Disgust as much a factor as fear for obsessive-compulsive patients

Fear is a factor in human behavior, but behold the power of cheese – oozing, maggot-ridden cheese. Snarling dogs and other threatening images activate distinctly different regions of the brain compared with disgusting images of roaches feeding on cheese pizza or public bathrooms no one would dare use, according to scientists at the University of Florida?s Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute writing in the current online issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. In addition, UF psychiatrists have found that healthy volunteers and people with obsessive-compulsive disorders, or OCD, respond in a like manner to threatening images, but those with OCD are profoundly more affected by disgusting ones.

Rewards backfire in online commerce

The offer of a reward may help police track down a suspect or lead to the return of a lost wedding ring, but it won’t get Internet users to give out personal information, a University of Florida study shows. People are actually less likely to type their name, address and other personal information into a Web site for a reward because they tend to regard the offer as suspicious, according to the study, which appears in the 2002 Advances in Consumer Research.

Obese people experience delay in feeling full, study finds

Most people feel full about 10 minutes after they begin eating, but for those who are obese, it may take almost twice as long for their brains to get the message, according to researchers at the University of Florida’s Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute. Through innovative use of neuroimaging, UF scientists successfully pinpointed when the brain responds to changing hormone levels in the body that signal satiety. The finding raises the possibility that a delayed feeling of fullness or the inability to feel satisfied while eating could perpetuate obesity, making treatment difficult, they report in the February issue of Psychiatry Annals.

Florida researchers try to put scent back into flowers

If you are among the millions who receive flowers on Valentine’s Day, you likely will put your nose to a rose, only to find you can’t catch a whiff of your favorite floral aroma. And it isn’t because your sense of smell has diminished. Plant breeding has led to bigger, longer-lasting blooms, but in the process many flowers have lost their scents – a trend University of Florida researchers hope to reverse. The researchers are investigating ways to put scent back in, either through genetic engineering or by developing chemical formulations that might be used through a spray application.

Researchers develop microbes and plants to detect explosives in soil

To detect toxic explosive residues in the soil – including unexploded artillery shells and other weapons – Florida researchers are using genetic engineering to modify microbes and plants that can be used as “biosensors.” The three-year research project, supported by a $2.3 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, will help clean up thousands of acres of land that have been used for military training in the United States and abroad.

Possible treatment window for spasticity in spinal cord injury

It’s a cruel irony that strikes many victims of spinal cord injury: In those who suffer only partial paralysis, limbs that should remain healthy become stiff and useless because of chronic spasticity, a painful condition that causes muscles to contract involuntarily. But Florida researchers charting the development of spasticity in rats with spinal cord injuries were surprised to find the process briefly reverses itself. This discovery raises the possibility that physicians could someday find a way to spare patients its debilitating effects by intervening at a critical time.

Longer kidney transplant wait times linked to poorer outcomes

The longer patients on dialysis wait for a kidney transplant once they develop end-stage renal disease, the worse they fare, researchers have confirmed. The findings reinforce the benefit of transplantation over dialysis for these patients and highlight the importance of placing them on the transplant list as early in the course of their disease as possible, researchers say.