Author Archive

research on ice-cream headaches: next step for treating migraines

April 23, 2012 2 comments



Imagine, it is a hot, sultry, dry summer day… You are going to the nearest cafe place and buying a pint of a delicious ice-cream. The first bit of that ice-cream maybe the most enjoyable event of the day! However, suddenly you feel that your teeth are cramped and you get an incredibly intensive brain freeze headache that might even destroy your delight. Why does it happen? In a new study conducted by Melissa Mary Blatt and her colleagues the explanation to this phenomenon is provided.

According to this article, the migraine seems to be triggered by an abrupt increase in blood flow in the anterior cerebral artery and slowly disappears when the artery constricts. We all know that there are different headache types each one associated with a particular problem in your organism. However, the discovery made by Melissa and her colleagues might open a new window into the researches of headache treatments. Another “headache study” discussed in the article is the Serrador’s abstract presented during the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego few days ago. The study looked into the speed of a headache, the dilation (the quick constriction) that may be a type of self-defense for the brain. The brain is one of the most important organs of the body and it is highly sensitive to the temperature changes. The vasodilatation might be used as a tool to move the warmth inside the brain to make sure it does not freeze. However, the fact that the skull is a closed structure, the sudden influx of blood could raise the pressure in the skull and increase the pain. That fact could be used when treating migraines and posttraumatic headaches that have the same forming conditions.

What about you, guys? How often do you get the brain freeze syndrome? Do you find anyhow similar to the other migraines that you get for other reasons? How do you feel about current attempts to treat headaches? Are they effective?


dispatchers suffer from PTSD

March 31, 2012 2 comments



The article “Emergency dispatchers suffer from symptoms of PTSD hits one main point: people are able to experience the significant level of emotional stress at work even when they are not physically damaged or involved in the traumatic situation. An article presents the statistics on the commonly identified worst calls that are most likely to provoke the stressful situation for 911 dispatchers. Usually we think that people who go to such a stressful job are supposed to know from the beginning the stress that they are going to face with. Usually those people are very stress stable; barely anything can make their heart to speed up. However, that is not usually the case. The dispatchers are still humans; therefore, they are vulnerable as humans are. According with the article, the worst calls that are most likely to cause the post-traumatic stress disorders are death of a child, suicidal phone calls, shooting involving officers and incidents that involve unexpected death of an adult.  In fact, in case of an accident, we all think about psychological and physical conditions of people directly involved in it, leaving behind people who are not directly involved but still think and help during the accident. The research made helps us better understand the risks associated with emergency jobs and, probably, to improve working conditions of those people.

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Medical and psychological view on drug abuse.

March 26, 2012 1 comment


The article “Discovery of Brain’s Natural Resistance to Drugs May offer clues to treating addiction” provides an inside look on the recent studies and new scientific findings that concern the drug addiction, concentrating primarily on cocaine and methamphetamine addictions. As statistics for 2009 show, the number of deaths due to drug abuse (more than 37, 000 people) significantly overwhelms the number of deaths for car accidents attracting more attention to the problem of drug abuse in the modern society. As researchers found out, the powerful response to the drug injection last for few days, releasing neurotransmitters that are responsible for the feeling of happiness and satisfaction. The release of dopamine can be mimicked that can possibly result in the creating of a medicine that can treat drug addiction by providing the similar drug that does not create addiction but can help in stimulating same receptors in the brain as dopamine does. In fact, the drug abuse in modern society becomes a significant problem that could be even called an illness. This is a decision that is similar to the decision of jumping under the train. Moreover, it is a decision in the way of thinking, of judging the world. If a lot of people are mistaken, it becomes a social problem, the problem in the mode of life. The motto of this way of life: “Catch the moment! Be happy right now, because tomorrow you can die.” But the death starts immediately from both psychological and medical points of view and the happiness just stays in the memory of people. This way of life is not completely different from the way that other people live, it is probably much faster. You live not for decades but for days and months. Today, a lot of attention is focused on the drug abuse problem, on the search for the ways of treating and escaping drugs. Despite the significant amounts put in the education about drugs, the addiction still stays a major social issue of our society.

