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The Family on Edge

Parents Tend to Punish Children Physically More often in Public than in Lab Settings

August 5th 2012

Clenched Fists

Parents get physical with their misbehaving children in public much more than they show in laboratory experiments and acknowledge in surveys, according to one of the first real-world studies of caregiver discipline. The study, led by Michigan State University’s Kathy Stansbury, found that 23 percent of youngsters received some type of “negative touch” when they failed to comply with a parental request in public places such as restaurants and parks. Negative touch included arm pulling, pinching, slapping and spanking.

“I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behavior done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers,” Stansbury said. “I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting and never once witnessed any of this behavior.” Stansbury is a trained psychologist and associate professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. With the study, she wanted to get a realistic gauge of how often parents use what she calls positive and negative touch in noncompliance episodes with their children, in a real-world natural setting, outside the laboratory.

A group of university student researchers anonymously observed 106 discipline interactions between caregivers and children ages 3-5 in public places and recorded the results. Stansbury said another surprising finding was that male caregivers touched the children more during discipline settings than female caregivers – and the majority of the time it was in a positive manner. Positive touch included hugging, tickling and patting. Read more ..


The Health Edge

Concussions and Lesser Injuries May Hasten Natural Aging of the Human Brain

August 5th 2012

Injured female soccer player

Concussions and even lesser head impacts may speed up the brain's natural aging process by causing signaling pathways in the brain to break down more quickly than they would in someone who has never suffered a brain injury or concussion. Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and the U-M Health System looked at college students with and without a history of concussion and found changes in gait, balance and in the brain's electrical activity, specifically attention and impulse control, said Steven Broglio, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the Neurotrauma Research Laboratory.

The declines were present in the brain injury group up to six years after injury, though the differences between the study groups were very subtle, and outwardly all of the participants looked and acted the same. Broglio, who is also affiliated with Michigan NeuroSport, stressed that the studies lay out a hypothesis where concussions and head impacts accelerate the brain's natural aging process. "The last thing we want is for people to panic. Just because you've had a concussion does not mean your brain will age more quickly or you'll get Alzheimer's," Broglio said. "We are only proposing how being hit in the head may lead to these other conditions, but we don't know how it all goes together just yet." Broglio stressed that other factors, such as lifestyle choices, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical exercise, family history and whether or not you "exercise" your brain also impact the brain's aging process. Concussion may only be one small factor. Read more ..


Mexico on Edge

Tourism Stays Strong, Despite Violence in Mexico

August 4th 2012

Mexico crosses

The gruesome violence associated with the drug war has done grave damage to Mexico’s global image, and potential tourists searching for a sunny, safe vacation cannot overlook the 50,000 drug-related homicides that have been committed throughout the past six years. Tourism accounts for nine percent of the country’s GDP and provides 2.5 million jobs for Mexican citizens. The importance of sustaining this industry is twofold in that it is not only an important sector of the economy, but also a shrinking tourist industry will come with the cost of already scarce jobs, with the unemployed being inclined to resort to the illicit drug market as a source of income. The year 2009 proved to be a low point for tourism in Mexico, but since then, President Felipe Calderón’s administration’s attempts to protect this key industry have led to positive and visible results. Despite the drug war’s widespread violence and Mexico’s besmirched image, the tourism industry has continued to perform in spite of the persistent violence.

According to former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, drug-related violence has plateaued at a relatively high level but is not increasing, with a steady 1,000 drug-related homicides per month, which eventually could prove to be a disaster to the Mexican economy. Although foreign media networks tend to concentrate on the violence in Mexico, the rate of homicides per every 100,000 people in Mexico is still less than Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia, and Brazil. Read more ..


Greece and Macedonia

UN Chief Pledges Action On Macedonia-Greece Name Dispute

August 2nd 2012

Macedonian Flag on Face

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to Macedonia's parliament that he will try to speed up the process of resolving Macedonia's long-running name dispute with Greece. He told the parliament after a meeting with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov that his "personal representative [for the name dispute], Mr. Matthew Nimetz, will also brief the Greek government authorities about what we have discussed and he will engage more seriously and deeply to help facilitate the resolution of this issue as soon as possible."
 
Ban also expressed his regret that the Skopje-Athens standoff over the country’s name is presenting an obstacle for regional cooperation and development. "I will try to engage with [Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras] to help expedite this process. I feel it regrettable that two neighboring countries, over this name issue, have not been able to fully use their potential for regional cooperation, reconciliation, and development," Ban said.
Read more ..

Wolrd Health on Edge

Uganda and America's CDC Cooperate on Ebola

August 2nd 2012

African school kids

Two more deaths were confirmed Wednesday in Uganda’s ongoing Ebola outbreak, raising the total to 16. Officials are fighting to prevent further transmission of the virus. Through a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the country is uniquely positioned to respond quickly to suspected cases of Ebola and other hemorrhagic viruses. Representatives from the World Health Organization say 36 possible Ebola cases have been reported in Uganda, mostly in the west of the country. At least one death occurred in Kampala, raising concerns that the virus had reached the capital. However, there is no evidence of any transmission within the city.

