A Blog Around The Clock

Sleep-Wake Controls Identified: Implications For Coma Patients And Those Under Anesthesia:

How do we wake up? How do we shift from restful sleep to dreaming? Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have discovered a new brain mechanism that just might explain how we do that. This new mechanism also may help us understand how certain anesthetics put us to sleep and how certain stimulants wake us up. In their first published study on this topic, researchers in the UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience found that some neurons in the reticular activating system, a region of the brain that controls sleep-wake states, are electrically coupled.

Infant Hearing Test Results May Predict Sudden Infant Death Syndrome:

One of the greatest medical mysteries of our time has taken a leap forward in medical understanding with new study results announced by Dr. Daniel D. Rubens of Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle. Rubens’ study published in July, 2007 in Early Human Development found all babies in a Rhode Island study group who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) universally shared the same distinctive difference in their newborn hearing test results for the right inner ear, when compared to infants who did not have SIDS.

Low Literacy Equals Early Death Sentence:

Not being able to read doesn’t just make it harder to navigate each day. Low literacy impairs people’s ability to obtain critical information about their health and can dramatically shorten their lives.

Obesity Is ‘Socially Contagious’:

Are your friends making you fat? Or keeping you slender? According to new research from Harvard and the University of California, San Diego, the short answer on both counts is “yes.” Appearing in the July 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a study coauthored by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and James Fowler of UC San Diego suggests that obesity is “socially contagious,” spreading from person to person in a social network.

Hearing Colors And Seeing Sounds: How Real Is Synesthesia?:

In the psychological phenomenon known as “synesthesia,” individuals’ sensory systems are a bit more intertwined than usual. Some people, for example, report seeing colors when musical notes are played. One of the most common forms is grapheme-color synesthesia, in which letters or numbers (collectively called “graphemes”) are highlighted with particular colors. Although synesthesia has been well documented, it is unknown whether these experiences, reported as vivid and realistic, are actually being perceived or if they are a byproduct of some other psychological mechanism such as memory.

Context Affects Opinion About Novel Energy Sources:

Opinions people have about innovations are influenced by the context in which they form their opinion. For example, opinions about a novel energy source like biomass are influenced by thoughts regarding other energy sources. The less knowledge, interest or time people have, the stronger this effect. Sustainable energy options must therefore be promoted in the right context says Dutch researcher Wouter van den Hoogen.

Prenatal Stress Keeps Infants, Toddlers Up At Night, Study Says:

Anxious or depressed mothers-to-be are at increased risk of having children who will experience sleep problems in infancy and toddlerhood, finds a study that published this month in Early Human Development.

Resisting Peer Pressure: New Findings Shed Light On Adolescent Decision-making:

The capacity to resist peer pressure in early adolescence may depend on the strength of connections between certain areas of the brain, according to a study carried out by University of Nottingham researchers.

Humanitarians, You’re Not As Generous As You Think:

A new study out of Carnegie Mellon University reveals that people who regard themselves as humanitarians are even more likely than others to base donations to the poor on whether they believe poverty is a result of bad luck or bad choices.

Anger, Depression Much Higher Among Jailed Teen Girls Than Boys:

A new study reveals that girls in juvenile detention centers face surprisingly different psychological issues than average teen girls and, in some ways, more severe problems than incarcerated boys.

Learning A Second Language: Is It All In Your Head?:

Think you haven’t got the aptitude to learn a foreign language? New research led by Northwestern University neuroscientists suggests that the problem, quite literally, could be in your head. … Based on the size of Heschl’s Gyrus (HG), a brain structure that typically accounts for no more than 0.2 percent of entire brain volume, the researchers found they could predict — even before exposing study participants to an invented language — which participants would be more successful in learning 18 words in the “pseudo” language.

Why Do People Love Horror Movies? They Enjoy Being Scared:

A bedrock assumption in theories that explain and predict human behavior is people’s motivation to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. How can this be reconciled with the decision to engage in experiences known to elicit negative feelings, such as horror movies” It certainly seems counterintuitive that so many people would voluntarily immerse themselves in almost two hours of fear, disgust and terror. “Why do people pay for this?” “How is this enjoyable?”

How To Manipulate Perceptual Focus In Advertisements:

In a new study from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers from Northwestern University demonstrate how advertisements can be manipulated to cause overemphasis of a particular feature and increase the likelihood that a certain product is chosen. Their finding runs contrary to economic models, which assume that choices are based on stable preferences and should not be influenced by the inclusion of inferior options.

College Science Success Linked To Math And Same-subject Preparation:

Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Virginia have found that high school coursework in one of the sciences generally does not predict better college performance in other scientific disciplines. But there’s one notable exception: Students with the most rigorous high school preparation in mathematics perform significantly better in college courses in biology, chemistry, and physics.

Relational Uncertainty Sparks Negativity In Marital Conversations:

Spouses who experience doubts about their marriage, even weak doubts, make pessimistic judgments about their partner’s behavior in conversation. That’s the conclusion of researchers who have conducted the first study to examine the link between relational uncertainty and conversation within marriage.

Why We May Feel Guilty:

Guilt plays a vital role in the regulation of social behavior. That worried feeling in our gut often serves as the impetus for our stab at redemption. However, psychologists have trouble agreeing on the function of this complex emotion.


  1. #1 nbm
    July 29, 2007

    LOTS of fascinating stuff there today, thanks. You might make more out of the “Prenatal Stress” study which says:

    “[Stress], which is associated with increased exposure stress hormones, like cortisol, may disrupt a child’s formation of a bundle of nerve cells in the brain – called the suprachiasmatic nucleus – which act as a signaling system that tunes the body’s internal clock.”

  2. #2 coturnix
    July 29, 2007

    If I find some time, I may do so.

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