henry copeland @hc

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

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Do lovers always tease each other? Study shows how couples handle laughter and banter -- ScienceDaily

The researchers observed that provoking others to laugh at you primarily has positive effects: "Women reported more often that they tended to be satisfied with their relationship and felt more attracted to their partner. They and their partners also tended to be equally satisfied with their sex life," Brauer continues. Being afraid of being laughed at, on the other hand, tended to have negative effects: people who have this fear are less content in their relationship and also tend to mistrust their partner. This also has consequences for the partner: men said more frequently that they did not really feel satisfied with their sex life if their partner was afraid of being laughed at.

Dads' Nicotine Use May Cause Cognitive Problems for Children and Grandchildren - Neuroscience News

Analysis of spermatozoa from the original nicotine-exposed males indicated that promoter regions of multiple genes had been epigenetically modified, including the dopamine D2 gene, critical for brain development and learning, suggesting that these modifications likely contributed to the cognitive deficits in the descendants.

Endurance Exercise Training Has Beneficial Effects on Gut Bacteria Composition - Neuroscience News

“We found that phospholipids and cholesterol in VLDL particles decreased in response to exercise. These changes are beneficial for cardiometabolic health because VLDL transports lipids from the liver to peripheral tissues, converts into ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the circulation, and thus has detrimental cardiovascular effects.” Exercise training also decreased Vascular adhesion protein-1 activity, which can have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects especially on vasculature, though the underlying mechanisms could not be determined in this study. Whether Akkermansia mediates the health benefits of exercise is under further investigation

Memory palaces aren't a metaphor

Electroencephalography readings were taken as 24 participants performed a visual working memory task while at rest and during exercise involving different postures: seated on or pedalling a stationary bicycle, as well as standing or walking on a treadmill. (Visual working memory is the ability to maintain visual information to serve the needs of ongoing tasks.) The investigators found that both aerobic exercise and upright posture improved visual working memory compared with passive and seated conditions. Their analyses also suggest where the neural origins of these observed effects take place.

Hippocampus maps relationship of scenes?

Aya Ben-Yakov and Richard Henson found that the hippocampus responded most strongly to the films at the points that independent observers identified as the end of one event and the beginning of a new one. The researchers found a strong match between these event boundaries and participants’ hippocampal activity, varying according to the degree to which the independent observers agreed on the transition points between events. While watching the two-hour long Forrest Gump, hippocampal response was more strongly influenced by the subjective event boundaries than by what the filmmaker may consider a transition between scenes, such as a change in location.

Time-traveling illusion tricks the brain: How the brain retroactively makes sense of rapid auditory and visual sensory stimulation -- ScienceDaily

The first illusion is called the Illusory Rabbit. To produce the illusion, first a short beep and a quick flash are played nearly simultaneously on a computer, with the flash appearing at the left side of the screen. Next, 58 milliseconds after the first beep, a lone beep is played. Finally, 58 milliseconds after the second beep, a second nearly simultaneous beep-flash pair occurs, but with the flash appearing on the right side of the screen. The beep location is always central and does not move. Though only two flashes are played, most people viewing the illusion perceive three flashes, with an illusory flash coinciding with the second beep and appearing to be located in the center of the screen. The fact that the illusory flash is perceived in between the left and right flashes is the key evidence that the brain is using postdictive processing. "When the final beep-flash pair is later presented, the brain assumes that it must have missed the flash associated with the unpaired beep and quite literally makes up the fact that there must have been a second flash that it missed," explains Stiles. "This already implies a postdictive mechanism at work. But even more importantly, the only way that you could perceive the shifted illusory flash would be if the information that comes later in time -- the final beep-flash combination -- is being used to reconstruct the most likely location of the illusory flash as well."

Teen cannabis use is not without risk to cognitive development -- ScienceDaily

"However, further increases in cannabis use, but not alcohol consumption, showed additional concurrent and lagged effects on cognitive functions, such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory and inhibitory control," Conrod said. "Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviours, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions." Morin added: "Some of these effects are even more pronounced when consumption begins earlier in adolescence."

