Mental Stimulation and a Memory Pill said to Reverse Alzheimers'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mental stimulation and drug treatment may help people with brain ailments such as Alzheimer's disease regain seemingly lost memories, according to research published on Sunday.

Scientists used two methods to reverse memory loss in mice with a condition like Alzheimer's -- placing them in sort of a rodent Disneyland to stimulate their brains, and also using a type of drug that encourages growth of brain nerve cells.

Neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said such methods might yield similar benefits in people with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia that rob them of their memory and ability to learn.

"We show, I believe, the first evidence that even if the brain suffered some very severe neurodegeneration and the individual exhibits very severe learning impairment and memory loss, there is still the possibility to improve learning ability and recover to a certain extent lost long-term memories," Tsai said in a telephone interview.

Tsai said if apparently lost long-term memories could be retrieved, this suggested the memories had not been actually erased from the brain.

Instead, she and colleagues reported in the journal Nature, the memories probably remained in storage but could not be accessed or retrieved due to the brain damage.

The researchers used genetically engineered elderly mice in which they were able to activate a protein that triggered brain pathology very much like that of people with Alzheimer's, with atrophy and loss of nerve cells.

save brains. get
the code


Previous research has shown that regular mental stimulation such as reading or playing a musical instrument may reduce one's risk for Alzheimer's. And a stimulating environment also has been shown to improve learning in mice.

In one part of their study, the researchers took mice out of their usual bland cages and placed them in a sort of mouse playground loaded with an ever-changing assortment of colorful toys, treadmills and other mice.

The researchers previously had used a "fear-conditioning" test -- placing mice in a chamber and delivering a mild electric shock to their feet -- to establish an enduring memory.

Mice with Alzheimer's-like brain damage put in the stimulating environment could remember that shock test far better than similar animals kept in standard cages. The playground mice also were better at learning new things than those kept in standard cages.

After exploring the biological mechanism behind the improvement in mice placed in the enriched environment, the researchers tested on the mice a class of drugs called histone deacetylase, or HDAC, inhibitors.

Memory and learning improved in the mice, similar to improvements caused by environmental stimulation, the researchers said. They said this indicated such drugs represent a potential way to treat people with conditions like Alzheimer's.

Tsai said most current treatments for Alzheimer's were intended to affect the disease's early stages before profound memory loss occurred, but this research showed that even after major brain damage had occurred it was still possible to improve learning and memory

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Spacebrain 1.0-preparing your brain for Space

Stephen Hawking's moments of weightlessness in the global media eye underscores the efforts by entrepreneurs to create a new space industry, which is boldly moving forward. Now is the time for people interested in this effort to get ready - by training their brains.

You'll find the topic of brain health in space is getting more attention, due to changes in perception caused by weightlessness - and also the impact of things like gamma rays. Similar to the fight against cognitive degeneration here on Earth due to Alzheimer's (sometimes genetically induced) -these factors need to be overcome before there is a move, as Stephen Hawking calls for, towards exploration and colonization of space.

So we're releasing Spacebrain tests (starting with a simple cognitive test used in our recent Stanford research)to help people show support for consumer spaceflight!

Anyone can use it. You don't have to come to this site to play it; put it on your site or blog, where it's handy and accessible. (see below!)

save brains. get
the code

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Stephen Hawking's Zero G Flight

ZeroG Corp - which operates zero-gravity simulators out of a retrofitted commercial jet, gave astrophysicist Stephen Hawking the time of his life.

In all, the professor received 4 minutes of weightlessness, separated by instances of 1.8 G during ascents up to 28,600 feet.

read more
from the BBC.

related: Hawking test

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Earth Test Inspires Starbucks Greengame?

Starbucks Green Earth Game "inspired by" the Cognitive Labs Earth Test? I got an email from one of our readers who gave me a head's up.

Just look at the panel on the right inside the game, then look at the Earth test.

Our Earth game (100% created by us) has been on the web since February. There's your answer.

In the same way, Shell Oil has a variant of linerider in their brain game portal.

In each case, keeping a fit mind is linked to maintaining the Earth.

It's gratifying to see big business take up the gauntlet on global warming.

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firefox widget hang time

With regard to version 2.0, we just noticed that the widget 'hangs' slightly with firefox - click the Go button solidly and hold for 200 milliseconds, and it should work fine.

