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The anxiety, stress and worry brought on by Covid-19 is not only limited to daytime hours as it is affecting our dreams as well, particularly among women, new research has revealed.
The pandemic has infused more anxiety and negative emotions into dreams and spurring dreams about the virus itself, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Dreaming.
Overall, women’s dreams have been more strongly affected by the pandemic than men’s – possibly because women are bearing more of the burden of caregiving, job loss and other hardships.
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To reach this conclusion, researchers went through results of four studies from around the world about people’s dreams during the pandemic.
Previous research has suggested that our dreams often reflect what’s happening in our waking lives and that other crises — including war, natural disasters and terrorist attacks — have led to an increase in anxious dreams.
New research found that the same is true of Covid-19.
“All of these studies support the continuity hypothesis of dreaming: That dreams are consistent with our waking concerns rather than being some outlet for compensation, as some older psychoanalytic theories had hypothesised,” said Deirdre Barrett, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University’s Medical School.
“The higher levels of anxiety, dreams about illness and death in general, and Covid-19 specifically, are in line with that.”
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One mother in a study by Barrett dreamed that her child’s school contacted her to say that the child’s whole class was being sent to her condominium to be home-schooled for the duration of the pandemic.
When mothers of young children hear that dream, there is laughter but also usually a strong empathy at the overwhelmed feeling the dream dramatises.
“Your dreams can make you more aware of just what about the pandemic is bothering you the most — and sharing them with trusted others is a good conversation-starter for talking about these shared feelings,a Barrett noted.
This study of more than 3,000 US adults surveyed in early May found that people who had been most strongly affected by the pandemic also reported the strongest effects on their dream life (heightened dream recall, more negative dreams and more pandemic-related dreams).
Women and people with more education also reported stronger effects of the pandemic on their dreams. Women’s dreams have been more negatively affected by Covid-19 than men’s dreams, according to an international study of 2,888 participants.
Overall, women showed significantly lower rates of positive emotions and higher levels of anxiety, sadness, anger and references to biological processes, health and death in their pandemic dreams compared with the pre-pandemic dreams.
Men’s pandemic dreams showed slightly higher levels of negative emotions, anxiety and death than in pre-pandemic dreams, but the effects were less pronounced than they were for women.
In another study, researchers analysed the dreams of 796 Italian participants.
Twenty per cent of the dreams included an explicit reference to Covid-19.
“Overall, women reported higher emotional intensity and a more negative emotional tone in their dreams, as did participants who knew people affected by Covid-19,” the researchers said. (IANS)
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.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
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.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
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
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)