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Unstrange Phenomena

31 May 2009

Science: Sun Induces Strange ‘Breathing’ of Earth’s Atmosphere



From Denny: Seems like I'm still getting caught up on what's going on in our solar system, published in December 2008. This was a fascinating article about something I had never given thought: there is a rhythmic contraction and expansion of the Earth's atmosphere in relation to the sun. I find it interesting that the scientist being interviewed has the last name of Solomon, after the wisest man ever to walk the Earth. Read on from Wired.com's Wired Science blog:

NASA sealNASA Seal Image via Wikipedia



"SAN FRANCISCO — New satellite observations have revealed a previously unknown rhythmic expansion and contraction of Earth’s atmosphere on a nine-day cycle.

This "breathing" corresponds to changes in the sun’s magnetic fields as it completes rotations once every 27 days, NASA and University of Colorado, Boulder, scientists said Monday at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting.

The sun’s coronal holes, seen as dark regions in the image above, direct plasma away from the sun and out into the solar system. When these particles get to the Earth, they heat the upper atmosphere, causing the outer atmosphere to expand and contract.

"What’s going on in the solar side is indeed mysterious and challenges the solar physics understanding," said Stan Solomon, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research who was not involved in the research.

The finding emphasizes the many ways that solar activity impacts the Earth — and its increasingly space-utilizing humans.

"From the Earth’s perspective, we’re in the sun’s outer atmosphere," said Jeffrey Thayer, an aerospace engineer at UC-Boulder.

The new discovery could help scientists and engineers design better satellites that account for the changing conditions in the ionosphere. Eventually, it might be possible to predict the severity of ionospheric storms and protect the world’s communication infrastructure.

The scientists used changes in the density of the Earth’s atmosphere to pinpoint this previously unknown pattern. As the atmosphere contracts or expands, it also gets more or less dense, respectively. In response to the "hills and valleys of density," satellites subtly speed up or slow down, recording those motions with on-board accelerometers. And that’s the data that allowed the scientists to back into the discovery of this new atmospheric cycle.

Solomon said that while the cycle on Earth is interesting, the really strange aspect of this work is what it says about our local star.

"What’s going on in the sun that’s causing all this?" Solomon said. "It’s not entirely clear. That part of it is quite mysterious.""


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30 May 2009

Brain: Synchronized Brain Waves Focus Our Attention



From Denny: From the wonderful site Wired Science comes another interesting article about how the brain focuses our attention. Researchers are just now beginning to find out how our brain does it.

"Separate brain regions firing in unison may be what keeps us focused on important things while we ignore distractions.

A deluge of visual information hits our eyes every second, yet we’re able to focus on the minuscule fraction that’s relevant to our goals. When we try to find our way through an unfamiliar area of town, for example, we manage to ignore the foliage, litter and strolling pedestrians, and focus our attention on the street signs.

Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that the brain’s control center syncs up to its visual center with high-frequency brain waves, directing attention to select features of the visual world.

“It’s been known that the prefrontal cortex plays an important role in focusing our attention, but the mystery was how,” said neuroscientist Robert Desimone, who led the study, published in Science Friday. “Now we have some insight into how it has that focusing role — through this synchrony with our sensory systems.”

For the rest of this interesting article on the latest about our brain's ability to focus and how this can impact research and understanding of problems like ADD, go here.

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29 May 2009

Brain: Can Science Rekindle Romantic Flames?

From Denny: This video is a bit amusingly light-hearted but also serious about the science. Forget about those relationship counselors; go pay a visit to your local scientist as they feel they have the best answer. New research about the brain discovers how to rekindle a stale relationship!





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28 May 2009

Physics: How Does That Martial Arts Bed of Nails Really Feel?

From Denny: OK, these guys got MY attention with this nail bed demo. When I lived in Taiwan during high school I often saw interesting demos like this one from local martial arts experts during public festivals.

Here Popular Science breaks it down as to the physics and what they think it's all about. While part of what the science guys say is true there really is a spriritual component as well. Anyway you look at it, whew! Talk about an extreme sport!