The issue was not observed in Internet Explorer, Safari, or Netscape.


New page for Publishers.

We've pushed out another version of the Publisher page....here. Get the latest tools, including widget 2.0 - improved over 1.0.

Form and Function are One.

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Get the widget.

Some friends are getting the cognitivelabs widget - like the Tripover.

And there's a lot more showing up in our logs.

Here's the page where you can get it...if you're a web publisher. We all have NY Times aspirations.

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Getting More Sleep Can Boost Your Memory

Besides helping you feel well-rested, getting your zzz's may also sharpen your memory, a new study shows.

Researchers found that sleep not only protects memories from outside interferences, it also helps strengthen them.

"There was a very large benefit of sleep for memory consolidation, even larger than we were anticipating," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, an associate neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and a postdoctoral fellow in sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The research is scheduled to be presented May 2 at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Boston.

In the study, the researchers focused on sleep's impact on "declarative" memories, which are related to specific facts, episodes and events.

"We sought to explore whether sleep has any impact on memory consolidation, specifically the type of memory for facts and events and time," Ellenbogen said. "We know that sleep helps boost memory for procedural tests, such as learning a new piano sequence, but we're not sure, even though it's been debated for 100 years, whether sleep impacts declarative memory."

The study involved 48 people between the ages of 18 and 30. These participants had normal, healthy sleep routines and were not taking any medications. They were all taught 20 pairs of words and asked to recall them 12 hours later. However, the participants were divided evenly into four groups with different circumstances for testing: sleep before testing, wake before testing, sleep before testing with interference, or wake before testing with interference.

Two of the groups (the wake groups) were taught the words at 9 a.m. and then tested on the pairings at 9 p.m., after being awake all day. The other two groups (the sleep groups) learned the words at 9 p.m., went to sleep, and were then tested at 9 a.m.

Also, prior to testing, one of the sleep groups and one of the wake groups were given a second list of 20 word pairs to remember. These groups were then tested on both lists to help determine memory recall with interference (competing information).

The result: Sleep appeared to help particpants recall their learned declarative memories, even when they were given competing information.

According to the researchers, people who slept after learning the information performed best, successfully recalling more words whether or not there was interference. Those in the sleep group without interference were able to recall 12 percent more word pairings from the first list than the wake group without interference (94 percent recall for the sleep group vs. 82 percent for the wake group).

When presented with interference, those who slept before testing did significantly better at remembering the words (76 percent for the sleep group vs. 32 percent for the wake group).

"We were surprised to find the order of magnitude by which the data demonstrated our effects," Ellenbogen said.

Jan Born, a professor of neuroendocrinology at the University of Lübeck in Germany, said the study offers more proof of the importance of sleep for memory consolidation.

"Considering that learning in every educational setting (schools, colleges, etc.), is centrally based on hippocampus-dependent memory function [declarative memories], people should realize that optimal learning conditions require proper sleep," he said.

Proper sleep may have other benefits, too, added Michael Perlis, director of the Sleep Research Laboratory at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. Research has shown that in addition to memory, sleep may be related to physical functioning, good immune function, physical and cognitive performance, and mood regulation, he said.

"These are all theories. The only thing we know is that when we're deprived of sleep, we do less well. Is that a lack of sleep or sustained wakefulness? It's very difficult to figure out how to crack that nut," he said. "We spend 30 percent of our time on sleep. What is sleep for? This is a riddle we're still working on."

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Unbelievably Weird - Real News

What's real? What's Not.

a) Multinational oil company in the discovery, refining, and marketing business launches a brain training portal on the web.

b) A publicly traded company that previously designed a $445,000 flying car switches gears and offers a two person flying saucer for just $125,000. Get the prospectus.

c) Management consultants at the staid Booz, Allen, and Hamilton management consultantcy (known for hiring Harvard and Stanford MBAs) produce a primer on "protecting yourself from the impending alien invasion"

Answer: Each is a true story, appearing in the mainstream media. (Or advertised on this very site)

- Shell Oil company has launched a brain-training portal. They've always believed in a portfolio of related, complementary businesses (As advertised on cognitivelabs.com) The same day we launched a green-theme on the home page.

