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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

New Spring-like Fibers to Mend Broken Hearts

New fabricated spring-like fibers developed by scientists help repair damaged heart tissue.
 Doctoral students Sharon Fleischer and Ron Feiner - under the supervision of Dr. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology - have fabricated fibers shaped like springs that allow engineered cardiac tissue to pump more like the real thing. Dvir said that until now, when scientists have tried to engineer cardiac tissue, they've used straight fibers to support the contracting cells. He said that but these fibers prevent the contraction of the engineered tissue and what they did was mimic the spring-like fibers that promote contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle. Dvir asserted that they found that by growing tissues on these fibers, they got more functional tissues. The researchers identified spiral-shaped collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix of rat hearts and seeing the potential for an advance, they set out to recreate them for the first time. After fabricating the spring-like fibers using advanced techniques, they subjected them to a variety of tests. As the researchers predicted, the spring-like fibers showed better mechanical properties than straight fibers, with especially improved elasticity. And compared to tissue engineered with straight fibers, the tissue engineered with spring-like fibers contracted with greater force and less mechanical resistance. They study has been published in the journal Biomaterials in August.


Older Is Wiser, At Least Economically

The brains of older people are slowing but experience more than makes up for the decline, a University of California, Riverside assistant professor of management and several colleagues found when asking the participants a series of financially related questions.

Ye LiYe Li, the UC Riverside assistant professor, and Martine Baldassi, Eric J. Johnson and Elke U. Weber, all currently or formerly of Columbia University, outlined the results in a paper, “Complementary Cognitive Capabilities: Economic Decision Making, and Aging,” which was just published in the journal Psychology and Aging.
The study is believed to be the first to measure decision making over the lifespan through the lens of two types of intelligence: fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is the ability to learn and process information. Crystallized intelligence refers to experience and accumulated knowledge.
Past research has found fluid intelligence declines with age, but provides no definitive conclusion as to whether decision-making abilities declines as people age. Li, a faculty member at UC Riverside’s School of Business Administration, and his colleagues set out to answer that question.
Their work has broad implications. As the average age of the world’s population rises rapidly, understanding how and how well older adults make decisions is crucial because they are faced with an increasing number of important choices related to their retirement finances and health care. Furthermore, as new laws increase the minimum retirement age, people remain professionally active later in life, with older adults holding many key leadership roles.
To conduct their research, Li and his colleagues recruited a group of 336 people – 173 younger (ages 18 to 29) and 163 older (ages 60 to 82) – and asked them a series of questions that measured economic decision making traits. They also administered a battery of standard fluid and crystallized intelligence tests.
These traits included temporal discounting (how much people discount future gains and losses), loss aversion (how much the valuation of losses outweigh gains of the same magnitude), financial literacy (understanding financial information and decisions) and debt literacy (understanding debt contracts and interest rates).
They found the older participants performed as well or better than the younger participants in all four decision-making measures. The older group exhibited greater patience in temporal discounting and better financial and debt literacy. The older participants were somewhat less loss averse, but the result did not reach standard levels of significance.
“The findings confirm our hypothesis that experience and acquired knowledge from a lifetime of decision making offset the declining ability to learn new information,” Li said.
The findings also support the fact that older people could be further helped by being provided aids to ease the burden on their decreased fluid intelligence, such as a calculator or advisor, when making significant financial decisions, Li said. On the other hand, younger adults may benefit from more financial education so that they can gain experience with major financial decisions before making them in the real world.
Li and several of his colleagues who co-authored the Psychology and Aging paper are working on a follow-up project that asks adults ranging from 18 to 80 specific questions about decisions such as selecting a health care policy, when to start drawing Social Security and how to pay off multiple credit card balances.
Source:UCR Today