"The Breakdown looks at the physics of a remarkable feat

Is this a death-defying demonstration requiring a level of mastery only arrived at after years of intensive martial arts training, or is it a theatrical display based more on physics than on chi? In order to answer that question, just take a look at the second video. Those guys haven't spent years in the dojo as far as we know, but they do know a little bit about fundamental principles of physics." - Popular Science

Just click on the title link to take you to Popular Science's article or go here.

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27 May 2009

Astronomy: Top Ten Hubble Scientific Discoveries

The Hubble Space Telescope (HTS) begins its se...Hubble Telescope Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: Popular Science has a new article that is mostly awesome photos of what Hubble has captured over time! They explain the significance of each photo to the furthering education in astronomy. If you prefer a larger view, take a look at the slide show by clicking on the title link and it will take you to the Popular Science site. I love space photos like this!

So much of their article is the history of astronomy: how scientists thought about the universe, speculated and now they know for sure because of the Hubble Telescope. This is such a great summary article that I quoted it here in its entirety as a free source.



All Photos Courtesy of NASA

"10. The Source of Long Gamma Ray Bursts

In the 1960s, US satellites designed to detect gamma radiation from Russian nuclear testing began picking up huge radiation bursts from deep in space. For decades, no one knew where the bursts were coming from. When the Hubble went on line, scientists were able to track the gamma ray bursts back to galaxies with rapid star production, like the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy (pictured). According to Livio, the gamma ray bursts occur when one of the galaxy’s massive stars collapses in on itself.



9. Accurate Measurement of the Hubble Constant

For years, scientists argued over the value of the Hubble Constant, a key component in the equation that measures the speed at which the universe expands. “Before the Hubble telescope, the estimates for the Hubble Constant were different by at least a factor of two,” said Livio. After analyzing Hubble pictures of far-off super novae (the remnants of one are pictured here), astronomers narrowed the value of the Hubble Constant down to within an error of five percent.



8. Stellar Populations

While some of the Hubble’s most notable pictures involved looking deep into space and time, it also made some important observations closer to home... if you consider 2.5 million light years close to home. Scientists knew very little about the histories of even our closest galactic neighbors (like the Andromeda galaxy shown here). But the Hubble, which can focus on individual stars in these galaxies, has allowed scientists to better understand the history of our corner of the universe.



7. Collision Images

Speaking of close to home, Hubble took one of its most important pictures of a planet right here in our own solar system. In 1994, fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter (pictured here), and Hubble provided the first ever recorded images of a collision between two bodies in space. Aside from simply looking cool, photos of the scars left by the collision provided new insights into the makeup of Jupiter’s atmosphere.



6. Counting Planets

Naturally, being the egocentric species that we are, contemplating the mysteries of the cosmos inevitably leads to the question of whether life exists on other planets. To answer that question, we need to know just how many other planets there are. Pictures from the Hubble went a long way towards answering that question. By capturing images of the solar debris disks that eventually coalesce into planets (like the disk shown here around a star in the Orion nebula), the Hubble showed that planets are far more common than scientists previously thought.



5. Extrasolar Planets

And while we’re on the subject of extrasolar planets, the Hubble also snapped the first shot of a planet outside of our solar system. Before this picture of a planet around the star Fomalhaut was taken, scientists had to calculate whether a star had a planet by evaluating the star's wobble. With the Hubble, the astronomers could just take a picture of the planet itself.



4. Black Holes

Astronomers had been theorizing that super massive black holes laid at the center of galaxies for years, but it wasn’t until the Hubble actually took a shot of one of those black holes that the debate was put to rest. “Not only did Hubble discover that there are black holes in the center of the galaxies, but it discovered that there was correlation between the size of the black hole and the size of the bulge,” said Mario Livio, a senior astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute and author of Is God A Mathematician?. “Before that, we did not know that there was a black hole in the center, and definitely did not know that relationship.”



3. Deep Field Shot

This is one of the cases where the aesthetic beauty of one of Hubble’s pictures matched up with its scientific value. The Hubble Deep Field Shot, the most magnified picture of a spot of the sky ever taken with optical light, provided this gorgeous image, and gave scientists the information they needed to accurately calculate the age of the universe.