- Moller International (Davis, CA) offers a flying saucer for sale (Wired blogs) for about the same $$ as a Range Rover. Stock quote: Google Finance

- Management consultants say Carl Sagan's "they're so advanced, they must mean well" philosophy regarding life in the universe might not be correct. To avoid having to contest ownership of the earth with a strategy similar to that used by the Iraqi insurgents, the global powers (meaning Big 3 or 5) have to start planning now.
Let's get Michael (Competitive Strategy) Porter working on it


Get a Mind Widget, Put a Mind Widget on Google pages

You can test drive the widget on my Google pages, which also offers free photo hosting.

Then, click the link and get the code for your site or blog - or your Google pages. There is an issue with javascripts running on blogger (this is not really desired) but not on Google pages. Therefore, the full widget works fine.

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Porridge: The Secret to Longevity

While the longevity guru Aubrey DeGrey (who looks a bit like the prognosticator Nostradamus) preaches caloric restriction to a svelter, longer-living you - Alec Holden poses an alternative theory - daily consumption of copious amounts of porridge. Mr. Holden, aged 100, wagered a friend 100 pounds that he would live 10 more years, attaining centenarian status, on a diet of porridge. Holden therefore is not only 100, he's also 25,000 pounds richer.

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Habitable Planet Found

I'm just back from a meeting at Stanford (I walked, of course) - I still have 2 oak tree (tussock ) caterpillars on my shoulder - and find this exciting news...

Astronomers find first potentially habitable planet, orbiting around Gliese 581, a star 20.5 light years away in the Constellation Libra.

Wow. Even though the star is a red dwarf, scientists believe the average temperature is between 32 F and 104 F - well within the range that human life can exist. One caveat is that gravity is approximately 1.6X 2.25X that of Earth.

Now, the problem is how to get there - and also, keep your mind exercised with something more than Sudoku. I tend to believe that an algorithm will be discovered which unlocks the secret to near-light speed travel or FTL travel, though there are a lot of problems in doing so. The solution will probably be something elegantly simple like e = mc(2). 6:38 PST - Speculation already abounds on the web (and IM) that the planet (if inhabited, which is a big if) could feature (a) short, squat or (b) tall, thin types of people - or that, assuming people from earth made the voyage, what their descendants would look like - certainly speculative.

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Stats Update

Here's some interesting stats as of 9:51 PST.

Average time spent on the site per visit - 19.92 minutes (today)
Average time spend on the site per visit - 18.82 minutes (this month)
Unique visitors this month - 100,002 (apr. 24)
page views 2006 3.72 million
page views 2007 3.85 million (april 24)

Time spent on site is considered to be an important measure, as many actions are not accounted for (actions inside Flash, for example). This varies depending on the site.
So, time spent on site is becoming more important.

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Alzheimer's Forum on Neuroplasticity

The Alzheimer's Research Forum is probably the top resource on real-time developments in the field. If you are interested in the topic of neuroplasticity, here is an interesting thread on the evolution of the concept, as discussed by researchers.

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Migraines: A Harbinger of Brain Activity?

A new study of more than 1,000 women found that those with migraine headaches scored better on a word recall test than those without migraines over an extended period.

It may be that a causal factor for migraines leads to more intense brain activity and less reduction in performance. Anecdotally, those with bouts of migraines tend to be highly intelligent - some people who have suffered from them include Virginia Woolf, Catherine the Great, Emily Dickinson, Sigmund Freud, Frederic Chopin, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Darwin, Tolstoy, Joan Didion, and the mathematician John Nash. In ancient times, Alexander the Great reputedly experienced migraines (Plutarch). Migraines have been found in other studies to be associated with menstrual periods.

Researchers say medications for migraine, diet and behavior changes may play a role in helping women with migraines protect their memory. The findings are being published in the April 24, 2007, issue of Neurology (abstract), the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the community based study, 1,448 women, of which 204 had migraine, underwent a series of cognitive tests beginning in 1993 and again approximately 12 years later.

The study found while women with migraine performed worse on cognitive tests, such as word recall, at the beginning of the study, their performance declined 17 percent less over time than women without migraine. In other words, the migraine group outperformed the control group. In the group with migraines those over age 50 showed the least amount of cognitive decline on a test used to assess cognitive functioning.

