Take up Music, Prevent Alzheimer's?

Over at RedNova, they just ran an article about "using or losing" your mental skills with a bit of a twist - learning to play an instrument. A study from Illinois is suggesting that study participants achieved a 50 to 70% improvement in their memory over a period of 18 months during which time they learned to play a new instrument.

The scientific underpinning would seem to be the observation that short-term memory was improved for these individuals. Some researchers beleive that short-term memory strengthening can lead to delay or in some cases prevention of Alzheimer's.

Here is the story:

Cognitive Labs in Singapore

As part of our Gamer-IQ project, which uses some of the things we know and can measure about human cognition and puts them to the test with gamers--it looks like we'll be headed to Singapore in November for the world championships of the World Cyber Games, which pit thousands of gamers against each other from around the world. I'll be posting some of the media links which are from Forbes, MSNBC, Fortune, etc. mostly over on my other blog, GamerIQ . Not only do we have a corporate invitation for this elite group of global companies, we'll also be there as a regular blogger.


ring tone mania

Ring tone mania

What if we could use ringtones to aid in the management of memory loss? One of the projects I am involved is really cool: it will allow people to use the same emoticons across OS platforms which should really drive adoption of some of the really cool technologies like Flash Lite. I would heartily recommend looking at Flash Lite on the Macromedia website. We did something with the Whitbread cup at UPS and the whole immersive sports area, but it wasn't my project. Sure heard about it a lot though, it was also tied in with Intel-SAP or Pandesic. There were no sock puppets involved, however, I do recall something about Intel flourescent clean-room action figures which bopped to electronica, which predated the blue man group.


72.7 percent prefer in-home vs. 27.3% at the doctor

In a random poll of everyday people who come to our website, 72.7% said they would like to take an online test in the privacy of their home, while 27.3% said they would like to take it in a specialist's office.

I don't know if a survey like this has been done before; but it confirms what we aleady know - that people are curious about their own cognition.

As one of the pharmaceutical company scientists told me - "you have internal validity" meaning that every datapoint is relative to every other datapoint. The more we know (in terms of data) the more likely we will be able to make inferences, and therefore, the better off everyone will be.

Indeed, one of the main benefits of this sort of activity is that awareness is raised - if we are self-aware and know what kinds of things to look for - sudden changes in cognitive ability not linked with lack of sleep or some other factor, then that would suggest it could be time to consult a specialist or put in a call to your favorite support organization which can provide access to counseling, tips on caregiving, and offer support.

The other thing we notice is more "community features" so that, the question is build out the community based on the existing membership or partner with other organizations that are strong in this area.


Aricept Flash movie

Aricept from Pfizer seems to have become one of our effective Adsense advertisers. Kudos on the Flash movie on their site which I like.

Take your best Shot, I dare ya.

Take your Best Shot, I Dare ya

Play the Amyloid Plaque Game......It's free and literally goes on forever (only on Internet Explorer)...give it a shot. By pressing the space bar, you'll get a recap of the score.


Won't you participate?

We are running a survey to help us prioritize the features and activities on the site. In particular, we are looking at adding more puzzles, games, and tests BUT we want to hear from you first.

Also, we are working on a closer integration between the memory testing and tracking and everything else. We would appreciate your opinion, if you are willing to give it. Here's a link to the survey. Thanks Again, for your support.


Complex Work...the Key to Mental Fitness

A new finding on Alzheimer's Disease (as reported by ABC) is the notion that 'complex work' may delay the onset. In fact, a new study or more than 10,000 people in Sweden illustrates that those with complex jobs requiring concentration and also social interaction - are less likely to get the disease.

It appears that an early regimen of preventative activities may act as a shield to prevent or delay onset. The recommended activities are commonly known now:

-social interaction

You may find them on the Alzheimer's Association's site, AARP, here, and others. Last, but not least, walking and physical fitness play a key role.

Tracking your cognitive health also is important, which you can do here by taking a free test.

If you are familiar with a supply chain, one of the things pioneered years ago was the idea of an alert or "response agents" (Red Pepper Software). At UPS, we had a product on the drawing board called 'ship notifications' which, if you can believe it, was going to be delivered outside of email via a Windows client that would get a message in a publish-and-subscribe model. That was too expensive when plain old email would work just as well. Now, of course you always get an alert that tells you when your Amazon shipment is coming. What companies used to do was build their own alert systems from EDI batches, as in the case of like Motorola.

So as far the mind goes, we are back into that era, where a cognitive response agent, with a red-yellow-green scheme will tell you how are doing.


