Brain

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Anyone who has ever tried smoking probably remembers that first cigarette vividly. For some, it brought a wave of nausea or a nasty coughing fit. For others, those first puffs also came with a rush of pleasure or "buzz."

Now, a new study links those first experiences with smoking, and the likelihood that a person is currently a smoker, to a particular genetic variation. The finding may help explain the path that leads from that first cigarette to lifelong smoking.

Troy, N.Y. – Milliseconds can mean the difference between triumph and defeat in the world of Olympic sports, leading more trainers and athletes to look toward technology as a tool to get an edge on the competition.

A fluids mechanics professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., is using experimental flow measurement techniques to help American swimmers sharpen their strokes, shave seconds from their lap times, and race toward a gold medal in Beijing.

Visual field tests are widely used by eye doctors and neurologists. By determining the health of the retina, optic nerve and the visual pathway throughout the brain, the test can uncover glaucoma and conditions such as optic neuritis or brain damage. Essential to undergo before one can drive a car or fly a plane, the visual field test is also used to pinpoint neurological damage after an accident or surgery.

Cincinnati, Ohio – August 7, 2008 - An innovative study appearing in the August issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine examined, for the first time, if noseless bicycle saddles would be an effective intervention for alleviating deleterious health effects, erectile dysfunction and groin numbness, caused by bicycling on the traditional saddle with a protruding nose extension. Results from this study may be useful for the estimated 5 million recreational cyclists to alleviate perineal discomfort and maintain sexual health.

HOUSTON-(Aug. 7, 2008)—Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have embarked on one of the first double-blind, clinical studies to determine whether gluten and dairy products play a role in autistic behavior as parents have anecdotally claimed.

The pilot study is one of seven current studies on autism in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

The University of Houston department of health and human performance is launching an international effort to recruit 500 participants for a study promoting healthy dietary habits and physical activity. The study will take place entirely in the virtual world of Second Life (SL).

The project is part of the UH Texas Obesity Research Center's (TORC) International Health Challenge, and offers an enjoyable way for participants to learn about preventing and treating obesity through education, skills training and outreach.

Our visual memory is not as good as we may think, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust – but it can be used more flexibly than scientists previously thought. In a study(1) published today in the journal Science, researchers have shown how we remember what we see and why we can recall visually important or striking images most clearly, using a topical example of a relay race to illustrate the concept.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Fingerprints can reveal critical evidence, as well as an identity, with the use of a new technology developed at Purdue University that detects trace amounts of explosives, drugs or other materials left behind in the prints.

The new technology also can distinguish between overlapping fingerprints left by different individuals - a difficult task for current optical forensic methods.

In a game of give and get, the brains of people with borderline personality disorder often don't get it.

In fact, an interactive economic game played between two people in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) devices revealed a brain malfunction associated with the disorder, a serious but common mental illness that affects a person's perceptions of the world and other people, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the current issue of the journal Science.

Researchers have long sought a factor that can trigger the brain's ability to learn – and perhaps recapture the "sponge-like" quality of childhood. In the August 8 issue of the journal Cell, neuroscientists at Children's Hospital Boston report that they've identified such a factor, a protein called Otx 2.

Otx2 helps a key type of cell in the cortex to mature, initiating a critical period -- a window of heightened brain plasticity, when the brain can readily make new connections.

A new discovery may lead to more effective screening and treatment for patients with a difficult to recognize syndrome characterized by tumor-like growths and a high risk of developing specific cancers. The research, published by Cell Press in the August 7 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, is the first in over thirteen years to identify an alternate susceptibility gene for Cowden syndrome (CS) and related disorders.

A set of new stem cell lines will make it possible for researchers to explore ten different genetic disorders—including muscular dystrophy, juvenile diabetes, and Parkinson's disease—in a variety of cell and tissue types as they develop in laboratory cultures.

Robots may be the solution for people with disabilities who are struggling to regain the use of their limbs, thanks to a research team that includes engineers and students from Rochester Institute of Technology.

The study utilizes physiological information, or bio-signals, produced by the human body, to improve the performance of external assistive devices, called orthoses, which aid individuals with physical disabilities, such as strokes or major spinal cord injuries, regain the use of there arms and legs.

Unique biochemical crosstalk that enables a fetus to get nutrition and oxygen from its mother's blood just may cause common postpartum blues, researchers say.

That crosstalk allows the mother's blood to flow out of the uterine artery and get just a single cell layer away from the fetus' blood, says Dr. Puttur D. Prasad, biochemist in the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.

Atlanta, GA – August 6, 2008 – With more employees working in teams, it is critical to find ways to enable teams to be more creative in their work. A new article in Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal explores how imagination, insight, and creative ideas develop, evolve, and spread from one team member to another, ultimately increasing the team's ability to think creatively about a range of problems.