Acupuncture or counselling plus usual care 'may improve' depression symptoms

Acupuncture or counselling, provided alongside usual care, could benefit patients with depression, according to a study by researchers at the University of York.
The study, conducted by a team led by Dr Hugh MacPherson, of the Department of Health Sciences at York, found that in a primary care setting, combining acupuncture or counselling with usual care had some benefits after three months for patients with recurring depression.
Published this week in PLOS Medicine, the study, which also involved researchers from the Centre for Health Economics at York and Hull York Medical School, was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grants for Applied Research Programme.
Many patients with depression are interested in receiving non-drug therapies, however, there is limited evidence to support the use of acupuncture or counselling for depression in a primary care setting. In this pragmatic randomised controlled trial conducted in the North of England, the research team randomised patients with depression to receive 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), or 12 weekly sessions of counselling plus usual care (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients).
Compared with usual care alone, there was a significant reduction in average depression scores at three months for both the acupuncture and counselling interventions, but there was no significant difference in depression scores between the acupuncture and counselling groups. At nine months and 12 months, because of improvements in the depression scores in the usual care group, acupuncture and counselling were no longer better than usual care.
Dr MacPherson says: "Although these findings are encouraging, our study does not identify which aspects of acupuncture and counselling are likely to be most beneficial to patients, nor does it provide information about the effectiveness of acupuncture or counselling, compared with usual care, for patients with mild depression.
"To our knowledge, our study is the first to rigorously evaluate the clinical and economic impact of acupuncture and counselling for patients in primary care who are representative of those who continue to experience depression in primary care."
He adds: "We have provided evidence that acupuncture versus usual care and counselling versus usual care are both associated with a significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, and are not associated with serious adverse events. "
Source: PLOS Medicine

News Video:Three weird ways olde tyme people got high

Humans have been processing plants for their narcotic effects for at least 5000 years, historically for ceremonial purposes, to deal with harsh environmental conditions or difficult situations, and sometimes even to supplement nutrient-poor diets. Michael tells you about some of the strange “natural” things our ancestors used to alter their minds, but he can’t promise they’re not going to be gross.
Source:My Science Academy

News Video:A Man Claims to Have Not Eaten or Drank Any Liquids For 70 Years. Science Examines Him -

Is it possible for us to survive with no food and water? Doctors are trying to determine that as they are baffled by an Indian man who claims not to have eaten or drank anything for the last 70 years. What is even more shocking? He is in perfect health. Prahlad Jani is a local to the Indian city of Ahmedabad and is claiming he has not consumed any food or liquids since he was 8-years old. He also claims to have been blessed at the age of 8 by a goddess. This allows him to survive without sustenance except for that which he derives from the practice of meditation. From April 22nd until May 6th 2010 in the private hospital Sterling Hospital, Prahlad Jani was observed and tested by Sudhir Shah and a team of 35 researchers all from the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS) and other organizations. The large team studied Jani daily using clinical examinations, blood tests, and scans. 24 hour CCTV surveillance was used to ensure the maximum observation of Jani’s actions during the testing period. According to researchers, the only time Jani was taken out of his sealed room was for tests and exposure to sun. During these times, continuous video recording was done to ensure authenticity of results. Jani only had contact with any form of liquid when he had an occasional bathing session, which first took place on day 5, and when he would gargle some water. It is important to note that his toilet was sealed to test his claims that he did not urinate or defecate. After the fifteen days of intensive observation during which Jani did not eat, drink or go to the toilet, all medical test results came back as normal and doctors described his health as being better than someone half his age. Interestingly, doctors reported that although the amount of liquid in Jani’s bladder fluctuated and that Jani appeared “able to generate urine in his bladder”, he did not pass any urine. The reported levels of Jani’ leptin and ghrelin, two appetite-related hormones, suggested that Jani may be demonstrating an extreme form of adaptation to starvation and water restriction. Even after the 15 day examination, DIPAS is still interested in running tests on Jani to determine how metabolic waste material is eliminated from his body, where he gets his energy for sustenance, and how he maintains his hydration status. The director of DIPAS believes that the results of Jani’s observations could “tremendously benefit mankind.” Professor Anil Gupta of SRISTI, involved in monitoring the tests, described the team as being “intrigued” by Jani’s kriyas apparently allowing him to control his body’s physiological functions. Most people can live without food for several weeks, with the body drawing on its fat and protein stores. But the average human can survive for only three to four days without water. How is Jani able to achieve what he is achieving? Some believe that his access to bathing allowed him to store liquid in the body. Since the observation did not go on for longer than 15 days, some believe he might have eaten or drank after. But Jani is not the first person to be tested with such claims. HRM, another Indian man, was tested for 411 days intensively after he claimed that he did not eat any food. While HRM did consume boiled water, during his 411 day observation it was confirmed that he did not eat during the period and yet his health was perfect. To me this is exciting because regardless of the current science we accept when it comes to the physiology of the body, we are seeing that we may not have it all correct and that it is possible to change the consciousness of our body to operate differently. Having tried sungazing for several long periods myself, I can attest to the fact that you certainly get energy, and what feels like nutrient energy, from the sun alone. While sungazing, I found I could perform physical activity with much more energy than I could while eating healthy meals. Of course I cannot say my results are conclusive as I did not do them for long enough, but it’s my experience on the matter.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Scientists Discover Gene Critical to Process of 'Memory Extinction'

A gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction has been discovered by scientists. The study from MIT has found that enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations.Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, along with his team studied mice with the Tet1 gene knocked out. Tet1 and other Tet proteins help regulate the modifications of DNA that determine whether a particular gene will be expressed or not. 
The researchers found that mice without Tet1 were perfectly able to form memories and learn new tasks. However, when the team began to study memory extinction, significant differences emerged. 
To measure the mice's ability to extinguish memories, the researchers conditioned the mice to fear a particular cage where they received a mild shock. Once the memory was formed, the researchers then put the mice in the cage but did not deliver the shock. After a while, mice with normal Tet1 levels lost their fear of the cage as new memories replaced the old ones. 
"What happens during memory extinction is not erasure of the original memory," Tsai said. "The old trace of memory is telling the mice that this place is dangerous. But the new memory informs the mice that this place is actually safe. There are two choices of memory that are competing with each other." 
In normal mice, the new memory wins out. However, mice lacking Tet1 remain fearful. 
In another set of experiments involving spatial memory, the researchers found that mice lacking the Tet1 gene were able to learn to navigate a water maze, but were unable to extinguish the memory. 
The findings suggest that a threshold level of methylation is necessary for gene expression to take place, and that the job of Tet1 is to maintain low methylation, ensuring that the genes necessary for memory formation are poised and ready to turn on at the moment they are needed. 
The study is published in the journal Neuron.



Smoking During Pregnancy can Lead to Asthma in Grand Kids, Says Study

A recent study finds that smoking during pregnancy can lead to asthma in grandchildren.When animal mothers are exposed to nicotine during pregnancy-a proxy for smoking-their grandchildren were also at an increased risk of asthma, even though they were never exposed to nicotine themselves. 
Wondering if this dangerous heritage might extend even farther down the family line, Virender K. Rehan and his colleagues at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) exposed pregnant rats to nicotine. 
They then tested an additional generation-the mothers' great-grand-rats-for signs of asthma. 
Their results suggest that this group of rats is also at an increased risk of this condition, bearing the brunt of nicotine exposure three generations in the past. 
The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society.



