Australia

Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis 255

Posted by timothy
from the but-this-was-my-whole-health-plan dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Wellness advocate Belle Gibson, who translated her high profile as a cancer survivor into publishing success, has admitted her cancer diagnosis was not real. Ms Gibson, 23, who claimed to have healed terminal brain cancer by eating wholefoods, made the admission in an interview with the Australian Women's Weekly. The success of Gibson's book, The Whole Pantry, and her smartphone application, which advocates natural therapies, has been largely dependent on her high-profile as a cancer survivor. Sadly, we've seen this sort of behaviour before. It would seem that Belle Gibson has emulated Dr. Andrew Wakefield in knowingly decieving the public in ways that could possibly be dangerous to the health of believers.
Medicine

Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead 395

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-TPS-reports-will-get-an-asterisk dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports on the changing usage of psychostimulants like Adderall. They were once only prescribed to help children with attention deficit disorders focus on their school work, but then college students found those drugs could increase their ability to study. Now a growing number of workers use them to help compete. What will happen as these drugs are more widely used in the workplace? According to Anjan Chatterjee, the use of neurotechnologies to enhance healthy people's brain function could easily become widespread. "If anything, we worship workplace productivity by any means. Americans work longer hours and take fewer vacations than most others in the developed world. Why not add drugs to energize, focus and limit that annoying waste of time — sleep?" Julian Savulescu says that what defines human beings is their extraordinary cognitive power and their ability to enhance that power through reading, writing, computing and now smart drugs. "Eighty-five percent of Americans use caffeine. Nicotine and sugar are also cognitive enhancers," says Savulescu.

But cognitive neurologist Martha Farah says regular use on the job is an invitation to dependence. "I also worry about the effect of drug-fueled productivity on people other than the users," says Farah. "It is not hard to imagine a supervisor telling employees that this is the standard they should aspire to in their work, however they manage to do it (hint, hint). The eventual result will be a ratcheting up of "normal" productivity, where everyone uses (and the early adopters' advantage is only fleeting)."
Science

Colors Help Set Body's Internal Clock 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the sleepy-blue dept.
First time accepted submitter MakeItGlow writes A new study by researchers from the University of Manchester found that mice use the color of light to set their body clock. The researchers investigated whether color signals from the eyes wound up in the suprachiasmatic nucleus—the part of the brain in vertebrates that keeps time using electrical and chemical signals. From the article: "Scientists have long known about the role light plays in governing circadian rhythms, which synchronize life’s ebb and flow with the 24-hour day. But they weren’t sure how different properties of light, such as color and brightness, contributed to winding up that clock. 'As a sort of common sense notion people have assumed that the clock somehow measures the amount of light in the outside world,' says Tim Brown, a neuroscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and an author of the new study. 'Our idea was that it might be doing something more sophisticated than that.'”
Technology

New Nudge Technology Prods You To Take Action 61

Posted by timothy
from the remind-me-to-poke-you dept.
HughPickens.com writes Natasha Singer reports at the NYT on a new generation of devices whose primary function is to prod people to change. This new category of nudging technology includes "hydration reminder" apps like Waterlogged that exhort people to increase their water consumption; the HAPIfork, a utensil that vibrates and turns on a light indicator when people eat too quickly; and Thync, "neurosignaling" headgear that delivers electrical pulses intended to energize or relax people. "There is this dumbing-down, which assumes people do not want the data, they just want the devices to help them," says Natasha Dow Schüll. "It is not really about self-knowledge anymore. It's the nurselike application of technology." While some self-zapping gizmos may resemble human cattle prods, other devices use more complex cues to encourage people to adopt new behavior. For example, the Muse, a brain-wave monitoring headband, is intended to help people understand their state of mind by playing different sounds depending on whether they are distracted or calm. "Based on what it registers, it plays loud, disruptive wind or waves lapping or, if you are supercalm and you maintain it for a while, you get calm, lovely noises of birds tweeting," says Schüll. "You do learn to calm your mind.

