Thursday December 14, 2017

Brain cell density does not decay with increasing age, say researchers


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New York: Researchers at University of Illinois Chicago have shown that while the brain shrinks with age, cell density remains preserved throughout the brain, not just in specific regions. They arrived at this discovery with the help of new ultra-high-field magnetic resonance images (MRI).

The findings also suggest that the maintenance of brain cell density may protect against cognitive impairment as the brain gradually shrinks in normal aging.

Neuroscientists have long known that the brain shrinks with age, but for a long time they thought the loss in volume was associated with a loss of brain cells. That was disproved by studies that showed it is the neurons themselves that shrink, while the number of cells remain the same in normal older adults.

The images were created by a powerful 9.4-Tesla MRI, the first of its kind for human imaging, the study said.

The 9.4 T magnetic field is more than three times stronger than that of a typical MRI machine in a doctor’s office and is currently approved only for research.

“The information provided by these 9.4-Tesla scans may be very useful in helping us detect tiny losses of brain cells and the reduction in cell density that characterizes the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases that can take decades to develop before symptoms appear, like Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead author Keith Thulborn, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“If we can identify when Alzheimer’s pathology starts, the efficacy of new drugs or other interventions to slow or prevent Alzheimer’s disease can be tested and monitored when the disease starts, instead of after it’s developed for 20 or 30 years and becomes clinically apparent,” Thulborn noted.

The study that involved scanning the brains of 49 cognitively normal adults ranging in age from 21 to 80 was published in the journal NMR in Biomedicine.

Thulborn thinks the ultra-high-field scanners eventually will be approved for clinical use.

“We can use the 9.4 T to look at brain cell loss in real time in patients experiencing stroke, or to see whether chemotherapy for brain tumors is working in higher resolution that is just not available using the current 3 T clinical scanners,” he said. (IANS)

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Western People View Handshake More Positively Than East Asians

Researchers say they plan to expand the study to explore handshaking versus the traditional East Asian greeting of bowing

Western Handshake
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump after the Bastille Day military parade in Paris, July 14, 2017. VOA
  • People from the West have a more positive view of handshaking than East Asians
  • Western women rated all interactions with handshakes more positively than those occurring without one
  • Findings are clear evidence of how subtle things that might seem trivial can make a big difference in daily social interactions

July 19, 2017: If you worry about first impressions when you land in the U.S., take note: people from the West have a more positive view of handshaking than East Asians, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of Illinois showed an equally divided group of 88 Western and East Asian men and women short videos of guest–host interactions in business settings. The characters in the videos either shook hands or not at the beginning of the meeting.

Western participants viewed the interactions involving handshakes more favorably than East Asians, researchers found.

When viewed by gender, Western women rated all interactions with handshakes more positively than those occurring without one. Western men rated female hosts equally positive whether or not a handshake occurred.

“These findings shed light on the role of ethnic and gender differences in the appraisal of nonverbal behaviors, and extend our understanding of factors that may lead to successful social interaction in the context of growing diversity in our society,” the authors said in an abstract published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.

Also Read: Renovation of first Hindu Temple of the Western World almost complete 

University of Illinois psychology professor and researcher Florin Dolcos said results showing that Western males don’t seem to be affected by the absence of a handshake when interacting with females “is clear evidence of how subtle things that might seem trivial can make a big difference in daily social interactions.”

Dolcos conducted the study along with graduate student Yuta Katsumi and professor Sanda Dolcos.

Researchers say they plan to expand the study to explore handshaking versus the traditional East Asian greeting of bowing. (VOA)

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Cellphones likely to be controlled with Touchless Gestures and charge themselves using Ambient Light

Smartphones and other devices will beable to use touchless gestures and will be able to charge themselves using ambient lights, all thanks to LED technology

A Smartphone (representational Image), Pixabay

New York, Feb 11, 2017: Cellphones and other devices could soon be controlled with touchless gestures and charge themselves using ambient light thanks to new LED displays that can both emit and detect light.

Made of tiny nanorods arrayed in a thin film, the LEDs could enable new interactive functions and multitasking devices.

“These LEDs are the beginning of enabling displays to do something completely different, moving well beyond just displaying information to be much more interactive devices,” said lead researcher Moonsub Shim, a professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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“That can become the basis for new and interesting designs for a lot of electronics,” Shim said.

The tiny nanorods, each measuring less than five nanometres in diametre, are made of three types of semiconductor material.

One type emits and absorbs visible light. The other two semiconductors control how charge flows through the first material. The combination is what allows the LEDs to emit, sense and respond to light.

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The nanorod LEDs are able to perform both functions by quickly switching back and forth from emitting to detecting.

They switch so fast that, to the human eye, the display appears to stay on continuously, said the study published in the journal Science.

Yet the LEDs are also near-continuously detecting and absorbing light, and a display made of the LEDs can be programmed to respond to light signals in a number of ways.

For example, a display could automatically adjust brightness in response to ambient light conditions — on a pixel-by-pixel basis.

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“You can imagine sitting outside with your tablet, reading. Your tablet will detect the brightness and adjust it for individual pixels,” Shim said.

“Where there’s a shadow falling across the screen it will be dimmer, and where it’s in the sun it will be brighter, so you can maintain steady contrast,” Shim explained. (IANS)

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Canadian scientists find new way to convert blood cells into sensory neurons



By NewsGram Staff Writer

In a revolutionary new study, conducted by a team of stem cell scientists led by Mick Bhatia from the McMaster University, Canada, has discovered how to turn adult human blood cells into brain cells, opening the doors to better understanding of every disease in the body.

According to the research, the team can now directly convert adult human blood cells into both central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) neurons as well as neurons in the peripheral nervous system that are responsible for pain, temperature and itch perception. It directly means that, now, about one million sensory neurons can be produced from a blood sample.

This lead to the conclusion that now doctors can more easily study how a person’s nervous system cells react and respond to various stimuli.

On being asked about the advantages of the new study, Bhatia, Director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, explained, “Now we can take blood samples and make the main cell types of neurological systems – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system – in a dish that is specialized for each patient. Nobody has ever done this with adult blood. Ever.”

Bhatia and fellow scientists successfully tested their breakthrough process using both fresh as well as frozen human blood.

Bhatia said, “We can also make central nervous system cells, as the blood to neural conversion technology we developed creates neural stem cells during the process of conversion.”

As per the study, the revolutionary patented direct conversion technology has “broad and immediate applications.” It paves the way for the discovery of new pain drugs that don’t just numb the perception of pain, but actually treat it.

Scientists can actually take a patient’s blood sample, and with its help, they can produce one million sensory neurons that make up the peripheral nerves in short order with this new approach.

The study can help the researchers to think and learn about any disease and improving treatments such as: Why is it that certain people feel pain versus numbness? Is this something genetic? Can the neuropathy that diabetic patients experience be mimicked in a dish?

Bhatia, while explaining the results of the study, said that the research will help to understand the response of cells to different drugs and different stimulation responses, and will allow to provide individualized or personalized medical therapy for patients suffering with neuropathic pain.

Akbar Panju, medical director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, said, “This bench to bedside research is very exciting and will have a major impact on the management of neurological diseases, particularly neuropathic pain.”