henry copeland @hc

having fun with people and pixels, via racery, pullquote, twiangulate, improv, running

Recent quotes:

The Mueller Report Is Much Worse For Trump Than Barr Let On | WIRED

Barr previously had quoted in his summary the second half of a single sentence on the first page of volume I, telling Congress that "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference efforts." The full sentence is decidedly more troubling. As Mueller actually wrote: "Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference efforts."

How to hack your deadline: Admit it's uncertain -- ScienceDaily

"Stakeholders are always dealing with a complex set of uncertainties, but they are rarely shared with project managers. The goal is to bring the two worlds closer together and incorporate the knowledge that's uncovered into the management process," Bordley said. "I like to ask stakeholders to think of a situation that would cause a deadline to get pushed forward by a month, for example. Tell me about that situation, estimate how likely it is to happen. Focus on the extremes. That way, you end up with optimistic and pessimistic deadlines that are more than just numbers."

Adding human touch to unchatty chatbots may lead to bigger letdown -- ScienceDaily

"People are pleasantly surprised when a chatbot with low anthropomorphism -- fewer human cues -- has higher interactivity," said Sundar. "But when there are high anthropomorphic visual cues, it may set up your expectations for high interactivity -- and when the chatbot doesn't deliver that -- it may leave you disappointed."

Study links fluorescent lighting to inflammation and immune response - Neuroscience News

“In this report, we show genome-wide changes of gene expression patterns in skin, brain and liver for two commonly utilized fish experimental models (zebrafish and Japanese rice fish, also known as medaka), and a mammalian (mice), following exposure to 4,100 K ‘cool-white’ fluorescent light,” Walter said. “In spite of the extreme divergence of these animals (i.e., estimated divergence of mice and fish about 450 million years), and drastically different lifestyles (i.e., diurnal fish and nocturnal mice), the same highly conserved primary genetic response that involves activation of inflammation and immune pathways as part of an overall acute phase response was observed in the skin, brain and liver of all three animals. Follow-up studies to further define this response in mice are underway.”

Morning exercise for optimal metabolic impact

They found that a protein called hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) plays an important role and that it is activated by exercise in different ways depending on the time of day. HIF-1α is a transcription factor that is known to stimulate certain genes based on oxygen levels in tissue. “It makes sense that HIF-1α would be important here, but until now we didn’t know that its levels fluctuate based on the time of day,” Sassone-Corsi says. “This is a new finding.” Based on the work from the UC Irvine team, exercise seemed to have the most beneficial impact on the metabolism at the beginning of the active phase phase (equivalent to late morning in humans) compared with the resting phase (evening).

Two studies explore whether time of day can affect the body's response to exercise - Neuroscience News

The researchers also studied 12 humans and found similar effects. Overall, the people in the study had lower oxygen consumption while exercising in the evening compared with the morning; this translated to better exercise efficiency.

Biosensor 'bandage' collects and analyzes sweat -- ScienceDaily

To make their device, the researchers coated a flexible polyester film with a super-hydrophobic silica suspension. They then etched microwells into the silica layer to collect perspiration. At the bottom of the wells, they placed dyes that change color with pH or concentration of chloride, glucose or calcium. The team added an adhesive backing and attached the biosensor bandage onto a volunteer's skin. When the person exercised, their perspiration collected in the microwells, and the spots changed colors. By imaging and analyzing the colors with a cell phone, the researchers determined that the sweat pH was 6.5-7.0, with a chloride concentration of about 100 mM and trace amounts of calcium and glucose. The researchers are now working on increasing the sensitivity of the device.

Vitamin D study sheds light on immune system effects -- ScienceDaily

In healthy people, T cells play a crucial role in helping to fight infections. In people with autoimmune diseases, however, they can start to attack the body's own tissues. By studying cells from mice and people, the researchers found vitamin D caused dendritic cells to produce more of a molecule called CD31 on their surface and that this hindered the activation of T cells. The team observed how CD31 prevented the two cell types from making a stable contact -- an essential part of the activation process -- and the resulting immune reaction was far reduced. Researchers say the findings shed light on how vitamin D deficiency may regulate the immune system and influence susceptibility to autoimmune diseases.

Successful research papers cite young references: Analysis of scientific citations reveals previously unknown patterns -- ScienceDaily

While most researchers cite older, well-established papers in their field, highly cited papers -- papers that other published papers cite the most often and therefore are considered successful -- also cite more work that has been published relatively recently. In fact, that cited work goes on to become highly cited itself, showing that top scientists and engineers are adept at betting on good prospects. "You could say the best researchers also have the best scientific taste," said Luís Amaral, Erastus Otis Haven Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and lead author of the research.

