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Researchers show why music is so addictive

April 30, 2012 1 comment

In this article, they explain why it may feel like you are ‘addicted’ to music. It turns out that listening to music releases dopamine, which is the chemical released in our brain that makes us want to repeat things that we have previously done. It s also why drugs are also something that people get addicted to. While listening to music that you enjoy, your brain is stimulated by what it is listening to, creating a body response like chills. 

Not only does this explain why some people say that they can’t live without music, but it also explains why music has been around for ages, according to the article.

I thought that the biological explanation was fascinating, since I am one of those people that can’t live without music in my life.  

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Electronic Skin

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The article “Electronic Skin” presents an electronic device created by John Rogers and the other scientists part of his lab. This device, in the form of something like a temporary tattoo, has the ability to record data about your health: “Placed on a forehead, the device can record brainwaves; on the wrist, blood flow and muscle movement. On the skin of sick patients, it can track vital signs and watch for problems, replacing the bulky equipment usually found in hospitals. And stuck to the throat, it can function as a secret cell phone, activated by the movements of a person’s voice box.” It can even be placed near the heart, where it will pick up information about heartbeats. 

With the size being close to that of a postage stamp, its thickness of half a paper, and its ability to be flexible like the skin, it’s barely felt by the person who has it on them.  

This opens up numerous possibilities- some that are mentioned in the article include the ability to record the brainwaves of a person with epileptic seizures and it can identify throat movements while someone is speaking (helpful for deep-sea divers and spies). With this device, the larger machines may not be necessary.

The article even took it outside of the health world. Coleman says, “If we can monitor the brain signals between teachers and students who are interacting, then maybe we can learn the extent to which they understand each other. That could revolutionize education and training. It’s easy to imagine the possibilities. And if we don’t imagine, then what are we doing?”

It’s crazy what technological innovations have provided for us- I can’t believe how far technology has taken us and how much further it will take us in the future.  

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Stress may alter body’s immune response

April 8, 2012 7 comments

In this study at Carnegie Mellon University, they discuss how stress has negative consequences on your immune system and this article explains the scientific reasoning behind this.

Cortisol  helps reduce inflammatory response by binding to the white blood cells. In the people who have undergone longterm stress,they found that there is receptor resistance which leads to unresponsiveness to cortisol-there is enough cortisol, but it won’t bind to receptors of the white blood cells. As a result, not only is the duration for the sickness longer but it seems to be more intense in its symptoms than it would be otherwise. The cytokines are the chemical messengers responsible for producing a response to the inflammation. The people who are stressed and have a lower ablitity of modulating their immune system produce more cytokines, and as a result, they experience greater inflammatory symptoms. The inflammatory  response is not limited to just the flu but  it also plays a role in other infections. However Professor Andrew Lloyd does not want us to draw definitive conclusions from this and says that more studies are necessary in real life situations.

As students, we are almost always undergoing some stress, and I always get some sort of sickness when exams start to approach, so I thought I would share the explanation behind it. Do you guys notice your body becoming extra sensitive to infections when you are the most stressed?

Article: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/03/3469033.htm?topic=health

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Using Animals for Science

March 25, 2012 3 comments

After reading an article titled: A Mouse Made Just for You will Model  Your Medical Problems, I was definitely amazed at the discovery. According to the article, few studies have been able to find out solutions to health problems by putting a mouse under the same circumstances as the patient at hand. In the article they state that by using another means of ‘experimenting’ to get a solution besides the patient himself, they feel that they can take more risks and get better results. By transferring part of the patients tissue to a mouse allows the scientist to observe the effects of drugs and test certain treatments, sparing the patients from pain and suffering that they do not want to undergo. People with similar conditions to the man who passed away just before they had found out that the tested drug had worked can be saved.

Without using mice or other animals that are used in scientific research, I am sure many of the discoveries made would not have been made till later or maybe not at all.But is there a line between letting numerous animals serve as the experiment and potentially letting numerous patients suffer because of scientists lacking resources to find the solution or gain more knowledge on a particular medical topic? How do you guys feel about animals being used to seek medical answers?

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Global Warming- The Ongoing Debate

March 10, 2012 4 comments

I just read a article titled “Less Sea Ice Brings More Snow” which talks about how the melting ice caps due to global warming are causing brutal winters in parts of the world. They found that the ice, which reflects the sun’s rays, is melting and now the ocean which is underneath starts absorbing the rays because of the darker color. This causes the water surface and the air above it to increase in temperature, which changes how the wind circulates. 

But this just another article discussing one of the numerous effects of global warming. What I wanted to focus on is how global warming has become such a popular topic, and how some people are slowly changing their ways, either by recycling, conserving electricity, carpooling, etc. in order to be more environmentally friendly. But there is also the other group that doesn’t believe that global warming, or global climate change, doesn’t exist at all, and that these abnormally warm days during our winter season are just natural phenomenons. 

My question is: What are your views on how we are dealing with the effects of global warming? Are there any ways that we can encourage people who aren’t trying to save the environment to start? And for those who don’t believe it exists, what is your reaction to how there have been numerous articles that talk about how we must adjust our behaviors now before we cause permanent damage to the environment?

Article link: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/338792/title/Less_sea_ice_brings_more_snow 

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A New Way to Learn?

February 18, 2012 5 comments

I have always had an interest in how schools engage students in their course work in order for them to get the most out of what they are learning. But at Sudbury Valley School, the students aren’t put into multiple classes that may or may not play a role in their future. It doesn’t matter if someone has a learning disorder or if they struggle doing certain things. At Sudbury, kids actually get to learn to do whatever they have passion for, and develop learning skills as they delve deeper into their subject of choice. They believe that students do learn by doing things ‘hands on’ and when they are genuinely interested in something, that motivation gives them the drive to learn and explore–whether it is through playing with planes or riding a unicycle. And with the skills they gain by mastering whatever they choose to do, they go into the future.

I think some can relate – I have always had moments that I felt that there were other things I would rather focus on in school instead of the subject at hand, but I knew that the curriculum would never allow things that stray from the core courses they believed were necessary to be successful in the future. In my opinion, this idea may actually help people who don’t do well in the structured setting of traditional schools. It also gives them the chance to truly focus and enjoy things that fascinate them-who wouldn’t want to learn about something they choose?

What do you guys think? Do you think that this way of learning will open up opportunities for people, or will it eventually create problems? Will they lack skills that are developed in the conventional school setting?

If you want to read more about the school, the link is:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201202/play-time/uh-oha-school-where-kids-can-play-all-day

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