Do unexpected panic attacks occur spontaneously? - PubMed - NCBI

Significant patterns of instability across a number of autonomic and respiratory variables were detected as early as 47 minutes before panic onset. The final minutes before onset were dominated by respiratory changes, with significant decreases in tidal volume followed by abrupt carbon dioxide partial pressure increases. Panic attack onset was characterized by heart rate and tidal volume increases and a drop in carbon dioxide partial pressure. Symptom report was consistent with these changes. Skin conductance levels were generally elevated in the hour before, and during, the attacks. Changes in the matched control periods were largely absent.

Gut branches of vagus nerve essential components of brain's reward and motivation system -- ScienceDaily

"Our study reveals, for the first time, the existence of a neuronal population of 'reward neurons' amid the sensory cells of the right branch of the vagus nerve," says Ivan de Araujo, DPhil, Senior Faculty in the Department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and senior author of the paper. "We focused on challenging the traditional view that the vagus nerve is unrelated to motivation and pleasure and we found that stimulation of the nerve, specifically its upper gut branch, is sufficient to strongly excite reward neurons lying deep inside the brain." The branches of the vagus nerve are intricately intermingled, making it extremely difficult to manipulate each organ separately. To address this challenge, the research team employed a combination of virally delivered molecular tools that allowed them to exclusively target the vagal sensory neurons connected to the stomach and upper intestine. Specifically, researchers combined different viruses carrying molecular tools in a way that allowed them to optically activate vagal neurons connected to the gut while vagal neurons leading to other organs remained mute. The approach, a state-of-the-art technique known as "optogenetics," allows investigators to use light to manipulate the activity of a prespecified set of neurons. The study revealed that the newly identified reward neurons of the right vagus nerve operate under the same constraints attributed to reward neurons of the central nervous system, meaning they link peripheral sensory cells to the previously mapped populations of reward neurons in the brain. Strikingly, neurons of the left vagus were associated with satiety, but not with reward. The research team's anatomical studies also revealed, for the first time, that the right and left vagal branches ascend asymmetrically into the central nervous system.

It's not just for kids -- even adults appear to benefit from a regular bedtime: Adults with varied sleep-wake times weigh more, have higher blood sugar, risk of disease -- ScienceDaily

Of all three measures, however, regularity was the best at predicting someone's heart and metabolic disease risk, the researchers found. As one might expect, irregular sleepers experienced more sleepiness during the day and were less active -- perhaps because they were tired, Lunsford-Avery said. Researchers plan to conduct more studies over longer periods in hopes of determining how biology causes changes in sleep regularity and vice-versa. "Perhaps there's something about obesity that disrupts sleep regularity," Lunsford-Avery said. "Or, as some research suggests, perhaps poor sleep interferes with the body's metabolism which can lead to weight gain, and it's a vicious cycle. With more research, we hope to understand what's going on biologically, and perhaps then we could say what's coming first or which is the chicken and which is the egg."

Heart rate variability: Get to know what it brings to the fitness party

"It's the start of our focus on how sensors can be applied to wellness. HRV, which is what the Relax app is based on, is a new metric for us which took a lot of algorithmic development."

Heart rate variability: Get to know what it brings to the fitness party

Bottom line, it's an exciting time that more wearables are being able to tap into heart rate variability whether it's for improving fitness or just being able to know when you're feeling a bit stressed. This is really just the start of the relationship between the two, so don't be surprised if more HRV tracking devices are on their way over in the not too distant future.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

The United States spends $1.5 billion on nutrition research every year compared to around $60 billion on drug research. Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year. It’s the same with exercise. The cardiovascular risks of sedentary lifestyles, suburban sprawl and long commutes are well-documented. […]Only 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school; once they arrive, less than a third of them will take part in a daily gym class. Among adults, the number of workers commuting more than 90 minutes each way grew by more than 15 percent from 2005 to 2016, a predictable outgrowth of America’s underinvestment in public transportation and over-investment in freeways, parking and strip malls. For 40 years, as politicians have told us to eat more vegetables and take the stairs instead of the elevator, they have presided over a country where daily exercise has become a luxury and eating well has become extortionate.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

the decisive factor in obesity care was not the diet patients went on, but how much attention and support they received while they were on it. Participants who got more than 12 sessions with a dietician saw significant reductions in their rates of prediabetes and cardiovascular risk. Those who got less personalized care showed almost no improvement at all.

