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Comment: Warming may increase average world rainfall. (Score 1) 222

by wherrera (#48604361) Attached to: Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do

See: http://www.engineeringtoolbox....

Since the water carrying ability of saturated air goes up with temperature, there should be a trend toward heavier rainfall with temperature increases. Of course, places that are in a "rain shadow" like most deserts would not be expected to benefit as much as places near large bodies of water.

+ - SPAM: PHYTONOSIS: Acanthocystis turfacea chlorella virus 1 and Cognitive Impairment

Submitted by wherrera
wherrera (235520) writes "So, what are phytonoses? Phytonoses are diseases which can spread from plant to human. Do they exist? Apparently, yes. Just in from the NIH and the National Academy of Sciences:

A group led by Dr. Robert Yolken at Johns Hopkins University has been studying the links between viral infections and brain development. They were analyzing viruses taken from the throats of 33 healthy adults who were participating in a study that involved the assessment of cognitive functioning. Unexpectedly, the researchers discovered genetic sequences from Acanthocystis turfacea chlorella virus 1 (ATCV-1). ATCV-1 is a type of Chlorovirus, which infects green algae. These viruses are common in fresh water, such as lakes and ponds, but weren’t thought to infect humans or animals.

To further investigate, the group teamed with Dr. James Van Etten, an expert on algal viruses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Their work was supported in part by NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Results appeared online on October 27, 2014, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A sequence-specific assay detected ATCV-1 in throat samples from 40 of 92 (44%) people in the study. The team next examined the link between ATCV-1 and performance on a battery of cognitive tests. ATCV-1 was associated with decreases on tests of visual processing. There was no difference on tests of general knowledge.

Studies in people can involve many complex factors, so the scientists infected a group of mice with ATCV-1. The exposed mice performed worse than control mice in several cognitive tests, such as navigating mazes. The researchers next studied gene expression in the hippocampus, a brain region essential for learning, memory, and behavior. Exposure to ATCV-1 was associated with significant changes in the regulation of over 1,000 genes.

“People have conducted studies looking for more conventional viruses and bacteria in throat swabs, but the way those studies were done meant that they could have easily missed the ones that we work with,” Van Etten says.

More study will be needed to learn how ATCV-1 may alter cognitive functioning. If confirmed, these findings hint that other yet-unknown viruses may have subtle effects on human health and behavior.
So, there are many questions. Does the viral presence cause or follow from brain pathology? If it is a cause, is the sub-minimal cognitive impairment reversible if virus is removed? Is the causative pathophysiology actually invasion of brain as a very low-grade encephalitis, or is the action via a remote toxic effect? Especially, is this organism a newly found cause of the many thousands of cases of unidentified meningoencephalitis and encephalitis seen yearly?

There is much of human virology yet to be learned."

Link to Original Source

Comment: To the wielder of the fMRI hammer.... (Score 1) 91

by wherrera (#48342799) Attached to: fMRI Data Reveals How Many Parallel Processes Run In the Brain the one using the hammer, there is a tendency for everything to look like a nail. Identifying fMRI correlates may not actually indicate the number of cognitive components in play, any more than counting the number and location of gasoline stations tells us much detail of what people in a city are doing. At most, it gives us some useful hints.

Comment: electrodes take up space in the brain regions (Score 2) 28

by wherrera (#47732613) Attached to: A Better Way To Make Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Limbs

The only way this could work is if the electrodes can be made much,much thinner than paper thin, and even then they might irritate nearby tissue. It's a huge technical challenge. Better to use a smaller electrode surface area and train the patient to signal to the electrodes.

Comment: The exact details of the home's location matter. (Score 1) 214

by wherrera (#47687129) Attached to: Figuring Out Where To Live Using Math

The topography of the zoning and building layout matter. Consider two neighborhoods which are 2-mile squares in shape. One neighborhood has a commercial district in a single corner, the other neighborhood has two such districts at opposite corners of its square. The second neighborhood may score twice as walkable, but what matters to the home's individual walkableness is how close it sits to one of those districts, since you presumably want to walk to the store and to an office in a corner that has a commercial district.

Choose a place you would like to walk, shop and work, then find a home located within a walking distance from those places, and you may have MANY good options, more than your zone-based averaging will reveal.

Comment: Check the slight angle change just after the roll (Score 4, Informative) 65

by wherrera (#46727977) Attached to: Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

There is a variable angle change just after the initial turn away from the threat that allows the fly to be unpredictable. Otherwise the predator can predict the fly will evade directly away and anticipate where the fly will be. Very clever.

Comment: Sigh. Yet another fMRi study with poor controls. (Score 1) 161

by wherrera (#46317511) Attached to: The Neuroscience of Computer Programming

The control groups should have been two other reading selections designed to bracket programming code reading: for example, reading mathematics, such as algebraic proofs, versus reading in an unfamiliar non-math vocabulary like a dense legal contract. It's possible that all would have looked similar, or that two but not three would have been similar, or all different. We just don't know.

And don't let me even get started on the fact that most fMRI studies use far too few subjects and then use absurd values for N like thousands of MRI mapped vertex points in a single subject to reach "significance" (a technique which would be considered a statistical cheat in any other field).

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354