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New therapy targets gut bacteria to prevent and reverse food allergies -- ScienceDaily

Recent insights about the microbiome -- the complex ecosystem of microorganisms that live in the gut and other body sites -- have suggested that an altered gut microbiome may play a pivotal role in the development of food allergies. A new study, led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital, identifies the species of bacteria in the human infant gut that protect against food allergies, finding changes associated with the development of food allergies and an altered immune response. In preclinical studies in a mouse model of food allergy, the team found that giving an enriched oral formulation of five or six species of bacteria found in the human gut protected against food allergies and reversed established disease by reinforcing tolerance of food allergens. The team's results are published in Nature Medicine.

On the keto diet? Ditch the cheat day: Just one dose of carbohydrates can damage blood vessels -- ScienceDaily

"Since impaired glucose tolerance and spikes in blood sugar levels are known to be associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular disease, it made sense to look at what was happening in the blood vessels after a sugar hit." For their test, the researchers recruited nine healthy young males and had them consume a 75-gram glucose drink before and after a seven-day high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The diet consisted of 70 per cent fat, 10 per cent carbohydrates and 20 per cent protein, similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet. "We were originally looking for things like an inflammatory response or reduced tolerance to blood glucose," says Durrer. "What we found instead were biomarkers in the blood suggesting that vessel walls were being damaged by the sudden spike in glucose." Little says the most likely culprit for the damage is the body's own metabolic response to excess blood sugar, which causes blood vessel cells to shed and possibly die. "Even though these were otherwise healthy young males, when we looked at their blood vessel health after consuming the glucose drink, the results looked like they might have come from someone with poor cardiovascular health," adds Little. "It was somewhat alarming."

Virtual reality could improve your balance, study finds -- ScienceDaily

"People with long-term dizziness sometimes rely a lot on their vision and do not use the very quick and effective balance system provided by sensory information from joints and muscles. This can intensify feelings of dizziness, which is very unpleasant. The new study shows a possible treatment method for these conditions," says Eva Ekvall Hansson, researcher and associate professor of physiotherapy at Lund University. Twenty healthy women and men took part in the study, in which they watched a Virtual Reality (VR) simulation of a roller-coaster ride while standing on a platform which registered their postural stability. The researchers investigated how the participants' balance system was affected when visual information was disrupted by the experience of being in a VR environment which gave them a strong sensation of being in movement. The study shows that the human balance system can very quickly cease to rely on vision and use other senses instead, such as sensory information from the feet, joints and muscles to increase postural stability. Differences also emerged in how men and women are affected by watching a VR video. More women had difficulty maintaining their balance in a VR environment and they generally needed more practice before they learnt to use their other senses to increase postural stability.

Stone Age Cave Symbols May All Be Part of a Single Prehistoric Proto-Writing System

And when von Petzinger looked through archaeology papers for mentions or illustrations of symbols in cave art outside Europe, she found that many of her 32 signs were used around the world. There is even tantalising evidence that an earlier human, Homo erectus, deliberately etched a zigzag on a shell on Java some 500,000 years ago. “The ability of humans to produce a system of signs is clearly not something that starts 40,000 years ago. This capacity goes back at least 100,000 years,” says Francesco d’Errico from the University of Bordeaux, France.

A nap a day keeps high blood pressure at bay: Catching some midday shut-eye linked to similar drops in blood pressure seen with other lifestyle changes, some medications -- ScienceDaily

"Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes. For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg," said Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study's co-authors, adding that a low-dose antihypertensive medication usually lowers blood pressure levels by 5 to 7 mm Hg, on average. Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure, which researchers said is on par with what would be expected from other known blood pressure-lowering interventions. In addition, for every 60 minutes of midday sleep, 24-hour average systolic blood pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg. "These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 percent," Kallistratos said. "Based on our findings, if someone has the luxury to take a nap during the day, it may also have benefits for high blood pressure. Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn't cost anything."