Cognitive Labs in Stockholm, Sweden

Cognitive Labs Speed of Processing Technology Featured at XII International Psychogeriatric Conference in Stockholm, Sweden by Stanford Researchers

Stockholm, Sweden -- September 22, 2005. At the XIIth International Psychogeriatric Association Congress, sponsored by Janssen-Cilag, Novartis, Eisai, Pfizer, Merz, and GE Healthcare, Cognitive Labs testing software was presented during the session on screening for early cognitive impairment by Stanford researchers. The software is used at Stanford and the University of California in studies involving reaction time, memory loss and neurological function. It is also delployed by institutions, industry-sponsored clinical trials where a high degree of accuracy is required, and by licensees and healthcentric consumers. The technology has been shown sensitive in detecting subtle changes for various brain degenerative conditions to a greater degree than traditional neuropsychological tests and correlates with results achieved with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Tests and tracking technology are combined with challenging exercises and games to create circuit-training for the mind, featuring the first widely accessible meter or scale for detecting changes in cognitive performance. The company designs web applications that drive massive arrays of individualized psychometric data stored in databases that allow researchers and experts to make inferences about the health and wellness of general population groups, while allowing individuals to obtain basic awareness of their own general cognitive status.

The tests are available in a free online trial and via retail stores such as Walgreen’s, GNC, and VitaminShoppe, where they are provided with product from partner Natrol (Nasdaq: NTOL) that targets the cholinergic system. Professional editions of the suite are available in a software-rental model, and enable experts and professionals to sympathetically address the needs of the large numbers of individuals concerned with longevity and cognitive fitness, two of the world's biggest issues.

If an individual starts a diet or exercise program, changes nutritional intake or lifestyle, or attends continuing education, the effects on their mental fitness are easily observed over time,” observes Dr. Michael Addicott, “following your brain's activity is almost as easy as weighing yourself or using an online diet calculator. People can develop cognitive awareness and then decide if it might be appropriate to obtain a more extensive evalution through a physician or specialist. Further, people will be able to connect with others with similar interests."

The company’s mission is to open up the human mind to understanding through open-source data. Take a free test, and the company’s algorithms tell you how compare to others, tracking your responses.

Cognitive Labs Game Central, MemCheck, and Memory for Life services are all available at Cognitivelabs.com. Find out more on the company and its Mission at http://www.cognitivelabs.com.


Green Tea ingredient may deter Alzheimer's

An ingredient in green tea has prevented Alzheimer's disease-like brain damage in mice, researchers report. Read more on a previously reported study covered here on this blog almost 11 months ago (see: The sun never sets on [sic...] the british empire.

and on with the story. (By the way, take aim at the 'beta' of the beta amyloid game now.
The compound, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), decreased production of the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and causes nerve damage and memory loss.

"The findings suggest that a concentrated component of green tea can decrease brain beta-amyloid plaque formation," senior researcher Dr. Jun Tan, director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at the the University of South Florida's Silver Child Development Center, said in a prepared statement.

Reporting in the Sept. 21 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, the research team worked with mice genetically programmed to develop a disease mimicking human Alzheimer's.

The mice received daily injections of EGCG for several months and showed as much as a 54 percent reduction in the formation of brain-clogging beta-amyloid plaques. It appears that EGCG prevents the initial process that leads to beta-amyloid formation in brain cells, the researchers said.

"If beta-amyloid pathology in this Alzheimer's mouse model is representative of Alzheimer's disease pathology in humans, EGCG dietary supplementation may be effective in preventing and treating the disease," Tan said.

The researchers will next study whether multiple oral doses of EGCG improve memory loss in mice with Alzheimer's.

"If those studies show clear cognitive benefits, we believe clinical trials of EGCG to treat Alzheimer's disease would be warranted," Tan said.

More information on Alzehimer's at Cognitive Labs

Amyloid Game

I said I was working on an amyloid plaque game and...I am. I'll let you know when I have finished de-bugging it. Basically you will be able to blast away the plaque with anti-matter torpedoes. Take a look at this:

This is amyloid plaque that is symptomatic of Alzheimer's according to the experts. Reminds me of the Ring Nebula in Lyra?

Anyway, the game is coming along. So, stay posted.


New mosaic find in Israel

Israeli archaeologists uncovered a mosaic dating back to the late 5th early 6th centuries C.E. in the port city formerly known as Caesarea. If you want to try another mosaic cognitive exercise puzzle, here is one which dates to a similar time period.