Ebola is no stranger to Uganda. Last year a 12-year-old girl living an hour outside of Kampala died from the virus. Thirty-nine people died in a 2007 outbreak in an area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. But unlike other countries in the region that have seen similar outbreaks, Uganda has a team of virus hunters from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on hand to respond quickly to hemorrhagic fevers, like Ebola. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Sum of the Parts: Our Brains Perceive Men and Women Differently

August 1st 2012

being cool

When casting our eyes upon an object, our brains either perceive it in its entirety or as a collection of its parts. Consider, for instance, photo mosaics consisting of hundreds of tiny pictures that when arranged a certain way form a larger overall image: In fact, it takes two separate mental functions to see the mosaic from both perspectives.

A new study suggests that these two distinct cognitive processes also are in play with our basic physical perceptions of men and women—and, importantly, provides clues as to why women are often the targets of sexual objectification.

The research, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, found in a series of experiments that participants processed images of men and women in very different ways. When presented with images of men, perceivers tended to rely more on “global” cognitive processing, the mental method in which a person is perceived as a whole. Meanwhile, images of women were more often the subject of “local” cognitive processing, or the objectifying perception of something as an assemblage of its various parts.

The study is the first to link such cognitive processes to objectification theory, said Sarah Gervais, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the study’s lead author.

“Local processing underlies the way we think about objects: houses, cars and so on. But global processing should prevent us from that when it comes to people,” Gervais said. “We don’t break people down to their parts—except when it comes to women, which is really striking. Women were perceived in the same ways that objects are viewed.”

In the study, participants were randomly presented with dozens of images of fully clothed, average-looking men and women. Each person was shown from head to knee, standing, with eyes focused on the camera. After a brief pause, participants then saw two new images on their screen: One was unmodified and contained the original image, while the other was a slightly modified version of the original image that comprised a sexual body part. Participants then quickly indicated which of the two images they had previously seen. Read more ..


Mali on Edge

Islamist Group Executes Two in Northern Mali

July 31st 2012

Tuareg

Islamist militants in northern Mali say they have executed a man and a woman for alleged adultery. Sanda ould Bouamama, a spokesman for militant group Ansar Dine, said the group carried out the executions Sunday in Aguelhok, a small town in Mali's Kidal region. Bouamama said the man and woman received, in his words, "the punishment called for under Islam: death." The French news agency AFP reports the couple was placed in two holes and stoned to death in front of some 200 people in the center of Aguelhok.

Islamist groups and Tuareg separatists seized control of northern Mali in April, after renegade soldiers toppled the government in Mali's capital, Bamako. The al-Qaida-linked Islamists have since taken full control of the north and imposed a strict version of Islamic law, despite protests from much of the population. On Sunday, Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore announced plans to overhaul his transitional government and request foreign help in an an effort to retake the north. Read more ..

Inside New Mexico

New Mexico's Pecan Growers Face Uncertain Times with Aplomb

July 29th 2012

Pecans

Observant travelers on New Mexico Highway 28 that passes through the immense, shady corridor of the Stahmann Farms pecan orchard in Dona Ana County will notice something is not the same. “Closed” signs now hang on the large white building off to the side of the road that was once the popular Stahmann’s Country Store, a place where shoppers could encounter not only a tasty bite of pecan candy but learn about southern New Mexico’s agricultural history as well.

Two months ago, the reality of the establishment’s pending closure was gnawing at Eva Valerio, then Stahmann’s Country Store manager.

“It’s starting to hit me. It’s an emotional roller coaster. It’s sad to see it go down,” Valerio told Frontera NorteSur, as the last customers strolled in on Memorial Day weekend to get a few final scoops of pecan ice cream or perhaps a bargain on the rapidly diminishing furnishings and office supplies for sale. “I’m going to miss a lot of the customers. We’ve built a lot of personal relationships,” Valerio said.

A second Stahmann’s store, on the historic Mesilla Plaza, was closed on May 6, Valerio said. According to the longtime New Mexican, 35 to 40 employees in the two outlets were impacted by the business decision, with a dozen or so quickly assigned new jobs within non-retail parts of Stahmann’s operation Read more ..


The Way We Are

Comic Genius? Maybe You're Just Overconfident

July 27th 2012

Red Skelton

Knock, knock! Who's there? Cows go. Cows go who? No, cows go moo!  OK, OK. So it's not a side-slapper — especially if the teller has zero sense of comic timing. But most likely the person sharing the joke over the water cooler thinks he or she is pretty funny.

No matter how badly the joke is told, it will sometimes elicit a few polite laughs. Why?

Because social norms make us averse to providing negative feedback, says Joyce Ehrlinger, a Florida State University assistant professor of psychology whose latest laboratory research recreated everyday interactions in which people might feel pressured to withhold negative information.

Ehrlinger maintains that because society trains us not to hurt others' feelings, we rarely hear the truth about ourselves — even when it's well deserved. And that can be a problem for overly self-confident people who carry around inaccurate, overly positive perceptions of how others view them.

