Wednesday June 26, 2019

Smoking May Increase Risk of Developing Hypertension, Warn Researchers

The results were published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

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FILE - New findings show that smoking causes devastating genetic damage, or mutations, in the cells of various organs in the body. VOA

Smoking may increase the risk of developing hypertension by impairing the body’s blood pressure autocorrect system, warn researchers.

“The human body has a buffering system that continuously monitors and maintains a healthy blood pressure. If blood pressure drops, a response called muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) is triggered to bring blood pressure back up to normal levels,” said Lawrence Sinoway from Penn State University in the US.

An additional system — called the baroreflex — helps correct if blood pressure gets too high, he added.

According to Sinoway, the study found that after a burst of MSNA, the rise in blood pressure in a chronic smoker was about twice as great as in a non-smoker, pushing blood pressure to unhealthy levels. The researchers suspect that impairment of baroreflex may be the culprit.

“When the sympathetic nervous system fires, like with MSNA, your blood pressure rises and then a series of things happen to buffer that increase, to try to attenuate it,” Sinoway said.

“We think that in smokers, that buffering — the baroreflex — is impaired.”

Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay
Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay

The results suggest that this impairment may be connected to hypertension, said Jian Cui, Associate Professor at Penn State College of Medicine.

“The greater rise in blood pressure in response to MSNA may contribute to a higher resting blood pressure level in smokers without hypertension,” Cui said.

“It’s possible that this higher response to MSNA could also contribute to the eventual development of hypertension,” Cui added.

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The researchers said that while previous research has found a link between chronic smokers and higher levels of MSNA bursts, less was known about what happened to blood pressure after these bursts.

For the study, the researchers examined 60 participants — 18 smokers and 42 non-smokers. None of the participants had hypertension.

The results were published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. (IANS)

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Researchers Teaching Artificial Intelligence to Connect Senses Like Vision and Touch

The new AI-based system can create realistic tactile signals from visual inputs

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Artificial intelligence, road infrastructure
The fully-automated system is based on AI-powered object detection to identify street signs in the freely available images. Pixabay

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a predictive Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can learn to see by touching and to feel by seeing.

While our sense of touch gives us capabilities to feel the physical world, our eyes help us understand the full picture of these tactile signals.

Robots, however, that have been programmed to see or feel can’t use these signals quite as interchangeably.

The new AI-based system can create realistic tactile signals from visual inputs, and predict which object and what part is being touched directly from those tactile inputs.

Teaching, Artificial Intelligence, Researchers
) A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a predictive Artificial Intelligence (AI). Pixabay

In the future, this could help with a more harmonious relationship between vision and robotics, especially for object recognition, grasping, better scene understanding and helping with seamless human-robot integration in an assistive or manufacturing setting.

“By looking at the scene, our model can imagine the feeling of touching a flat surface or a sharp edge”, said Yunzhu Li, PhD student and lead author from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

“By blindly touching around, our model can predict the interaction with the environment purely from tactile feelings,” Li added.

The team used a KUKA robot arm with a special tactile sensor called GelSight, designed by another group at MIT.

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Using a simple web camera, the team recorded nearly 200 objects, such as tools, household products, fabrics, and more, being touched more than 12,000 times.

Breaking those 12,000 video clips down into static frames, the team compiled “VisGel,” a dataset of more than three million visual/tactile-paired images.

“Bringing these two senses (vision and touch) together could empower the robot and reduce the data we might need for tasks involving manipulating and grasping objects,” said Li.

The current dataset only has examples of interactions in a controlled environment.

Teaching, Artificial Intelligence, Researchers
While our sense of touch gives us capabilities to feel the physical world, our eyes help us understand the full picture of these tactile signals. Pixabay

The team hopes to improve this by collecting data in more unstructured areas, or by using a new MIT-designed tactile glove, to better increase the size and diversity of the dataset.

“This is the first method that can convincingly translate between visual and touch signals”, said Andrew Owens, a post-doc at the University of California at Berkeley.

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The team is set to present the findings next week at the “Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition” in Long Beach, California. (IANS)