Yoga for Weight Loss

Are you among those thousands, probably millions out there who are constantly struggling to shed a few pounds and get the 'lean' look? Do you relate weight loss to long hours of strenuous exercises and exhausting, bland diets? You're not alone; have a look at the tabloids and magazines out there, and you'll find anything and everything related to weight loss.And it's not surprising, since statistics have clearly pointed out to the whopping increase in the number of people suffering from obesity, among other lifestyle-related disorders. 
But what most people tend to forget is that weight loss can actually be easy, if done the right way. Just like you don't put on 4 kilos in a week, you can't possibly lose them that fast; patience is the most crucial, yet important step in weight lossAnd if you're out hunting for one of the most simple, struggle free and 'clean' ways to trim your waistline, you could consider yoga. Ancient Indians have used it for years to strengthen the mind, cleanse the body, improve vitality and basically improve the overall wellbeing. 
Yoga has been proved effective for weight loss. Supermodels and actors have used it, and treasured it as their powerful weight-loss secret; Jennifer Aniston, Liv Tyler, Halle Berry, Christy Turlington, Madonna and David Duchovny are all doing it--need we say more? 
The Inside Story- So how exactly does it work, you may ask. Well, it turns out, a team of scientists set out to find out the effectiveness of yoga in weight loss. Their study, which took in more than 15,500 individuals, finally revealed how yoga could actually help them shed a few pounds, and keep them from putting on weight too! 
While the lead scientist clarifies a lack of scientific proof and working of how it actually happens, it is speculated that mindfulness - an ability to observe what happens internally without reacting, is what may be playing a key role in helping individuals lose weight
It is also believed that yoga may help make individuals more susceptible to getting influenced to change their lifestyle and eating habits. It may help them overcome destructive eating habits and establish a spiritual mind-body connection. 
Apart from promoting weight loss, yoga offers a plethora of extra benefits. We've listed below some common add-ons yoga offers. 
• A strong liver- A powerful detoxification agent and cleanser, the liver aids the expulsion of bad fats from the body. Yoga has the power to restore the vitality and functioning of the liver, thereby driving away problems associated with a weak liver. 
• An active thyroid gland- The thyroid gland is directly linked to the body's metabolism. So if you're a bit slow on the fat-burning process, it may be due to an underactive thyroid gland--don't worry, yoga can help in proper thyroid functioning to some extent. 
• The right pH- Years and years of consumption of processed foods wrecks the digestive system, and creates an acidic environment, which is extremely harmful for the body, especially the heart. Regular yoga, however, could help you balance your body's pH better, and some postures are known to increase alkalinity of the body too! 
• A colon cleanse- A bloated belly and frequent digestive problems could be a sign of a blocked colon. While colon irrigation and other treatments do work, yoga could be the most natural and less invasive option. 
As for any other treatment, always take the advice of your doctor before you attempt yoga, especially if you are suffering from any other condition. Also, attempt yoga only under the guidance of a trained yoga teacher. 


Afternoon Naps can Raise Diabetes Risk

Dozing for more than 30 minutes can up the risk of developing diabetes, says study. 
The study conducted on 27,009 people aged 45 or over, found that out of those who took naps, 40 percent had high blood pressure, versus 33 per cent who didn't take siestas, reported.Researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China also found that 24 percent of afternoon sleepers had high cholesterol, compared to 19 percent of those who stayed awake.Researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China also found that 24 percent of afternoon sleepers had high cholesterol, compared to 19 percent of those who stayed awake. Scientists said napping for less than 30 minutes, or not at all, reduced people's chances of developing diabetes. 
It was found that nappers were at high risk of diabetes, because they were less involved in exercise.

It was found that nappers were at high risk of diabetes, because they were less involved in exercise.


It was found that nappers were at high risk of diabetes, because they were less involved in exercise.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

News Video:Diagnosing, treating heartburn and acid reflux


Over 1,500 Americans have died from taking too much acetaminophen in the past decade

One of America's best-known pain relievers has a lesser-known dark side. Over the past decade, more than 1,500 Americans have died from taking too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, reports ProPublica. Though tens of millions of people reportedly use it weekly without adverse effects, large amounts of the drug can lead to liver damage and other major health issues — a fact that isn't as widely publicized as the drug's potential health benefits.
Unlike other popular pain relievers, the difference between a safe and potentially harmful dose of acetaminophen is very slim, reports ProPublica. The Food and Drug Administration has apparently been aware of the issue for decades, but has moved slowly to address it. As far back as 1977, the administration said that it was "obligatory" that acetaminophen is labeled with a warning that it could cause "severe liver damage." But while that warning eventually found its way onto the drug's packaging, it didn't happen until 2009, and the FDA has even admitted that it moved slowly in addressing the issue.Though acetaminophen isn't unique in causing harm when used improperly, the FDA says that it carries more of a risk than other common drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, according to ProPublica. Acetaminophen has reportedly been linked to more deaths than any other over-the-counter pain reliever, and results in 33,000 hospitalizations each year in the US as well.There may be no singular reason that the FDA moved so slowly to label acetaminophen's dangers, but ProPublica points to McNeil Consumer Healthcare — the maker of Tylenol — as one of its strongest opponents. Though McNeil would eventually concede on certain issues, including the addition of a liver damage warning to the drug's packaging, it consistently held firm that acetaminophen was by and large a safe drug when used as directed.ProPublica has a thorough history of acetaminophen's safety, including how the FDA and McNeil have responded over the years. While it notes that the FDA's general tone has changed toward acetaminophen — it's even advertised the importance of knowing what medicines contain it — issues may still remain: though McNeil has decided to reduce its recommended daily dosage, its extra-strength products have continued to grow in popularity, potentially making it easier to overuse the drug.