"Some medications for migraine headaches, such as ibuprofen, which may have a protective effect on memory, may be partially responsible for our findings, but it's unlikely to explain this association given we adjusted for this possibility in our study and the medications showed no indication of a significant protective effect," said study author Amanda Kalaydjian, PhD, MS, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Kalaydjian says another factor that needs to be explored is the possibility that women with migraines may change their diet or behavior in some way that might improve cognition. "For example, alternative treatment for migraine includes adequate sleep, as well as behavioral and relaxation techniques, and a reduction in caffeine," said Dr. Kalaydjian.

"Despite these theories, it seems more likely that there may be some underlying biological mechanism, such as changes in blood vessels or underlying differences in brain activity, which results in decreased cognitive decline over time," said Dr. Kalaydjian. "More research is needed to fully understand how migraine affects cognition."

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New game. Used under MRI

Here's a new game that's fresh out of the oven.

This combines our favorite character with a simple push-button test. The stimulus is the logo of the site we submitted to - an advergame.

However, you can still exercise your brain.

(10 reps)

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Sykes, the Man who Created the Modern Middle East

General Sir Mark Sykes, the man who drew lines on a map of the Ottoman Empire (with the significant contributions of Gertrude Bell) and created the modern boundaries of the nations in the Middle East.

During WWI Sykes and French Diplomat Picot came up with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing the liquidation of the Turkish Empire - a division of the spoils between France and Britain, at the conclusion of the war.

Here is something of assistance, a link to a royalty-free version of TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom from a digital archive in Australia. (Here's the link)

Could digging up a general in a lead-lined coffin save the world?

By MICHAEL HANLON (Daily Mail, UK) April 11, 2007

An extraordinary life: Sir Mark Sykes, soldier, MP and diplomat

Many people live extraordinary lives. Many have extraordinary deaths. But very, very few can hope to save the world 90 years after they have passed away.

One such man was the remarkably colourful Sir Tatton Benvenuto Mark Sykes, one of those larger-than-life Victorians who lived in an era when great men really could, and did, change the shape of the world.

Sir Mark Sykes was a baronet, a diplomat, a father of six children, Tory MP, a senior general in the Army and a skilled negotiator.

A close friend of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and Chaim Weizmann - who went on to become the first President of Israel - Sir Mark championed Zionism, was a friend of the Arabs and had a real passion for all things that were Turkish.

His commanding achievement in life was when, aged just 39, he skilfully directed the carve-up of the defunct Ottoman Empire after the World War I armistice in 1918 - representing the British government at the Paris Peace Conference.

It was his hand which drew the arrowstraight lines that criss-cross the deserts of Arabia to this day, delineating frontiers.

Sykes is also credited with helping to create the modern state of Israel, as well as championing the causes of the Armenians.

But it was his death that was to bring Sir Mark what may be his longest-lived legacy.

In an extraordinary development, it is now thought that this eccentric genius may hold the key - 88 years after he died - to averting what many scientists believe is the biggest medical threat facing the world today: a bird-flu pandemic.

During the Paris peace talks, which led to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Sir Mark contracted a nasty fever, from which he died, at the Hotel Lotti in Paris, on February 16, 1919.

In fact, Sir Mark may have been one of the very last victims of the terrible epidemic which had swept the world for more than two years, the so-called Spanish Flu. This pandemic killed far more than were slaughtered in the Great War.

Sir Mark would have been just one of the 50 million or so whose lives prematurely ended (and so often in their prime; the flu struck mostly those in their middle years), but for one thing.

After his death, the remains of Sir Mark were buried in a leadlined coffin. This was a standard, if expensive, protocol for bringing bodies back from abroad. He was buried in St Mary's Church, Sledmere, in Yorkshire, and slowly passed into history.

But thanks to his leadlined coffin, scientists believe that there is a good chance Sir Mark's body will have been extremely well-preserved.

A team led by Professor John Oxford, renowned virologist at Queen Mary University of London, and one of the world's leading experts on bird flu, has applied for permission to exhume Sir Mark's body in the hope that they will be able to extract samples of the virus that killed him.

"We have permission from the relatives. We have permission from the bishop," Professor Oxford says.

"All we need now is permission from the Home Office and from the Health & Safety Executive. We hope to start work in six months."