Bill O'Reilly and Charles Osgood centerpiece of new campaign to promote cognitive fitness, cognitive labs online testing

Wow, things are really going to heat up now. Now that media titans Bill O'Reilly and Charles Osgood are promoting our cognitive testing via the brainspeedometer from Natrol (Nasdaq:NTOL) which is powered by Cognitive Labs. You can find links on Bill O'Reilly's website.

You can buy brainspeed at walgreen's, walgreens.com, drugstore.com, vitaminshoppe.com, vitamin shoppe, GNC Stores, and a variety of websites - many of these companies like drugstore.com our now running their own Google Adwords campaigns, as well, and more to come. Onward and Upward!!!

Osgood and O'Reilly Have Something in Common: brainSpeed(TM)
Radio Heavyweights Ask Americans to Think Faster with New Cognitive Supplement


HAL 9000 memory puzzle

Here's a fun puzzle....Dave Bowman creeping around HAL's positronic cranium looking to pull out some of those clear memory slabs thereby giving HAL more than mild cognitive impairment. This one is suitably challenging, so have at it, RSS freaks. "Dave, I don't think that's a very good idea....Dave, I am sure we can talk it over, if there have been misunderstandings, I assure you, I am confident that I can support the mission..."


Brainspeed game

We just wrote this new game...adapting it for this environment and switching out the assets.

...some people have used it - 'no problem' others have not been able to get it to start. let us know!

I hope you decide to play our new game ---- brainspeed blaster. Aim at the bottles of brainspeed and fire off an RPG. Click on the space bar to see your score. Before you know it, you'll have to reload at Walgreens, VitaminShoppe, or GNC. Keep a sharp eye for online deals.(c) 2005 Michael Addicott


The Power of Three (3)

 +  + 

Testing, Games, and Puzzles....

Testing: Create a Baseline you can watch over time
Games: Exercise Specific Areas of Response and Reaction Time, e.g., left, right, peripheral response
Puzzles: Test and Jog your Recall Memory

One of the reasons that understanding genetics is important in this discussion is the role of predisposition and statistically tested relationships between genetic code and infirmities including Alzheimer's. Earlier awareness of changes in measured cognitive performance provides more time for actions that may defer contined impairment or decline.

The changes in lifestyle recommended also have may have an effect.

It is interesting to note that so far, our poll of global issues identifies "longevity" as the greatest challenge we face. With increasing longevity the greatest threat to individual prosperity, projected out to the limit of human lifespan, is cognitive decline. The numbers used by the Alzheimer's Association and Foundation and other groups (4 million to 12 million people in the US) may in fact be conservative in that they are focused on the short term. Over the long term, the outlook is potentially much more troubling, as the percentage at risk increased geometrically with age and genetic type.


Unknown software object

Expert analysis of the photo above shows an unknown object sort of hovering to the right (see inset). What is the object?

Oh, wait, it's brainspeed software on a CD! It's just that the shape and size are a little unusual. It's what they call the 'form factor.'

I think a good acronym for it is PSDS (for pneumatic software delivery system) truly a first in the annals of mankind.

It's what we might call 3-dimensional electronic commerce, with a feedback loop.

Next, we'll tell you (and show you) exactly where you can get it - by zip

Puzzle Central....

We are beta-testing Puzzle Central, our new puzzle HQ which will allow you to test your immediate recall of a photo and see how quickly you can put it back together. There will be an infinite number of puzzles because ultimately, you will decide.

Try the Stanford puzzle - here or, the statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome.

Comments or suggestions????


More Evidence: 14 Year Gain in Mental Youth through Cognitive Exercise

Elderly people can gain up to an extra 14 years of "cognitive youth" by doing mental exercises, scientists said yesterday.

Volunteers aged 65 and over who did just 10 hours of training sessions to improve their memory, problem-solving and reaction times had mental abilities equivalent to people between seven and 14 years younger than those who did not.

Ian Robertson, a professor of psychology at Trinity College in Dublin, last month published Stay Sharp, a book outlining how mental ageing can be reduced by cognitive exercises and lifestyle changes.

Yesterday, speaking at the BA Festival of Science, Prof Robertson, 54, said that increasing life expectancy and better knowledge of ways of slowing the effects of ageing on the brain were leading to a growing gulf between biological and chronological age. "Our bodies are getting healthier and we are living longer. The main threat to being able to function effectively in old age is the functioning of our brains.

"What neuroscientists have discovered is the human brain is plastic, or shaped by what you learn, at all ages. We all know 80-year-olds who are pretty sharp and people in their fifties or sixties who have lost a lot of cognitive function.

