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Entries in brain science (23)

Wednesday
May222013

Virginia Republicans Run Ultra Conservative Slate In Fall Elections | Vitamin B Study Promising Against Alzheimer's

19-year-old Hannah Batya Penet married 18-year-old Shalom Rokeach before a crowd of 25-30,000 guests in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Rokeach is the grandson of the leader of the Hasidic dynasty Belz Rebbe, and is destined himself to become the future leader of one of the largest Jewish sects in the world. The bride’s face remained veiled by a lace and crystal encrusted veil throughout the ceremony. It is designed to protect her modesty, allowing her to avoid guests’ gazes while she is on public display. Read on at Daily Mail.

1. EW Jackson, the Virginia GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor says he has nothing to apologize for regarding his views on abortion, race and homosexuality.

“I say the things that I say because I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me,” Jackson told reporters Tuesday at a Fredericksburg campaign stop, according to the Washington Post.

Jackson, a minister and lawyer, said just this week the Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan. He has called gays and lesbians “sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”

2. A federal appellate panel struck down Arizona’s abortion law on Tuesday, calling it unconstitutional “under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents” guaranteeing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy any time before a fetus is considered viable outside her womb. Medically, this is generally at 24 weeks.

Technically, the law made abortions illegal at roughly 18 weeks after fertilization by dating fertilization as the date of a woman’s last menstrual period. It’s only at 18 weeks that most fetal abnormalities are detected through sonograms.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told reporters on Wednesday that there is a “good chance” that the US House of Representatives will bring his nationwide 20-week abortion ban to a full vote this year.

3. Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R), now running for attorney general,  denies that his 2009 bill that would have required a woman to report her miscarriage to the police within 24 hours of the event or risk imprisonment was intended to harm women.

Tarina Keene, NARAL’s executive director, told HuffPost, “In 2009 we made it clear to Sen. Obenshain that NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia vehemently opposed his bill to criminalize tragic pregnancy complications and intimidate grieving Virginian women with the threat of law enforcement — not to mention jail time.

Obenshain joins an ultra-conservative Republican slate of candidates in Virginia’s fall election.

4. Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS tax-exempt unit and finds herself at the center of a scandal about extra tax scrutiny of conservative and in particular, Tea Party groups, exercised her right not to answer lawmakers’ questions today.

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any congressional committee,” Lerner told the panel.

South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy demanded that Lerner stay to answer questions, causing the crowd to applaud in the hearing room.

5. Researchers believe that a healthy diet, regular exercise and consuming vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid were key in delaying Alzheimer’s disease among 156 people ages 70 and up who were already suffering from both mind memory loss and high levels of homocysteine, previously associated with increased risk for dementia.

Patients taking the Vitamin B regimen had 90 percent less brain shrinkage than those who took a placebo.

“I’ve never seen results from brain scans showing this level of protection,” said Paul Thompson, whose Genetics Center at UCLA School of Medicine has the world’s largest database of brain scans. “We study the brain effects of all sorts of lifestyle changes — alcohol reduction, exercising more, learning to handle stress, weight loss — and a good result would be a 25 percent reduction in shrinkage.”

Wednesday
Mar062013

Mostly Men Write Our Serious Reading | Neuro-politics Is A Hot Topic | US Seeks A Liberal Pope

1. Journalism seems to be a man’s world. According to a new VIDA study, women continue to write a minority of articles in prestigious publications, consistent with results from other years.  

The study found that the London Review of Books published 34 pieces that carried female bylines, compared to 161 pieces with male byelines. Harper’s published 17 articles written by women, compared to 76 articles written by men. The New Yorker published 160 articles with female bylines, compared to 445 articles with male bylines. The New York Review of Books published 36 stories by women and 121 stories written by men. via Huff Po

2. Neuro-politics is a hot topic, as increasing evidence indicates that genes and brain chemistry significantly influence one’s political perspective. The Democratic amygdala can be distinguished from a Republican’s in a recent brain scan study. The Republican brain is more driven by fear and reward, with Democrats having a more generous-spirited, emotional connectivity — a conclusion affirmed by linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff who says the “Republicans’ attachment to a rigid concept of paternalistic discipline and enforced obedience to an idealized authority” is no accident. 

Writing for Salon, Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg trace neuro-politics back to Thomas Jefferson.

3. ‘Queen-bee syndrome’ alive and well, writes the Wall Street Journal.  A 2011 survey of working women by the American Management Association found that 95 percent of them believed they had been undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. 

The syndrome is a live and well with the rise of the alpha women, writes psychologist Peggy Drexler. With all the talk about the need for women to mentor other women, something may be rotten in Denmark when the focus is the professional sisterhood.

Madeleine Albright said famous: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” If so, is it possible there may not be enough room for all the alpha ladies. 

4. As the College of Cardinals prepares to select a new pope, US Catholics are united in a strong preference for a younger man with hew ideas. 66% of Catholics polled by CBS seek a pope with more liberal teachings on issues like birth control, ordaining women and permitting priests to marry. 

Time for a reality check, however. The Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts at the UN to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children.

The Vatican seeks to eliminate language stating that religious custom can’t be used as an excuse for being violent towards women and girls. 

