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Paralyzed patients have weaker bones, higher risk of fractures than expected

Paralyzed patients have weaker bones, higher risk of fractures than expected

People paralyzed by spinal cord injuries lose mechanical strength in their leg bones faster, and more significantly, than previously believed, putting them at greater risk for fractures from minor stresses, according to a new study by a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The results suggest that physicians need to begin therapies for spinal cord injury patients sooner to maintain bone mass and strength. The data also serve as a warning to physicians treating patients with osteoporosis to think beyond the standard bone density test when assessing risks of hip and other fractures Continue reading

Baby cries show evidence of cocaine exposure during pregnancy

Baby cries show evidence of cocaine exposure during pregnancy

A new study conducted by University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers provides the first known evidence of how a similar acoustic characteristic in the cry sounds of human infants and rat pups may be used to detect the harmful effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on nervous system development. “These findings are important because studies of prenatal drug exposure in humans are always limited by not knowing if infant nervous system damage was due to the effects of a specific drug, such as cocaine, or the effects of other associated factors, such as maternal depression, poor prenatal care and other drug use, that are often linked with maternal drug use during pregnancy,” said Philip Sanford Zeskind, PhD, lead author of the study published October 22 in the journal PLOS ONE . “The discovery of the similar spectral characteristic in rat pup vocalizations will allow for translational analyses that can be used to detect the isolated effects of cocaine or similar drugs on brain limbic mechanisms common to humans, rodents and other mammals,” said Zeskind, a researcher at Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina and a research professor of psychology and pediatrics at UNC Continue reading

Salmonella-infected mice that were given antibiotics became superspreaders

Salmonella-infected mice that were given antibiotics became superspreaders

Salmonella-infected mice that were given antibiotics became sicker and began shedding far more bacteria in their feces than they had before. Some people infected with pathogens spread their germs to others while remaining symptom-free themselves Continue reading

Mental rest and reflection boost learning, study suggests

Mental rest and reflection boost learning, study suggests

A new study, which may have implications for approaches to education, finds that brain mechanisms engaged when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they’ve learned before, may boost later learning. Scientists have already established that resting the mind, as in daydreaming, helps strengthen memories of events and retention of information. In a new twist, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have shown that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning tasks, helps boost future learning. Continue reading

Mental rest and reflection boost learning, study suggests

Mental rest and reflection boost learning, study suggests

A new study, which may have implications for approaches to education, finds that brain mechanisms engaged when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they’ve learned before, may boost later learning. Continue reading

See-through sensors open new window into the brain

See-through sensors open new window into the brain

Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers’ efforts to understand the brain. Continue reading

See-through sensors open new window into the brain

See-through sensors open new window into the brain

Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers’ efforts to understand the brain. The team described its technology, which has applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care and even contact lenses, in the Oct. 20 issue of the online journal Nature Communications Continue reading

Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, pointing way to new therapies

Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, pointing way to new therapies

Scientists have restored the hearing of mice partly deafened by noise, using advanced tools to boost the production of a key protein in their ears. By demonstrating the importance of the protein, called NT3, in maintaining communication between the ears and brain, these new findings pave the way for research in humans that could improve treatment of hearing loss caused by noise exposure and normal aging Continue reading

Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, pointing way to new therapies

Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, pointing way to new therapies

Scientists have restored the hearing of mice partly deafened by noise, using advanced tools to boost the production of a key protein in their ears. By demonstrating the importance of the protein, called NT3, in maintaining communication between the ears and brain, these new findings pave the way for research in humans that could improve treatment of hearing loss caused by noise exposure and normal aging. In a new paper in the online journal eLife , the team from the University of Michigan Medical School’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute and Harvard University report the results of their work to understand NT3′s role in the inner ear, and the impact of increased NT3 production on hearing after a noise exposure. Continue reading

Improving bladder function among people with spinal cord injuries

Improving bladder function among people with spinal cord injuries

People who have suffered spinal cord injuries are often susceptible to bladder infections, and those infections can cause kidney damage and even death. New UCLA research may go a long way toward solving the problem. A team of scientists studied 10 paralyzed rats that were trained daily for six weeks with epidural stimulation of the spinal cord and five rats that were untrained and did not receive the stimulation. Continue reading