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Deaf people have “rewired” brains that influence learning according to a new study

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According to a new study published in Nature Scientific Reports, the brains of people with congenital deafness can develop differently and this can influence the ways in which these same people learn to learn. This study, according to the same researchers, may prove useful precisely to develop new methods of teaching “tailor-made” for all people who have never had the opportunity to use hearing during their existence.

According to Colin Johnson, a researcher at the College of Science of the State University of Oregon, people who are born deaf can have a life that is severely compromised even with regards to school and teaching in general. Often these people, in fact, as specified by the researcher, generally fail to reach an adequate level of education and this leads to cascade to other consequences that certainly do not improve the standard of living.

Researchers have discovered that it is a particular protein mutation that causes hearing loss and that it can also alter the wiring of different groups of neurons. The protein, known as otoferlina, has the sole task of encoding the sound in the sensory hair cells that are found in the inner ear.

If this protein undergoes a genetic modification, total hearing loss can occur. This mutation weakens the link between the protein and a calcium synapse in the ear and this lack of interaction is the basis of hearing loss.

Studying this protein in humans has always been difficult due to its size and due to the fact that it is characterized by low solubility. That is why Johnson and colleagues have studied zebrafish that share a similarity in genetic, molecular and cellular levels with humans.

Thanks to these studies, the researcher has discovered a smaller version of the otoferlina that could be used for gene therapy but only in those brains that have not yet undergone a complete rewiring such as that of adults.

“If you grow up without that protein, it’s not just a matter of replacing the gene. If you are deaf and grow deaf, it seems that the physical wiring of your brain is a little different. This complicates the goal of doing gene therapy. We need to go further and look at these hair cells and the brain itself. Does the brain process information differently? This is an area we need to focus on,” explains Johnson.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
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Medical Research

Tobacco also linked to worse mental health according to a new study

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Often, when reference is made to the damage of cigarette smoking, mental health is hardly ever thought about, and yet cigarettes are also bad for you. This is suggested by a study by Professor Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem published in PLOS ONE.

Levine and colleagues carried out a survey of 2000 Serbian university students from different social and economic backgrounds. The researchers found that students who smoked showed higher rates of clinical depression than their non-smoking peers, two to three times.

Taking into consideration only the students of the University of Pristina, the researchers found that 14% of the smoking students suffered from depression compared to 4% of the non-smoking peers, while for the University of Belgrade the percentages were 19% compared to 11% respectively.

The same students who smoked also showed lower mental health scores than non-smokers. According to Levine, this study adds further evidence that smoking and depression may be linked; although there is no direct evidence yet that smoking causes depression, it can be said that tobacco seems to have a non-positive effect on mental health.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

Medical Research

One can evaluate hearing quality by analyzing pupil dilation according to researchers

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It may prove to be a new and effective hearing test developed by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Oregon. According to a statement on the university’s website, it is possible to assess a person’s hearing level by measuring pupil dilation.

According to the same statement, this approach could be useful to understand the quality of hearing in infants, young adults with disabilities and adults with stroke or other diseases and in general in those people for whom direct responses are not possible. The researchers performed experiments on 31 adults by monitoring the size of their pupils with eye detection technology. The detection took place while the same people performed a hearing test and while staring at an object at a monitor.

The study, published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otorhinolaryngology, explains that this system is inspired by a discovery made by the main author of the study, Avinash Singh Bala, 10 years ago when he noticed changes in the pupils of barn owls in response to unexpected noises in their natural environment.

“What we discovered was that pupil dilation was as sensitive as the button-press method,” Bala explains. “We had presented the first data analyses at the conferences and there was a lot of resistance to the idea that by using an involuntary response we could get results as good as the button-pressing data.”

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

Medical Research

New peanut butter with probiotics developed by scientist

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A new peanut butter that allows you to acquire probiotic positives was developed by researcher Dan Perlman. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the digestive system that help to promote digestion, produce important hormones and vitamins and generally strengthen the immune system.

For years, Perlman has been looking for new ways to “pack” probiotics into food to allow people to acquire them without using pills or third-party capsules. Probiotics need to be ingested alive to take advantage of their positive characteristics but if there is not enough water or other energy sources in the food to support these bacteria, they die quickly and are therefore useless once ingested.

Walnut butters seem to be unsuitable for cramming live probiotics as they contain very little water. However, the researcher noted that when freeze-dried peanut butter bacteria come in, the bacteria themselves remain “suspended” in a sort of deep sleep, still alive but ready to get back to work and “wake up” once they are ingested by people.

This is because they remain trapped in the structure of the fat matrix of these foods, a rather crystalline fat.

In the new peanut butter developed by the researcher, there are 500 million to one billion bacteria in a two-spoon portion, the amount of a probiotic pill.

Now the researcher himself is looking for a way to make this new peanut butter with probiotics for commercial use.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading
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