Three studies conducted by Ehrlinger and two Florida State graduate students — Adam J. Fay and Joanna Goplen — were modeled after awkward social situations in which one person argues for a political position that others find reprehensible. The researchers suspected that such moments usually lead to awkward silence more often than impassioned debate.

To test this, they brought together unacquainted participants with opposing views on a controversial issue. They then asked one participant to persuade the other of his or her view on the issue. Typically the targets responded by smiling or vaguely agreeing, which most likely reduced the potential for conflict, but left the political persuaders with inaccurate, overconfident perceptions of their debating skills. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

Young People Navigate Relationships, Romance and HIV

July 27th 2012

Couple

Relationships and romance. They are tough to navigate for all young men and women, and they are even more complicated for young people who are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV-positive youth who work with AIDS Alliance discussed disclosing one's HIV status at the International AIDS conference in Washington.

The exercise in this panel discussion: whether to disclose HIV status in a hypothetical relationship. Red means no, green means yes and yellow means maybe. There's a variety of responses in the scenario.

Jahlove Serrano, an entertainer from New York City, says there is a lot to consider. "Do I need to disclose this soon? Am I close to putting my partner at risk? Is our relationship ready for sex?" he pondered. The young panelists have faced the dilemma about disclosing their HIV-status. "When I date, I openly disclose a soon as I meet somebody, just hoping they'll give me the same respect and tell me if they're dealing with anything else or anything I should be aware of that could probably compromise my health even more," Serrano clarified.

Cristina Jade Peña, who studies public policy in California, recalls the conversation with her first boyfriend, back when they were teenagers. "I sat down with him and told him and it took a long time. It was a long conversation and he picked me up for a date the next day and we've been together ever since," she recalled. That's 11 years and counting. It's proof that, with proper precautions, young people with HIV can have fulfilling relationships with partners who aren't infected. "As a teenager or as a young adult who is sexually active, HIV changes its meaning. It's no longer just your disease," said Peña. "You have to be mindful of your partner or your potential partner, or at least that's the way I saw it at that age." Read more ..


Iran on Edge

Iran Expands Gender Segregation in Universities

July 26th 2012

Iran students

The Islamic Revolution has from its victory in 1979 been a work in progress. Revolutionaries were united in their opposition to the Shah, but had no consensus on what Islamic society and culture meant. Revolutionary authorities have always paid special attention to the universities. The revolution was carried on the back of student unrest, and it was hardline students who seized the U.S. embassy nine months after Ayatollah Khomeini’s return. Upon seizing the reins of power, revolutionary authorities sought to implement a cultural revolution in the universities to purge them of Western influence. Revolutions evolve, however, and as Iran rebuilt after the Iran-Iraq War, universities became incubators for the reformist movement.

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005 he sought to revive traditional revolutionary values. Indeed, what many Western analysts call ‘hardliners,’ Iranians call ‘principalists,’ meaning those who reach back to the principles of the Islamic Revolution. Read more ..


Afghanistan on Edge

Corruption A Cost Of Life For Ordinary Afghans

July 26th 2012

Brit with Afghani Soldier

The heat is scorching, and the hours-long wait arduous, but it is a price worth paying for the long line of angry customers standing outside the headquarters of Afghanistan's national power company. The bearded man who heads the line, Abdul Hadi, is there to complain about the "crazy" electricity bill he received this month.

Hadi knows what to expect -- he went through the same thing with the company, Breshna Sherkat, just weeks earlier and ended up paying a bribe. Now a veteran of the game, he is sure he is being deliberately overcharged by unscrupulous employees keen on making some money on the side. Afghanistan's status of one of the world's most corrupt countries is well-documented and features prominently in high-level discussion about foreign investment in the country. Lost in the shuffle, however, is the extent to which corruption permeates all levels Afghan society. Whether ensuring that they have a steady stream of electricity, acquiring identification, or dealing with judicial authorities, ordinary citizens have reluctantly come to accept bribery as an unavoidable cost of life. Read more ..


The Work Life

Identifying The Arrogant Boss

July 25th 2012

Baby Boomer

Arrogant bosses can drain the bottom line because they are typically poor performers who cover up their insecurities by disparaging subordinates, leading to organizational dysfunction and employee turnover.

A new measure of arrogance, developed by researchers at The University of Akron and Michigan State University, can help organizations identify arrogant managers before they have a costly and damaging impact. 

The Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) will be presented at the American Psychological Association convention in Orlando on Aug. 2 by industrial and organizational psychologist and professor Stanley Silverman, dean of UA’s Summit College and University College.

Arrogance is characterized by a pattern of behavior that demeans others in an attempt to prove competence and superiority. Silverman says this behavior is correlated with lower intelligence scores and lower self-esteem when compared to managers who are not arrogant. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

Cell Phone Screener to Combat Anemia

July 24th 2012

HTC thunderbold droid phone

Could a low-cost screening device connected to a cell phone save thousands of women and children from anemia-related deaths and disabilities?

That's the goal of Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering undergraduates who've developed a noninvasive way to identify women with this dangerous blood disorder in developing nations. The device, HemoGlobe, is designed to convert the existing cell phones of health workers into a "prick-free" system for detecting and reporting anemia at the community level.