2. Dark Matter

Long theorized and to this date never directly observed, dark matter may make up as much as 22 percent of the material in the universe. Because dark matter doesn’t reflect or emit light (hence the name), it cannot be viewed with a telescope. However, dark matter still exerts a gravitational pull on the light that passes by it, bending the light like a lens. The Hubble was able to take a picture of light bent by the gravitational lens of nearby dark matter, thus detecting the previously undetectable. This is a picture of light from the galaxy cluster Abell being warped by a gravitation lens from dark matter.



1. Dark Energy

According to the theory of General Relativity, the gravitational pull of every object in the universe would eventually slow, and then reverse, the expansion of the universe. For years, that’s what astronomers assumed was happening. Then came Hubble. “Arguably the most important Hubble discovery is that of dark energy, which is this form of energy that propels the expansion of the universe,” said Livio. “We knew since the late 1920s that the universe was expanding, but thought that this expansion would be slowing down. Instead, we discovered in 1998 that this expansion was speeding up.” This momentous discovery came from measuring light emitted by super novae, like the explosion of the star Sanduleak -69° 202a, pictured here."

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26 May 2009

Brain: Our Culture Influences How Our Brains Function



From Denny: This is the first time a brain imaging study about this question of culture has been done. It was reported in the Psychological Science January 2008 issue.

What did the MIT researchers find?

People from different cultures around the world actually use their brains differently to solve the same visual perceptual tasks.

What are the differences in the cultures?

American culture values greatly the individual which in turn “emphasizes the independence of objects from their contexts.”

Asian cultures “emphasize the collective and the contextual interdependence of objects.”

Studying an impersonal brain scan is far different than behavioral studies researchers have done. Behavioral studies learned that memory and perception can be influenced by cultural differences. What scientists wanted to know: But can this be proven in brain activity patterns?

The Study

Organizing the team was John Gabrieli, professor at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. It was a very small study of 10 East Asians recently arrived in the USA (I guess so they would not be tainted by their now new culture) and 10 Americans. Researchers asked the subjects to make quick perceptual judgments while they were being scanned in an fMRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). An fMRI is a new technology that while a person’s brain is responding to a test, this machine starts mapping the blood flow changes in the brain, corresponding to the brain’s responses.

What were those mental tasks?

They were abstract stimuli like lines within squares. People were shown a progression of this kind of stimuli and then asked to compare to the last one given. In some of these trials, people were being asked for an absolute judgment of individual objects that were independent of context. Researchers accomplished this by asking if the lines were the same length regardless of the surrounding squares.

In other trials, researchers were looking for relative judgment of interdependent objects. They accomplished this by asking people to decide whether the lines were in the same proportion to the squares, regardless of absolute size.

What happened during these tests?

Different brain activation patterns were present for these two groups when performing these tasks. Apparently, Americans find it more difficult to make relative judgments. What happened to them is that these tasks activated the brain regions involved in attention-demanding mental tasks. Americans fared better in more culturally familiar absolute judgments and there was less activation of these regions.

East Asians proved to show the opposite tendency. They had to engage the attention-demanding part of their brains more so for making absolute judgments. Relative judgments were easier for them.

Trey Hedden was a lead author of the paper and also a researcher scientist at McGovern. Hedden remarked, “We were surprised at the magnitude of the difference between the two cultural groups, and also at how widespread the engagement of the brain’s attention system became when making judgments outside the cultural comfort zone.”

What else did they find that was significant?

The effect was greater in individuals who identified more closely with their culture. It was shown that a stronger cultural association presented a culture-specific pattern of brain-activation. A bit of how researchers went about being able to identify this was by the use of questionnaires. They asked about preferences and values in social relations – like do you think an individual is responsible for the failure of a family member? This helped gauge cultural identification.