It is thought that if permission is given - which looks likely - it will be the first time a body has been exhumed after so long for medical research purposes.

The body of Sir Mark's wife, Edith, is buried in the same grave, although her remains will not be disturbed.

The plan to exhume Sir Mark's body is more than a gruesome academic exercise. It is now

known that the Spanish Flu which swept the world just as the flames of World War I were dying was an avian influenza - one of the viruses so worrying to the world's health chiefs today.

By isolating and examining any viruses still present in the body, Professor Oxford's team hope to learn more about the workings of this virus, named H1N1, and how it may be genetically related to the current bird flu germ, H5N1, which has been terrifying the world in recent years.

"He died very late in the epidemic, when the virus had almost burnt itself out," Prof Oxford adds.

"We want to get a grip on how the virus worked both when it was at its most virulent and when it was coming to the end of its life."

Considering the 1918 pandemic was the most destructive plague in modern times, we know little about the workings of the virus that caused it.

There are some poor-quality samples of the virus in labs, some extracted from the tissues of bodies found in the Greenland tundra a few years ago.

It is hoped that Sir Mark's remains will massively increase the amount of pristine material for the scientists to work on.

It is probably only a matter of time, Professor Oxford and most virus experts believe, before the current avian flu virus, H5N1, or one of its relatives mutates into a form that is both virulent and transmissible between human beings.

One thing we know about the 1918 epidemic is that it had nothing to do with Spain. Instead, it probably arose in the misery and deprivation of the War, either among American servicemen or in northern France.

Some scientists believe the flu began in the fishing town of Etaples, on the French Channel coast. There, a huge camp received injured soldiers from the front.

In fact, some epidemiologists even claim to have identified the first victim of the pandemic, a Tommy from New Malden, called Harry Underwood.

He had been gassed and shot, before being transferred to Etaples to recuperate. Thousands of men lived there in cramped, unhygienic conditions ripe for an epidemic.

Crucially, Etaples lies directly under one of the world's greatest bird migration routes, and it is known that the recovering soldiers and medics shot thousands of possibly bird-flu-infected wildfowl for food.

One of Sir Mark's descendents is his great-granddaughter, the author Plum Sykes. "It is rather grisly, but it is a great story," she says.

"It is such a shame he died so young. People said he could have gone on to great things.

"He was a modest man, but I think he would have been very proud if he'd known what an amazing thing he could achieve after his death."

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Who Created the Problems in the Middle East?

Who is responsible for the problems in the Middle East that befuddle the brain (and have for a long time)?

(1) The Ottoman Sultan

(2) Adolph Hitler

(3) TE Lawrence

(4) Gertrude Bell

(5) Sir Mark Sykes

What do you think? Probably not TE Lawrence, (Lawrence of Arabia) after all?
Answer coming up. Though, he wrote this piece in the Sunday Times in 1920.

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Supply Chain Roars Back

Supply Chain Management Roars Back to Life.

There have been a couple of big software waves over the past decade or so. In the latter 90's, ERP implementations were big news, coming right after the re-engineering "don't automate, obliterate" wave. The Internet was was also big, but considered to be 'fun and games' 'for kids' 'not secure' and not serious. It seems hard to believe that this was ever the case, but heck, it was. After the ERP wave, or at the tail end, execs realized that their new ERP implementation was as lithe and active as a whale shark, lumbering through the ocean.

To justify the incredibly expensive ERP license, made triply painful by gangs of semi-permanent buttoned-down consultants, companies had to (1) sell more product - which led directly to the CRM wave - software that let support and salespeople delight callers with reams of personalized information, while powering the transition to outsourced call centers and (2) practice Supply Chain Management, which promised a time-constrained glass pipeline of inbound materials, hopefully procured by dynamic auction; work in process, and finished good logistics, plugging into CRM, after all.

Meanwhile, simple web-aps with clear focus proliferated - track a package, check a movie time, buy a book, rent a movie. These were consumer-oriented, but the fact is everyone is a consumer, even at the office. While the ERP and Application providers became web-enabled, or B2B ASPs, some more so than others - these pureplays dancing at the feet of the big 3 software giants still lacked the element of simplicity; that's why they mostly have vanished, totally forgotten, in fact the bigger they were, the harder they fell - the business problems they were supposed to solve either weren't so bad, or could be solved in cheaper ways, and the giants descended into their growth plane and used up all the air. Maybe it is OK to let production planners circulate schedules via emails and spreadsheets (or wikis today).