Mid-life resting heart rate of 75 plus beats/minute linked to doubling in early death risk: And rise in rate for those in their 50s linked to heightened heart disease risk over next 11 years -- ScienceDaily

But a resting heart rate of 75+ bpm in 1993 was nevertheless associated with around a twofold higher risk of death from any cause, from cardiovascular disease, and from coronary heart disease, compared with a resting heart rate of 55 or below. And a resting heart rate that was stable between 1993 and 2003, when the men were aged 50 to 60, was associated with a 44 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease over the next 11 years compared with a resting heart rate that had increased over this period. What's more, every additional beat increase in rate was associated with a 3 per cent higher risk of death from any cause, a 1 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 2 per cent higher risk of coronary heart disease.

How college students can end up in vicious cycle of substance abuse, poor academics, stress -- ScienceDaily

Begdache said that "it is important for young adults to recognize that one behavior may lead to a domino effect. For instance, using drugs recreationally, abusing alcohol or using "study" drugs not only affects brain chemistry but may affect diet and sleep, which may further alter brain function and brain maturity. Reduced brain maturity increases impulsivity, reduces emotional control and cognitive functions as well as GPA, eventually increasing mental distress with a potential long-lasting effect," said Begdache. "Brain maturity is a window of time and negative stimuli leave a permanent mark. Higher impulsivity and increased mental distress further support drug use, and a vicious cycle sets in. Luckily, we also identified a virtuous cycle; when young adults follow a healthy lifestyle (diet, sleep and exercise), they are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol, which supports a normal brain maturity, which is then reflected in a higher GPA and responsible attitudes toward learning, work and family. These vicious or virtuous cycles have a long-lasting effect on brain function, so it is crucial that young adults are aware of the potential harm or benefits of their own actions."

Sleep Apnea: Oral appliance could help you (and your partner) sleep better -- ScienceDaily

The Department of Orthodontics at Hiroshima University Hospital developed an oral appliance to help patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. This appliance brings the jawbone forward to enlarge the air passageways at the back of their mouth. Each appliance is custom made for each patient and allows jaw movement, so it doesn't affect patient's teeth or change the shape of their face. "This is like when you have to use glasses, you have to wear them every time you want to see properly so [patients] have to wear this appliance every time [they] want to sleep better." according to Dr. Ueda.

Despite transition period, maximal running shoes may still increase risk of injury -- ScienceDaily

The results showed there were no changes in running mechanics over time in either type of shoes. The study did show increased impact forces and loading rates in the maximal shoe, supporting results of the earlier study. There was no difference in those biomechanics after the transition to the maximal shoes. "The concern in the maximal shoes is that you have this mass you're repeatedly loading. How are you attenuating that?" Pollard said. "We also saw changes in ankle kinematics, or the angular movement in the joints. With the maximal shoes we saw prolonged eversion, which likely increases stress on the legs and could lead to injury."

Mindful body awareness training during treatment for drug addiction helps prevent relapse -- ScienceDaily

The intervention is called Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) and combines manual, mindfulness and psycho-educational approaches to teach interoceptive awareness and related self-care skills. Interoceptive awareness is the ability to access and process sensory information from the body. Researchers studied 187 women at three Seattle-area locations. The cohort, all women in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), was split into three relatively equal groups. Every group continued with their regular SUD treatment. One group received SUD treatment only, another group was taught the mindfulness technique in addition to treatment, and the third group received a women's education curriculum in addition to treatment in order to test whether the additional time and attention explained any positive study outcomes. Women were tested at the beginning, and at three, six and 12 months on a number of factors including substance use, distress craving, emotion regulation (self-report and psychophysiology), mindfulness skills and interoceptive awareness. There were lasting improvements in these areas for those who received the MABT intervention, but not for the other two study groups. "Those who received MABT relapsed less," Price said. "By learning to attend to their bodies, they learned important skills for better self-care."

Oxytocin could help treat alcohol use disorder -- ScienceDaily

Administering oxytocin can decrease consumption, withdrawal symptoms, and drug-seeking behavior associated with several drugs of abuse, and shows promise as a pharmacological approach to treat drug addiction. But first, researchers need to understand how oxytocin mediates these effects in animal models. To address this question, Tunstall and colleagues tested the hypothesis that oxytocin administration could normalize the maladaptive brain changes that occur in alcohol dependence and thereby reduce alcohol drinking in an established rat model of alcohol dependence. The authors investigated oxytocin's effects on dependence-induced alcohol consumption and altered signaling of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) -- a key brain region in the network affected by alcohol dependence.

