Short daily video game break may help kids develop
Scientists at Oxford University in the U.K. have come to a conclusion that may not please a lot of parents. They say their research suggests that playing video games daily in small doses may actually help a children’s development. One consolation: They also found that playing too much can result in them feeling less satisfied about their lives.
The researchers analyzed surveys involving 5,000 children in Britain between ages 10 and 15. The children were asked to answer questions about how much time they spent playing video games on either consoles or computers. They then rated the following factors: satisfaction with their lives, how well they got along with their peers, how likely they were to help people in difficulty and levels of hyperactivity and inattention.
The results of the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that the children who played no more than one hour of video games on a daily basis reported feeling more satisfaction with their lives, demonstrated the highest levels of positive social interactions and had fewer negative emotional issues and lower levels of inattention, when compared with children who played more than one hour of games per day and children who played no video games at all. The children who reported feeling the least satisfied and had the most negative social interactions were those who reported playing more than three hours of games per day.
The researchers explained that, in a digital age, playing video games may provide children with a common language, which may bolster positive relationships, or, alternatively, isolating children who play no games at all. Further research is needed, however, in order to confirm the indings and determine the effects of particular types of games.
Chronic pain may rewire the brain
Chronic pain may alter certain brain functions, which can result in fatigue and decreased levels of motivation, according to new research.
Scientists at Stanford University used mice, which they divided into three groups–one group had injuries to their sciatic nerves (located in the back of the leg), one group had inflammation in their paws, and the third group had no injuries.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers gave the mice a chocolate-flavored treat if they poked their noses into a small hole. The task became progressively difficult, as the mice were required to do an increasing number of nose pokes for the treat. The test was then repeated one week later.
The results showed that as the task became more and more difficult, the injured mice began to perform more and more poorly, when compared to the mice with no injuries. The results were consistent even after the injured mice were given painkillers.
The researchers were able to trace the decreased motivation in the injured mice to a chemical in the brain, called galanin, which resulted in the part of the brain associated with pain and motivation not firing properly. When they deactivated the chemical and re-administered the test, the injured mice performed as well as the uninjured mice.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Science, may guide future research on chronic pain and lead to new potential treatments, researchers said.
Scientists develop way to make bodies "see-through"
Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have developed a way to turn the body transparent, which they say will allow them to better examine and understand how internal body parts function and interact.
The researchers used rodents to test a technique that involved infusing a molecular detergent in the bloodstream, which worked to dissolve fatty lipid molecules. Such lipids can distort light and make tissues opaque, so by dissolving them, the researchers were able to make organs transparent. After three days, the researchers were able to do this with the kidneys, hearts, lungs and intestines. After two weeks, the researchers were able to make transparent the entire body.
The report, published in the journal Cell, said that the technique holds numerous medical implications, such as seeing in cancer patients exactly how far the disease has spread. Researchers said they may also be able to use the technique to map nerves running from the brain to the rest of the body and trace where various viruses hide in tissues.
Clues to curbing obesity found in brain's "sweet spot"
Weight gain and obesity may be prevented by deactivating a nuclear receptor in the brain, according to a new study.
Scientists at Yale School of Medicine examined the effects of blocking a nuclear receptor known as PPARgamma in the brain cells of mice. Over time, the researchers observed that the mice began to eat less and became resistant to a high-fat diet. Both the experimental group of mice and a control group continued to eat fat and sugar, but the former group did not gain weight, while the control group did.
The researchers chose to block the PPARgamma receptors in the brain because they are responsible for producing neurons known as POMC, which are found in the hypothalamus and work to regulate food intake and make you feel full. By blocking the PPARgamma in the brain cells, the researchers were able to increase formation and activity of POMC neurons.
The study’s findings, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest that they may be able to prevent obesity associated with a high-fat, high-sugar diet. Furthermore, current drugs to treat diabetes target PPARgamma, but such medications often lead to weight gain in patients. The researchers said additional studies may lead to the development of new diabetes treatments without the side efffect of weight gain.
Why brain tumors are more common in men
New research from Washington University School of Medicine in St, Louis has found an explanation for why brain tumors are more common men.
The researchers aimed to identify reasons for differences in male versus female brain cells by carrying out experiments that evaluated RB, along with two other genes–neurofibromin and p53–that normally suppress cell division and cell survival. In may types of cancers, these genes are found to be mutated and disabled.
The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), showed that the RB gene was more likely to be inactivated in male brain cells than in female brain cells, which may explain why men are more susceptible to brain tumors, as the RB gene is known to reduce cancer risk.
The study provides researchers with better understanding of the mechanisms by which cancer works to develop and spread, which may help them develop more effective therapies and perform targeted clinical trials.