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Finding/preserving the world of Nemo

March 16, 2012 1 comment


Do you remember the cartoon “Finding Nemo” produced by Pixar? The sky-blue ocean, bloody red corals, violet mysterious jellyfish and evil sharks were essential attributes of “Nemo”. We all know how a sawfish looks like but have you ever asked yourself why a sawfish does has chainsaw instead of the nose. In the cartoon created basically for kids sawfish is fighting with its “rostrum” but do they do that in real world? The article “How the sawfish wields its saw… like a swordsman” taken from Discover magazine exhaustively answers this question. In fact, saws are both trackers and weapons. Because of small pores that sense the electrical field around living organisms, the saw can detect the movement and attack. Some sawfish can cut their victims in half. Good thing about the cartoon- it does not misrepresent the natural world: the methods of attacking sawfish are realistic. The article is worth exploring for people who were ever interested in sharks and their behavior; it contains biological and evolutionary information about this type of species and their position in the food chain. My personal conclusion from what I’ve read is that sawfish becoming extinct and the goal of scientists to preserve and to explore those animals. Otherwise, the “Finding Nemo” will be only a beautiful cartoon that we will show to our grandchildren saying: “And that is how the ocean used to be long time ago…”

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for chocoholic’s edification

February 22, 2012 3 comments

Bon appetit!

We all LOVE chocolate, right? This seductive smell…mmm… Chocolate chip cookies in the counter of Starbucks, chocolate brownies made by our grandmothers or mothers when coming home for a break, the infinite and unlimited choice of chocolate production in Safeway or Whole foods…  We buy it when we feel good or bad, upset or happy- all that does not matter when you get chocolate! Even our teachers recommend us to eat it before taking a test! Unfortunately for me, I am allergic to chocolateL. Yah, it sucks I know. In fact, few years ago I overdosed on chocolate by eating the whole birthday box in 30 minutes. After few days of painful itching and unpleasant doctors’ visits my diagnosis shaped to: “chocolate allergic”. Since then, every article about chocolate attracts my attention. The post ”The Curious (Toxic) Chemistry of Chocolate” is not an exception. It primarily focuses on the poisonous effects of chocolate (aha!). An author presents the theory that the alkaloid, called theobromine is exactly a substance that makes chocolate dangerous. In the same time, being a mild stimulate, theobromine is the compound that could be responsible for your success on the exam! The overdose of theobromine is 0.8 -1.5 grams that is contained in 50-100 grams of cocoa. Pretty tricky, huh? Not so much for humans as for other mammals! Anyone familiar with house pets such as dogs and cats should agree that it s strictly prohibited to GIVE CHOCOLATE TO THEM. According to the article, 200 mg/kg of theobromine is contained in dogs organism which mean that even small amounts of chocolate are dangerous. At this point I blush: I still remember feeding my dachshund with chocolate behind my parents back.

Apart from stimulate properties of theobromine it dilates blood vessels, bringing down blood pressure and considered to be diuretics: so, hopefully, there are some positive effects. However, its interaction with nervous system is not as effective as caffeine. So I guess a cup of double espresso will be more effective in the exam than a chocolate bar… I’m not a bitter enemy of chocolate, but I get slightly frustrated sometimes when ALL cookies in a store are with chocolate that is not even indicated properly on the cover! Anyway, chocolate consumption is the dietary private decision of each person; my point of view supports Deborah Blum and many other scientists who agree that everything is good but in limited amounts.

Have a nice lunch!

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hello there!

February 1, 2012 1 comment

Dear ladies and gentleman,

I will be honest with you, my first attempt to keep a blog have miserably failed, and, in fact, I was always cynically suspicious about the posting or sharing of private diaries and thoughts online. As far as I remember there was one time when I managed to create almost three posts in Livejournal, however, that was the maximum capacity that I was able to reach in the “bloggers world”. “Not very productive”- would you say. And I totally agree.

However, I received a second chance to acquire good habits of blogging by taking “Science, Culture and Media” University writing course. I am extremely happy that I won’t be just randomly writing about anything that turns up to my mind as I used to, but more kind of organized and précised material concerning recent news about science or culture.

According with universally recognized traditions, I am supposed to present myself in few words, in the same time trying to be anonymous. So…I love cats, caramel in all its manifestations and, pharmacology. I hope to post more about the last one.

I look forward to writing for you)

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