Infinite Scale:

But, the Supply Chain challenge hasn't gone away. This is because of the problem of infinite scale. Due to the power of technology, the limits imposed by the constraint of diminishing returns, which stalls growth, keep getting pushed out further and further. The strategy and Execution need to be increasingly efficient and dynamic. Where Harvard and Berkeley theorists (HBR and Calif. Mgmt Review)foresaw "21st Century Network Organizations" in the latter 1990's - now, after the "end of software" (c. 2002) came and went - they are really here. But, rather than a model based on optimization of known inputs, crunching arrays of variability factors; what's needed is simplicity - back to the age of basic web aps in the nodes of the network, connected by instant messaging. So the efficient supply chain looks more like a social network today, and much less like a black box that spits out predictions. Effective SCM has to address the Infinite Scale Reality...

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Brain Health Shuffle

Brain Health Shuffle.

Whenever you click, you get a new idea to help your brain. Who knows what idea you will stumble upon? While you are playing games, you can surf through the latest scientific knowledge on the brain without cracking open a book or going to a tired health site.

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Cognitive Labs Blog post on Coast to Coast

What's America's most popular radio show?

Our Google Maps post is linked up at "news" section on the site of North America's most popular radio show - Coast to Coast AM, which has something like 40,000,000 nightly listeners in the U.S. and Canada.The show's guests think big, typically people such as cosmologist (not cosmetologist) Michio Kaku, SETI's Seth Shostak, hotel-in-space billionaire Robert Bigelow (fascinating) and blockbuster author/screenwriter/creative talent Whitley Strieber. If it was on in the 19th century, they would have had Theodore Judah, the individual who dreamed up the Transcontinental Railroad - on as a guest. Today, it's a flying car (not George Lucas). Thanks for sharing the love, guys. Good Karma.

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High Blood Pressure: It's All in Your Head

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. have developed a novel interpretation of high blood pressure. Usually thought of as a cardiopulmonary or vessel problem, the phenomenon may be linked instead, to the Brain.

Dr. Hidefumi Waki, working in a research group led by Professor Julian Paton, has found a novel role for the protein, JAM-1 (junctional adhesion molecule-1), which is located in the walls of blood vessels in the brain.

JAM-1 traps white blood cells called leukocytes which, once trapped, can cause inflammation and may obstruct blood flow, resulting in poor oxygen supply to the brain. This has led to the idea that high blood pressure -- hypertension -- is an inflammatory vascular disease of the brain.

One in three people in the UK are likely to develop hypertension, and with 600 million people affected world wide, it is of pandemic proportions. The alarming statistic that nearly 60 per cent of patients remain hypertensive, even though they are taking drugs to alleviate the condition, emphasises the urgency of looking for new mechanisms by which the body controls blood pressure, and finding new therapeutic targets to drive fresh drug development.

Professor Paton said: "We are looking at the possibility of treating those patients that fail to respond to conventional therapy for hypertension with drugs that reduce blood vessel inflammation and increase blood flow within the brain. The future challenge will be to understand the type of inflammation within the vessels in the brain, so that we know what drug to use, and how to target them. JAM-1 could provide us with new clues as to how to deal with this disease. "

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, commented: "This exciting study is important because it suggests there are unexpected causes of high blood pressure related to blood supply to the brain. It therefore opens up the possibility of new ways to treat this common, but often poorly managed, condition."

As there is still poor understanding about what changes occur in people when hypertension develops, the finding of JAM-1 is of great interest and opens up multiple new avenues for further research and potential treatment.

Funded primarily by the British Heart Foundation, Professor Julian Paton and colleagues have been working on the problems of hypertension for 12 years. Although the idea that the brain is to blame for high blood pressure is controversial, recent evidence from both animal models and patients supports this conclusion...

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U.S.Generals Point to Global Warming as Security Threat

A group of ex-generals, such as former USMC General Anthony Zinni, have recognized the growing threat of Global Warming on Security. The reason is simple. As the temperature increases, access to resources will become strained. Water supplies sufficient today may become insufficient tomorrow. Even if the net amount of fresh water available on the landmass is unchanged, displacement could cause significant disruption in farming and human habitat location; resulting in competition for desirable locations, and a potential flashpoint for armed conflict.

