Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 16, 2010
When the brain knows no fear
The finding offers a powerful take on the connection between the brain and behavior, specifically in the context of situations that would normally evoke fear, the researchers say.

Emotional intelligence peaks as we enter our 60s, research suggests
Older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when viewing heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows, psychologists have found.

Mount Sinai researchers develop mouse model to help find how a gene mutation leads to autism
Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that when one copy of the SHANK3 gene in mice is missing, nerve cells do not effectively communicate and do not show cellular properties associated with normal learning.

Don't trouble your heart: Naturally high hemoglobin OK in dialysis patients
Naturally occurring high hemoglobin levels are safe for kidney disease patients on dialysis, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Clinical trial for Rett syndrome launched
Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have begun a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test a potential drug treatment for Rett syndrome, the leading known genetic cause of autism in girls.

Researchers suggest diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder are lacking
Current diagnostic procedures for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) fail to adequately reflect research into the broad nature of a traumatic event, according to a study that will appear in the January print issue of Psychological Bulletin.

Cyber Corps enlists Florida State University students to protect national security
Nearly 60 Florida State University graduate students in computer science will serve on America's front line of defense in protecting the nation's information infrastructure from cyberterrorism.

Massachusetts General Hospital's Warren Triennial Prize to honor pioneers of cellular reprogramming
The 2011 Warren Triennial Prize of Massachusetts General Hospital will be awarded to Shinya Yamanaka, MD, Ph.D., who discovered a method to convert adult cells into cells with characteristics of embryonic stem cells, and Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, whose extension of Yamanaka's work includes using those cells to generate animal models of important human diseases.

Better spaces for older people
Urban planning needs to consider how older people use walking routes as well as public areas, concludes a Research Council UK-funded research project from the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme.

Extinctions, loss of habitat harm evolutionary diversity
A mathematically driven evolutionary snapshot of woody plants in four similar climates shows that genetic diversity is more sensitive to extinctions and loss of habitat them than long thought.

Colossal fossil: Museum's new whale skeleton represents decades of research
There's a whale of a new display at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History, a leviathan that represents a scientific saga of equally grand proportions.

Breakthrough in worm research has implications for human disease studies
A team of researchers led by professors of biology Piali Sengupta and Michael Rosbash at Brandeis University, Waltham, and lead author Alexander van der Linden, who is a former postdoctoral fellow in the Sengupta Lab and now assistant professor in the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno, has uncovered genes in C. elegans under clock control from both light and temperature.

Teacher effort is linked to difficult students' inherited traits
Challenging students take up more of their teachers' time -- and the difference between a tougher student and an easier one appears to be genetic, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

No change in health gap between England's richest and poorest
Significant health inequalities still exist between the country's richest and poorest according to the latest findings from the biggest annual survey of health in England, the Health Survey for England.

Evidence suggests e-cigs safer than cigarettes, researcher claims
In a new report that bucks the concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration, a Boston University School of Public Health researcher concludes that electronic cigarettes are much safer than real cigarettes and show promise in the fight against tobacco-related diseases and death.

Most Medicare stroke patients die or are rehospitalized within year after discharge
A UCLA-led has study found that after leaving the hospital, nearly two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for acute ischemic stroke either died or were rehospitalized within a year.

New report outlines restoration activities to speed seagrass recovery in the Florida Keys
Results of a five-year monitoring effort to repair seagrass damaged in a boat grounding incident suggest that restoration techniques such as replanting seagrass can speed recovery time.

As earthquakes take their toll, Virginia Tech engineers look at enhancing building designs
The objective of Performance Based Earthquake Engineering (PBEE) is to control damage and provide life-safety for any size of earthquake.

Genome code cracked for most common form of pediatric brain cancer
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have deciphered the genetic code for medulloblastoma, the most common pediatric brain cancer and a leading killer of children with cancer.

Lost images of 'human exhibits' in Britain discovered
University of Leicester researcher finds photographs of Amazonians brought to London by Roger Casement as

New test can predict complications from kidney disease
Cystatin C, a blood marker of kidney function, proved significantly more accurate than the standard blood marker, creatinine, in predicting serious complications of kidney disease, in a study by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.