You become what you believe

A week later, the participants were given a result, based not on their actual data, but rather on one of two groups into which they had been randomly placed. Some were told they had the form of a gene called CREB1 that makes a person tire easily; others were told they had the high-endurance version. Then they ran on the treadmill again. This time, those who had been told they had the low-endurance version of CREB1 did worse on the test, even if they had the other variant. Compared with their results on the first test, on average their bodies removed toxic carbon dioxide less efficiently, their lung capacity dropped, and they stopped running 22 seconds sooner, the team reports today in Nature Human Behavior. And those who thought they had the high-endurance form of the CREB1 gene ran slightly longer on average before feeling hot and tired, regardless of what gene variant they had. “Simply giving people this information changed their physiology,” Turnwald says. The team also tested a second group of 107 people for its version of FTO, a gene that influences how full we feel after eating. Some versions can also predispose people to obesity. Participants ate a small meal and rated their fullness. After being told, at random, that they had a version of FTO that made them hungrier than average or one that made them easily sated, participants ate the same meal. Those told they had the “hungry” version of the gene didn’t feel any different. But those who were told they had the other version felt less hungry on average after eating; they also had higher blood levels of a hormone that indicates a feeling of fullness.

Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love? - Mad In America

As family members, therapists or doctors, what if we never again promoted or prescribed drugs as a “treatment” because they ultimately impair our frontal lobes and hence our ability to love? Could we jettison all our ugly, cookie cutter, unloving diagnoses—ADHD, conduct disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD? Could we instead help others to discover where their loving engagement with life was discouraged or lost and how to revive it or even to experience it for the first time?

Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love? - Mad In America

I now want to boil down the role of love in our lives into a simple observation: Nearly all human personal or emotional success depends upon being able to give and to accept love, and nearly all human personal failure reflects an inability to do so. My own working definition of love is “joyful awareness”—the experience of happiness over the existence of something or someone, including whatever or whomever inspires us, from family and friends to nature and God. From experiencing romantic love to admiring heroes who lift our ideals; from enjoying the birds that flit about us in our backyard to watching children or animals play—love is an enthusiastic engagement in life. When we love people and pets, as well as God, we became able not only to give love but also to receive it.

An End to Arachnophobia Just a Heartbeat Away - Neuroscience News

For one group of patients, pictures of spiders were presented in-time with heartbeats (during the signalling of cardiac arousal), while for another patient group, pictures of spiders were presented in-between heartbeats. A third control group saw spiders randomly in the therapy sessions. Although there was some improvement among all patients, as you would expect in exposure therapy, those individuals exposed to spiders in-time with their own heartbeats showed a greater reductions in self-reported fear of spiders, anxiety levels and their physiological responses to spiders.

Eye movements take edge off traumatic memories: Human study investigates neurobiology of widely used yet controversial psychotherapy technique -- ScienceDaily

Investigating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying EMDR in healthy men and women, Lycia de Voogd and colleagues found that both side-to-side eye movement and a working memory task independently deactivated the amygdala -- a brain region critical for fear learning. The researchers show in a second experiment that this deactivation enhanced extinction learning -- a cognitive behavioral technique that reduces the association between a stimulus and a fear response. The reduced amygdala activity is thought to be a consequence of less available resources since they are dedicated to making eye movements.

Take a vacation -- it could prolong your life -- ScienceDaily

Participants were randomised into a control group (610 men) or an intervention group (612 men) for five years. The intervention group received oral and written advice every four months to do aerobic physical activity, eat a healthy diet, achieve a healthy weight, and stop smoking. When health advice alone was not effective, men in the intervention group also received drugs recommended at that time to lower blood pressure (beta-blockers and diuretics) and lipids (clofibrate and probucol). Men in the control group received usual healthcare and were not seen by the investigators. As previously reported, the risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced by 46% in the intervention group compared to the control group by the end of the trial. However, at the 15-year follow-up in 1989 there had been more deaths in the intervention group than in the control group. The analysis presented today extended the mortality follow-up to 40 years (2014) using national death registers and examined previously unreported baseline data on amounts of work, sleep, and vacation. The researchers found that the death rate was consistently higher in the intervention group compared to the control group until 2004. Death rates were the same in both groups between 2004 and 2014.

Painting a Nuanced Picture of Brain System Regulation Moods and Movements - Neuroscience News

In a series of behavioral tests, the scientists also showed that serotonin neurons from the two groups can respond differently to stimuli. For example, neurons in both groups fired in response to mice receiving rewards like sips of sugar water but they showed opposite responses to punishments like mild foot shocks. “We now understand why some scientists thought serotonin neurons are activated by punishment, while others thought it was inhibited by punishment. Both are correct – it just depends on which subtype you’re looking at,” Luo said.