The device's sensor, placed on a patient's fingertip, shines different wavelengths of light through the skin to measure the hemoglobin level in the blood. On a phone's screen, a community health worker quickly sees a color-coded test result, indicating cases of anemia, from mild to moderate and severe.

If anemia is detected, a patient would be encouraged to follow a course of treatment, ranging from taking iron supplements to visiting a clinic or hospital for potentially lifesaving measures. After each test, the phone would send an automated text message with a summary of the results to a central server, which would produce a real-time map showing where anemia is prevalent. This information could facilitate follow-up care and help health officials to allocate resources where the need is most urgent. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

How Yoga Reduces Stress

July 24th 2012

Alzheimer

Six months ago, researchers at UCLA published a study that showed using a specific type of yoga to engage in a brief, simple daily meditation reduced the stress levels of people who care for those stricken by Alzheimer's and dementia. Now they know why.

As previously reported, practicing a certain form of chanting yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system's inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.

 Dr. Helen Lavretsky a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues found in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation.

Caregivers are the unsung heroes for their yeoman's work in taking care of loved ones that have been stricken with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, said Lavretsky, who also directs UCLA's Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program. But caring for a frail or demented family member can be a significant life stressor. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

Social Deprivation Has an Effect on Brain Growth

July 23rd 2012

Father and son reading

Severe psychological and physical neglect produces measurable changes in children's brains, finds a study led by Boston Children's Hospital. But the study also suggests that positive interventions can partially reverse these changes.

Researchers led by Margaret Sheridan, PhD, and Charles Nelson, PhD, of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children's Hospital, analyzed brain MRI scans from Romanian children in the ongoing Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), which has transferred some children reared in orphanages into quality foster care homes.

Their findings add to earlier studies by Nelson and colleagues showing cognitive impairment in institutionalized children, but also showing improvements when children are placed in good foster homes. "Increasingly we are finding evidence that exposure to childhood adversity has a negative effect on brain development," says Sheridan. "The implications are wide ranging, not just for institutionalized children but also for children exposed to abuse, abandonment, violence during war, extreme poverty and other adversities." Read more ..


The Gender Edge

Asia to Achieve Climate, Poverty Goals: Recognize Women's Rights

July 22nd 2012

Asian peasants

New research released today by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) shows that despite more understanding, more resources, and policy recommendations, women continue to be largely marginalized and ignored or exploited in resource management processes throughout Asia – to the detriment of global climate and poverty reduction goals.

This suite of analyses demonstrate that exclusion and inequality on gender grounds are still rife and complicated by the intersection of cultural and social norms, economic pressures, and inadequate legal and institutional frameworks. Authors of the studies call for emerging programs and policies to combat climate change or encourage sustainable development to incorporate lessons learned.

"The volume highlights continued discrimination against women, despite the positive ecological, economic and social benefits enabled by their inclusion in the management and decision making processes regarding natural resources," said Arvind Khare, Executive Director of the Rights and Resources Group (the coordinating mechanism of the Rights and Resources Initiative). "Asia is unlikely to achieve its climate and poverty goals if women's rights to forest and land resources are not recognized." Read more ..


Education on Edge

Los Angeles School Discipline Policy Stirs Controversy

July 22nd 2012

Teen Drug sales

In response to controversy over court citations to students as young as 10, the police chief of Los Angeles’ largest school district said he’s working with school officials to reduce such tickets and establish, by mid-August, more out-of-court counseling options for kids who are cited.

But Chief Steven Zipperman, who leads the nation’s largest school police force, defended his 340 sworn officers’ authority to issue citations when officers believe it’s appropriate. Students have been cited for everything from truancy to vandalism to possessing a marker that could be used for graffiti. They’ve also been summoned to court for jaywalking, cigarette and pot smoking. Large numbers of students have additionally been cited for fisticuffs and for being disruptive inside and outside school. “Our number one priority is for these to be handled administratively,” inside schools, Zipperman said in a recent interview. “But sometimes a court visit is something that’s necessary.” Read more ..


Inside America

Racially Diverse Suburbs Growing Faster than White Suburbs

July 21st 2012

Students

Racially diverse suburbs are growing faster than white suburbs, but resegregation threatens their prosperity and stability, according to a study entitled, "America's Racially Diverse Suburbs: Opportunities and Challenges," released this week by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Long perceived as predominantly prosperous white enclaves, suburbs are now at the cutting edge of racial, ethnic and political change in America. The study finds the number of racially diverse suburbs, municipalities ranging from 20-60 percent non-white, increased from 1,006 to 1,376 between 2000 and 2010 in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas (a 37 percent increase). Fully 44 percent of suburban residents in these areas now live in racially diverse communities, up from 38 percent in 2000. Moreover, racially diverse suburbs are growing faster than white suburbs, and the number of diverse neighborhoods in suburbs is now more than twice the number found in central cities.

"Diverse suburbs represent some of the nation's greatest hopes and its gravest challenges," says study co-author Myron Orfield, director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. "The rapidly growing diversity of suburban communities suggests a degree of declining racial bias and at least the partial success of fair housing laws. But the fragile demographic stability in these newly diverse suburbs presents serious challenges for local, state and federal governments." Read more ..


