Spinal cord injury, spasms, and serotonin

When people think of spinal cord injury, they tend to think of paralysis. But a spinal cord injury can also cause debilitating muscle spasms. Although the drug baclofen can control these spasms, many patients cannot tolerate its side effects, which include general sedation and dizziness. A new study sheds light on how a spinal cord injury leads to spasms, and on the promise of more precisely targeted drugs with fewer side effects.

Just two drinks slow reactions in older people

Blood alcohol levels below the current legal limit for driving have a significant negative effect on a person’s dexterity. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Research Notes found that just two single vodka and orange drinks were enough to make senior volunteers struggle at an obstacle avoidance test while walking.

Current decisions shape your future preferences

Psychologists have known for a long time that after you make a choice, you adjust your opinion to think better of the thing you chose. Now a new study has found that this is true even if you don’t know the options that you’re choosing between.

Mental abilities decline with age, but drops not as steep as previously noted

A new look at tests of mental aging reveals a good news-bad news situation. The bad news is all mental abilities appear to decline with age, to varying degrees. The good news is the drops are not as steep as some research showed, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.

Perception of emotion is culture-specific

Want to know how a Japanese person is feeling? Pay attention to the tone of his voice, not his face. That’s what other Japanese people would do, anyway. A new study examines how Dutch and Japanese people assess others’ emotions and finds that Dutch people pay attention to the facial expression more than Japanese people do.

Children and adults see the world differently

Unlike adults, children are able to keep information from their senses separate and may therefore perceive the visual world differently, according to research published today.

Not all interneurons are created equally

A type of neuron that, when malfunctioning, has been tied to epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia is much more complex than previously thought, researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report in the Sept. 9 issue of Neuron.