 review paper, complementary medicine researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth dug up every scientific study of reflexology they could find. Out of 23 randomized clinical trials, only 8 “suggested positive effects.”
The quality of the studies was “variable,” the authors write, “but, in most cases, it was poor.” Only four studies that found a positive effect used a placebo control—that is, did massaging the feet without regard to “zones” give patients the same symptom relief? In general, studies tended to use small groups of subjects and not to be replicated by other researchers.
Reflexology has been tested on conditions including asthma, premenstrual syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and back pain. If reflexology does have a benefit, “The most promising evidence seems to be in the realm of cancer palliation,” or making patients more comfortable, the authors write. Overall, though, they found no convincing evidence that reflexology has power beyond the placebo.
Not that we should thumb our Q-tip-free noses at the placebo effect. The body has an impressive power to make itself feel better based on our expectations. A foot rub from a professional may very well ease a person’s pain. If that professional says anything about zones, though, it’s only a story.
Image: Foot reflexology chart by Stacy Simone (Wikipedia)
Ernst, E., Posadzki, P., & Lee, M. (2011). Reflexology: An update of a systematic review of randomised clinical trials Maturitas, 68 (2), 116-120 DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.10.011
... Read more »
Ernst, E., Posadzki, P., & Lee, M. (2011) Reflexology: An update of a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Maturitas, 68(2), 116-120. DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.10.011
Brain Putamen Highlighted in OrangeThe search for biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease is very active. I have summarized some of the relevant Alzheimer's biomarker research here and here.Biomarker research in Parkinson's disease has been less active.However, a recent research study published in Plos One demonstrated the potential for brain magnetic resonance imaging in Parkinson's disease.Miguel Ulla and colleagues in France conducted a prospective MRI study of 27 subjects with Parkinson's disease and 26 control subjects. The key elements of the design of their study included:Subjects: Case subjects met criteria for idiopathic Parkinson's disease using the criteria from the "Parkinson's Disease Society Brain Bank". Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) scores were 26 or greater in the case group indicating the absence of any significant dementia.Parkinson's Disease Severity Measures: Hoehn and Yahr stages, right and left motor scores from the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating ScaleMRI: 1.5 Telsa MRI focusing on brain ganglia regions mapping the proton transverse relaxation rate R2*.Statistical Analysis: Cases were compared to controls on R2* and cases with two longitudinal MRI scans had R2* compared at each time point and changes were compared with changes in Parkinson's Disease Severity scoresThe results of the study showed promise for the R2* as a biomarker for Parkinson's disease. R2* measures in the basal ganglia regions of the substantia nigra and the caudate putamen were increased in cases compared to controls. Cases rescanned an average of 3 years later showed increases in R2* measures that correlated with the measures of the worsening of motor symptoms.The authors note the R2* relaxation rate in the basal ganglia is likely influenced by the level of iron deposition. Iron deposition is a known pathology in the basal ganglia of Parkinson's disease and correlated with the level of dopamine reduction.The authors note their study is limited by the relatively small sample size and the use of a relatively less powerful 1.5T magnet used in MRI. The note their findings need to be replicated by other sites in larger samples of subjects.Valid Parkinson biomarkers holp promise for several clinical applications. Sensitive biomarkers may allow for early diagnosis and early intervention before the development of clinical symptoms. Clinical symptoms develop relatively late in the course of basal ganglia pathology making earlier identification important.Additionally, the authors note that this type of biomarker may be valuable in assessing the "efficiency of specific iron chelators and disease-modifying treatments".Readers with additional interest in this research can access the full-text article at the link in the reference below.Image of the putamen, a brain region affected in Parkinson's disease is from a screenshot of the iPad app 3D Brain.Ulla M, Bonny JM, Ouchchane L, Rieu I, Claise B, & Durif F (2013). Is R2* a new MRI biomarker for the progression of Parkinson's disease? A longitudinal follow-up. PloS one, 8 (3) PMID: 23469252... Read more »
