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Study Shows How Binge Drinking Affects Cognitive Brain Function. Pixabay

A new study released this week describes how excessive alcohol-consuming too much alcohol, too fast — affects the brain, leading to anxieties and other cognitive issues.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as a man consuming five or more drinks in about two hours; four drinks for a woman. The CDC reports the habit is a growing problem in the United States, especially among young people, with 1 in 6 adults binge drinking about four times a month.

Previous research examined the long-term effects of binge drinking on the brain, but this latest study, published Tuesday in the journal Science Signaling, focused specifically on the immediate effects of binge drinking on the brain.

To do this, the researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal gave an alcohol solution to mice, equivalent to 10 days of binge drinking, which spurred immune cells in mice brains to destroy the synapses — or connections — between neurons, leading to anxiety and other cognitive issues.

University of Porto researcher João Relvas, co-author of the study, said in an interview, “Even for a short period of time, excessive drinking is likely to affect the brain, increasing the level of anxiety, a relevant feature in alcohol abuse and addiction.”

Previously, researchers have also examined the long-term effects of binge drinking on the brain. Pixabay

Dangers of alcohol ‘underestimated’

Relvas said further studies in humans could reveal the exact drinking patterns that spark synaptic dysfunction. But for now, Relvas cautioned that people should pay attention to their intake and follow public health guidelines on drinking in moderation.

“The dangers of alcohol drinking, especially amongst the younger population, have been widely underestimated and excessive alcohol drinking is socially relatively well tolerated,” Relvas said.

He said studies like theirs should help increase public awareness and education among people young and perhaps change the way society looks at alcohol consumption.

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Dietary guidelines determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture define moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. (VOA)



When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades.

The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.

The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.

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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.

"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.

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It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.

The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.

Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.

"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.

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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.

"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.

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Jeff Bezos at the ENCORE awards.

Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.

Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.

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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin

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