"There is strong evidence that when you get over 50 the degree to which you maintain your function is down to just a handful of factors. Diet, exercise, mental stimulation, mental training and stress are all key factors in determining whether your brain can stay healthy enough for you to enjoy life in the new prime between 50 and 80.

American researchers followed the experiences of almost 3,000 men and women aged between 65 and 94 who volunteered for a mental sharpness training programme.

One group was given memory training, a second trained in problem-solving and reasoning, a third group was shown how to speed up problem-solving and reaction times through computer game-like exercises that became steadily more difficult and a control group received no training.

The training took place in 10 one-hour classes over a six-week period. The volunteers were returned 11 months later for re-assessment.

Those who took the training showed improved cognitive ability when compared with those who did not. Four extra training sessions given a year after the end of the original lessons improved mental abilities even further.

Prof Robertson added it would cost governments less to encourage the elderly to stay mentally fit than to allow them to become dependent on others.


Age-O-Meter Awakens

Introducing the Age-O-Meter. It is a snapshot of our day. You can see who takes tests...starting in the 20's and 30's, lowering in the 40's and then picking back up, with more people in their 60's taking tests than those in their 50's...

Lots of people in their 70's and 80's, who are doing something wonderful.


Massive Growth, Massive Opportunities

Massive growth, massive opportunties. The continuing growth here, while still small in the scheme of things, is taxing our resources. New partners, customers signing up left and right, hundreds of people registering every day, more opportunities than you can shake a stick at, means that we need to upgrade our systems - hardware, software, ordering, etc. These systems, while industrial-strength, are being pushed to the limit, upgrading will help us handle the next phase of growth. We think there is a good chance that one day, everyone will be actively monitoring their thinking. Why? It's as easy as a scale for the mind. Over time, our system will get easier and easier to use with all kinds of great features we already have on the drawing board...they are already exist in our mind's eye...all that is needed to transforming the vision into the physical rendition. You can help us by (a) becoming a customer and (b)making a donation - read more on our support page. It's simple, do you want to Tivo and watch HDTV all day? Or, do you want to change the world?

Judo Science

Several thematic elements are featured in this piece, among them:

1. the concept of 'judo science', that is the weakness inherent in inertia that may be exploited by the nimble, using the mass of the primary to throw it off balance

2. transplantation - 'new' scientific matrices lead to fuller, richer growth rather than the taxed topsoil

3. socialization risk - once we become a member/subordinate to something greater than we, our tendency is to become inimical to perspectives that question our basic faith and therein, our judgement. Amongst high school classes AND scientists AND spiritualists, for example: iconoclasts vs. iconodules, Arians vs. Catholics

Innovation requires a whole lot of shakin'


Taiwan Times

Scientists pursue system to explain facts that slip through the cracks

By H.T. Goranson

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2005,Page 9
An unusual meeting of scientists took place in Paris this summer, when scientists gathered to brainstorm about the need for a new science, one that could be as revolutionary as Einstein's insights were a century ago.

Most scientists assume that the basics of science are known. In terms of big challenges, the conventional wisdom is that few things are left to discover. The remaining options are said to fall into three groups: "grand scientific quandaries" (such as uniting gravity and electricity into one theory) which require a huge investment and first-world infrastructure; "data collection," which is the field work associated with archeological digs and biological/genetic surveys; and "science-informed problems," such as combating AIDS or addressing global warming.

Beyond that, many believe the only hard work will be to use existing laws to benefit humankind in new technological ways. Who can argue? After all, today's models work.

But an emerging group of scientists points to phenomena that current theories do not address well. These problems are exceedingly common and artfully avoided because the science that would account for them just doesn't exist.

This missing science would describe processes and how entire systems evolve.

Individual scientific disciplines are understood fairly well. Physics, at least the physics we encounter as ordinary humans, is well mapped. Chemistry and biochemistry are similarly solid -- there are some things we don't understand about the body, but it is believed that the basic machinery of how cells and molecules interact is known. Slightly apart from these are the new social sciences, which deal with humans and societies.

In each of these areas -- physics, biochemistry and social science -- the theories are mature and largely uncontroversial. Each discipline has its own language and its own separate machinery. Rarely is a scientist an expert in more than one area, because the worlds and languages are so different.

This means that we can't answer complex questions that depend on more than one field. Consider the brain, for example. This complex organ is composed of molecules that interact using the principles of physics. That information moves according to the laws of electricity. There is also a system of specialized cells and these interact, exchanging chemicals that also convey information. The interaction between two brains adds another level: Here, information is exchanged by means of languages, signs and ideas.