The Edge of Healthcare

Poor Countries Are Unhealthy Countries

July 20th 2012

Kenya Poverty

Cholera epidemics are a bellwether of poverty and the breakdown of basic infrastructure, and Cuba's recent outbreak is no exception. On July 3rd, the Cuban Government admitted that 53 people in the south-eastern province of Granma were infected - the first cases in 130 years - and three had died. Independent reports later indicated that there were at least 15 deaths and the disease had reached Havana, on the opposite side of the island. Cuba's cholera outbreak is indicative of the country's deepening economic problems and its decaying public health system, which has long been the pride of its communist regime.

Cholera killed with impunity for millennia until a London physician, John Snow, unearthed its cause nearly 150 years ago. Dr Snow spent weeks tracking the disease's source to the Broad Street pump, a Thames-side water source thousands of people relied on. The pump's water supply had been contaminated by a cholera victim's fecal matter, allowing the disease to spread rapidly. Following Snow's discovery, cholera has been controlled extremely effectively in most places by maintaining simple sanitary standards.

Such standards have collapsed in Cuba. Deteriorating infrastructure, broken water systems, and inadequate sewage collection plague the country and undoubtedly contributed to the spread of the cholera outbreak. Meanwhile, hospital patients have been forced to provide their own linens, food, and often drugs even as shortages of these items grow. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Israelis Mourn and Cope as Bodies and Survivors Return from Bulgaria

July 20th 2012

Bulgarian Bus Explosion 7-18-12

On the heels of yesterday’s terrorist attack on an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria, Israel announced the names of the five victims who held Israeli citizenship: Itzik Kolengi (28) from Petah Tikva, Amir Menashe (28), also from Petah Tikva, Maor Harush (25) from Akko, Elior Priess (26) from Akko and Kochava Shriki (44), of Rishon Lezion.

Dozens of injured Israelis are now attempting to rehabilitate and cope with their traumatic experiences, from the bombing that killed at least eight in an airport in Burgas, a popular destination for Israeli tourists .

One severely injured victim is Daniel Pachima, an Israeli who traveled to Bulgaria with two friends and boarded the deadly bus after a charter flight from Tel Aviv. According to an Israeli Channel 2 interview with his brother, Pachima was caught in the blast on the bus en route to a hotel and sustained severe burns on most of his body, after which he was flown to Bulgaria’s capitol Sofia and admitted to a hospital there. Read more ..


The Edge of Healthcare

Sleep Deprivation May Reduce Risk of PTSD

July 18th 2012

Sleeping at computer

Sleep deprivation in the first few hours after exposure to a significantly stressful threat actually reduces the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a study by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Tel Aviv University.

The new study revealed in a series of experiments that sleep deprivation of approximately six hours immediately after exposure to a traumatic event reduces the development of post trauma-like behavioral responses. As a result, sleep deprivation the first hours after stress exposure might represent a simple, yet effective, intervention for PTSD.

The research was conducted by Prof. Hagit Cohen, director of the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit at BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. Joseph Zohar of Tel Aviv University.

Approximately 20 percent of people exposed to a severe traumatic event, such as a car or work accident, terrorist attack or war, cannot normally carry on their lives. These people retain the memory of the event for many years. It causes considerable difficulties in the person's functioning in daily life and, in extreme cases, may render the individual completely dysfunctional. Read more ..


Society on Edge

Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies Predicts Sexual Behavior in Adolescence

July 17th 2012

Prostitute

Intuitively it simply makes sense: exposure to sexual content in movies at an early age probably influences adolescents' sexual behavior. And yet, even though a great deal of research has shown that adolescents who watch more risky behaviors in popular movies, like drinking or smoking, are more likely to drink and smoke themselves, surprisingly little research has examined whether movies influence adolescents' sexual behaviors.

Over six years, psychological scientists examined whether or not seeing sex on the big screen translates into sex in the real world for adolescents. Their findings revealed not only that it did but also explained some of the reasons why.

"Much research has shown that adolescents' sexual attitudes and behaviors are influenced by media," says Ross O'Hara, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, who conducted the research with other psychological scientists while at Dartmouth College. "But the role of movies has been somewhat neglected, despite other findings that movies are more influential than TV or music." Read more ..


The Edge of Healthcare

Aging Impairs Immune Response

July 17th 2012

Elderly couple

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have uncovered one of the mechanisms by which aging may compromise the ability of the immune system to fight infections and respond to vaccines. The study, conducted in aging mice, shows that administering antioxidants may help reverse this loss of immune function.

"Aging is known to affect immune function, a phenomenon known as immunosenescence, but how this happens is not clear," said study leader Laura Santambrogio, M.D., Ph.D. , associate professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology at Einstein. "Our study has uncovered several ways in which aging can worsen the body's overall ability to mount an effective immune response."

All cells generate chemicals called free radicals as a normal part of metabolism. These highly reactive, unstable molecules can readily damage proteins, lipids and other cellular components through oxidation (the reaction between oxygen and substances it comes in contact with). Read more ..


