I’m sorry, what were you saying? I got distracted by this story from the American Psychological Association that says researchers have successfully mapped different aspects of attention to parts of the brain’s frontal lobes. Turns out that the once-monolithic concept of “attention” has at least three distinct processes that look to be functionally and anatomically different.
A new study aims to determine once and for all whether a link exists between obsessive-compulsive behavior and strep infections in children. The research, to be conducted by the University of Florida and the National Institutes of Mental Health, is prompted by anecdotal reports from parents with OCD kids that their children’s behavior, such as compulsive hand washing, worsens when the child is ill with strep.
Pre-cells destined to become fat can be converted instead into true bone cells in
response to outside signals, say researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The finding could pave the way for scientists to replenish lost bone cells in patients with conditions like osteoporosis, and to help repair bone defects. The new bone cells have all the hallmarks associated with mature bone formation, including production of bone proteins and calcification, the UCSF team says.
Chaos can explain the seemingly random behavior of two moons of Saturn, JPL researchers say. The moons — Pandora and Prometheus — are more than 100,000 miles off course of where they would be if their orbits followed conventional physics. “With chaotic interactions, a barely perceptible difference in starting conditions can make such a great difference in later positions that the movements are not fully predictable over time. The two moons give each other a gravitational kick each time Pandora passes inside Prometheus, about every 28 days. Because neither’s orbit is quite circular, the distance between them on those occasions — hence the strength of the kick — varies.”
Medical researchers have successfully reversed the progression of Parkinson’s disease in rats through the use of gene therapy. By adding a gene for a single enzyme, they were able to reprogram brain circuits and halt the deterioration of dopamine-producing brain cells, one of the key problems in the disease. The lack of dopamine is what leads the the tell-tale shaking and muscle twitches of Parkinson’s patients.
You can’t keep a good supercomputer down, especially when it only knows how to do one thing: Play chess. Deep Fritz, the German-built brainiac, forced DNA-based competitor Vladimir Kramnik into a draw Thursday, in a crucial Game Four of the eight-game “Brains of Bahrain” competition. At the half-way point, Kramnik leads the series 3-1. One more win guarantees he won’t lose the “duel of the century” (a decidedly modest claim, considering the year).
See also: Vlad the Impaler Defeats Fritz the Ditz
Turns out all those CGI cats working on the “Jurassic Park” and “Lost World” films were pretty spot on. A mummified dinosaur uncovered in Montana looks shockingly like the creatures depicted on the big screen. Almost too much alike. Hey, wait a minute….
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”
Researchers have detailed the functioning of an enzyme that is a central component of a signaling pathway important for about 30 percent of cancers. The findings about how the enzyme, called farnesyl transferase (FTase), works could help improve the FTase-inhibiting drugs that pharmaceutical companies are now testing to fight a broad spectrum of cancers.
Researchers say they’ve found that people with atopic dermatitis, a.k.a. eczema, are susceptible to bacterial infections in their skin because their bodies don’t produce enough of two antimicrobial peptides. The findings show that while an allergic reaction can cause a rash, true eczema is all about infection. And medicines containing or inducing the peptides could be used to fight the disorder, which affects millions worldwide.
The Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services has published a four-point guide to hand washing. This is not a comment on the brain capacity of those in the “Forward” state, but rather a reminder of the single best way to fend off illness.
The steps are:
1. Wet your hands, ideally with very warm water.
2. Add soap, then rub your hands together to make a soapy lather. Vigorously scrub the front and back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails, for no less than 10 seconds before you …
3. Rinse the lather off your hands, letting the water run into the sink, not down your arms.
4. In public restrooms, use a paper towel to turn off the water so you don’t touch a potentially-dirty handle, then …
5. Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel.
All right, it’s a five-point plan. Math never was Wisconsin’s strong suit. But, ummm, the cheese….
By 2005, 130 million cell phones will be thrown out each year, according to a new study funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Counting the phones, batteries and chargers, that comes to 65,000 tons a year, most of which will end up in landfills or being incinerated. And that has environmentalists freaked. “This is becoming a very serious problem, because the amount of cell phone waste is growing tremendously,” said Eric Most, a director at Inform, the group which issued the report. “These chemicals accumulate and persist in the environment. They get in the plants, soil, water, and then move up the stream to humans.” One approach to countering the increase that seems to have general support is a “take-back” program, in which phone manufacturers must agree to take-back old phones when consumers upgrade. Another plan sure to be DOA: Limiting waste by standardizing design elements so consumers have fewer reasons to buy new phones. “If we had had a government standard in the beginning,” one industry rep told the New York Times, “we’d still all be speaking on analog phones. And that means no e-mail, no text messaging, no Caller ID. Competition equals innovation in this case.”