Caring For The Introvert

Wednesday, 01 June 2016 16:06 Written by
Caring For The Introvert

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves conversations about their ideas or feelings, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but often seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? If so, do you redouble your efforts to draw him out? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (see the abundant references below).

Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 04:08 Written by
Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

A liver hormone called FGF21 may regulate alcohol drinking by acting directly on a receptor in the brain, according to a new study.  This raises the possibility of a new therapeutic pathway that could one day be targeted to reduce the desire for alcohol in problem drinkers. The new study, by researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, for the first time highlights a liver-brain axis which plays an important role in regulating the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol drinking is a complex trait that is known to be partly inherited, yet so far there have been few genes associated with it.

Genetic influences on brain functions that affect drinking behaviour have been difficult to detect because the effect of individual genes is so small, so large studies are required to detect the genetic signal. In this new study, published today in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers carried out the largest-ever genetic analysis of usual (i.e. non-addictive) alcohol consumption in more than 105,000 individuals of European descent. In addition to providing samples for genetic analysis, the participants answered questionnaires on their weekly drinking habits.

President Obama Prepares Nation for Solar Flares

Saturday, 15 October 2016 22:17 Written by
President Obama Prepares Nation for Solar Flares

A large enough solar flare could knock out electrical grids we have come to rely on for day-to-day life. On 13 October 2016, President Barack Obama issued an executive order aimed at preparing the nation's infrastructure for "extreme space weather events" that could potentially be powerful enough to wreak havoc on essential electrical grids:

Space weather has the potential to simultaneously affect and disrupt health and safety across entire continents. Successfully preparing for space weather events is an all-of-nation endeavor that requires partnerships across governments, emergency managers, academia, the media, the insurance industry, non-profits, and the private sector.

Doctor Can Stop Heart Attacks

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:57 Written by
Doctor Can Stop Heart Attacks

When Dr. Harry Selker was working as a cardiologist in the 1970s, clot-busting drugs were showing great promise against heart attacks. One medical treatment Selker is researching is a cocktail of glucose, insulin and potassium, known by its chemical initials GIK. More than 50 years ago, studies with baboons and rabbits indicated that GIK appeared to actually prevent heart attacks. The simple concoction protected heart muscles against damage. Selker says: "So it was very encouraging. It was extraordinary, really."

But the lifesaving properties of clotbusting treatments and/or mitigations are very time sensitive. "If you give it within the first hour it has a 47 percent reduction of mortality; if you wait another hour, it has a 28 percent reduction; another hour, 23 percent. And people were taking about 90 minutes to make that decision," he recalls.

Selker and his colleagues designed a study to test GIK in humans. Paramedics in 13 cities gave people who appeared to be having a heart attack either GIK or a placebo. The GIK didn't keep people from having heart attacks, but those given it were less likely to suffer cardiac arrest or death in the hospital. It also reduced the amount of heart damage by 80 percent. The results were published in JAMA in 2012.

Astronomers Find 1000+ New Planets

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 17:00 Written by
Astronomers Find 1000+ New Planets

This week astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope announced that the planet-hunting spacecraft had increased its catalogue by an additional 1,284 worlds. This is the greatest number of planets ever announced at one time. A paper summarizing the findings appears in The Astrophysical Journal. The total exoplanet tally now stands at about 3,200, and Kepler has found 2,235 of them, NASA officials said.

"We now know that exoplanets are common, most stars in our galaxy have planetary systems and a reasonable fraction of stars in our galaxy have potentially habitable planets," Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said during a news conference today. "Knowing this the first step toward addressing the question, 'Are we alone in the universe?'"

Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:04 Written by
Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Scientists have created an “atlas of the brain” that reveals how the meanings of words are arranged across different regions of the organ. Like a colourful quilt laid over the cortex, the atlas displays in rainbow hues how individual words and the concepts they convey can be grouped together in clumps of white matter. “Our goal was to build a giant atlas that shows how one specific aspect of language is represented in the brain, in this case semantics, or the meanings of words,” said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

No single brain region holds one word or concept. A single brain spot is associated with a number of related words. And each single word lights up many different brain spots. Together they make up networks that represent the meanings of each word we use: life and love; death and taxes; clouds, Florida and bra. All light up their own networks.

Prince, Legendary Musician, Dies at 57

Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:35 Written by
Prince, Legendary Musician, Dies at 57

Prince died earlier today (April 21) at age 57 at his Paisley Park home and studio, his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press. Prince was hospitalized last week after his plane for was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill. Released a few hours later, a rep told reporters that he had been battling a bad case of the flu. 

One of the most iconic musicians in music history, Prince's extensive career grew out of the music scene of his native Minneapolis, where he lived his entire life. His 1978 debut album For You and self-titled second LP, released in October 1979, kicked off an incredibly prolific run of albums that included 1999, Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day, Sign O The Times and Batman, among others, throughout the 1980s at a clip of nearly one per year, evolving with each release.

Canada to Decriminalize Recreational Cannabis

Wednesday, 20 April 2016 22:43 Written by
Canada to Decriminalize Recreational Cannabis

Canada’s Liberal government will introduce legislation to decriminalise and regulate recreational marijuana in spring 2017, according to the health minister, Jane Philpott. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, promised during last year’s election campaign that his government would legalise recreational marijuana, following the US states of Washington and Colorado, but the time frame has been unclear.

Philpott, speaking on Wednesday at a special session of the UN general assembly in New York on drug problems around the world, said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and will keep criminals from profiting from its sale.

Creativity - Far More than Deliberate Practice

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 17:58 Written by
Creativity - Far More than Deliberate Practice

Speed of expertise acquisition may matter, but so do a whole host of other traits.  The "10-Year Rule" makes for a sensational TED talk; however, the idea that it takes 10 years to become a world-class expert in any domain is not a rule. Creativity doesn't have an expiration date. Creativity seems to happen when it's ready to happen.  While expetise or technique certainly contribute, talent and personality are very relevant to creative accomplishment. 

Successful, creators are not mere masters of technique. Instead of deliberately practicing down an already existing path, they often create their own path for others to follow.  In his new book "Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise", psychologist Anders Ericsson and journalist Robert Pool distill an impressive body of research on "mastering almost any skill."

Ancient Egyptian Demons Found

Saturday, 16 April 2016 17:04 Written by
Ancient Egyptian Demons Found

A Belgium-based Egyptologist has discovered the oldest of ancient Egyptian demons -- demonic entities populated the ancient Egyptians’ imaginations as far back as 4,000 years ago.  The discovery, presented recently at the International Conference on Ancient Egyptian Demonology, these demons gripped their victims and cut off their heads.

Wael Sherbiny, an independent scholar who specializes in the ancient Egyptian religious texts, found two demons on two Middle Kingdom coffins presumed to be about 4,000 years old.  The third demon was identified in a 4,000-year-old leather roll the researcher had previously discovered in the shelves of the Egyptian museum in Cairo, where it was stored and forgotten for more than 70 years. This leather roll was the oldest and longest Egyptian leather manuscript.

LSD is Curative

Thursday, 14 April 2016 00:44 Written by
LSD is Curative

New studies given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by one of the most powerful drugs ever created. One study could pave the way for LSD or related chemicals to be used to treat psychiatric disorders. Researchers suggest the drug could pull the brain out of thought patterns seen in depression and addiction through its effects on brain networks.

Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation that helped fund the study said, said: “We are finally unveiling the brain mechanisms underlying the potential of LSD, not only to heal but also to deepen our understanding of consciousness itself.”  A study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals how LSD reverses the more restricted thinking we develop from infancy to adulthood.

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