Auction bids decline with intensity of competition: Study reveals downside to having more bidders in an auction -- ScienceDaily

The study suggested that the more bidders there are in an auction, the lower each individual bidder perceives their probability of winning, which has demotivating effect on their desire to win the auction. "This is a counterintuitive finding because usually auctioneers would assume that the more bidders there are in an auction, the more money they will make -- the logic being that that the more bidders there are, the more likely it is that there is a bidder with a high willingness to pay for the good," said co-author Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula from the University of Sydney's School of Economics. "However, it turns out that there is also a downside to having more bidders -- most people bid less."

New theory derived from classical physics predicts how economies respond to major disturbances -- ScienceDaily

The concept for the new model is inspired by classical physics: Linear response theory (LRT) explains, for example, how electric or magnetic substances react to strong electrical or magnetic fields. This is known as susceptibility. It can be measured with special devices, but also be mathematically derived from properties of the material. "We show that LRT applies just as well to input-output economics," says Peter Klimek. "Instead of material properties, we use economic networks; instead of electrical resistance, we determine the susceptibility of economies, their response to shocks." Visualizing economies To make it intuitively understandable how economies work, scientists at the CSH employ an interactive visualization tool. It will be constantly fed with new data until the final version should represent the whole world economy. The tool visualizes the various dependencies of countries and production sectors. "Users can change all kinds of parameters and immediately see the effects across countries and sectors," says Stefan Thurner. A preliminary version, showing Trump tariff effects on Europe, can be seen at https://csh.ac.at/ecores/

Train your brain, change your brain - ScienceBlog.com

With this technique, the magnetic resonance equipment helps individuals to have access to their own brain activity in real time and quickly gain control over it. Thirty-six healthy subjects participated in the study in which the goal was to increase the activity of brain regions involved in hand movements. However, instead of actually move their hand, participants were asked to only imagine the movement, in total rest. Nineteen of them received the real brain training and the remaining seventeen were trained with placebo neurofeedback, for comparisons purposes. Immediately before and after the brain training, which lasted around 30 minutes, their neural networks were scanned in order to investigate the impact of the neurofeedback (or placebo) on brain wiring and communication, also known as structural and functional connectivity, respectively. The results show that the corpus callosum – the major cerebral bridge that connects the right and left hemispheres – exhibited increased integrity, and the neural network controlling the movements of the body became strengthened. It seems that the whole system became more robust. Likewise, the training also had a positive impact on the default mode network, a brain network which is impaired after stroke, Parkinson’s and depression, for example. These changes were not observed in the control group.

Abundance of information narrows our collective attention span - ScienceBlog.com

The scientists have studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years. In addition, they have gathered data from Google Trends (2010-2018), Reddit (2010-2015), and Wikipedia (2012-2017). Rapid exhaustion of attention ressources On this background, they find empirical evidence of ever-steeper gradients and shorter bursts of collective attention given to each cultural item. The paper uses a model for this attention economy to suggest that the accelerating vicissitudes of popular content are driven by increasing production and consumption of content, and therefore are not intrinsic to social media. This results in a more rapid exhaustion of limited attention resources.

Experts sound alarm as mosquito- and tick-borne diseases set to flourish in warmer climate -- ScienceDaily

Global warming has allowed mosquitoes, ticks and other disease-carrying insects to proliferate, adapt to different seasons, and invade new territories across Europe over the past decade -- with accompanying outbreaks of dengue in France and Croatia, malaria in Greece, West Nile Fever in Southeast Europe, and chikungunya virus in Italy and France. Worryingly, the authors say, this might only be the tip of the iceberg. "Mediterranean Europe is now a part-time tropical region, where competent vectors like the Tiger mosquito are already established," says Dr Rezza. Hotter and wetter weather could provide ideal conditions for the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which spreads the viruses that cause dengue and chikungunya, to breed and expand across large parts of Europe including the south and east of the UK and central Europe.

(So does running) Ketamine reverses neural changes underlying depression-related behaviors in mice: Study sheds light on the neural mechanisms underlying remission of depression -- ScienceDaily

Researchers took high-resolution images of dendritic spines in the prefrontal cortex of mice before and after they experienced a stressor. Dendritic spines are protrusions in the part of neurons that receive communication input from other neurons. The researchers found that mice displaying behaviors related to depression had increased elimination of, and decreased formation of, dendritic spines in their prefrontal cortex compared with mice not exposed to a stressor. This finding replicates prior studies linking the emergence of behaviors related to depression in mice with dendritic spine loss. In addition to the effects on dendritic spines, stress reduced the functional connectivity and simultaneous activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of mice. This reduction in connectivity and activity was associated with behaviors related to depression in response to stressors. Liston's group then found that ketamine treatment rapidly restored functional connectivity and ensemble activity of neurons and eliminated behaviors related to depression