The Edge of Healthcare

Emergency Patients Prefer Technology-Based Interventions

July 16th 2012

ER Entrance

A Rhode Island Hospital researcher has found that emergency department patients prefer technology-based interventions for high-risk behaviors such as alcohol use, unsafe sex and violence. ER patients said they would choose technology (ie text messaging, email, or Internet) over traditional intervention methods such as in-person or brochure-based behavioral interventions.

The study was a cross-sectional survey of urban emergency department patients ages 13 and older. Patients answered questions about what kinds of technology they already use, what concerns they have about technology-based interventions, and what format they would prefer to receive interventions on seven health topics: unintentional injury; peer violence; dating/intimate partner violence; mental health; tobacco use; alcohol/substance use; and risky sexual behaviors.

"Many of our ER patients report behaviors that put them at high risk for poor health, like cigarette smoking, alcohol use and being a victim of violence," said Ranney, the lead researcher on the study. "Although emergency medicine physicians care about these problems, we face many barriers to helping patients change risky behaviors. Read more ..


The Way We Are

The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper

July 16th 2012

Newspapers

You probably know a bit about New Orleans, where I once lived and that I still love. When my family dwelled in that historic, dreamy place for five years in the 1980s, I had four daily rituals: drinking strong chicory coffee, preferably accompanied by a Café du Monde beignet fresh out of the deep fryer; listening to authentic New Orleans jazz or blues live on the street or on WWOZ, the most offbeat and culturally authentic radio station I’ve heard in the nation; talking with at least one native New Orleanian, just to soak up the inexplicable accents and idioms: “earl” for “oil,” “making groceries” instead of shopping for them, “Where Y’at” instead of “What’s going on”; and reading what was then the 150-year-old—and now the 175-year-old—daily newspaper, the Times-Picayune.

It wasn’t the greatest journalistic exemplar, the kind you’d use in journalism class, although in 2005 it won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for its heroic coverage of Hurricane Katrina floodwaters that inundated swaths of the city, killing more than 1,800 people.

The “T-P” was, and from the look of its Web site still is, insular and idiosyncratic, stubborn in its defense of local traditions, and blind to much of what happens outside the bayou. While parts of the world explode or default, it fills its columns with biographies of Carnival captains and princesses, creole recipes, and in-depth analyses of the New Orleans Saints football team. Recession? Foreign wars? Maybe worth a blurb on page 4. Of more import in “the City that Care Forgot”: The Krewe of Comus is announcing its Mardi Gras parade theme! Read more ..


The Edge of Health

Questionnaire May Help Identify 1-year-olds at Risk for Autism

July 15th 2012

Autistic child

A new study by University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers found that 31 percent of children identified as at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 12 months received a confirmed diagnosis of ASD by age 3 years.

In addition, 85 percent of the children found to be at risk for ASD based on results from the First Year Inventory (FYI), a 63-item questionnaire filled out by their parents, had some other developmental disability or concern by age three, said Grace Baranek, PhD, senior author of the study and an autism researcher with the Program for Early Autism, Research, Leadership and Service (PEARLS) in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the UNC School of Medicine.

"These results indicate that an overwhelming majority of children who screen positive on the FYI indeed experience some delay in development by age three that may warrant early intervention," she said. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

TV Habits Predict Kids' Waist Size and porting Ability

July 15th 2012

Childhood Obesity

Each hour of TV watched by a two- to four-year- old contributes to his or her waist circumference by the end of grade 4 and his or her ability to perform in sports, according to a world-first study undertaken by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated Saint-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital.

"We already knew that there is an association between preschool television exposure and the body fat of fourth grade children, but this is the first study to describe more precisely what that association represents," Pagani explained. "Parents were asked about their child's TV habits. Trained examiners took waist measurements and administered the standing long jump test to measure child muscular fitness. We found, for example that each weekly hour of TV at 29 months of age corresponds to a decrease of about a third of a centimeter in the distance a child is able to jump."

In addition to providing an important indicator of health, in the form of muscular fitness, the standing long jump test also reveals an individual's athletic ability, as sports such as football, skating, and basketball require the "explosive leg strength" measured by the test. Read more ..


The Medicine Edge

Controlling Your Computer with Your Eyes

July 14th 2012

Hand on Mouse

Millions of people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries or amputees could soon interact with their computers and surroundings using just their eyes, thanks to a new device that costs less than £40.

Composed from off-the-shelf materials, the new device can work out exactly where a person is looking by tracking their eye movements, allowing them to control a cursor on a screen just like a normal computer mouse.

The technology comprises an eye-tracking device and "smart" software that have been presented in IOP Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering. Researchers from Imperial College London demonstrated its functionality by getting a group of people to play the classic computer game Pong without any kind of handset. In addition users were able to browse the web and write emails "hands-off".

The GT3D device is made up of two fast video game console cameras, costing less than £20 each, that are attached, outside of the line of vision, to a pair of glasses that cost just £3. The cameras constantly take pictures of the eye, working out where the pupil is pointing, and from this the researchers can use a set of calibrations to work out exactly where a person is looking on the screen.