Information is at work on each level and comfortable theories explain how the separate ones operate. But information is being exchanged between the levels as well. There is no science that explains this, even at the most rudimentary level.

To cope with this deficiency, some scientists have tried to reinvent the tools of one level in order to apply them to another. This leads to such things as a "language" at the level of cells and "energy" behind organized societies. Sometimes the transplant works well enough, but it does not address the central problem: What is the nature of the information conveyed between each level, and how is it conveyed?

As it happens, nearly every system in the world is composed of such layers. A similarly embarrassing lack of understanding about how the whole system works exists in every case.

The group of interdisciplinary scientists that met in Paris is loosely affiliated under the banner "Foundations of Information Science [FIS]." They have been working in a distributed collaboration for eight years and come from a range of countries and specialties. As well as scientists from the relevant disciplines, art theorists, psychiatrists, language experts and philosophers are beginning to participate in the discussion.

Most of the group is banking on the "transplant" strategy, in which the basic science of one layer is placed in another, tweaked and supplemented in order to be functional. Others think that a whole new approach is required. They assume that many scientific conventions are accidents of history and new abstractions can be devised. If the FIS group is lucky, there will also be some radical input from thinkers that do not presently have access to first-world infrastructure.

Independent thinking is an underestimated factor. Nearly all the activities collected under the banner of "science" have developed institutional tendencies that are similar to their economic counterparts. It is usually assumed that developing economies need to build resources that emulate those in the developed world, but this could actually stifle the most creative thinking. Many scientific disciples are going through a revolution, and a lot of those ideas -- sometimes revolutionary ideas -- are bubbling up from labs and research centers that are unaffiliated with large institutions.

Twenty years of the most advanced thinking for mathematical algorithms came from a Soviet empire starved of computing power. The cleverest, most literally earth-shattering notions of physics for two generations came not from the expected powerhouses of the day, but from Budapest. Iran has a tradition of architectural design that has revealed key insights to cognitive scientists. Today, some of the most radical new ideas in second-generation artificial intelligence (so-called "autonomous agents") are incubating in Prague.

The most creative breakthroughs became famous events. When Einstein added new abstractions to the language of physics, the identity of space and time changed. The FIS meeting in July was the unheralded beginning of an attempt to remodel the universe in such a way. The group identified the gaps that need explanation. They will expand their pool of thinkers to include scientists from necessarily innovative regions. Following this, they will identify which problems might be solved if this new science is developed. Or if you wish, discovered.

H.T. Goranson is the lead scientist of Sirius-Beta Corp and was a senior scientist with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Copyright: Project Syndicate


I Got a Fever.. and the Only Cure is Bananas

If you have seen the SNL skit with Christopher Walken, Will Farrell, and BOC you will know what I am talking about...

what if bananas turned out to be the difference in Alzheimer's prevention?

Chimp DNA Unraveled - Clues on Alzheimer's?

Scientists said yesterday they had determined the precise order of the 3 billion bits of genetic code that carry the instructions for making a chimpanzee, humankind's closest cousin.

The fresh unraveling of chimpanzee DNA allows an unprecedented gene-to-gene comparison with the human genome, mapped in 2001, and makes plain the evolutionary processes through which chimps and humans arose from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago.

By placing the two codes alongside each other, scientists identified all 40 million molecular changes that today separate the two species and pinpointed the mere 250,000 that seem most responsible for the difference between chimpness and humanness.

"Now we can peek into evolution's lab notebook to see what went on there," said Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, which funded the $25 million effort at 18 institutions in five countries.

On a practical level, researchers said, the work is likely to explain why chimps are resistant to several human diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, malaria and Alzheimer's disease - information that could lead to new ways to prevent or treat many human ills.

More profoundly, however, the achievement promises to help answer the alluring but loaded question of what, exactly, makes us truly human.
But the answer will not come easily.

"We're not going to stand up and say that these 14 things make us human," said Eric Lander of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., a facility run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, which along with Washington University in St. Louis led the chimpanzee genome sequencing effort. "But it's not trivial to be able to say, 'Here is an inventory of the most important differences, and now go at it and figure out which of these differences contain the signatures of what is distinctively human.'"

As predicted by preliminary studies, the human and chimpanzee genetic codes are essentially 99 percent identical, a testament to how fundamentally similar the two species remain. At the same time, it is powerful evidence that seemingly modest changes in molecular code can lead to very different stations in the web of life.