Ulla M, Bonny JM, Ouchchane L, Rieu I, Claise B, & Durif F. (2013) Is R2* a new MRI biomarker for the progression of Parkinson's disease? A longitudinal follow-up. PloS one, 8(3). PMID: 23469252
A research team in Massachusetts made a promising start to solve the enormous deficiency of donor kidneys. ... Read more »
Song, J., Guyette, J., Gilpin, S., Gonzalez, G., Vacanti, J., & Ott, H. (2013) Regeneration and experimental orthotopic transplantation of a bioengineered kidney. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3154
Tasnim, F., Deng, R., Hu, M., Liour, S., Li, Y., Ni, M., Ying, J., & Zink, D. (2010) Achievements and challenges in bioartificial kidney development. Fibrogenesis , 3(1), 14. DOI: 10.1186/1755-1536-3-14
The standard model of modern cosmology, which is based on the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric, allows the definition of an absolute time. However, there exist (cosmological) models consistent with the theory of general relativity for which such a definition cannot be given since they offer the possibility for time travel.... Read more »
by ebender in Daily Observations
APS Fellow Jeffrey Sherman, who studies stereotyping and prejudice at University of California, Davis, has been awarded the Anneliese Maier Research Award. Presented by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and The post Jeffrey Sherman Receives the Anneliese Maier Research Award appeared first on Association for Psychological Science.... Read more »
Damian, R., & Sherman, J. (2013) A process-dissociation examination of the cognitive processes underlying unconscious thought. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology., 49(2), 228-237. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.10.018
Whales already were one the most fascinating and intelligent creatures we know and they now also appear to work together in adapting to their environments. Just like us, they give each other tips. Is it in their songs?... Read more »
Allen, J., Weinrich, M., Hoppitt, W., & Rendell, L. (2013) Network-Based Diffusion Analysis Reveals Cultural Transmission of Lobtail Feeding in Humpback Whales. Science, 340(6131), 485-488. DOI: 10.1126/science.1231976
by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room
I sent my kids to a small school with a 1:12 student teacher ratio for kindergarten through 12th grade. While I knew that student/teacher ratio was terrific, I worried sometimes that they did not have the diversity in student body they would have in a larger school. My kids (now in college) have told me [...]
“That’s a big knife!”: Threatening objects loom larger
Contempt for Gen Y: It’s everywhere—including law firms!
Attractiveness and being fired for poor performance
... Read more »
Cheng S, & Xie Y. (2013) Structural effect of size on interracial friendship. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23589848
It’s Worm Week here at HighMag Blog. Worms are amazing little creatures, and the species C. elegans is an invaluable model system for studying cell and developmental biology. Their genome is sequenced, their development is precise and well-documented, and their bodies and embryos are translucent (making them photogenic under a microscope). Today’s image is from the same lab that brought Tuesday’s image…worm gonads rock!Blurb and image from Christian R. Eckmann:The image is an immuno-stained part of an extruded C. elegans hermaphrodite gonad; germ cell nuclei (magenta) and the apical membrane (green). The germ stem cells reside at the closed end of this tube like tissue. In wild type, the germ stem cells exit the mitotic zone, entering meiosis further away from the closed tip and start differentiating into sperm or oocytes. The image posted earlier this week is from the Gracida and Eckmann paper that identifies a nuclear receptor that protects germ stem cell integrity, and in turn fertility, after dietary perturbations.Gracida, X. & Eckmann, C. (2013). Fertility and Germline Stem Cell Maintenance under Different Diets Requires nhr-114/HNF4 in C. elegans Current Biology, 23 (7), 607-613 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.034 ... Read more »
Gracida, X., & Eckmann, C. (2013) Fertility and Germline Stem Cell Maintenance under Different Diets Requires nhr-114/HNF4 in C. elegans. Current Biology, 23(7), 607-613. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.034
A new study by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), led by Professor Chuong Cheng Ming, reveals how stem cells contribute to the unique and complex patterns bird feathers have. Surprisingly, the study has implications in the field of regenerative medicine, say the researchers.Read More... Read more »
Lin, S., Foley, J., Jiang, T., Yeh, C., Wu, P., Foley, A., Yen, C., Huang, Y., Cheng, H., Chen, C.... (2013) Topology of Feather Melanocyte Progenitor Niche Allows Complex Pigment Patterns to Emerge. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1230374
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