Researchers have long wondered how these differences came to be

Gabrieli thinks, “Everyone uses the same attention machinery for more difficult cognitive tasks. They are trained to use it in different ways. It’s the culture that does the training. It’s fascinating the way the brain responds to these simple drawings, reflects, in a predictable way, how the individual thinks about independent or interdependent social relationships.”

Summary

Society does affect our brains; that much is established both in behavioral and now brain scan studies. Perhaps we need to be careful what we teach…

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25 May 2009

Memorial Day Poems



From Denny: These are a selection from many wonderful poems written with heavy hearts and great sincerity about the reality of how war affects us all. The old men who send young men to war rarely stop long enough - or at all - to consider their haste to anger and action affects the entire nation for generations to come.

The following are not glory poems but rather the perspectives of those involved in war be they one soldier, a POW, a mother, a daughter, a citizen who knew none of them but felt a duty to pray for them constantly, knowing the personal cost war would bring to all. They span several wars from the Civil War to WWII, the Korean War and today's Iraq and Afghanistan War.

These poems came from the comprehensive Memorial Day site where there is much more than poems to view. Please take a look today as you remember those who came before us.

For the link to the Memorial Day Poems post at my poetry blog, The Social Poets, go here.

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24 May 2009

Brain: Creative Problem Solving with SCAMPER

Image of Luciano Passuello from FacebookImage of Luciano Passuello

From Denny: From our friends over at LiteMind comes another useful article for your everyday life. They like to write about efficient and innovative ways to use our minds.

Here is an intriguing article about one of my favorite subjects: creative problem-solving!

This is an excerpt from the post by blog owner Luciano Passuello:

"SCAMPER is a technique you can use to spark your creativity and help you overcome any challenge you may be facing. In essence, SCAMPER is a general-purpose checklist with idea-spurring questions — which is both easy to use and surprisingly powerful.

In this posting, I present a complete SCAMPER primer, along with two free creativity-boosting resources: a downloadable reference mind map and an online tool that generates random questions to get you out of a rut whenever you need.

SCAMPER Primer

SCAMPER is based on the notion that everything new is a modification of something that already exists. Each letter in the acronym represents a different way you can play with the characteristics of what is challenging you to trigger new ideas:

S = Substitute

C = Combine

A = Adapt

M = Magnify

P = Put to Other Uses

E = Eliminate (or Minify)

R = Rearrange (or Reverse)

To use the SCAMPER technique, first state the problem you’d like to solve or the idea you’d like to develop. It can be anything: a challenge in your personal life or business; or maybe a product, service or process you want to improve. After pinpointing the challenge, it’s then a matter of asking questions about it using the SCAMPER checklist to guide you."

For the rest of this great article just click on the title link!



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23 May 2009

Brain: The Essential Guide to Effective Decision Making

Cover of "Smart Choices: A Practical Guid...Cover via Amazon

From Denny: It's been a while since I've linked you to the wonderful and interesting LiteMind site. They haven't been posting every week. This is their latest article. They always write about more efficient and innovative ways to better use our minds. LiteMind has quite a following on Twitter too; you might want to follow them there as well.


From blog owner Luciano Passuello (Brazil) an excerpt from his post:

"The PrOACT Approach to Decision Making

The PrOACT approach (outlined in the book Smart Choices) is by far the best model for decision making that I have seen. It helps you see both the tangible and intangible aspects of your situation more clearly and to translate all pertinent facts, feelings, opinions, beliefs and advice into the best possible decision.

‘PrOACT’ is a mnemonic that stands for five key elements in the model:

Problem statement

Objectives

Alternatives

Consequences

Tradeoffs

The method consists of examining each of these core elements separately, using them to clarify and organize your thoughts as you go."

For the rest of this informative article just click on the title link.





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22 May 2009

Astronomy Video: Equinoxes Seen From Space

From Denny: National Geographic has a cool video animation about equinoxes and solstices as seen from space. Kids will enjoy this video too!

21 May 2009

Brain: Meditation: Grow the Brain, Grow Your IQ



From Denny: Looks like science is beginning to catch up with what the truly spiritual people already know! Meditation makes us more intelligent! And now science has figured out the obvious.

Who did the study?