Key information about breast cancer risk and development is found in 'junk' DNA
A new genetic biomarker that indicates an increased risk for developing breast cancer can be found in an individual's

Tennis star's hospitalization for altitude sickness
Former tennis champion Martina Navratilova was hospitalized for pulmonary edema -- fluid build-up in the lungs -- while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, drawing attention to the high risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and high altitude pulmonary edema.

Study links emotional and neural responses to musical performance
It is well known that music arouses emotions. But why do some musical performances move us, while others leave us flat?

Most Medicare stroke patients rehospitalized or dead within year
Nearly two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries discharged from hospitals after ischemic stroke die or are readmitted within one year.

Autism Speaks awards 21 new research grants funding
Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, award 21 research grants totaling $2,309,233 over three years including new Bob and Suzanne Wright Trailblazer Awards supporting highly novel

Elsevier Foundation announces 2010 grants for libraries in developing countries
The Elsevier Foundation has announced the 2010 recipients of grants under its Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries program, committing over $300,000 to support the work of libraries in developing countries.

New study suggests almonds may help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease
With nearly 16 million Americans living today with prediabetes and half of all Americans expected to have either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes by the year 2020, nutritional approaches to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels are essential.

23andMe receives NIH funding to evaluate web-based research on the genetics of drug response
23andMe has received NIH funding and has launched a project aimed at validating its highly-scalable platform for pharmacogenomics research, building on its initial success in discovering novel genetic associations published in PLoS Genetics.

Study shows garlic could protect against hip osteoarthritis
Researchers at King's College London and the University of East Anglia have discovered that women who consume a diet high in allium vegetables, such as garlic, onions and leeks, have lower levels of hip osteoarthritis.

Researcher finds proximity to freeway associated with autism
Living near a freeway may be associated with increased risk of autism, according to a study published by a team of researchers from Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and the UC Davis MIND Institute.

Asthma disproportionately affects low-income populations
Almost 5 million Californians have been diagnosed with asthma, and those living in poverty suffer more severe consequences than those in higher income brackets, according to a new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

MRI scans reveal brain changes in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer's
People with a known, high risk for Alzheimer's disease develop abnormal brain function even before the appearance of telltale, amyloid plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Films for fa├žades
The plastic film ETFE is experiencing a boom these days because it gives architects completely new design options.

Scripps Research scientists show prions mutate and adapt to host environment
Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have shown that prions, bits of infectious protein that can cause fatal neurodegenerative disease such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or

Consortium studying mathematical modeling of influenza infection
Mount Sinai School of Medicine today announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has renewed funding of the Program for Research on Immune Modeling and Experimentation (PRIME).

MDA awards $1.4 million to speed SMA clinical trial by Repligen
The Muscular Dystrophy Association today announced it has awarded $1.4 million in new research funding to the biopharmaceutical firm Repligen of Waltham, Mass., to complete the preclinical work needed to begin human clinical trials of a promising therapeutic compound for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Immune cell plays unexpected role in autoimmune disease
A new study provides fascinating insight into the underlying pathology associated with the autoimmune disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Information technology needs fundamental shift to continue rapid advances in computing and help drive US competitiveness
The rapid advances in information technology that drive many sectors of the US economy could stall unless the nation aggressively pursues fundamental research and development of parallel computing.

Age doesn't matter: New genes are as essential as ancient ones
New genes that have evolved in species as little as one million years ago -- a virtual blink in evolutionary history -- can be just as essential for life as ancient genes, startling new research has discovered.

Brochures explaining new health care law to patients available free in English and Spanish
The American College of Physicians today made a guide to help inform consumers about the health care law available free for ordering and distribution.

Kids got the blues? Maybe they don't have enough friends
Friendless kids can become social outcasts who risk spiraling into depression by adolescence, according to new research from Concordia University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Vermont.

UC Irvine Medical Center recognized for heart failure program
The American Heart Association has recognized UC Irvine Healthcare's commitment to the highest standards of care for heart failure patients.

