Current Bassett News and Events

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Hunters and busybodies: Researchers use Wikipedia to measure different types of curiosity
In the past, research on curiosity has mostly tried to quantify it, rather than to understand the different ways it can be expressed. Now, a new study led by researchers at Penn and American University uses Wikipedia browsing as a method for describing curiosity styles. Using a branch of mathematics known as graph theory, their analysis of curiosity opens doors for using it as a tool to improve learning and life satisfaction. (2021-01-12)

Discovery of an ancient dog species may teach us about human vocalization
In a study published in PNAS, researchers used conservation biology and genomics to discover that the New Guinea singing dog, thought to be extinct for 50 years, still thrives. This finding opens new doors for protecting a remarkable creature that can teach biologists about human vocal learning. (2020-08-31)

What do 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Macbeth,' and a list of Facebook friends all have in common?
A new study shows how vastly complex communication networks can efficiently convey large amounts of information to the human brain. Researcher found that works of literature, musical pieces, and social networks have a similar underlying structure that allows them to share information rapidly and effectively. (2020-06-16)

Cytokine implicated in HLH treatment resistance
Research sheds light on cytokine storm syndromes and how ruxolitinib may benefit patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. (2020-06-12)

To err is human, to learn, divine
New research describes a new model for how the brain interprets patterns in complex networks. They found that the ability to detect patterns stems in part from the brain's desire to represent things in the simplest way possible and that the brain is constantly weighing the pressures of complexity and simplicity when making decisions. (2020-05-08)

New study supports the safety of varenicline
A real-world study of over 600,000 adult participants without a history of depression has found that the stop-smoking medication varenicline (marketed as Chantix and Champix) does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular or neuropsychiatric hospitalization compared with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). These findings confirm those of earlier clinical trials, providing further evidence of the safety of varenicline as an aid to stop smoking. (2020-02-20)

Study examines a new model for older adult wellness
Community-based wellness instructors can provide tailored wellness care to older adults, according to researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. A randomized controlled trial assessing whether community self-management with wellness coaching could improve participants' overall wellbeing was the foundation to outline the components of a new model of community-based wellness called the Person-centered Wellness Home. (2020-01-22)

America's largest medical specialty society endorses single-payer Medicare for All
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) today welcomed the American College of Physicians' (ACP) endorsement of single-payer Medicare for All. The ACP, a national organization of 159,000 internists, is the largest medical specialty society and second-largest physician group in the US after the American Medical Association (AMA). The historic endorsement coincides with the publication of an open letter signed by more than 2,000 physicians 'prescribing' Medicare for All. (2020-01-20)

Penn engineers design nanostructured diamond metalens for compact quantum technologies
By finding a certain kind of defect inside a block of diamond and fashioning a pattern of nanoscale pillars on the surface above it, Penn Engineering researchers can now control the shape of individual photons emitted by the defect. Because those photons carry information about the spin state of an electron, such a system could be used as the basis for compact quantum technologies.  (2019-06-11)

Treating type 2 diabetes and heart failure
People with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for heart failure and many people have both diseases, which requires careful medical management. (2019-06-06)

Sacrificing accuracy to see the big picture
Humans have a knack for finding patterns in the world around them. Researchers are building a model that shows how this ability might work, which they will describe at the 2019 APS March Meeting. The brain does more than just process incoming information, the researchers say. It constantly tries to predict what's coming next. The new model attempts to explain how people can make such predictions. (2019-03-05)

Penn engineers develop room temperature, two-dimensional platform for quantum technology
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science have now demonstrated a new hardware platform based on isolated electron spins in a two-dimensional material. The electrons are trapped by defects in sheets of hexagonal boron nitride, a one-atom-thick semiconductor material, and the researchers were able to optically detect the system's quantum states. (2019-02-11)

How does brain structure influence performance on language tasks?
The architecture of each person's brain is unique, and differences may influence how quickly people can complete various cognitive tasks. But how neuroanatomy impacts performance is largely an open question. To learn more, scientists are developing a new tool -- computational models of the brain -- to simulate how the structure of the brain may impact brain activity and, ultimately, human behavior. (2018-10-17)

Army, UPENN uncover ways to better predict viral information
Neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have forecasted what content will get passed along repeatedly. (2018-09-05)

People who don't read the news better at predicting which articles will go viral
Using fMRI data, researchers found that the brain activity of people who don't frequently read the news better predicted the popularity of New York Times Health articles. Frequent readers, by contrast, responded positively to all articles. When seeking to have content go viral, say the authors, look beyond the most committed readers or advocates. (2018-08-27)

Scientists discover how brain signals travel to drive language performance
Using transcranial magnetic stimulation and network control theory, researchers have taken a novel approach to understanding how signals travel across the brain's highways and how stimulation can lead to better cognitive function. (2018-06-21)

Network model of the musculoskeletal system predicts compensatory injuries
A new study led by Danielle Bassett at The University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science is the first to convert the entire human body's network of bones and muscles into a comprehensive mathematical model. A study of the network is publishing on Jan. 18 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. (2018-01-18)

Health Department IDs 10 outbreaks of foodborne illness using Yelp reviews since 2012
The NYC Health Department announced that since 2012, 10 outbreaks of foodborne illness were identified through a computer system jointly created with Columbia University's Department of Computer Science. Launched in 2012, the computer system tracks foodborne illnesses based on certain keywords that appear in Yelp restaurant reviews. This strategy has helped Health Department staff identify approximately 1,500 complaints of foodborne illness in New York City each year, for a total of 8,523 since July 2012. (2018-01-10)