But do the new self-tracking and self-improvement technologies benefit people or just create more anxiety? An article published in The BMJ, a British medical journal, describes healthy people who use self-tracking apps as "young, asymptomatic, middle-class neurotics continuously monitoring their vital signs while they sleep." Dr. Des Spence argues that many health tracking apps encouraged healthy people to unnecessarily record their normal activities and vital signs — turning users into continuously self-monitoring "neurotics." Spence recommends people view these new technologies with skepticism. "The truth is that these apps and devices are untested and unscientific, and they will open the door of uncertainty," says Spence. "Make no mistake: Diagnostic uncertainty ignites extreme anxiety in people."
Math

Can High Intelligence Be a Burden Rather Than a Boon? 385

Posted by timothy
from the how-can-I-still-go-on? dept.
HughPickens.com writes David Robson has an interesting article at BBC on the relationship between high intelligence and happiness. "We tend to think of geniuses as being plagued by existential angst, frustration, and loneliness," writes Robson. Think of Virginia Woolf, Alan Turing, or Lisa Simpson – lone stars, isolated even as they burn their brightest." As Ernest Hemingway wrote: "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know." The first steps to studying the question were taken in 1926 when psychologist Lewis Terman decided to identify and study a group of gifted children. Terman selected 1,500 pupils with an IQ of 140 or more – 80 of whom had IQs above 170. Together, they became known as the "Termites", and the highs and lows of their lives are still being studied to this day. "As you might expect, many of the Termites did achieve wealth and fame – most notably Jess Oppenheimer, the writer of the classic 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. Indeed, by the time his series aired on CBS, the Termites' average salary was twice that of the average white-collar job. But not all the group met Terman's expectations – there were many who pursued more "humble" professions such as police officers, seafarers, and typists. For this reason, Terman concluded that "intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated". Nor did their smarts endow personal happiness. Over the course of their lives, levels of divorce, alcoholism and suicide were about the same as the national average." According to Robson, one possibility is that knowledge of your talents becomes something of a ball and chain. During the 1990s, the surviving Termites were asked to look back at the events in their 80-year lifespan. Rather than basking in their successes, many reported that they had been plagued by the sense that they had somehow failed to live up to their youthful expectations (PDF).
Biotech

A 2-Year-Old Has Become the Youngest Person Ever To Be Cryonically Frozen 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
merbs writes: After losing a long battle with brain cancer, 2-year-old Matheryn Naovaratpong became the first minor ever to be cryogenically frozen. This article is the story of how a Thai girl was frozen in Bangkok and shipped to Arizona to have her brain preserved in liquid nitrogen, while medical science works on a cure. "Typically we’d move the head from the trunk of the body. We didn't know what their reaction would be from the family, the mortuary, from border officials; this has to go through a number of shipping venues, customs, the TSA and so on. To see a frozen head in a box might have raised a number of red flags. In the U.S. that’s not a big deal, but there, they may not be accustomed."
Medicine

How Brain Pacemakers Treat Parkinson's Disease 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-under-control dept.
the_newsbeagle writes Pharmaceutical research for neuropsychiatric disorders hasn't produced many breakthroughs lately, which may explain why there's so much excitement around "electroceutical" research. That buzzy new field encompasses deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an implanted stimulator sends little jolts through the neural tissue. DBS has become an accepted therapy for Parkinson's and other motor disorders, even though researchers haven't really understood how it works. Now, new research may have found the mechanism of action in Parkinson's patients: The stimulation reduces an exaggerated synchronization of neuron activity in the motor cortex.
Medicine

Acetaminophen Reduces Both Pain and Pleasure, Study Finds 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the pills-that-turn-you-into-a-robot dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers studying the commonly used pain reliever acetaminophen found it has a previously unknown side effect: It blunts positive emotions (abstract). Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol, has been in use for more than 70 years in the United States, but this is the first time that this side effect has been documented.
Medicine

Being Overweight Reduces Dementia Risk 97

Posted by timothy
from the correlation-is-easy dept.
jones_supa writes Being overweight cuts the risk of dementia, according to the largest and most precise investigation into the relationship (abstract). The researchers were surprised by the findings, which run contrary to current health advice. The team at Oxon Epidemiology and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed medical records from 2 million people aged 55 on average, for up to two decades. Their most conservative analysis showed underweight people had a 39% greater risk of dementia compared with being a normal healthy weight. But those who were overweight had an 18% reduction in dementia, and the figure was 24% reduction for the obese. Any explanation for the protective effect is distinctly lacking. There are some ideas that vitamin D and E deficiencies contribute to dementia and they may be less common in those eating more. Be it any way, let's still not forget that heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some cancers and other diseases are all linked to a bigger waistline. Maybe being slightly overweight is the optimum to strike, if the recent study is to be followed.
China

