Category: Health

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

By Medical News Today

Should I skip my morning workout today so I can sleep longer? Or perhaps, since it is summer after all, indulge in an ice cold Mocha Frappucino with whipped cream and chocolate syrup drizzled over it instead of my regular herbal tea? Where should I take my date on our first dinner date? Should I go to graduate school? Decisions, decisions, decisions…

We all make numerous decisions everyday; unconsciously or consciously, sometimes doing it automatically with little effort or thinking and yet, at other times, we agonize for hours over another. Why do we make these choices – be it from deciding what to have for lunch or whether to say yes to that job offer halfway round the world. Sometimes we make choices on our own, and at other times, the choice is made for us. Exercising control (by making choices) is adaptive and now, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that the opportunity to exercise control may be adaptive because it activates the areas of the brain associated with rewards.

Full story at Medical News Today

Lancet Column Calls For Immediate Expansion Of Global HIV Strategy

By Medical News Today

The Lancet, a leading global medical journal, published an editorial comment that emphasizes the critical role of expanding access to HIV treatment under a "Treatment as Prevention" strategy to stop the HIV pandemic.

The publication of the editorial comment coincides with the opening of the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011) taking place in Rome, Italy from June 17-20. The conference, the biggest open scientific AIDS conference in the world, will feature numerous presentations on Treatment as Prevention.

The commentary – by Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and Past President of the International AIDS Society (IAS) – strongly reinforces the view that the benefits of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) extend beyond the remarkable effectiveness of the treatment to prevent the onset of AIDS and prolong life, to dramatically reduce HIV transmission.

Full story at Medical News Today

Omega-3 Relieves Anxiety, Inflammation in Healthy Sample

By Rick Nauert, PHD


In a new study, Ohio State researchers discovered consumption of fish oil reduced inflammation and anxiety among a group of healthy young people.

Researchers believe the findings suggest the elderly and people at high risk for certain diseases may benefit from similar dietary supplements.

The research is published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity and is the latest from more than three decades of research into links between psychological stress and immune response.

The benefits from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been debated for the last 30 years.

Full story at PsychCentral

Poor Posture Increases Pain Sensitivity

By Rick Nauert, PHD

It turns out Mom was right when she warned of the ill effects of bad posture: A new study finds that poor posture can increase sensitivity to pain.

Likewise, adopting dominant versus submissive postures actually decreases your sensitivity to pain, said Scott Wiltermuth, Ph.D., and Vanessa K. Bohns, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

The new study found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, people feel more powerful, in control and able to tolerate more distress.

Out of the individuals studied, those who used the most dominant posture were able to comfortably handle more pain than those assigned a more neutral or submissive stance.

Full story at PsychCentral

Study Will Test Transplantation Of Gene-Modified Cells To Explore A Potential Cure For HIV Infection

By Medical News Today

Whether a stem cell transplant using an HIV-infected person’s own genetically modified immune cells can become a cure for the disease is the focus of a new $20 million, five-year research grant award announced today by the National Institutes of Health to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Hutchinson Center researchers will use the grant to lead a multifaceted team of scientists and institutions to study whether a person’s own stem cells can be engineered to deny HIV entry into the body’s blood cells. The researchers also will work to develop tools to eradicate existing reservoirs of infection in the body.

"Funding for research to find a cure for HIV-infected persons represents a paradigm shift," said Keith Jerome, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in viral infections and co-principal investigator of the grant. "HIV has been an incurable, lifelong infection that at best sentences people to a lifetime of complex drug therapies. Now the research field is shifting to address the possibility of a cure. No one would have talked about this approach five years ago."

Full story at Medical News Today

Brain Stimulation Reduces Competition Between Memories

By Traci Pederson

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is able to minimize forgetfulness by disrupting targeted brain regions as they compete between memories, according to a new study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“For the last 100 years, it has been appreciated that trying to learn facts and skills in quick succession can be a frustrating exercise,” explains Edwin Robertson, MD, DPhil, an Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Because no sooner has a new memory been acquired than its retention is jeopardized by learning another fact or skill.”

Robertson, along with neurologist and co-author Daniel Cohen, MD, observed 120 college-age students who participated in two memory tests.

Full story at PsychCentral

The Biology Behind Alcohol-Induced Blackouts

By ScienceDaily

A person who drinks too much alcohol may be able to perform complicated tasks, such as dancing, carrying on a conversation or even driving a car, but later have no memory of those escapades. These periods of amnesia, commonly known as "blackouts," can last from a few minutes to several hours.

Now, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, neuroscientists have identified the brain cells involved in blackouts and the molecular mechanism that appears to underlie them. They report July 6, 2011, in The Journal of Neuroscience, that exposure to large amounts of alcohol does not necessarily kill brain cells as once was thought. Rather, alcohol interferes with key receptors in the brain, which in turn manufacture steroids that inhibit long-term potentiation (LTP), a process that strengthens the connections between neurons and is crucial to learning and memory.

Better understanding of what occurs when memory formation is inhibited by alcohol exposure could lead to strategies to improve memory.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Positive Life Satisfaction Appears To Be Protective Against Heart Disease

By Christopher Fisher, PhD

While depression and anxiety have long been recognized as risk factors for heart disease, there is less certainty over the beneficial effects of a ‘positive’ psychological state. Following a study of almost 8000 British civil servants, researchers can now say that a satisfying life is indeed good for the heart. The results of the study are published online today by the European Heart Journal.

The civil servants, who were all members of the Whitehall II study cohort in the UK with an average age of 49 years, were questioned about seven specific areas of their everyday lives: love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. They were asked to rate their satisfaction in each domain on a scale of 1 (‘very dissatisfied’) to 7 (‘very satisfied’). Ratings for each domain were also combined to provide an average satisfaction score for their overall lives.

The participants’ health records were then examined for coronary related deaths, non-fatal heart attack, and clinically verified angina over a follow-up period of around six years.

Full story at The Behavioral Medicine Report