Living close to urban green spaces is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer: Residential proximity to agricultural areas is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, study shows -- ScienceDaily

"found a linear correlation between distance from green spaces and breast cancer risk. In other words, the risk of breast cancer in the population declines, the closer their residence is to an urban green space. These findings highlight the importance of natural spaces for our health and show why green spaces are an essential component of our urban environment, not just in the form of isolated areas but as a connective network linking the whole urban area and benefitting all its inhabitants."

Take a Vacation From Exercise? Your Body May Not Thank You - The New York Times

Like the adults in the other study, these older volunteers quickly developed worse blood sugar control during their two weeks of barely moving. Insulin resistance climbed. Some developed changes in muscle tissue indicating that they might soon begin to lose muscle mass, and a few had to be removed from the study because they had edged into full-blown Type 2 diabetes after becoming inactive. For most of the men and women who remained in the experiment, their undesirable metabolic changes were not fully reversed after two weeks of moving about again.

Exercise Can Help Beat Cocaine Addiction - Neuroscience News

Using animal models, Thanos found that regular aerobic exercise (one hour on a treadmill, five times a week) decreased stress-induced cocaine-seeking behavior. Exercise also altered behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Individuals who are addicted to cocaine have altered neural, behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Recent research by Thanos demonstrated how exercise can alter the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which is linked to the rewarding and reinforcing properties of drugs such as cocaine. In addition, exercise has been shown to reduce stress hormones and elevate mood, which could assist in alleviating anxiety and negative emotions associated with withdrawal.

New study shows certain video games can improve health in children with obesity -- ScienceDaily

wenty-two of the 23 families in the gaming group finished the six-month program. Children and parents in the gaming group completed 94 percent of the gaming sessions and attended 93 percent of the video-chat sessions. "When you don't intervene with kids who are overweight, often their health risk factors and health behaviors worsen over time," said Dr. Staiano. "So, unfortunately, we weren't surprised to see that kids in the control group increased blood pressure and cholesterol and decreased physical activity over the six-month period." Children in the gaming group: Reduced their body mass index by about 3 percent while the control group increased their BMI by 1 percent. Reduced their cholesterol by 7 percentiles while the control group increased cholesterol by 7 percentiles. In other words, the kids in the gaming group remained in the healthy range. The increase in the control group's cholesterol levels pushed them into the borderline category for high cholesterol.

Therapy dogs effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD, study finds -- ScienceDaily

Results from Schuck's research indicate children with ADHD who received canine assisted intervention (CAI) experienced a reduction in inattention and an improvement in social skills. And, while both CAI and non-CAI interventions were ultimately found to be effective for reducing overall ADHD symptom severity after 12 weeks, the group assisted by therapy dogs fared significantly better with improved attention and social skills at only eight weeks and demonstrated fewer behavioral problems. No significant group differences, however, were reported for hyperactivity and impulsivity. "Our finding that dogs can hasten the treatment response is very meaningful," said Schuck. "In addition, the fact that parents of the children who were in the CAI group reported significantly fewer problem behaviors over time than those treated without therapy dogs is further evidence of the importance of this research."

Nature programs could put a spring in your step: New study shows that watching films set in a natural environment boosts body image -- ScienceDaily

This new study found that similar, immediate improvements in body appreciation could be achieved by watching a film depicting a natural environment. The film showing city streets had no effect, either positive or negative, on participants' body appreciation. Professor Swami said: "There are a number of possible explanations for our results, including the idea that natural environments promote 'soft fascination', which is a state of cognitive quiet that fosters self-kindness and helps individuals have a more compassionate view of their body. Views of rivers and trees are also devoid of any reminders of materialism, and so allows the viewer respite from thoughts of consumption and image. "However, more work still needs to be done to fully understand exactly how exposure to natural environments promotes improvements in body image, as well as how our findings here translate to how people view nature films outside the laboratory. For example, if we watch Springwatch on the sofa whilst at the same time checking our Twitter feed, it's possible the natural scenes might not have the same immersive effect.

Color-Changing LEDs Could Reset the Circadian Rhythm - The Atlantic

Hints of positive impacts have emerged in Texas, too, where tunable LED systems have been installed in some elementary and middle-school classrooms in Carrollton, a northern suburb of Dallas. A September DOE report on the Carrollton systems suggested that the tunable LED system had improved the overall learning environment—though the DOE noted that empirically measuring the effects of the circadian lights was beyond the scope of the project. Back in Washington, entire schools—including two Renton high schools and a brand new middle school—now have circadian lighting, and initial data out of Lindbergh High School seemed to echo the findings in Texas: The school reported a double-digit rise in SAT test scores following installation of the tunable LEDs.