Can't switch your focus? You brain might not be wired for it
A new study suggests that the extent to which brain signals 'stick' to white matter networks is associated with cognitive flexibility, or our ability to switch our focus from one concept to another. (2017-12-19)

Reflux medications linked to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure
In an analysis of published studies, individuals who used proton pump inhibitors had a 33 percent increased relative risk of developing chronic kidney disease or kidney failure when compared with non-users. Results from the analysis will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2017 Oct. 31-Nov. 5 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La. (2017-11-04)

Penn Medicine researchers identify brain network organization changes
In a new study, published this week in Current Biology, a team of University of Pennsylvania researchers report newly mapped changes in the network organization of the brain that underlie those improvements in executive function. The findings could provide clues about risks for certain mental illnesses. (2017-05-25)

Penn study finds linkage between social network structure and brain activity
New research performed at the University of Pennsylvania finds that the brain's response to social exclusion differs depending on the structure of a person's social network. Those with tight-knit social circles show less dynamic brain activity when excluded than those whose friend groupings are more diffuse. (2017-05-02)

Missed connections
UCSB scientists demonstrate that as people age, their brains adopt new strategies for memory-related tasks. (2016-11-28)

Missed connections: As people age, memory-related brain activity loses cohesion
Groups of brain regions that synchronize their activity during memory tasks become smaller and more numerous as people age, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology. (2016-11-23)

Genetic signaling pathway blocks formation of a cancer in the cerebellum
A signaling pathway has the potential to block a type of cancer in the cerebellum, suggests new research from a team at the Krembil Research Institute's Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute. (2016-11-08)

Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A. Calderone Prize by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health at a ceremony held this morning at the Paley Center for Media in Midtown. The Calderone Prize, the most prestigious award in public health, is awarded every two years to an individual who has made a transformational contribution in the field, with selection by an international committee of public health leaders. (2016-10-25)

Shrinking the inside of an explosion
Though cumbersome, the flat plate impact is the only way to precisely recreate the conditions inside a detonating explosive -- and now researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recreated this in miniature on a tabletop. In the process, they have made important new contributions to the field of energetic materials by precisely recreating conditions inside a bomb and achieving new levels of accuracy in measuring them. (2016-08-30)

New study pinpoints stress factor of mega-earthquake off Japan
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego researchers published new findings on the role geological rock formations offshore of Japan played in producing the massive 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake -- one of only two magnitude nine mega-earthquakes to occur in the last 50 years. The study, published in the journal Nature, offers new information about the hazard potential of large earthquakes at subduction zones, where tectonic plates converge. (2016-03-02)

Penn engineers use network science to predict how ligaments fail
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science are using network science to gain new insights into 'subfailure' ligament injuries, which can lead to pain and dysfunction despite the lack of obvious physical evidence. (2016-02-15)

Penn researchers use network science to help pinpoint source of seizures
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science and Perelman School of Medicine are looking for ways to better pinpoint the anatomical source of seizures by looking at networks of electrical activity in the brain just prior to their onset. (2016-01-28)

How, when and where could affect outcome of psychological treatment
Meeting patients' preferences for the time and place of their psychological treatment may affect their perception of treatment outcome, a cross-sectional survey by researchers from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Imperial College London involving 14,587 respondents suggests. (2016-01-14)

Using network science to help pinpoint source of seizures
The ability to reliably pinpoint the anatomical source of epileptic seizures, different for each patient, remains elusive. One-third of patients do not respond to medication and an alternative can be surgery to locate and remove the small cluster of neurons that act as the seed of an epileptic seizure, unfortunately such surgeries often fail to bring any relief. (2015-12-17)

Oceans -- and ocean activism -- deserve broader role in climate change discussions
Researchers argue that both ocean scientists and world leaders should pay more attention to how communities are experiencing, adapting to and even influencing changes in the world's oceans. (2015-11-12)

How the brain's wiring leads to cognitive control
By using structural imaging techniques to convert brain scans into 'wiring diagrams' of connections between brain regions, researchers used the structure of these neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert 'cognitive control' over thoughts and actions. (2015-10-06)

Brain networking
Researchers use brain scans to determine the mechanism behind cognitive control of thoughts. (2015-10-01)

Penn and German researchers help identify neural basis of multitasking
By studying networks of activity in the brain's frontal cortex, researchers have shown that the degree to which these networks reconfigure themselves while switching from task to task predicts people's cognitive flexibility. (2015-09-01)

Birth factors may predict schizophrenia in genetic subtype of schizophrenia
Low birth weight and preterm birth appear to increase the risk of schizophrenia among individuals with a genetic condition called the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health shows. (2015-08-13)

Department of the Navy announces 2015 young investigators
It's a career-defining moment for 36 college and university faculty today, as the Department of the Navy announces the recipients of its 2015 Young Investigator Program, one of the oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country. (2015-04-30)

The rest of the brain gets in the way
In a new study, researchers measured the connections between different brain regions as participants learned to play a simple game. The differences in neural activity between the quickest and slowest learners provide new insight into what is happening in the brain during the learning process and the role that interactions between different regions play. Their findings suggest that recruiting unnecessary parts of the brain for a given task, akin to over-thinking the problem, plays a critical role in this difference. (2015-04-07)

The brain game
Why are some people able to master a new skill quickly while others require extra time or practice? That was the question posed by UC Santa Barbara's Scott Grafton and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University. (2015-04-06)

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