India Declares Dolphins & Whales As ‘Non-Human Persons’

It was a great day for animal rights activists around the world when India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests agreed to ban the use of dolphins and other cetaceans such as whales and porpoises for public entertainment and forbid them from being held captive anywhere in India.
This decision was made after India had decided to open up several parks featuring aquariums with dolphins and whales. Activists began protesting and trying to explain how dolphins and whales are in fact much smarter than we may have thought and their cognitive abilities are quite impressive. A lot of information was given in favour of these mammals to showcase just how intelligent they really are. The notion was given that it was entirely inhumane to keep these animals in captivity.
The movement for dolphin and cetacean rights really took off and gained some ground in 2011 when the American Association for the Advancement of Science held a meeting that included conservationists, environmentalists, philosophers, and animal behaviorists. They began to gather support for the Declaration of Rights For Cetaceans from the scientific community. The declaration states (1):
1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.
2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.
5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.
6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.
For many, it has been long known that dolphins and whales are extremely intelligent creatures. This is probably why they were being locked up in aquariums and zoos and being forced to do tricks in the first place.  Dolphins have been known to recognize their own reflection in a mirror, give each other distinct names, solve puzzles, they even have their own culture and hunting practices.
In the video clip below you will see some smart dolphins in action as they assist fisherman. A tradition that has been going on for 150 years, has been passed down through generations of fishermen, but even more generations of dolphins.
So, the question remains… is it fair that only dolphins and whales receive this title of ‘Non-Human Persons?’ Or should we include other intelligent animals as well? Where do we draw the line? Why shouldn’t all animals have equal rights? And especially, the right to life?

High Intensity Exercise Beneficial for Heart Disease Patients

High-intensity exercise is protective against coronary heart disease (CHD), reveals a new study. Researchers have found that high-intensity exercise is very beneficial for people who already have heart disease.
K. G. Jebsen from Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, analyzed data from four randomized, controlled trials conducted at the centre to try to determine what characterized the most effective high-intensity training programme for this patient group. 

The researchers used changes in VO2max, which is peak oxygen uptake, as a measure of the effectiveness of the different exercise regimes The exercise period lasted for 12 weeks. The participants ran or walked on treadmill, walked uphill outdoors or trained in a group, all following the 4x4 exercise model. The 4x4 exercise model involves 4 minutes of high-intensity exercise followed by 3 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, repeated 4 times. 
Lead author of the study, Trine Moholdt, said that when they compared VO2max before and after the training period, they found that the number of training sessions, the subject's age or baseline fitness levels had no impact, however the intensity of the intervals had a significant effect, and seemed to be the most important characteristic of an effective interval session. 
The four studies, which were composed of patients who either had acute coronary syndrome or angina pectoris, confirmed previous findings that high-intensity exercise is safe, even for patients with CHD.


A boost for cellular profiling

A new method for analyzing gene expression in single cells opens a window into tumors and other tissues

