Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some science items via ScienceDaily's (free) newsletter:
A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica [as] previously thought. . . . [T]his iconic bird . . . breeds in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.



When Dr. Irene Gatti de Leon slipped on the ice and bumped her head, she wasn't too concerned. But two months later, she began to experience weakness in her right leg and right arm while she and her husband were visiting their daughter in suburban Chicago.

So she made an urgent appointment with Loyola University Medical Center neurologist Dr. José Biller, a fellow native of Uruguay whom she has known for years.

Biller ordered an immediate MRI scan, which showed a large subdural hematoma -- a mass of blood on the surface of the brain. With the hematoma compressing the brain, de Leon was in imminent danger of suffering permanent paralysis or cognitive deficits, similar to disabilities caused by strokes.

Biller referred de Leon to Loyola neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Anderson, who stayed late to perform emergency surgery. Anderson drilled two holes in her skull and drained the hematoma, which was about 2 inches long and 1½ inches thick. De Leon has made a full recovery. . . .

De Leon's case "is an excellent illustration of why patients should not ignore neurological symptoms," Biller said.



Abandoned army bunkers along the Jordan River have become a habitat for 12 indigenous bat species, three of which are already designated as endangered and two that are on the critical list.

. . . [R]esearchers are now working to make the bunkers a more hospitable place for the bats by "roughing up" the steel and concrete walls -- suspending mesh sheets and wooden pallets and spraying insulating foam and stuck stones to surfaces to provide a better grip.



[Headline: Caterpillars More Likely to Vomit Alone]

A type of caterpillar which defends itself by regurgitating on its predators is less likely to do so when in groups than when alone. . . .

Such reluctance is sufficient to cancel out the benefits of being in a group.



Strong scientific evidence exists that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes, scientists report.



Stimulating the brain with a weak electrical current is a safe and effective treatment for depression and could have other surprise benefits for the body and mind, a major Australian study of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has found. . . .

A non-invasive form of brain stimulation, tDCS passes a weak depolarising electrical current into the front of the brain through electrodes on the scalp. Patients remain awake and alert during the procedure. . . .

The study also turned up additional unexpected physical and mental benefits, including improved attention and information processing.

"One participant with a long-standing reading problem said his reading had improved after the trial and others commented that they were able to think more clearly.

"Another participant with chronic neck pain reported that the pain had disappeared during the trial. We think that is because tDCS actually changes the brain's perception of pain. We believe these cognitive benefits are another positive aspect of the treatment worthy of investigation," Professor Loo said.



Those suffering from nagging tinnitus can benefit from internet-based therapy just as much as patients who take part in group therapy sessions. These are the findings of a German-Swedish study in which patients with moderate to severe tinnitus tried out various forms of therapy over a ten-week period. The outcome of both the internet-based therapy and group therapy sessions was significantly better than that of a control group that only participated in an online discussion forum. . . .

The results for subjects in the cognitive behavioral therapy group were also very good, with distress levels being reduced from 44 to 29 points. In contrast, there was hardly any change in this respect in the control group subjects participating in the online discussion forum. Their average distress level was 40 points at the beginning of the study and remained at 37 points thereafter.



Men like to know when their wife or girlfriend is happy while women really want the man in their life to know when they are upset, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association. . . .

"It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man's investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times. . . ,” said the study's lead author. . . .

Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men's ability to read their female partner's positive emotions correctly. However, contrary to the researchers' expectations, women who correctly understood that their partners were upset during the videotaped incident were much more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than if they correctly understood that their partner was happy. Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not.