Outside Beijing, a Military-style Bootcamp For "Internet Addiction" 91

Posted by timothy
from the just-got-caught-up-in-it dept.
Press2ToContinue writes Last year, China recognized internet addiction as an official disorder. Since then, over 6,000 patients have submitted themselves for treatment, after some spent up to 14 hours a day online. And as these amazing pictures show, dealing with it is serious. The Daxing Internet Addiction Treatment Centre (IATC) is a military-style bootcamp nestled in the suburbs of Bejing. The young men that enter its doors are subjected to a strict military regime of exercise, medication and solitary confinement. Any kind of electronic gadgetry is completely banned. Additionally, patients are frequently subjected to psychiatric assessments and brain scans to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow. And the concept is gaining steam; the first Internet Congress on Internet Addiction Disorders was held in Milan in early 2014. Despite its recent official classification, Is internet addiction a real disorder? Or is it a red herring masking depression and escapism? And to make things more indeterminate, Isn't more and more time online the inevitable future?
News

Rare Ideopathic Encephaly Tied to Higher IQ, Not Lower 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the consume-mass-quantities dept.
Timothy writes Cranial deformation is commonly linked to brain dysfunction; it is one of the most common serious conditions affecting fetal growth. Multiple factors are involved, but in nearly every case on record the result is debilitating; stillbirth or neonatal death are common. A mutation, though, has been observed among members of a New Jersey family which represents a rare case of heritable encephaly tied not to dysfunction, but to higher-than-average intelligence, and with no evident negative health consequences.

Donald R. DeCicco (not his real name) and his wife Prymaat of Paramus, both French-born naturalized U.S. citizens, were born with unremarkable physical characteristics, apart from a specific constellation of physical abnormalities affecting maxillofacial and brain development. In both of their cases, brain development appears to be ordinary, but with all brain lobes occupying a volume that is both larger and narrower than typical. All medical tests (and the couple's success as educated, productive members of society) make it clear that their condition has not prevented ordinary life, and may even have enhanced it; a series of MRI and PET scans conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers indicated that their above-average cerebella are at least as active and neuron-rich as are more run-of-the-mill subjects' brains, and tests of memory, cognition, and reasoning place both DeCicco and Clorhone in the top percentile of American rest subjects. A daughter, Connie, shares both their unusual skeletal growth pattern, and is similarly highly intelligent; perhaps this form of heritable encephaly should be thought of as akin to Marfan syndrome, for its pairing of both high intelligence and a characteristic bone-growth pattern. At least one researcher quoted in the linked article believes that less extreme forms of the same anomaly can be observed in some historical and contemporary figures, citing as examples both Vladimir Putin and actor Richard Belzer as bearing some tendency toward the same characteristic shape.

First described by a family physician and described in the Journal of the Society of the Federal Health Professionals,the condition has been labeled Sandler's Syndrome.
The Almighty Buck

Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains 324

Posted by Soulskill
from the money-is-the-root-of-all dept.
sciencehabit writes: Stark and rising inequality plagues many countries, including the United States, and politicians, economists, and — fortunately — scientists, are debating its causes and solutions. But inequality's effects may go beyond simple access to opportunity: a new study finds that family differences in income and education are directly correlated with brain size in developing children and adolescents. The findings could have important policy implications and provide new arguments for early antipoverty interventions, researchers say.
Cellphones

Researchers: Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-mind-of-its-own dept.
Rambo Tribble writes Researchers from the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, and University of Fribourg have found evidence that smartphone use changes the way your brain interacts with your thumbs. Using electroencephalography to study brain activity in smartphone users vs. feature-phone users, they found apparently persistent, increased activity in areas of the brain associated with the thumbs. Of course, this may well be true of other repetitive activities, like keyboard use. Reuters provide a bit more approachable coverage.
Security

MRIs Show Our Brains Shutting Down When We See Security Prompts 79

Posted by timothy
from the all-persons-in-this-area-subject-to-palpatio-per-anum dept.
antdude writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) show our brains shutting down when we see security prompts. The MRI images show a "precipitous drop" in visual processing after even one repeated exposure to a standard security warning and a "large overall drop" after 13 of them. Previously, such warning fatigue has been observed only indirectly, such as one study finding that only 14 percent of participants recognized content changes to confirmation dialog boxes or another that recorded users clicking through one-half of all SSL warnings in less than two seconds.
Australia