Adjuvanted HINI vaccine induces a more rapid and stronger immune response than whole-virus vaccine, particularly in young adults
A head to head trial of the two H1N1 vaccines given to adults during the 2009 pandemic finds that the adjuvanted split-virus vaccine achieved a more rapid and stronger immune response than the whole-virus vaccine.

First measurement of magnetic field in Earth's core
Measurements of the magnetic field at the earth's surface can tell only so much about the dynamo producing it in the planet's core.

Wind turbines may benefit crops
A team of researchers from the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have found that wind turbines benefit nearby crops, keeping them cooler and drier and boosting the uptake of carbon dioxide.

Tips from the journals of the American Society for Microbiology
Articles in the journals of the American Society for Microbiology include

URI geologist develops improved seismic model for monitoring nuclear explosions in Middle East
Geologists have taken an important step toward helping the United States government monitor nuclear explosions by improving a 3-dimensional model to make it more accurate at detecting the location, source and depth of seismic activity.

UTMB researchers find medical educational changes dramatically improves academic achievements
Underrepresented minority medical students, including Hispanics and particularly African Americans and women, show the greatest benefit from comprehensive medical education reform according to researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

UCSF team finds new source of immune cells during pregnancy
UCSF researchers have shown for the first time that the human fetal immune system arises from an entirely different source than the adult immune system, and is more likely to tolerate than fight foreign substances in its environment.

It's a pain to take care of pain
In a study in the journal Pain Medicine, researchers from the Regenstrief Institute, the Indiana University School of Medicine, the IU School of Liberal Arts and the Roudebush VA Medical Center report that chronic pain takes a toll on primary care providers as well as their patients.

Brief clarifies Social Security's value for women
Without Social Security, research indicates that about half of women age 65 and older would be living in poverty.

Scientists identify the largest network of protein interactions related to Alzheimer's disease
Through a complex analysis of protein interactions, researchers from IRB Barcelona and the Joint Programme IRB-BSC have discovered new molecular mechanisms that may be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Study shows caffeine negatively affects children
Caffeine consumption in children is often blamed for sleep problems and bedwetting.

Using digitized books as 'cultural genome,' researchers unveil quantitative approach to humanities
Researchers have created a powerful new approach to scholarship, using approximately 4 percent of all books ever published as a digital

Medical robotics to improve heart surgery
In an interdisciplinary effort, a team of biomedical scientists and engineers from the University of Houston and physicians from the Methodist Hospital Research Institute are collaborating to develop a platform for image-guided and robot-assisted surgeries on beating hearts that is minimally invasive.

A 'spin ratchet': A new electronic structure for generating spin current
Prof. Valenzuela and Dr. Costache have proposed and experimentally demonstrated a ratchet concept to control the spin motion.

Tiny 3-D images shed light on origin of Earth's core
A new method of capturing detailed, three-dimensional images of minute samples of material under extreme pressures is shedding light how Earth's interior evolved.

Brookhaven Lab physicist Laurence Littenberg wins the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize
Laurence Littenberg, a senior physicist and associate chair for high-energy physics in the Physics Department of the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been chosen to receive the American Physical Society's 2011 W.K.H.

Structural distortions emerge from nothing at the nanoscale
Scientists have discovered that a class of materials known to convert heat to electricity and vice versa behaves quite unexpectedly at the nanoscale.

Simple blood test identifies persons at highest risk for kidney disease complications
An infrequently used blood test can effectively identify individuals at increased risk of developing complications associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Bioethics Commission calls for enhanced federal oversight in new field of synthetic biology
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues today released its first report -- a wide-ranging review of the emerging field of synthetic biology -- issuing 18 recommendations including a call for coordinated federal oversight of scientists working in both large institutions and smaller settings.

Decades after childhood radiation, thyroid cancer a concern
When children are exposed to head and neck radiation, whether due to cancer treatment or multiple diagnostic CT scans, the result is an increased risk of thyroid cancer for the next 58 years or longer, according to University of Rochester Medical Center research.

Flu on the western front
The World Health Organization set a target for the influenza vaccination rate for 2006 of more than 50 percent of the elderly population and an increase to more than 75 percent by 2010.

