Born shy, always shy? Temperamental differences may last throughout life

Whether a person avoids novelty or embraces it may depend in part on brain differences that have existed from infancy, new findings suggest. When shown pictures of unfamiliar faces, adults who were shy toddlers showed a relatively high level of activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala. Adults who were more outgoing toddlers showed less activity in this brain structure, which is related to emotion and novelty. The findings appear in the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Fear of ‘foreigners’ may slow scientific progress

Saria Mohamed Hassan’s dream of becoming a doctor was interrupted for a year when she left the United States to conduct a brief malaria workshop in Dakar, Senegal, and then found herself stranded in a bureaucratic no-man’s land: Her international student visa had expired while she was away, and her bid to renew it quickly became mired in a massive, ever-growing backlog of cases under review. Faced with a seemingly impenetrable firewall of post-9/11 security procedures, the Sudanese medical student eventually lost a year’s worth of classes at Harvard.

Current Funding Pattern Threatens Biomedical Research

Biomedical research and the development of powerful new diagnostic tools will be hobbled in the U.S. if the government fails to adequately fund mathematics, physics and engineering research, major drivers, of progress in biology, according to the executive director of the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, headquartered at UCSF. Physics underlies powerful medical imaging diagnostics such as MRI and CAT capabilities, while mathematical tools are essential to tease apart complex signaling networks active in nearly all essential cell processes, said Marvin Cassman, PhD. “If we don’t adequately support physics, engineering and mathematics, we put the brakes on medically-related progress as surely as we slow advances in math and physics,” he said.