I feel you: Emotional mirror neurons found in the rat -- ScienceDaily

On the basis of this, researchers formulated two speculations: (a) the cingulate cortex contains mirror neurons, i.e. neurons that trigger our own feeling of pain and are reactivated when we see the pain of others, and (b) that this is the reason why we wince and feel pain while seeing the pain of others. This intuitively plausible theory of empathy however remained untested because it is not possible to record the activity of individual brain cells in humans. Moreover, it is not possible to modulate brain activity in the human cingulate cortex to determine whether this brain region is responsible for empathy. Rat shares emotions of others For the first time, researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience were able to test the theory of empathy in rats. They had rats look at other rats receiving an unpleasant stimulus (mild shock), and measured what happened with the brain and behavior of the observing rat. When rats are scared, their natural reaction is to freeze to avoid being detected by predators. The researchers found that the rat also froze when it observed another rat exposed to an unpleasant situation. This finding suggests that the observing rat shared the emotion of the other rat. Corresponding recordings of the cingulate cortex, the very region thought to underpin empathy in humans, showed that the observing rats activated the very neurons in the cingulate cortex that also became active when the rat experienced pain himself in a separate experiment. Subsequently, the researchers suppressed the activity of cells in the cingulate cortex through the injection of a drug. They found that observing rats no longer froze without activity in this brain region.

Want to quit smoking? Partner up: Couples who attempt to stop smoking together have a sixfold chance of success -- ScienceDaily

At the end of the programme, 64% of patients and 75% of partners were abstinent -- compared to none and 55% at the start, respectively. The odds of quitting smoking at 16 weeks were significantly higher (5.83-fold) in couples who tried to quit together compared to patients who attempted it alone. "Previous research has shown that ex-smokers can also positively influence their spouse's attempts to quit, but in this study the effect was not statistically significant," said Ms Lampridou. "As for non-smoking partners, there is a strong risk that they will adopt their spouse's habit." Ms Lampridou noted that research is needed to confirm the findings in smokers who are otherwise healthy.

'Mindreading' neurons simulate decisions of social partners -- ScienceDaily

The researchers go on to speculate that if simulation neurons became dysfunctional this could restrict social cognition, a symptom of autism. By contrast, they suggest overactive neurons could result in exaggerated simulation of what others might be thinking, which may play a role in social anxiety. The study's lead author, Dr Fabian Grabenhorst from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, says: "We started out looking for neurons that might be involved in social learning. We were surprised to find that amygdala neurons not only learn the value of objects from social observation but actually use this information to simulate a partner's decisions." Simulating others' decisions is a sophisticated cognitive process that is rooted in social learning. By observing a partner's foraging choices, for instance, we learn which foods are valuable and worth choosing. Such knowledge not only informs our own decisions but also helps us predict the future decisions of our partner.

Could eating garlic reduce aging-related memory problems? -- ScienceDaily

For the study, the researchers gave oral allyl sulfide to mice that were 24 months old, which correlates to people between 56 and 69 years of age. They compared these mice with 4- and 24-month-old mice not receiving the dietary allyl sulfide supplement. The researchers observed that the older mice receiving the garlic compound showed better long- and short-term memory and healthier gut bacteria than the older mice that didn't receive the treatment. Spatial memory was also impaired in the 24-month-old mice not receiving allyl sulfide. Additional experiments revealed that reduced gene expression of neuronal-derived natriuretic factor (NDNF) in the brain was likely responsible for the cognitive decline. This gene was recently discovered by the University of Louisville researchers and is required for long-term and short-term memory consolidation. The researchers found that mice receiving the garlic compound exhibited higher levels of NDNF gene expression. In addition, recombinant-NDNF protein therapy in the brain restored the cognitive abilities of the older mice that did not receive the garlic compound.

Researchers develop first functional targeted inhibitors of peanut allergens -- ScienceDaily

To achieve their goal, Bilgicer and his team used nanoparticles, called nanoallergens, to screen and identify the key binding sites on peanut proteins that patient IgE antibodies recognize by studying samples from a small population of patients with severe allergies to peanuts. That was significant, Bilgicer said, because "it seems only a few sites seem to be exceptionally critical in driving the allergic response." Once identified, Bilgicer's team synthesized a specialized inhibitor, called covalent heterobivalent inhibitor (cHBI), to prevent IgE from binding to the peanut protein. In a study of 16 patient samples with severe peanut allergies, the cHBIs were successful in inhibiting an allergic response in up to 90 percent of all samples. The study presents a compelling case for further development and assessment of cHBI as a viable strategy for treating peanut allergies.