5. American researchers have found a potential benefit of a molecule in green tea: preventing the misfolding of specific proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Simultaneously, British researchers believe that natural chemicals found in green tea and red wine prevent clumps of protein to latch on to brain cells, causing them to die.  

After identifying the process which allows harmful protein clumps to start brain degeneration, the researchers were able to interrupt this pathway, using the purified extracts of EGCG from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.  The discovery will help the development of new drugs to treat the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. via Science Daily

Saturday
Feb232013

Will Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Run for Political Office? | Girls' Brains & Language Development

1. Republicans in the US House of Representatives have redrafted the Senate’s bill to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), stripping protections of LGBT Americans and a clause involving Native Americans who victims of sexual assault or abuse. Read more on Republican opposition in an earlier RedTracker.

Republicans argue vehemently that the Native American protections are unconstitutional. The House bill allows the states greater discretion in deciding which populations are being under-served and are therefore more deserving of funding than others. 

Huff Po provides a link to the House version of their 288-page bill. 

2. The New York Times writes: In Paid Femily Leave, U.S. Trails most of the Globe. America joins Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Liberia as countries having no paid maternity leave at all. 

Individual corporations like Google have stepped in where the federal government has not. And some states have laws that mandate paid maternity leave. 

Perhaps America can learn from France, a country that supports new mothers with a generous paid parental leave policy and childcare services. As a result France now has a birth rate of 2.0 — putting it with Ireland in top birth rates — and also the lowest rate of unemployment among women among European Union Member States. 

3. BBC reports that the Vatican accuses media of trying to profit from a time of disorientation and confusion in the Catholic Church, promoting ‘gossip’ and ‘slander’, writing:

An unconfirmed report in one of Italy’s biggest newspapers, La Repubblica, suggested that the Pope had resigned shortly after being presented with a dossier detailing a network of Vatican priests, “united by sexual orientation” who were being blackmailed.

We reported in July 2010 that Panorama, a publication owned by Silvio Berlusconi caught three Catholic priests inside a gay nightclub and having sex outside a church building. The expose titled ‘Gay Piests’ Nights on the Town’ followed priests with secret cameras for a month. (cont)

(Vatican cont) Italy’s prominent paper La Repubblica, Thursday published a report of similar scandal around the Vatican. USA Today also covers the story. 

Britain’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien has gone on record saying that the next pope should review the marriage ban on priests. Lest we think Cardinal O’Brien is a progressive, his moderate views are confined to this particular topic. 

In Germany, Catholic bishops have announced that “Catholic hospitals can provide emergency contraceptives to rape victims, as long as the pills prevent the fertilization of an egg and do not stop the implantation of a fertilized egg”, writes The Catholic Reporter. 

4. The public weighs in on sequester cuts, with four in 10 Americans saying let the sequester happen. With barely a week to go, even one in three Democrats, says let the cuts happen, writes Pew Research.

Both parties say that the president and Congress should focus on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the budget deficit. Only 10% of Americans agree with Republican leaders that tax increases should be off the table. Only 42% of Republicans surveyed said that deficit reduction should come from spending cuts alone. 76% believe in a combination of both spending and revenue increases, with 54% supporting “mostly spending cuts” and 30% saying equally balanced.

Take Note

Girls and Language Development

Girls may be naturally more gifted in language skills because their brains contain considerably more of the gene called FOXP2, considered essential for the production of speech. Since it was first discovered in 2001, studies have confirmed that girls learn language faster and earlier than boys, as well as maintaining a larger vocabulary.

Scientists caution that the nature vs nurture argument remains critical to the discussion. And there are other genes critical in the production of speech.

An examination of levels of FOXP2 in male and female rat brains confirmed higher levels of FOXP2 in the male brain regions linked to emotion, vocalization and cognition. Mother rats responded to male babies who called nearly twice as frequently in the less vociferous girl babies. The mother rats also carried the boy rats back to the nest first. 

Researchers reduced the FOXP2 in the male pups’ brains and increased it in the females’ with the opposite result. 

And in a study of 10 recently-deceased human children, girls exhibited 30% more FOXP2 in their brains than boys.  Researchers concluded that among both rats and humans, the gender with the most FOXP2 in its brain was the most communicative.

Are We About to Map the Entire Human Brain? Psychology Today

 

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg

Writes ‘Lean In’

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

This week Kevin Roose of New York Magazine predicted the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will leave the company within the year AND run for political office. Roose’s comments come in response to Jodi Kantor’s New York Times article about Sandberg’s new book ‘Lean In’. Talking about her book-slash-manifesto on women in the worplace, Sandberg said that she reread Betty Friedan’s classic ‘The Feminine Mystique’, now 50 years old.

When her book is published on March 11, Sandberg hopes to orchestrate her own version of feminist consciousness-raising groups. Sandberg has developed a curriculum of how to create career success including videos on how successful women speak and even sit at work.

Ms. Sandberg will grant her first book interview to the CBS program ‘60 Minutes’. “I always thought I would run a social movement,” Ms Sandberg, 43, reflected in an interview for ‘Makers’, a new documentary on feminist history. Take a listen.