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Microsoft, DoubleClick, Google, Adobe

There were two major stories in technology over the weekend, for those interested in this topic. The first is Google's acquisition of DoubleClick on Friday, and the second, Microsoft's announcement of Silverlight, a vector authoring tool designed to compete with Adobe. Since Flash is installed on up to 99% of the total available market (TAM) for browsers, it will be interesting to see what their strategy is.

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Buy the Pope's Car on Ebay

PopeMobile: Now you can buy a 1999 VW Jetta for $200,000 on Ebay. The car was owned by Pope Benedict, formerly known as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. The item is listed for sale by GoldenPalace.com, which previously sold items such as the grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Virgin Mary.



Relive the Titanic

Now you can by purchasing a watch from the Atelier of Romaine Jerome of Geneva.

The watches, made from original coal and steel recovered from the bottom of the ocean, can be procured from between $7,800 and $173,100

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Get Our Newsletter

Take a test, get our newsletters and shortcuts...people seem to appreciate them, around the world.

"Thank you Michael for sending me the links. i am a clinical Psychologist currently doing Ph.D. at IIT Kanpur. These links are quite handy to me, as iam planning to work with alzheimer's patients"


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Researchers Probe Cognitive Skills of Orangutans

Using specially designed computer games, researchers probe the behavior of the orange-colored primate at the zoo in Atlanta, GA in an effort to better understand patterns of social behavior...

The AP article:

Four-year-old Bernas isn't the computer wizard his mom is, but he's learning. Just the other day he used his lips and feet to play a game on the touch-screen monitor as his mom, Madu, swung from vines and climbed trees.

The two Sumatran orangutans at Zoo Atlanta are playing computer games while researchers study the cognitive skills of the orange and brown primates.

The best part? Zoo visitors get to watch their every move.

The orangutans use a touch screen built into a tree-like structure that blend in with their zoo habitat. Visitors watch from a video monitor in front of the exhibit.

"That's so cool," Jeri McCarthy told her three daughters as Bernas drew a red, blue and yellow picture on the screen. "He can't get enough!"

Zoo officials hope the exhibit will raise awareness of the rapidly diminishing wild orangutan population, which is on track to completely disappear in the next decade, and potentially provide keys to their survival.

"The more we understand about orangutan's cognitive processes, the more we'll understand about what they need to survive in the wild," said Tara Stoinski, manager of conservation partnerships for the zoo. "It enables us to show the public how smart they are."

In one game, orangutans choose identical photographs or match orangutan sounds with photos of the animals — correct answers are rewarded with food pellets. Another game lets them draw pictures by moving their hands and other body parts around the screen. Printouts of their masterpieces are on display in the zoo.

The computer games, which volunteers from IBM spent nearly 500 hours developing, test the animals' memory, reasoning and learning, spitting out sheets of data for researchers at the zoo and Atlanta's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, a partner in the project.

The data will help researchers learn about socializing patterns, such as whether they mimic others or learn behavior from scratch through trial and error, said Elliott Albers with the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

Researchers hope the data can point to new conservation strategies to help the 37,000 orangutans living in the wild on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

"Hopefully we can get the animals to find better sources of food more easily," Albers said.

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago are also conducting such orangutan research. Visitors can also watch the animals use computers at the National Zoo, Stoinski said.

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Birkhead: Your Father He is

Of more pressing concern to the MSM than Global Warming, the pending showdown with Iran, or the subprime meltdown is the revelation that L.A. photographer Larry Birkhead is the Father of the late Anna Nicole's daughter, rather than the attorney, Mr. Stern, or the European nobleman. "Three Men and a Baby-Again"...the film treatment could be called.


Firefox Game

It's a great time to play the Firefox vs. IE game.



Python Meets Trek: Grudge Match

The Round Table of King Arthur as envisioned by Chretien De Troyes was neither "round" nor a "table": Discuss. Maybe it was the Round Tribble.

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Word and Excel in Space courtesy of space tourist

I emailed Mr Simonyi at his "Charles in Space" site, inviting him to share his brain score with our community....and wished him well in space and reminded him to maintain cognitive fitness once up there.

