Sunday, November 09, 2014

Retinal-scan analysis can predict advance of macular degeneration, study finds

n the study, the Stanford team analyzed data from 2,146 scans of 330 eyes in 244 patients seen at Stanford Health Care over a five-year period. They found that certain key features in the images, such as the area and height of drusen, the amount of reflectivity at the macular surface and the degree of change in these features over time, could be weighted to generate a patient’s risk score. Patients were followed for as long as four years, and predictions of the model were compared with actual instances of progression to wet AMD. The model accurately predicted every occurrence of progression to the wet stage within a year. About 40 percent of the time when the model did predict progression to wet AMD within a year, the prediction was not borne out.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Microsoft Develops Navigation System for Blind Folks (VIDEO)

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


Patricia Walsh is one of those people who seems to excel at everything she does. After several years in a successful and coveted stint as an engineer at Microsoft, she left to join Austin, Texas-based mobile payment app Mozido--a job she loves--in 2013. A longtime marathon runner, Walsh completed her first triathalon in 2010 and began breaking records a year later. She launched a motivational speaking business and wrote a book.
She’s also blind.


After losing her vision, Walsh could have gotten angry and bitter, but instead turned to running to help her deal with those emotions. Later, her father was ill and her apartment was burned down by an arsonist. Meanwhile, she had to finish her book, train for her sport, and protect her spot on the national team. The only way to keep going was to focus on what really mattered to her--changing the perception of athletes with disabilities from “participatory hobbyists” to hardcore competitors who are to be taken seriously. She says she could never do that if she got mired in negativity.


When Walsh first ventured out onto that Ontario running path, she never could have dreamed that she’d compete in the Paralympic Games one day. She says that accomplishing the big goals is a matter of faithfully doing the work toward achieving them every day. It’s getting on a bus at 5:30 a.m. to go work out and jump in a pool of cold water, even when she doesn’t want to. But the only way to get better is to keep working. Stay in touch with what motivates you.
“The only way to [keep going] is by reminding yourself frequently why this is important to you, and it can’t be something superficial, it has to be something that honest-to-God means something to you at a heart level,” she says.



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

Magic May Lurk Inside Us All

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?

To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate

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.

That Devil on Your Shoulder Likes to Sleep In

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.”
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