Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Monday, January 05, 2015
Michael Levin wants to help people regrow lost limbs. Now he could be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Posted by hardeep dhindsa at 9:06 AM
A new statistical model suggests that almost two-thirds of adult cancer cases could be explained primarily by the “bad luck” of random mutations in the patients’ genes, rather than environmental factors or inherited traits.
Friday, January 02, 2015
Frustrated at the lack of interest by the medical establishment in reducing the costs of diagnostic testing, and seeing almost no chance of getting the necessary research grants, Kanav Kahol returned home to New Delhi in 2011. He was a member of Arizona State University’s department of biomedical informatics. Kahol had noted that despite the similarities between most medical devices in their computer displays and circuits, their packaging made them unduly complex and difficult for anyone but highly skilled practitioners to use. As well, they were incredibly expensive — costing tens of thousands of dollars each.
Kahol knew that the sensors in these devices were commonly available and inexpensive, usually costing only a few dollars. He believed that he could connect these to a common computer platform and use commercially available computer tablets to display diagnostic information, thereby dramatically reducing the cost of the medical equipment. He also wanted to repackage the sensor data to make them intelligible to technicians with just basic medical training — the frontline health workers who do the tasks of physicians in parts of the world where physicians are in short supply.
ahol and his Indian engineering team built a prototype of a device called the Swasthya Slate (which translates to “Health Tablet”) in less than three months, for a cost of $11,000. This used an off-the-shelf Android tablet and incorporated a four-lead ECG, medical thermometer, water-quality meter, and heart-rate monitor. They then enhanced this with a 12-lead ECG and sensors for blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, blood haemoglobin, and urine protein and glucose. In June 2012, they sent this device to 80 medical labs for testing, which reported that it was as accurate as the medical equipment they used — but more suitable for use in remote and rural areas, because it was built for the rugged conditions there.
By January 2013, Kahol’s team had incorporated 33 diagnostic tests, including for HIV, syphilis, pulse oximetry, and troponin (relating to heart attack) into the Swasthya Slate and reduced its cost to $800 per unit. They also built a variety of artificial-intelligence–based apps for frontline health workers and started testing these in different parts of India.
Medical experts seeking to stem the Ebola epidemic are sharply divided over whether most patients in West Africa should, or can, be given intravenous hydration, a therapy that is standard in developed countries. Some argue that more aggressive treatment with IV fluids is medically possible and a moral obligation. But others counsel caution, saying that pushing too hard would put overworked doctors and nurses in danger and that the treatment, if given carelessly, could even kill patients.
Partners in Health, using the French initials for Doctors Without Borders, whose staff members have worked on the front lines of Ebola outbreaks for years. “What if the fatality rate isn’t the virulence of disease but the mediocrity of the medical delivery?”
Doctors Without Borders representatives strongly disagreed, saying that Dr. Farmer’s assumptions about Ebola were incorrect, that intensive rehydration would probably not save as many patients as he believes, and that the W.H.O.’s position has not been proved.
The group’s overwhelmed doctors do what they can, officials said, but it is hard to insert needles while wearing three pairs of gloves and foggy goggles. IVs must be monitored, drawing virus-laden blood for tests is dangerous, and patients yank needles out — sometimes in delirium, sometimes just to go to the toilet when no nurse is around.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Here, we show you what roughly 2,000 calories looks like at some large chains. (Depending on age and gender, most adults should eat between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day.) Researchers have long understood that people are more likely to finish what’s on their plate than to stop eating because they’ve consumed a given amount of food. It’s “the completion compulsion,” a phrase coined in the 1950s by the psychologist Paul S. Siegel. Combine that compulsion with the rising number of restaurant meals Americans eat and the substance of those meals, and you start to understand why we’ve put on so much weight. But there is some good news: As you’ll see below, it’s not so hard to eat bountifully and stay under 2,000 calories. It’s just hard to do so at most restaurants.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Saturday, November 08, 2014
The world was not made for blind people and getting around it when you can’t see can be very challenging. This is the 21st century, though, and there’s already technology available that can be put to use in helping blind folks navigate and do things otherwise impossible for them to do alone.Microsoft has taken up this cause and partnered with a number of organizations to develop a system that harnesses smartphones, wireless beacons, and bone-conducting headsets to reveal the surroundings to blind people in an intuitive way.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Learning how to play a musical instrument and becoming a musician is an exercise in developing good listening skills, experimenting, overcoming repeated failure, self-discipline, and successful collaboration. It is simply impossible to become a successful music professional unless one also masters certain theoretical concepts, develops good presentation and improvisational skills and, ultimately, attains that elusive quality of originality that only comes once fear of failure is overtaken by the desire to acquire a new insight, a fresh perspective, and a unique voice.
Saturday, November 01, 2014
Or at least we think we do. Several streams of research in psychology, neuroscience and philosophy are converging on an uncomfortable truth: We’re more susceptible to magical thinking than we’d like to admit. Consider the quandary facing college students in a clever demonstration of magical thinking. An experimenter hands you several darts and instructs you to throw them at different pictures. Some depict likable objects (for example, a baby), others are neutral (for example, a face-shaped circle). Would your performance differ if you lobbed darts at a baby?
Science edged closer on Sunday to showing that an antioxidant in chocolate appears to improve some memory skills that people lose with age.
In a small study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, healthy people, ages 50 to 69, who drank a mixture high in antioxidants called cocoa flavanols for three months performed better on a memory test than people who drank a low-flavanol mixture.
On average, the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task, said Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s senior author. They performed about 25 percent better than the low-flavanol group.
Posted by hardeep dhindsa at 4:02 PM
It is often asked why good people do bad things. Perhaps the question should be when.
More likely, it’s in the afternoon or evening. Much less so in the morning.
That’s the finding of research, published in the journal Psychological Science, which concludes that a person’s ability to self-regulate declines as the day wears on, increasing the likelihood of cheating, lying or committing fraud.
This so-called morning morality effect results from “cognitive tiredness,” said Isaac H. Smith, an assistant professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and co-author of the article withMaryam Kouchaki, an assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. “To the extent that you’re cognitively tired,” Dr. Smith added, “you’re more likely to give in to the devil on your shoulder.”
Thursday, October 30, 2014
For the Harvard-Northwestern study, published in the April issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, the team scanned the brains of 40 young adults, most from Boston-area colleges. Half were nonusers; half reported smoking for one to six years and showed no signs of dependence. Besides the seven light smokers, nine used three to five days a week and four used, on average, daily. All smokers showed abnormalities in the shape, density and volume of the nucleus accumbens, which “is at the core of motivation, the core of pleasure and pain, and every decision that you make,” explained Dr. Hans Breiter, a co-author of the study and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern’s medical school.
Similar changes affected the amygdala, which is fundamental in processing emotions, memories and fear responses.
Evidence of long-term effects is also building. A study released in 2012 showed that teenagers who were found to be dependent on pot before age 18 and who continued using it into adulthood lost an average of eight I.Q. points by age 38. And last year at Northwestern, Dr. Breiter and colleagues also saw changes in the nucleus accumbens among adults in their early 20s who had smoked daily for three years but had stopped for at least two years.
They had impaired working memories as well. “Working memory is key for learning,” Dr. Breiter said. “If I were to design a substance that is bad for college students, it would be marijuana.”