No reply, though his site claimed he would be answering questions about the voyage...let's hope he is mindful of the advice. Don't think we'll find him using Google Aps in orbit, but who knows.

So, our community will have to wait.

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan - A Russian rocket carrying the American billionaire who helped develop Microsoft Word blasted off late Saturday from the Baikonur cosmodrome en route to the international space station.

The Soyuz rocket, which also carried two cosmonauts, roared into overcast nighttime skies over the bleak Kazakh steppes, bathing the launch pad and dozens of officials and well-wishers a mile away in a glow of flame as it rose vertically then turned downrange.

Charles Simonyi, a 58-year-old Hungarian-born software programmer, paid more than $20 million for a 13-day trip to the orbiting station. He is the fifth paying space tourist to make the trip.

"I think for Charles it is a dream come true," said Victoria Scott, a friend of Simonyi's who watched the blastoff.

Martha Stewart, who has been linked romantically to Simonyi, spent the final hours before the launch taking a stroll aboard another mode of transport commonly seen around the gritty Baikonur space port in the barren steppes of Kazakhstan — a camel.

On Friday, Stewart shared a private moment with the billionaire...

read more



Mutant Genes May be Key to Expanding Memory

McGill University researchers have discovered that a mutant gene improves the long-term memory of laboratory mice, a discovery they hope will one day lead to a better quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and others suffering from memory impairment.

"We now have an excellent target for the development of new drugs that would be capable of doing the same thing that we did, which could be of great benefit to an aging population with memory loss," said Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, James McGill Professor of Translational Control Mechanisms in the Department of Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholar at McGill.

Using a mutant gene that regulates the switch from short to long-term memory in mice, Dr. Costa-Mattioli and his colleagues were able to manipulate biochemical reactions in the animals’ brains to control their memory and cognitive behaviour – both extending and reducing long-term memory functions. Their findings appear in the April 6 issue of the journal Cell.

To study spatial memory, the researchers used such tests as the Morris water maze, in which a mouse is placed in a pool of water containing a hidden platform located just below the surface. Visual cues are placed around the pool and over a number of trials, researchers analyze how quickly the mice remember how to locate the hidden platform using these cues. In this and other tests, the researchers found that the mice with the altered gene exhibited enhanced learning and memory.

Drs. Mauro Costa-Mattioli and Sonenberg conducted the research in collaboration with Dr. Jean-Claude Lacaille of Université de Montréal, Dr. Kobi Rosenblum of the University of Haifa and Dr. Randal Kaufman of the University of Michigan, as well as a team of colleagues from McGill, consisting of Drs. Jerry Pelletier, Wayne Sossin, Claudio Cuello, Kresimir Krnjevic and Karim Nader, a McGill psychology professor best known for his discovery that the impact of traumatic memories can be lessened with drug treatment.

"Our next step is to look at many different compounds to start searching for a drug that can be designed to improve long-term memory in humans," said Dr. Sonenberg.

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CogLabs reaches 2 million users

We just registered our two millionth person. I've just noticed something interesting--many sites have lots of users with multiple accounts. I would not venture a guess, but from experience on our forum, which is not that active and has been up for a couple months and is not included in our numbers - I would say probably 50% are people with more than one account - going to a service like myspace, it's not hard to imagine that half the users are spam accounts. Probably the same at content sites like digg. Some sites let users create mutliple accounts with one email address, or even - no email address. Our policy is a simple 1 user = 1 email address. We really try to keep things simple here. Fighting off the bots is a little challenging.


Humans Fiddle

Terry Root is a familiar name to environment watchers--especially when the subject concerns global warming.

Root, a senior fellow at Stanford University, is co-author of a report on climate change that will be discussed at an international conference later this week in Belgium.

The report, "Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability," investigates how global warming is already affecting the animal and plant kingdoms.

Read more here

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Over the Hills...and Far Away

Fast forward five years from the era of the Mamas and Papas - almost to the age of the eight-track tape. Check out this Ledzep favorite circa 1971. Almost gets us to break out the coglabs 12-string.


Mamas and Papas, Part 3

The news just hit the wires that there will be a special announcement regarding EMI Music - owners of the Beatles catalog, the Apple iPhone, and a "live peformance" tomorrow...here's another 1960s segment....

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