Because of that 1 percent difference, experts noted, humans now dominate every ecosystem on Earth while chimpanzees and other great apes - a group that also includes bonobos, gorillas and orangutans - are at risk of becoming extinct within the next few decades, largely because of human activities.

Well aware of that awkward reality, several scientists yesterday used the occasion of the chimp genome's unveiling to focus attention on the creatures' plight, calling for renewed conservation efforts and new rules governing the use of great apes in research.

"There is a deep irony in the fact that the sequencing of the chimpanzee genome coincides with the potential demise of great apes in the wild," wrote Ajit Varki of the University of California at San Diego, and colleagues, in a commentary accompanying the main research report in today's issue of the journal Nature.

The DNA analysis - the first of a non-human primate and the fourth of a mammal (after human, mouse and rat) - was done on blood drawn from a chimp named Clint, who lived at a research center in Atlanta until dying in January from causes unrelated to the project. Key scientific findings and related commentaries fill about 100 pages in today's Natureand tomorrow's issue of the journal Science.

The human and chimpanzee genomes are distinguished by 35 million differences in individual DNA "letters"- each the result of a tiny, random mutation - and another 5 million larger differences in which entire chunks of DNA were either added to or deleted from one genome or the other.

All told, the two sequences differ by 4 percent. But three-quarters of the differences seem to be in nonfunctional parts of the genome, suggesting that a mere 1 percent variation makes all the difference.

Put another way, the difference between the human and chimp genomes is 10 times as great as the difference between any two humans.

Among the genes that appear unique to humans are some involved in brain development and body plan and one that has been postulated as being crucial to the development of language. But most of the differences between chimpanzees and humans seem attributable not so much to the genes themselves but to how genes that both species share are regulated - that is, the timing and level of intensity under which those shared genes operate.

"The class of genes that has changed the fastest in humans compared to chimps are the genes that control other genes," said Tarjei Mikkelsen of the Broad Institute.

Developmental changes are behind many of the differences between human and chimp brains. Human brain cells divide several more times than chimp brain cells during fetal development, a fact that contributes to the adult human brain's growth to three times the size of the chimpanzee's. Much of that increase is in the cerebral cortex, home to higher cognition.

But scientists confess to knowing little about how such changes might add up to differences in intellect and behavior.

"We are woefully ignorant about how genes build brains, and how the electrical activity of the brain builds thoughts and emotions," wrote Marc Hauser, co-director of Harvard's Mind, Brain and Behavior Program, in Nature.

Chimpanzees have repeatedly toppled conceptions about the ways in which humans are purportedly unique.

They fashion and use tools, including hammers, anvils, probes for fishing termites from the ground and seats to rest on, though unlike humans, they make all their tools by modifying found objects and never by putting complementary pieces together.

Chimps also medicate themselves, swallowing rough leaves and chewing on bitter stems to treat a type of intestinal infection.

And in perhaps their cheekiest aping of humanity, chimpanzees display remarkable political acumen. They form complex alliances and trade grooming services, sex and food. Like many denizens of the world's great cities, they lobby, demand bribes, repay favors and, when crossed, extract revenge.

Yet precisely because chimpanzees are so similar to humans (most medicines are absorbed, metabolized and excreted by chimps just as they are in people, for example), they make excellent stand-ins for humans in medical labs.

Medical studies on chimpanzees are no longer done in most countries other than the United States, where about 1,100 are now in research labs. Several scientists predicted Wednesday that release of the chimp genome would escalate a debate as to whether U.S. research restrictions - including an eight-year-old federal moratorium on breeding chimps for research - should be tightened or loosened.

Pascal Gagneux of the Zoological Society of San Diego and two colleagues wrote in a Nature commentary that a stricter code of ethics for chimpanzee research is needed. They recommend rules similar to those now in place for research on humans who cannot give meaningful informed consent because of their age or mental status.

Others, recalling the initial importance of chimpanzees as research tools when AIDS first emerged, argue that newly emerging medical challenges demand renewed breeding for research.

Acknowledging recent challenges by proponents of intelligent design, a proposition that posits the need for an intelligent creator, several scientists said the genome study offered elegant confirmation of Darwin's vision of evolution.

One analysis, for example, showed that the accumulation of deleterious mutations in the human and chimp genomes is greater than in the mouse and rat genomes in just the proportion predicted by one of the mathematical corollaries of the theory of evolution.

"I can't imagine Darwin hoping for a stronger confirmation of his ideas," said Robert Waterston, who led the Washington University team.

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