In depression the brain region for stress control is larger -- ScienceDaily

So far, it is known that people more predisposed to depression show a dysregulation of the endogenous stress response system, otherwise known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), which is normally triggered when we are faced with a stressful situation. This response increases the amount of cortisol, providing the body with more energy when faced with a potential threat or challenge. Once the challenging situation has passed, several control mechanisms in the HPA axis normally ensure the system returns to a balanced state. In people who suffer with depressive disorder or who are more predisposed, this is not the case. Instead, a malfunction of the feedback mechanism results in a stress response operating at full throttle, even when there is no apparent stressful situation. Until now, the underlying reason for this hyperactive stress response system and the role of the hypothalamus as its overall control unit has remained unclear.

Crunched for time? High-intensity exercise gives same cell benefits in fewer minutes: Mitochondrial changes similar in short sprint exercise versus longer moderate-intensity workouts -- ScienceDaily

In addition, the research team found that fewer minutes of higher-intensity exercise produced similar mitochondrial responses compared to a longer moderate-intensity activity. "A total of only two minutes of sprint interval exercise was sufficient to elicit similar responses as 30 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity aerobic exercise," the researchers wrote. "This suggests that exercise may be prescribed according to individual preferences while still generating similar signals known to confer beneficial metabolic adaptions. These findings have important implications for improving our understanding of how exercise can be used to enhance metabolic health in the general population."

If pigeons were brilliant, would they flock? Study finds people flock, or behave similarly to others, despite reasoning abilities -- ScienceDaily

Frey explained that flocking, in life, can be good or bad. It can be good for schools of fish, flocking birds, or team cyclists in a race -- where in each case group members gain a greater ability to obtain food, be safe or to win. But flocking can be undesirable in a stock market fall or a riot, for instance, where safety, survival or "winning" can be jeopardized. ." ..These games show that sophisticated human reasoning processes may be just as likely to drive the complex, often pathological, social dynamics that we usually attribute to reactive, emotional, nondeliberative reasoning," the researchers conclude. "In other words, human intelligence may as likely increase as decrease the complexity and unpredictability of social and economic outcomes."

A little labeling goes a long way: Infants can use a few labeled examples to spark the acquisition of object categories -- ScienceDaily

"These results suggest that semi-supervised learning can be quite powerful. Seeing just two labeled examples jump-starts infants' category learning. Once they've heard a few objects receive the same label, infants can learn the rest on their own, with or without labels," said Alexander LaTourrette, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. Moreover, the timing of the labeling mattered. If the two labeling episodes came at the end of the learning phase, after infants had already seen the unlabeled objects, they failed to learn the category. This tells us that infants can use semi-supervised learning. They use the power of labeling to learn more from subsequent, unlabeled objects.

Yale Student Says Brett Kavanaugh Considered Female Clerks' Looks | PEOPLE.com

That’s when Chua stepped in and, according to the student, suggested that she “dress ‘outgoing’ ” for the interview with Kavanaugh. “She strongly urged me to send her pictures of what I was thinking of wearing so she could evaluate. I did not,” the woman said. Reached for comment on the account, Chua did not deny it but told HuffPost, “For the more than ten years I’ve known him, Judge Kavanaugh’s first and only litmus test in hiring has been excellence.”

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

The problem starts in medical school, where, according to a 2015 survey, students receive an average of just 19 hours of nutrition education over four years of instruction—five hours fewer than they got in 2006. Then the trouble compounds once doctors get into daily practice. Primary care physicians only get 15 minutes for each appointment, barely enough time to ask patients what they ate today, much less during all the years leading up to it. And a more empathic approach to treatment simply doesn’t pay: While procedures like blood tests and CT scans command reimbursement rates from hundreds to thousands of dollars, doctors receive as little as $24 to provide a session of diet and nutrition counseling.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

Doctors have shorter appointments with fat patients and show less emotional rapport in the minutes they do have. Negative words—“noncompliant,” “overindulgent,” “weak willed”—pop up in their medical histories with higher frequency. In one study, researchers presented doctors with case histories of patients suffering from migraines. With everything else being equal, the doctors reported that the patients who were also classified as fat had a worse attitude and were less likely to follow their advice. And that’s when they see fat patients at all: In 2011, the Sun-Sentinel polled OB-GYNs in South Florida and discovered that 14 percent had barred all new patients weighing more than 200 pounds.