The study was published in the journal NeuroImage by the researchers from The University of California at Los Angeles.

Regular meditation has been found to enlarge the size of the brain. For those who have been meditating for a very long period of time brain scans revealed they had significantly larger amounts of the little grey cells.

Which area of the brain was larger?

Researchers using an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanned the brain's hippocampus because it is the area of the brain that is associated with our memory and learning ability. They found the area to be much larger in those who practiced regular meditation.

What was found in those who did not practice meditation?

Turns out the areas of their brains linked to emotion were much larger. The study inferred that with a larger emotionally area it is more difficult for a person to control their emotions.

What are the benefits of meditation to our brains?

It helps tremendously to maintain emotional control. Those who meditate are better focused and can control their emotions far better than those who do not meditate. Another benefit is reduced levels of stress which help boost the immune system. Some of this has been known from previous studies.

What has not been known until now about the link between the brain structure and meditation?

They studied 44 people, only half had practiced meditation for 5 - 46 years. They tended to meditate for between 10 - 90 minutes each day. Deep concentration was said to be part of their meditation routine.

The MRI scans verified "significantly larger cerebral measurements in meditators." It is these changes in the brain structure that might explain why meditators "have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions," according to Eileen Luders, lead researcher, "The differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue as to why meditators have these exceptional abilities." The brain has been proven to change its structure over time as revealed in previous studies.

Summary

Researchers found in meditators increased brain size in the area of the right hippocampus and in the right frontal cortex, enlarging the brains' measurements.

For now researchers are speculating about this area of the brain so closely linked to our emotions. Eileen Luders wonders, "These might be the neuronal underpinnings that give meditators' brains the outstanding ability to regulate their emotions and allow for well-adjusted responses to whatever life throws their way."

Written by Denny Lyon
Copyright 21 May 2009
All Rights Reserved

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20 May 2009

Brain Video: How Your Brain Looks in Love

From Denny: Now this is really cutting edge. Scientists do a scan of 3 areas of the brain to see if you are in love with your spouse. They check for lust, attachment and romance areas of the brain. Very interesting explanations of what the scan depicts.

Watch this video as a writer from Esquire decided to find out how his brain looked in love with his wife vs. how he thought about a sexy actress. Brave or very stupid guy; you decide.



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19 May 2009

Brain Craft: Dollar Bill Origami

Joe's DollarOrigami Dollar Bill Heart Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr



Dollar Bill Origami: "Do you know your dollar bill can do origami? Dollar bill origami is actually quite easy if you get a hang of it."

By capgrasuper from Singapore @ HubPages

From Denny: Several videos demo the fun of origami using a dollar bill. Your kids will enjoy this fun craft that is also great for critical thinking development!

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18 May 2009

Brain: Free Printable Brain Teasers Are Used In Business As Motivational Tools



Free Printable Brain Teasers Are Used In Business As Motivational Tools: "Printable brain teasers are being used more often in today's business as motivational tools for an incentive to encourage their employees and students."

By Dottie1 @ HubPages

Photo of brain management center @ free-puzzles.net

From Denny: Another fun article about brain teasers from my friend over at HubPages, enjoy!

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17 May 2009

Brain: Give Your Brain a Workout with Some Fun Brain Teasers



Give Your Brain a Workout with Some Fun Brain Teasers: "Giving your brain a workout with brain teasers is a whole lot more fun than physical exercise, don’t you think?"

By Dottie1 @ HubPages

From Denny: I just love brain teasers when they are fun like this! Read my friend's interesting and informative article over at HubPages.



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15 May 2009

Video: CIA Secret Experiments

From Denny: The National Geographic is airing this program on June 20th. I've long complained about America's and other world governments' inhumane medical experiments.

The American military and spouses and children of CIA officers have carried the brunt of suffering in these decades long illegal experiments. "Volunteers" were routinely lied to about the true nature of the experiments. Many, like children of CIA officers, were volunteered by their fathers wishing to advance their careers up the ranks by pleasing their superiors.

