Women's better sense of smell due to more brain cells
New research published in PLOS ONE suggests that women have a better sense of smell than men because they have more brain cells dedicated to picking up odors.
Scientists at Federal University in Brazil examined post-mortem brains from seven men and 11 women who were all healthy and older than 55 when they died. None of the subjects had worked in jobs that required them to have an exceptional sense of smell, such as cooking or coffee-tasting. Using a isotropic fractionator (a method of measuring the number of cells in a brain region), the team calculated the number of cells in the olfactory bulbs of the subjects and found that, on average, the women had 42 percent more cells in this brain region than the men. It appears that women are equipped with these extra cells from birth, since we don’t accumulate more cells as we grow.
While uncertain why women have these extra cells and how these cells are produced, the researchers suggested that perhaps women are hard-wired this way to help in the bonding process after giving birth to a baby or to help select a mate.
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Sourced from: Medical News Today, Women’s finer sense of smell may be due to more brain cells
Published On: Nov 6th 2014
Smoking linked to chronic back pain
Smoking may increase a person’s risk of developing chronic back pain, according to new research.
Scientists from Northwestern University recruited 160 volunteers who had subacute back pain–back pain that had lasted between four and 12 weeks; 32 volunteers who had chronic back pain–back pain that had lasted for five years or more and 35 participants with no back pain at all.
All participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their smoking status and health conditions, which they filled out on five separate occasions during one year. They also received brain scans, which were meant to analyze activity between the two brain regions–the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex–that play a role in cognitive behaviors, such as motivated learning and addictive behavior.
The researchers found that a strong connection between the two brain regions under study was connected to increase susceptibility to chronic pain. They also found that smoking affected the connection. The participants who smoked had a higher risk of chronic back pain, when compared to those who did not smoke.
The researchers then studied whether participants who smoked could change their brain activity and lower their chronic pain by either quitting smoking or by taking anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain medications. They found that while taking drugs helped with pain reduction, quitting smoking was the only way actually change the brain activity related to chronic pain.
The study’s findings, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, suggests that people who smoke and have chronic pain may benefit from smoking cessation programs or other behavioral interventions. Future studies may focus on whether there is a link between chronic pain and addiction.
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Sourced from: Medical News Today, Smoking linked to increased risk of chronic back pain
Published On: Nov 6th 2014