Even more impressively, the researchers are also able to use more detailed calibrations to work out the 3D gaze of the subjects – in other words, how far into the distance they were looking. It is believed that this could allow people to control an electronic wheelchair simply by looking where they want to go or control a robotic prosthetic arm. Read more ..


Ethiopia on Edge

Ethiopia Jails Journalists, Activists for 'Terrorism'

July 14th 2012

Meskal Square, Addis Ababa

At least 20 Ethiopians, including journalists and opposition figures, have been sentenced to prison on terrorism charges, after a trial denounced by human rights groups. In sentences handed down Friday, prominent journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega was jailed for 18  years, while Andualem Arage, a member of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party, was given life in prison. Many of the others were sentenced in absentia, but both Eskinder and Andualem are in Ethiopian custody.

Last month, Ethiopia's high court convicted a total of 24 people under the country's broad anti-terrorism law, which rights groups say is being used to jail critics of the government. Ethiopian officials deny that accusation. Human Rights Watch says a total of 34 people have been convicted under the law, including 11 journalists and four opposition supporters.


The Ancient Edge

The Secret Life of Plants in an Ancient Royal Judean Garden

July 14th 2012

Judean garden

Ramat Rachel is an ongoing archeological dig on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem. A 2,500-year-old garden at the site, probably built by local Judeans, holds many secrets about the past waiting to be uncovered. An elaborate network of irrigation channels made it clear that this was a garden, but what was planted in it has been a big mystery.

New research by Tel Aviv University into ancient pollen found embedded in plaster suggests something very exciting for Jewish and natural historians of the region.

Among the imported species of trees and plants determined by pollen analysis to have grown in the garden is the citron tree. According to the researchers, this pollen is evidence for the first cultivation of the citron tree, which is not native to Israel. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Facebook Avoiding Details on Children Joining Social Site

July 13th 2012

Facebook page

Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) on Friday said Facebook did not respond to their questions in a recent letter about how the company would manage its social networking website if children were allowed to join.

The two lawmakers fired off a letter to Facebook last month after it was reported that the social networking site was considering plans to allow children to register to use it. The letter included a series of questions about how Facebook intends to protect young users’ information.

While Facebook described how it complied with existing online child privacy legislation in its response, the two privacy hawks said it skirted questions about what type of information it would collect from young users and whether it would serve up advertisements targeted toward them.

In a letter sent to the two lawmakers last month, Facebook said the company hasn’t made a final decision about whether it would permit children under 13 to join the site but would discuss its plans with the lawmakers if that changed. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Winemaking Goes High-Tech at The University of British Columbia

July 12th 2012

Israeli Wines

For centuries, people made wine by stomping grapes with their bare feet. But now, the art of winemaking is going high-tech at The University of British Columbia's Wine Research Centre.

Have you ever gotten a headache or a rash from a single glass of wine? Has one glass of Merlot or Shiraz resulted in a painful hangover? If yes, you may be one of the 30 percent of people who are allergic to compounds that are in some of the world's most popular wines.

A team of researchers at UBC's Wine Research Centre which has received funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is working to resolve the allergic reaction some people have to wine. The research team has created a strain of yeast that prevents allergic reactions, producing a wine that is hypoallergenic and can be enjoyed by everyone. The yeast developed at the Wine Research Centre is now being used by some of the most recognizable vintages produced in Canada and the United States. Read more ..


Society on Edge

Stray-Bullet Shootings Frequently Harm Women and Children

July 12th 2012

Cocaine guns and dollars

Most people killed or wounded in stray-bullet shootings were unaware of events leading to the gunfire that caused their injuries, and nearly one-third of the victims were children and nearly half were female, according to a new nationwide study examining an often-overlooked form of gun violence.

Victims of stray-bullet shootings are often unaware of the events leading to the gunfire that caused their injuries
The study by Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, examines mortality rates and other epidemiological aspects of stray-bullet shootings over a one-year period.

"Stray-bullet shootings alter the nature of life in many American neighborhoods, creating fear and anxiety and prompting parents to keep children indoors and take other precautions," Wintemute said. Read more ..


Society on Edge

Media Violence and Kids Could Have Applications on School Bullying

July 12th 2012

Bullying

The April suicide of 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. -- a South O'Brien High School (Paulina, Iowa) student who was reportedly teased and bullied by classmates -- had Iowa lawmakers questioning the effectiveness of the state's five-year-old anti-bullying law. School officials can't always identify the bullies until it's too late.

But a new study led by Douglas Gentile, an Iowa State University associate professor of psychology, may provide schools with a new tool to help them profile students who are more likely to commit aggressive acts against other students. The study identifies media violence exposure as one of six risk factors for predicting later aggression in 430 children (ages 7-11, grades 3-5) from five Minnesota schools. In addition to media violence exposure, the remaining risk factors are bias toward hostility, low parental involvement, gender, physical victimization and prior physical fights. Read more ..