While this film does not discuss the children in experiments it does cover the horrors done to unsuspecting military personnel. Mind control is easier than the public believes as too many people have either weak minds or weak wills to stand up to what is wrong in society.

Please watch this program when it airs as it is important to stop this madness in all society around the world! This is the promotional video for the program.






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14 May 2009

Astronomy: View Outer Space Thru Your Computer

From Denny: OK, this new software program is so cool! Hubble space telescope, Sloan Digital Sky Survey and many others combine for your viewing choices. You can browse through the galaxy on your own or enjoy guided tours. Choose among different telescopes and light wave lengths.

Check out worldwidetelescope.org



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13 May 2009

Astronomy Video: Amazing Moon Images From Space

From Denny: These moon photos were released last November and maybe you missed them or would enjoy seeing them again. On the video is pictured the very rare event that only happens a couple of times a year - as if you are on the moon and looking at the Earth rise on the horizon! Instead of viewing the sun rise you see the Earth rise, quite disconcerting. That was cool enough for me!




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12 May 2009

Astronomy: Google Maps Space Junk

From Denny: Have you seen this new Google map? What will they map next? It's as alarming as it is a bit amusing how our Earth's culture is lousy at good cosmic housekeeping!





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11 May 2009

Mental Health: Finding of 1st Autism Gene

The puzzle piece ribbon is used by some autism...The puzzle piece ribbon is used by some autism societies Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: The first gene linked to autism has been found by researchers. They believe it may account for as much as 15% of cases diagnosed.

Researchers speculate the problems underlying other cases could be changes in brain connections as reported in three recent studies published in the journals of Nature and Molecular Psychiatry.

Right now the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are that autism affects one in 150 children in America. Obviously, these new findings cannot offer hope for an immediate treatment, it does contribute to the explanation of the underlying cases of the disease.

From Dr. Raynard Kington, National Institutes of Health acting directory: "These findings establish that genetic factors play a strong role in autism spectrum disorder. Detailed analysis of the genes and how they affect brain development is likely to yield better strategies for diagnosing and treating children with autism."

What is the range of autism disease?

Autism is actually a spectrum of diseases. It can be severe with a profound inability to communicate with others which is what the public is most familiar. It can be found as mental retardation. The milder symptoms are known as Asperger's Syndrome.

The medical field has always been at a loss to explain the phenomenon of autism. What they do know is that autism tends to run in families which suggests an underlying genetic cause.

From Dr. Thomas Insel who is director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH): "Previous studies have suggested that autism is a developmental disorder resulting from abnormal connections in the brain. These three studies suggest some of the genetic factors which might lead to abnormal connectivity."

What did an international study do?

Researchers studied the DNA of 12,000 people. There were volunteers who were unaffected by autism and there were those who came from autism affected families.

From Dr. Hakon Hakonarson at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who also worked on the study: "We estimate that the variants we discovered may contribute to as many as 15 percent of autism spectrum disorder cases in a population."

Another researcher who worked on the study, Tony Monaco, Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford (Britain): "Most of the genes that have been identified in these studies are involved in the connections between neurons called synapses."

"This does seem to fit with what we know from brain scans - people with autism may show different or reduced connectivity between different parts of the brain."

People with autism are not the only ones to exhibit these mutations though.

From another doctor who worked on the study, Dr. Daniel Geschwind, University of California at Los Angeles, "While this gene variant is common in the general population, we discovered that it occurs about 20 percent more often in children with autism."

From Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance, University of Miami, providing additional information, "Until now, no common genetic variant has been identified with such overwhelming evidence to support its role in autism spectrum disorders."

Written by Denny Lyon



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10 May 2009

Brain: Study Eyes Autism and Brain Size

Do you find my brain? - Auf der Suche nach mei...Image by alles-schlumpf via Flickr




From Denny: Published 4 May 2009 in the Archives of General Psychiatry is a new study about the brain size in autistic small children. The study was done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What part of the brain did researchers focus?

There is a region deep in the brain that helps control emotions. It also regulates attention and reads social cues from eye contact. This region of the brain is called the amygdala.

Who was studied?

The scientists studied two-year-olds with and without autism.