 A team of researchers affiliated with Ludwig Cancer Research and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden report in the current issue of Nature Methods a dramatically improved technique for analyzing the genes expressed within a single cell -- a capability of relevance to everything from basic research to future cancer diagnostics.
"There are cells in tumors and in healthy tissues that are not present in sufficient numbers to permit analysis using anything but single-cell methods," explains senior author, Rickard Sandberg, PhD. "This method allows us to identify rare and important subpopulations of cells in all sorts of tissues. We can also use it to tease apart, more rigorously than ever before, how the expression of unique suites of genes transform cells from one state to another as, say, an embryo develops into an organism, or a tumor becomes metastatic."
Traditional approaches, which depend on the collective analysis of gene expression in millions of cells at once, tend to obscure biologically significant differences in the genes expressed by specialized cells within a particular kind of tissue. Single-cell analysis of gene expression overcomes this limitation. The leading method for such analysis -- Smart-seq -- was developed in 2012 by the biotechnology firm Illumina, together with Sandberg's laboratory.
To develop the new technique, named Smart-seq2, Sandberg's team conducted more than 450 experiments to improve upon their initial method. The new procedure consistently captures three to four times as many RNA molecules, which often translates into 2,000 more genes per cell than current methods allow. It also captures far more full-length gene sequences, a steep challenge in such studies, which often capture only partial sequences of expressed genes. This will permit researchers to conduct a more granular analysis of how subtle differences between the same genes in different people -- known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (or SNPs) -- contribute to differences in biology and disease.
The new method is likely to be of great value to cancer research. Identifying rare sub-populations of cells in tumors and understanding their role in the survival and progression of cancers can provide invaluable information for the development of diagnostics and targeted therapies. A study recently published by Ludwig researchers described, for example, how certain subpopulations of cells in melanomas can be pushed into a drug-susceptible state and then destroyed by chemotherapy. More such strategies might be devised as researchers get a better handle on the cellular species found in different types of tumors, and the patterns of gene expression that define them.
Because Smart-seq2 relies on off-the-shelf reagents, it costs roughly a twentieth as much as the commercialized kit, which should allow researchers to conduct sophisticated analyses of single cells on a much larger scale. It can also be improved further by the scientific community, since its constituent components and rationale are both open to the public.
Armed with the more effective and affordable Smart-seq2, Sandberg's lab is now moving ahead on projects that require a large-scale, single-cell gene expression analysis. "Now all researchers can do their own single-cell gene expression analysis by buying the components of the process described in this paper and assembling their own kits," says Sandberg.
Source:Nature Methods

Calming fear during sleep

First evidence that fear memories can be reduced during sleep

 A fear memory was reduced in people by exposing them to the memory over and over again while they slept. It's the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated in humans during sleep, report Northwestern Medicine® scientists.
The finding potentially offers a new way to enhance the typical daytime treatment of phobias through exposure therapy by adding a nighttime component. Exposure therapy is a common treatment for phobia and involves a gradual exposure to the feared object or situation until the fear is extinguished.
"It's a novel finding," said Katherina Hauner, a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "We showed a small but significant decrease in fear. If it can be extended to pre-existing fear, the bigger picture is that, perhaps, the treatment of phobias can be enhanced during sleep."
Hauner did the research in the lab of Jay Gottfried, associate professor of neurology at Feinberg and senior author of the paper.
The study will be published Sept. 22 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Previous projects have shown that spatial learning and motor sequence learning can be enhanced during sleep. It wasn't previously known that emotions could be manipulated during sleep, Northwestern investigators said.
In the study, 15 healthy human subjects received mild electric shocks while seeing two different faces. They also smelled a specific odorant while viewing each face and being shocked, so the face and the odorant both were associated with fear. Subjects received different odorants to smell with each face such as woody, clove, new sneaker, lemon or mint.
Then, when a subject was asleep, one of the two odorants was re-presented, but in the absence of the associated faces and shocks. This occurred during slow wave sleep when memory consolidation is thought to occur. Sleep is very important for strengthening new memories, noted Hauner, also a research scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
"While this particular odorant was being presented during sleep, it was reactivating the memory of that face over and over again which is similar to the process of fear extinction during exposure therapy," Hauner said.
When the subjects woke up, they were exposed to both faces. When they saw the face linked to the smell they had been exposed to during sleep, their fear reactions were lower than their fear reactions to the other face.
Fear was measured in two ways: through small amounts of sweat in the skin, similar to a lie detector test, and through neuroimaging with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). The fMRI results showed changes in regions associated with memory, such as the hippocampus, and changes in patterns of brain activity in regions associated with emotion, such as the amygdala. These brain changes reflected a decrease in reactivity that was specific to the targeted face image associated with the odorant presented during sleep.
Source:Nature Neuroscience

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