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

Studies have found that anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of people classified as obese are metabolically healthy. They show no signs of elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or high cholesterol. Meanwhile, about a quarter of non-overweight people are what epidemiologists call “the lean unhealthy.” A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matter. Dozens of indicators, from vegetable consumption to regular exercise to grip strength, provide a better snapshot of someone’s health than looking at her from across a room.

Faster. Slower. How We Walk Depends on Who We Walk With, and Where We Live. - The New York Times

People in Uganda, it turned out, walked much more quickly than those in Seattle when they were by themselves, their pace averaging about 11 percent swifter than lone walkers in the United States. But they were slower in groups. Both men and women in Mukono strolled at a more leisurely pace when they were with others, especially children. Their pace when accompanied by children was about 16 percent slower than when they were alone, whether they carried the children or walked beside them. The opposite was true in Seattle. There, people sped up when they walked with other people. Men were particularly hurried when walking with other men, but both men and women increased their pace if they had children in tow. Their average walking speed when they carried or accompanied children was about 20 percent speedier than when they walked alone.

Researchers Identify Molecule With Anti-Aging Effects On Vascular System - News Hub -

In this study, the research team explores the link between calorie restriction (eating less or fasting) and delaying aging, which is unknown and has been poorly studied. The findings are published in the journal Molecular Cell. The researchers identified an important, small molecule that is produced during fasting or calorie restriction conditions. The molecule, β-Hydroxybutyrate, is one type of a ketone body, or a water-soluble molecule that contains a ketone group and is produced by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake, carbohydrate restrictive diets, starvation and prolonged intense exercise. “We found this compound, β-Hydroxybutyrate, can delay vascular aging,” Zou said. “That’s actually providing a chemical link between calorie restriction and fasting and the anti-aging effect. This compound can delay vascular aging through endothelial cells, which line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. It can prevent one type of cell aging called senescence, or cellular aging.” Senescent cells can no longer multiple and divide. The researchers found β-Hydroxybutyrate can promote cell division and prevent these cells from becoming old. Because this molecule is produced during calorie restriction or fasting, when people overeat or become obese this molecule is possibly suppressed, which would accelerate aging.

Resynchronizing Neurons to Erase Schizophrenia - Neuroscience News

he Geneva neuroscientists chose to focus on neural networks of the hippocampus, a brain structure notably involved in memory. They studied a mouse model that reproduces the genetic alteration of DiGeorge syndrome as well as some behavioural changes associated with schizophrenia. In the hippocampus of a control mouse, the thousands of neurons that make up the network coordinate according to a very precise sequence of activity, which is dynamic in time and synchronized. However, in the neural networks of their mouse models, the scientists observed something completely different: the neurons showed the same level of activity as in control animals, but without any coordination, as if these cells were incapable of communicating properly with each other. “The organization and synchronization of neural networks is achieved through the intervention of subpopulations of inhibitory neurons, including parvalbumin neurons,» says Carleton. “However, in this animal model of schizophrenia, these neurons are much less active. Without proper inhibition to control and structure the electrical activity of other neurons in the network, anarchy rules. ”

Engage multiple layers to rebuild a brain

The researchers placed mice in a dark box and trained them to search for a nearby object with their whiskers. When the mice detected the object, they pulled a lever with their paw to dispense water as a reward. Conventional wisdom argued that this kind of detection task depends almost entirely on a functioning sensory cortex — in this case, the barrel cortex. To confirm this was true, the researchers used laser light to temporarily turn off barrel-cortex cells, a popular technique known as optogenetics. As expected, animals had difficulty whisking while the cells were turned off. And when the team then permanently removed their barrel cortex, the animals could not perform the task the next day. But on day two, the animals’ performance suddenly recovered to original levels. “This came as a huge surprise, since it suggested that tactile sensation, such as whisker-based touch, may not completely rely on the cortex,” said Dr. Hong. “These findings challenge the commonly held, cortex-centric view of how the brain drives touch perception.”