What did these researchers find?

What was quite a surprise is that autistic children exhibited a more enlarged amygdala where non-autistic children did not. This unusual distinction persisted in the follow-up screening of these same children two years later.

How is this study helpful?

For autism researchers this study adds insight into the brain size anomalies of autism and could help doctors diagnose autism.

Most of all, this study could help develop new interventions that help strengthen young childrens' social functioning.

Written by Denny Lyon

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09 May 2009

Video: Update on Swine Flu Stats

From Denny: The health folks are claiming this swine flu is milder than expected - that's the good news. The bad news? It is spreading rapidly. One day it's 400 cases and the next day it's up to 700, almost doubling here in America.

What's a bit disconcerting is to look at the USA map showing the flu has spread all across the country. Then view the world map and all of North America is engulfed in this outbreak.



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07 May 2009

Video: Test of Lincoln DNA Sought to Prove Latest Health Theory

From Denny: People have speculated for over a century now about President Lincoln's health. Photos only a few years apart show a rapid visual change that has prompted those wonderings.

Marfan Syndrome?

Ataxia Type 5?

MEN2B Cancer?

More importantly, will we ever know?




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06 May 2009

Blogger Interviews Porn Queen Stormy Daniels While Waiting on Jury Duty

Stormy Daniels, American pornographic actress.Image via Wikipedia



From Denny: Been on jury duty since Monday and the days are getting longer so not able to post much. Maybe tomorrow will be a shorter day!

Looks like Cheeky Quote Day is sidelined for today. Will a true story of what happened to me today do in its place? I'm up for a second-degree murder case. Probably will sit around all day waiting to be rejected. That's what happened today after 10 hours of jury selection.

I did get to chat up the staff. Talked to a sheriff who the local news station had promised to interview about his time in Iraq but didn't - clearly he needed to talk about it - so as any good blogger with a journalism degree, well, I jumped on the interview, duh! He's with the Army 239th, an MP and just got back from Iraq a few months ago. He proceeded to tell me about what it was like serving over there.

Real sociable guy and it sure surprised me when he started talking but I figured it was good for him to get the stress out. I mean, how many warriors actually tell you how many kills? And worse, how many were Iraqi children, armed with hand grenades and ordered by their parents to come kill Americans? Sad but true tale.

While he acknowledged it was a tough decision to choose self-defense and claimed it didn't bother him, I figured it did upset him and that's why he was telling me all about it. Soldiers from many wars often start talking around me and I hear the most amazing stories of personal trauma.

It isn't always what people tell you as true but rather the fact that they are talking about something so horrific while claiming it doesn't bother them. Of course it bothers them, why else would they need to talk about it? I don't waste time judging, just accept and listen. Talk about a lot to process for them.

***



Now the highlight of today's jury service was going to lunch at a little eatery known as The Roux House. We noticed the local TV news crew outside, went in and there was a big commotion at the back of the restaurant. We peeked in and it turns out a new politician was announcing her candidacy.

Who was it? Turns out it's the porn queen, Stormy Daniels, who was the regular prostitute for years for Louisiana's Senator David Vitter. Yep! The former pro is running against her customer!

I found it amusing. On her way out she stopped to talk to everyone at the few tables and so I took the time to interview her about her candidacy. Turns out ABC News was there too. I asked some very easy questions to give her a chance to prove herself. I'll try to blog tomorrow about the interview. What a hoot! When was the last time you had the opportunity to interview a porn queen AND attend a bizarre event in the weirdest world of Louisiana politics? It was a definite two-fer! :)



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Brain: How Forgiveness and Revenge Are 2 Sides to the Same Coin

From Denny: First news report I've seen on this health phenomenon properly examined to validate the viewpoint of many, me included. No one has ever claimed that forgiveness is an easy attitude to adopt, learn and practice. The alternative to not learning to do so is amazingly devastating on your own health!

"Are people more apt to seek revenge or offer forgiveness when they've been wronged? Sunday Morning's Martha Teichner examines our capacity to forgive."


Watch CBS Videos Online





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