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.
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.”
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.
Judo can be useful for children with autism spectrum disorders according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Central Florida. According to the researchers, this martial activity, in addition to reducing the level of physical inactivity, which in itself can be linked to other diseases such as diabetes and obesity, can also have positive effects with regard to social interaction in autistic children, as the researchers noted during their analysis.
During the pilot study, in fact, the researchers noticed that children who practiced this physical activity were then anxious to continue the lessons when they finished and were generally very interested. As a consequence, the researchers themselves found a moderate to vigorous increase in physical activity among the study participants. The results of the study were then published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Parents interviewed about it also stated that their children with autism spectrum disorders seemed to be more comfortable with social interaction and physical contact while practicing judo.
These are characteristics, those related to social interaction, for which children diagnosed with autism usually have a certain difficulty.
“While for karate, a form of martial arts, the benefits to the autistic population related to social interaction have been documented, we hypothesized that the emphasis on awareness and self-defense promoted by judo could provide additional benefits to young people with ASD,” explains Jeanette Garcia, researcher at the College of Health Professions and Sciences who carried out the research. “In fact, our study shows that judo not only promotes social skills, but is well accepted by this population and is an excellent program to reduce sedentary behavior and increase confidence.”
The first apparitions of homo erectus in Southeast Asia would have occurred earlier than previously theorized: a new study that places the arrival of the first hominids in the area of Sangiran, island of Java, in a period between 1.3 and 1.5 million years ago comes to this conclusion.
These first humans migrated from Asia to Southeast Asia to reach Java at least 300,000 years later than previously believed. The Sangiran area is in fact rich in human fossils, the oldest in Southeast Asia, and is a well-known site, one of the most important to understand the evolution of the first humans in this area.
However, the chronology of the site has always remained uncertain, especially with regard to homo erectus and its first appearance in the region. Precisely for this reason, the researcher Shuji Matsu’ura, together with colleagues, has carried out a new study analyzing with various dating methods, including Uranium Lead (U/Pb) to calculate the age of various volcanic zircons found in this area.
The results that the scientist and his colleagues have obtained are therefore significantly different from the previous ones and estimate the arrival of homo erectus in this area at 1.3-1.5 million years ago while previous results estimated the arrival at 1.7 million years ago.
A new cell pathway that amplifies the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans, an approximately one-millimeter long nematode that usually lives in soil, has been identified by a team of researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California and the University of Nanjing, China.
Specifically, this new cell pathway can extend the life of this small worm, which usually lives up to 3-4 weeks, by five times: if the thing could be applied, for example, even to a human being, it could extend the life of the latter up to a duration of 400 or even 500 years.
Of course, we are very far from a possible application on humans due to the extreme complexity of our body and our genetic profile compared to that of a nematode, however thanks to the fact that this nematode shares with us many of its genes, the result is certainly worthy of note in the context of the fight against aging. Specifically, researchers have genetically altered the insulin signalling pathways (IIS) and the target of the rapamycin pathway (TOR), as well as other mitochondrial functions.
These are genetic manipulations that, at least on this worm, have led to an almost exponential effect, as Jianfeng Lan, a researcher who participated in the study, suggests: “The effect is not one plus one equal to two, it is one plus one equal to five. Our results show that nothing exists in nature in a vacuum; in order to develop the most effective anti-aging treatments we must look rather at the longevity networks of individual pathways.”
Now researchers want to understand more about the actual role of the mitochondria of aging probably also to understand if any genetic manipulation could have a similar effect on humans.