Color-Changing LEDs Could Reset the Circadian Rhythm - The Atlantic

In much the same way as the ear allows us to both hear and stay balanced, the eye’s rods and cones supply us with vision while these novel intrinsic photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, or ipRGCs, perform a separate function: They sense the quality and quantity of light, with input from the rods and cones, and send that information to a master circadian clock in the brain. That clock then conducts a symphony of cellular timepieces throughout the body, ensuring they all “rise and fall with appropriate relationships to the others,” explains Berson.

Insel and "digital phenotype"

His company is working on using the technique to pre-screen for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Their initial studies were able to link the digital features from participants' phones to how well they did on neural cognitive tests.

Merciful Love Can Help Relieve the Emotional Suffering of Extreme States - Michael W. Cornwall, 2018

I do not believe such love can easily well up inside us while we are distracted by ponderous, analytical mentation. Doesn’t the “clinical gaze” that sometimes may emerge in the eyes of “mental health” caregivers reflect the detached or even defended inner emotional state of the caregiver? That impersonal clinical gaze strives to keenly identify and measure the severity of the “symptoms” of mental illness in order to ascertain definable patterns of “psychopathology.” The clinical gaze also searches for the degree of deviance from codified societal norms. But the inner clinical stance of the caregiver that fosters the caregiver’s own emotionally detached, impersonal objectifying gaze, tragically, can reinforce the inner self-judgments and the inner devaluing and self-shaming of the suffering person the caregiver would hope to help. One’s very self-identity is called into question as the inevitable psychiatric diagnosis process unfolds. We are then redefined as “disordered” beings who are fundamentally failing to pass as equals with those more “healthy” and successful persons than ourselves. A psychiatric diagnosis almost always brings a diminution of self-worth to those so often already in the grip of harsh self-judgments about their worth and inherent value (Cornwall, 2016b).

Chronobiological therapy for mood disorders: Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics: Vol 11, No 7

Alteration of the sleep–wake cycle and of the sleep structure are core symptoms of a major depressive episode, and occur both in course of bipolar disorder and of major depressive disorder. Many other circadian rhythms, such as the daily profiles of body temperature, cortisol, thyrotropin, prolactin, growth hormone, melatonin and excretion of various metabolites in the urine, are disrupted in depressed patients, both unipolar and bipolar individuals. These disrupted rhythms seem to return to normality with patient recovery. Research on circadian rhythms and sleep have led to the definition of nonpharmacological therapies of mood disorder that can be used in everyday practice. These strategies, named chronotherapeutics, are based on controlled exposures to environmental stimuli that act on biological rhythms, and demonstrate good efficacy in the treatment of illness episodes.

How Mitochondria Keep Our Brains and Minds Moving – Association for Psychological Science

Although the exact mechanisms through which mitochondria may contribute to such a range of disorders is still poorly understood, the authors wrote, studies suggest that the path to mitochondrial health is a familiar one: Exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a nutrient rich diet, and engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation can all have a positive influence. In one study, rats who swam for 10 to 30 minutes a day for 20 weeks were found to have fewer mutations in their mitochondrial DNA than those who did not. Some research suggests that eating a ketogenic diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates and sugar may improve energy production.

Differential Experimental Effects of a Short Bout of Walking, Meditation, or Combination of Walking and Meditation on State Anxiety Among Young Adu... - PubMed - NCBI

Significant group × time interaction effects were observed ( P = .01). Post hoc paired t tests revealed that state anxiety significantly decreased from baseline to postintervention in the meditation ( P = .002), meditation then walk ( P = .002), and walk then meditation ( P = .03) groups but not the walk ( P = .75) or control ( P = .45) groups.

Study links night exposure to blue light with breast and prostate cancer: Researchers used images taken by astronauts to evaluate outdoor lighting in Madrid and Barcelona -- ScienceDaily

Results obtained for both cities show that participants exposed to higher levels of blue light had a 1.5 and 2-fold higher risk of developing breast and prostate cancer, respectively, as compared to the less-exposed population.