PSA test better predicts cancer in men taking prostate-shrinking drug
The PSA test can indicate prostate cancer when none is present and miss life-threatening tumors.

Tools used to decipher 'histone code' may be faulty
Recent research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found a number of issues with histone antibodies, the main tools used to decipher this code, suggesting they may need more rigorous testing.

London: The tuberculosis capital of Europe
The UK is the only country in Western Europe with rising rates of tuberculosis (TB), and cases in London have increased more than 50 percent since 1999.

Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch to receive MGH's Warren Triennial Prize
Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch has been named a recipient of the 2011 Warren Triennial Prize of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Mapping faculty social networks helps female faculty move ahead at NJIT
Long before Facebook introduced its hot new Social Graph app, researchers in the ADVANCE project at NJIT were pioneering the use of social network mapping to help women scientists and engineers supercharge their careers.

Linguists to gather in Pittsburgh for national conference
Hundreds of linguistic scholars from across the US and around the world will convene in Pittsburgh for the 85th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America this January.

Science's breakthrough of the year: The first quantum machine
Back in March, a group of researchers designed a gadget that moves in ways that can only be described by quantum mechanics -- the set of rules that governs the behavior of tiny things like molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.

CHOP experts collaborate in gene survey of childhood brain cancer; intriguing clues found
Pediatric cancer researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia contributed important expertise to a new landmark study of medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumor typically found in children.

University of Miami Rosenstiel School names Kieran T. Bhatia 2010 Alumni Fellow
The University of Miami's Rosenstiel School Alumni Association announced that this year's Alumni Fellow is Kieran T.

Road to a safer future
A successful collaborative effort between researchers and industry partners has led to the development of an automated and robust traffic surveillance system, which could make road travel across Europe safer for all.

Alcoholics beware -- genetic variation linked to liver cirrhosis in Caucasians
A new study by German researchers found that a variation in the PNPLA3 (adiponutrin) gene was associated with cirrhosis of the liver and elevated transaminase (liver enzyme) levels in alcoholic Caucasians.

Liver cancer in cirrhotic patients effectively treated with radiofrequency ablation
Researchers from Italy determined that radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a safe and effective therapy for managing hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients.

Iowa State, Ames Lab physicist developing, improving designer optical materials
Costas Soukoulis of Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory writes about the development of optical metamaterials in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Computer memory takes a spin
University of Utah physicists stored information for 112 seconds in what may become the world's tiniest computer memory: magnetic

URI engineer says emergency information could be transmitted around US via augmented GPS system
A URI engineer says that the augmented global positioning system that the Coast Guard uses for more precise navigation than the commercial GPS system can also be used to communicate emergency information for Homeland Security purposes.

Fear discovery could lead to new interventions for PTSD
Researchers at the University of Iowa have pinpointed the part of the brain that causes people to experience fear -- a discovery that could improve treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety conditions.

Report: Policies to spur renewable energy can lower energy costs
The South could pay less for its electricity in 20 years than is currently projected if strong public policies are enacted to spur renewable energy production and use, according to a report released today by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University.

Light dawns on dark gamma-ray bursts
Gamma-ray bursts are among the most energetic events in the Universe, but some appear curiously faint in visible light.

Why humans are more sensitive to certain viruses: Primate immune system differences identified
The greater susceptibility of humans to certain infectious diseases when compared to other primates could be explained by species-specific changes in immune signaling pathways, a University of Chicago study finds.

Goji berries have the same nutrients as fruits and vegetables and a placebo effect
A University of Granada professor specialist in Nutrition explained that the species Lycium Barbarum -- currently imported from China -- comes from the Mediterranean regions and grows in other mild regions of the world.

Blocking the critical structure that lets cancer cells move -- their feet
Scientists now know that some cancer cells spread, or metastasize, throughout the body the old-fashioned way -- by using their feet.

Scientists discover powerful biomarker panel for the early detection of breast cancer
Using a new, powerful method for rapidly screening molecules associated with disease, proteomics expert Joshua LaBaer and colleagues from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have identified a broad panel of 28 early predictors, or biomarkers, that may one day aid in the early diagnosis of breast cancer. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to