Alzheimer’s disease linked to several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain: Study

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Cognitive Impairment
Alzheimer's disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer's. VOA

London, March 23, 2017: Researchers have found that several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain may be associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes impaired memory, executive function and language. It accounts for 60-80 per cent of total dementia cases worldwide, with over 46 million people suffering from the disease worldwide. The number of patients is estimated to rise to 131.5 million by 2050.

Currently, it is thought that the main reason for developing memory problems in dementia is the presence of two big molecules in the brain called tau and amyloid proteins — that are shown to start accumulating in the brain up to 20 years prior to the onset of the disease.

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However, the findings, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, showed that the metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids were significantly decreased in Alzheimer’s brains when compared to brains from healthy patients.

“Our results show a potentially crucial and unexpected role for fats in the onset of dementia. Most surprisingly, we found that a supposedly beneficial omega-3, DHA, actually increased with the progression of the disease,” said Cristina Legido Quigley from King’s College London.

In the study, the team looked at brain tissue samples from 43 people ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old.

The researchers then measured the metabolite levels of the brain regions that are commonly associated with neurodegerative diseases — the middle frontal gyrus and the inferior temporal gyrus — as well as the metabolite levels in a brain area that is not normally affected by the disease’s pathology — the cerebellum.

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The results showed that unsaturated fatty acid metabolism is significantly dysregulated in the brains of patients with varying degrees of Alzheimer pathology.

The main molecules that were different were six small fats — docosahexaenoic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and oleic acid — including omegas, which changed in abundance in different regions of the brain. (IANS)

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What is the Future of US-India Relations? Here’s the Answer

The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations

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India USA
Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump's 'Namaste Trump' event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. Wikimedia Commons

BY FRANK F. ISLAM

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

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Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

India USA
It is essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. Wikimedia Commons

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

India USA
To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style. Wikimedia Commons

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

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Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

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The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be. (IANS)

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Inadequate Sleep Affects Emotional Processing Negatively: Study

Sleep loss for 5 consecutive nights fosters negativity

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emotional sleep
Researchers have found that an inadequate amount of sleep for five consecutive nights can negatively affect emotional processing, causing behavioural and neurofunctional changes. Pixabay

Not getting enough sleep? Read this health and lifestyle carefully. Researchers have found that an inadequate amount of sleep for five consecutive nights can negatively affect emotional processing, causing behavioural and neurofunctional changes.

For the findings, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the research team evaluated the effects of five nights of sleep restriction (5 hour a night) on emotional reactivity in healthy people.

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“Insufficient sleep may impose a negative emotional bias, leading to an increased tendency to evaluate emotional stimuli as negative,” said study lead author Daniela Tempesta from University of L’Aquila in Italy.

According to the researchers, 42 participants were selected and were tested the morning after five nights of regular sleep and after five consecutive nights of sleep restriction.

emotional sleep
For the findings, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the research team evaluated the effects of five nights of sleep restriction (5 hour a night) on emotional reactivity in healthy people. Pixabay

During the test, participants evaluated valence and arousal of 90 images selected from the ‘International Affective Picture System’.

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The participants perceived pleasant and neutral pictures in a more negative way when their sleep was restricted for several nights in a row.

The results provide the evidence that an inadequate amount of sleep for five consecutive nights determines an alteration of the evaluation of pleasant and neutral stimuli, imposing a negative emotional bias.

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The researchers noted that the findings are especially pertinent because chronic sleep restriction is a common and underestimated health problem in the general population.

“Considering the pervasiveness of insufficient sleep in modern society, our results have potential implications for daily life, as well as in clinical settings,” Tempesta noted. (IANS)

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Certain Video Games Improve Visual Attention: Study

Video games boost visual attention of expert players

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video games
Published in the journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the study shows that expert players of real-time strategy games have faster information processing. Pixabay

Long-term experience of action real-time strategy games such as World of Warcraft, Age of Empires, and Total War can cause long-term changes in the brain and leads to improvements in temporal visual selective attention, according to a study.

These games, which can be won through strategic planning, selective attention, sensorimotor skills, and teamwork place considerable demands on the brain.

Published in the journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the study shows that expert players of real-time strategy games have faster information processing, allocate more cognitive power to individual visual stimuli and allocate limited cognitive resources between successive stimuli more effectively through time.

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“Our aim was to evaluate the long-term effect of experience with action real-time strategy games on temporal visual selective attention,” said study researcher Diankun Gong from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

“In particular, we wanted to reveal the time course of cognitive processes during the attentional blink task, a typical task used by neuroscientists to study visual selective attention,” Gong added. To study the effect of gaming on temporal visual selective attention, the research team selected 38 volunteers, healthy young male students.

video games
Certain games, which can be won through strategic planning, selective attention, sensorimotor skills, and teamwork place considerable demands on the brain. Pixabay

Half of the volunteers were expert players of the typical action real-time strategy game League of Legend, where teammates work together to destroy the towers of an opposing team. They had played the game for at least two years and were masters, based on their ranking among the top seven per cent of players.

The others were beginners, with less than six months experience of the same game, and ranked among the bottom 30-45 per cent. All volunteers were seated in front of a screen and tested in a blink task, with 480 trials over a period of approximately two hours.

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The greater a volunteer’s tendency to “blink” targets, the less frequently he would press the correct button when one of the two targets appeared on the screen, and the worse he did overall in the task. The volunteers also wore EEG electrodes on the parietal (i.e. sides and top) region of their scalp, allowing the researchers to measure and localise the brain’s activity throughout the experiment.

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“We found that expert League of Legend players outperformed beginners in the task. The experts were less prone to the blink effect, detecting targets more accurately and faster, and as shown by their stronger P3b (positive-going amplitude), gave more attentional cognitive resources to each target,” said study co-author Weiyi Ma from the University of Arkansas in the US. (IANS)