Training the brain to think ahead in addiction

The growing numbers of new cases of substance abuse disorders are perplexing. After all, the course of drug addiction so often ends badly. The negative consequences of drug abuse appear regularly on TV, from stories of celebrities behaving in socially inappropriate and self-destructive ways while intoxicated to dramatization of the rigors of drug withdrawal on “Intervention” and other reality shows.

Racial stereotyping found in US death certificates

Death by homicide, the victim is probably black. By cirrhosis, the decedent is likely Native American. These stereotypes have small but clear effects on the racial classifications used to calculate official vital statistics, according to a new study by sociologists at the University of Oregon and University of California, Irvine.

Little-known growth factor enhances memory, prevents forgetting in rats

A naturally occurring growth factor significantly boosted retention and prevented forgetting of a fear memory when injected into rats’ memory circuitry during time-limited windows when memories become fragile and changeable. In the study funded by the National Institutes of Health, animals treated with insulin-like growth factor (IGF-II) excelled at remembering to avoid a location where they had previously experienced a mild shock.

Map of brain connectivity changes during development

Connected highways of nerve cells carry information to and from different areas of the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Scientists are trying to draw a complete atlas of these connections—sometimes referred to as the “connectome”—to gain a better understanding of how the brain functions in health and disease.

Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things on time

The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by scientists. Not only does the research provide important insight into health-related problems linked to individuals with disrupted clocks – such as pilots and shift workers – it also indicates that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae and dates back millions of years to early life on Earth.

Megalomaniac CEOs: Good or bad for company performance?

According to a new study, dominant CEOS, who are powerful figures in the organization as compared to other members of the top management team, drive companies to extremes of performance. Unfortunately for shareholders, the performance of a company with an all powerful CEO can be either much worse than other companies, or much better.

Adolescent brains over-process rewards, suggesting root of risky behavior

University of Pittsburgh researchers have recorded neuron activity in adolescent rat brains that could reveal the biological root of the teenage propensity to consider rewards over consequences and explain why adolescents are more vulnerable to drug addiction, behavioral disorders, and other psychological ills.

Looking at the horizon stabilizes posture

Everybody who has been aboard a ship has heard the advice: if you feel unsteady, look at the horizon. For a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers measured how much people sway on land and at sea and found there’s truth in that advice; people aboard a ship are steadier if they fix their eyes on the horizon.

Eyewitnesses are not as reliable as one might believe

Those who have witnessed a crime would do best not to tell anyone about it. Contrary to what one might believe, a person’s memory of an event is not improved by retelling the story. Instead, the risk of an incorrect account increases the more the story is retold and discussed.

Humans’ critical ability to throw long distances aided by an illusion

Can’t help molding some snow into a ball and hurling it or tossing a stone as far into a lake as you can? New research from Indiana University and the University of Wyoming shows how humans, unlike any other species on Earth, readily learn to throw long distances. This research also suggests that this unique evolutionary trait is entangled with language development in a way critical to our very existence.

Bartenders may have role in assisting troubled war veterans

A pilot study suggests that some bartenders may be in a good position to identify veterans in need of mental health services and help connect them to the appropriate agency. Researchers at Ohio State University surveyed 71 bartenders employed at Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Ohio.