New Alzheimer's Treatment Fully Restores Memory Function For Mice 109

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-deja-vu dept.
New submitter wrp103 writes Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology [abstract] that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques — structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. A slice: Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to move in. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so once they get past the blood-brain barrier, they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps before the blood-brain barrier is restored within a few hours. The team reports fully restoring the memories of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.
Businesses

Stanford Study Credits Lack of Non-Competes For Silicon Valley's Success 114

Posted by timothy
from the santa-clara-clause dept.
HughPickens.com writes Natalie Kitroeff writes at Bloomberg that a new study says the secret to Silicon Valley's triumph as the global capital of innovation may lie in a quirk of California's employment law that prohibits the legal enforcement of non-compete clauses. Unlike most states, California prohibits enforcement of non-compete clauses that force people who leave jobs to wait for a predetermined period before taking positions at rival companies. That puts California in the ideal position to rob other regions of their most prized inventors, "Policymakers who sanction the use of non-competes could be inadvertently creating regional disadvantage as far as retention of knowledge workers is concerned," wrote the authors of the study "Regional disadvantage? Employee non-compete agreements and brain drain" (PDF). "Regions that choose to enforce employee non-compete agreements may therefore be subjecting themselves to a domestic brain drain not unlike that described in the literature on international emigration out of less developed countries."

The study, which looked at the behavior of people who had registered at least two patents from 1975 to 2005, focused on Michigan, which in 1985 reversed its longstanding prohibition of non-compete agreements. The authors found that after Michigan changed the rules, the rate of emigration among inventors was twice as a high as it was in states where non-competes remained illegal. Even worse for Michigan, its most talented inventors were also the most likely to flee. "Firms are going to be willing to relocate someone who is really good, as opposed to someone who is average," says Lee Fleming. For the inventors, it makes sense to take a risk on a place such as California, where they have more freedom. "If the job they relocate for doesn't work out, then they can walk across the street because there are no non-competes."
Science

Speaking a Second Language May Change How You See the World 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-can-see-clearly-now,-der-regen-ist-weg dept.
sciencehabit writes: Where did the thief go? You might get a more accurate answer if you ask the question in German. How did she get away? Now you might want to switch to English. Speakers of the two languages put different emphasis on actions and their consequences, influencing the way they think about the world, according to a new study (abstract). The work also finds that bilinguals may get the best of both worldviews, as their thinking can be more flexible.
Biotech

Controlling Brain Activity With Magnetic Nanoparticles 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-that-episode-of-star-trek-too dept.
sciencehabit writes: Deep brain stimulation, which now involves surgically inserting electrodes several inches into a person's brain and connecting them to a power source outside the skull, can be an extremely effective treatment for disorders such as Parkinson's disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. The expensive, invasive procedure doesn't always work, however, and can be risky. Now, a study in mice (abstract) points to a less invasive way to massage neuronal activity, by injecting metal nanoparticles into the brain and controlling them with magnetic fields. The technique could eventually provide a wireless, nonsurgical alternative to traditional deep brain stimulation surgery, researchers say.
Science

Scientists Insert a Synthetic Memory Into the Brain of a Sleeping Mouse 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-party-you-never-had dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Scientists are learning how to insert fake memories into the brain via precise electrical stimulation (abstract). In the latest experiment, they gave sleeping mice a synthetic memory that linked a particular location in a test chamber to a pleasurable sensation. (At least they gave the mice a nice memory.)

The researchers first recorded the electrical signals from the mice's brains while the mice were awake and exploring the test chamber, until the researchers identified patterns of activity associated with a certain location. Then, when the mice slept, the researchers watched for those neural patterns to be replayed, indicating that the mice were consolidating the memory of that location. At that moment, they zapped a reward center of the mice's brains. When the mice awoke and went back into the chamber, they hung around that reward-associated location, presumably expecting a dose of feel-good.
Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer On Turning Around Yahoo 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the steering-the-ship dept.
An anonymous reader writes For the 20th anniversary of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer discusses how she's trying to reinvent the company. In a wide-ranging interview, Mayer shares her vision for fixing the company's past mistakes, including a major investment in mobile and a new ad platform. Yet she's been dogged by critics who see her as an imperious micromanager, who criticize her $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr, and who fault her for moving too slowly. The company's executives explain that the business could only return to health after she first halted Yahoo's brain drain and went big on mobile. As one Yahoo employee summarized Mayer's thinking: "First people, then apps."