Edge of Healthcare

Emotion Detectives: New Ways to Fight Youth Anxiety and Depression

July 11th 2012

Child alone and sad

Emotional problems in childhood are common. Approximately 8 to 22 percent of children suffer from anxiety, often combined with other conditions such as depression. However, most existing therapies are not designed to treat co-existing psychological problems and are therefore not very successful in helping children with complex emotional issues.

To develop a more effective treatment for co-occurring youth anxiety and depression, University of Miami (UM) psychologist Jill Ehrenreich-May and her collaborator Emily L. Bilek analyzed the efficacy and feasibility of a novel intervention created by the researchers, called Emotion Detectives Treatment Protocol (EDTP). Preliminary findings show a significant reduction in the severity of anxiety and depression after treatment, as reported by the children and their parents. Read more ..


The Edge of Healthcare

Air in Expectant Moms' Homes Contains Pesticides

July 10th 2012

Pregnant

Air samples from homes of Hispanic mothers-to-be along the Texas-Mexico border contained multiple pesticides in a majority of the houses, according to a study conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

All the women were in the third trimester of pregnancy, when the fetal brain undergoes a growth spurt. Several studies have reported that pesticide exposure may adversely affect mental and motor development during infancy and childhood. The new report is in the summer issue of the Texas Public Health Journal sent to members this week.

Two-thirds of the families surveyed said they used pest control methods to kill cockroaches, rodents and other pests. Pregnant women and infants often spend 90 percent of their day indoors. "There is a lack of education in our communities regarding the health hazards of these toxic pest control methods," said lead author Beatriz Tapia, M.D., M.P.H., lecturer at the UT Health Science Center — Regional Academic Health Center campus in Harlingen, located 10 miles from the border. "We should concentrate on trying to educate families about low-cost methods that prevent infestations and use the least toxic pest control methods first."

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a low-cost strategy to replace the use of residential pesticides, Dr. Tapia said. IPM focuses on installing screens and caulking doors and windows to keep out pests, putting away food and placing boric acid, a low-impact alternative, in walls.

"Once we educate our women of childbearing age about how they can safely and in a healthy manner diminish pests in their homes, they will feel empowered that they can make a difference in their family's life," Dr. Tapia said. She is a faculty associate in the university's Department of Family and Community Medicine and serves as environmental medicine training coordinator for the South Texas Environmental Education and Research Center (STEER). She co-coordinates a 30-day Harlingen student elective in environmental and occupational medicine. Read more ..


The Edge of Health

My Hearing is Fine, Speak Up!

July 9th 2012

Man cupping his ear

More than half of factory workers who thought they had excellent or good hearing actually suffered hearing loss and didn't even recognize the problem, a new study shows.

The University of Michigan School of Nursing study found significant differences between measured and perceived hearing loss, and suggests health care providers need better methods of testing and protecting hearing among factory workers.

"This finding shows that even workers who are served by a workplace hearing conservation program and receive annual hearing testing may be unaware of their actual hearing ability," said Marjorie McCullagh, assistant professor in the U-M School of nursing and principal investigator. "Consequently, health care providers would be wise to examine methods to help workers develop more accurate perceptions of their hearing, and test more effective methods to protect it."

Of 2,691 noise exposed automobile factory workers surveyed for the study, 76 percent reported excellent or good hearing. However, after formal hearing tests, researchers found that that 42 percent of those workers actually suffered hearing loss. This indicates that self-reported hearing loss is poorly related to the results of audiometry, or formal hearing testing. In other words, many factory workers might have hearing loss and not even realize there's a problem, and the U-M findings are consistent with other studies demonstrating a discrepancy between measured and perceived hearing loss. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

New Facebook App to Detect Pedophiles and Criminals

July 8th 2012

Facebook page

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) undergraduate students have developed a new privacy solution for Facebook. The Social Privacy Protector (SPP) can help parents adjust their children's profiles in one click, prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information and keep teens safe from pedophiles.

The SPP "app" has multiple levels of protection, but the most important component reviews a user's friends list in seconds to identify which have few or no mutual links and might be "fake" profiles. The app analyzes each friend and scores the "connectedness" to every friend. It flags the lowest scores as suspicious and asks whether the friend should be restricted from personal user information, but doesn't defriend them.

"An important feature of our app is the ability for parents to better protect their kids' privacy with just one click instead of having to navigate the more complicated Facebook privacy settings," Michael Fire, a Ph.D. candidate in BGU's Department of Information Systems Engineering explains. Read more ..


The Health Edge

Patients Trust Doctors but Consult Internet

July 6th 2012

exam

Patients look up their illnesses online to become better informed and prepared to play an active role in their care — not because they mistrust their doctors, a new University of California, Davis, study suggests. The study surveyed more than 500 people who were members of online support groups and had scheduled appointments with a physician.

“We found that mistrust was not a significant predictor of people going online for health information prior to their visit,” said Xinyi Hu, who co-authored the study as part of her master's thesis in communication. “This was somewhat surprising and suggests that doctors need not be defensive when their patients come to their appointments armed with information taken from the Internet.”   

With faculty co-authors at UC Davis and the University of Southern California, Hu examined how the study subjects made use of support groups, other Internet resources, and offline sources of information, including traditional media and social relations, before their medical appointments. Read more ..



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