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Archive for the 'Health' Category

Experts find anti-aging properties in bullfrogs

Posted by Mai on 28th February 2008

The Manila Times Internet Edition
Experts find anti-aging
properties in bullfrogs

SEOUL: While it only turns into a handsome prince in fairy tales, the homely bullfrog may harbor a valuable anti-aging substance for humans, South Korean researchers say.

Read rest of this story here:
The Manila Times Internet Edition

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Eliminate Options To Live Better

Posted by Gregov on 27th February 2008

The next time you’re juggling options — which friend to see, which house to buy, which career to pursue — try asking yourself this question: What would Xiang Yu do?

Xiang Yu was a Chinese general in the third century B.C. who took his troops across the Yangtze River into enemy territory and performed an experiment in decision making. He crushed his troops’ cooking pots and burned their ships.

He explained this was to focus them on moving forward — a motivational speech that was not appreciated by many of the soldiers watching their retreat option go up in flames. But General Xiang Yu would be vindicated, both on the battlefield and in the annals of social science research.

He is one of the role models in Dan Ariely’s new book, “Predictably Irrational,” an entertaining look at human foibles like the penchant for keeping too many options open. General Xiang Yu was a rare exception to the norm, a warrior who conquered by being unpredictably rational.

Most people can’t make such a painful choice, not even the students at a bastion of rationality like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Dr. Ariely is a professor of behavioral economics. In a series of experiments, hundreds of students could not bear to let their options vanish, even though it was obviously a dumb strategy (and they weren’t even asked to burn anything).

The experiments involved a game that eliminated the excuses we usually have for refusing to let go. In the real world, we can always tell ourselves that it’s good to keep options open.

You don’t even know how a camera’s burst-mode flash works, but you persuade yourself to pay for the extra feature just in case. You no longer have anything in common with someone who keeps calling you, but you hate to just zap the relationship.

Your child is exhausted from after-school soccer, ballet and Chinese lessons, but you won’t let her drop the piano lessons. They could come in handy! And who knows? Maybe they will.

In the M.I.T. experiments, the students should have known better. They played a computer game that paid real cash to look for money behind three doors on the screen. (You can play it yourself, without pay, at tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com.) After they opened a door by clicking on it, each subsequent click earned a little money, with the sum varying each time.

As each player went through the 100 allotted clicks, he could switch rooms to search for higher payoffs, but each switch used up a click to open the new door. The best strategy was to quickly check out the three rooms and settle in the one with the highest rewards.

Even after students got the hang of the game by practicing it, they were flummoxed when a new visual feature was introduced. If they stayed out of any room, its door would start shrinking and eventually disappear.

They should have ignored those disappearing doors, but the students couldn’t. They wasted so many clicks rushing back to reopen doors that their earnings dropped 15 percent. Even when the penalties for switching grew stiffer — besides losing a click, the players had to pay a cash fee — the students kept losing money by frantically keeping all their doors open.

Why were they so attached to those doors? The players, like the parents of that overscheduled piano student, would probably say they were just trying to keep future options open. But that’s not the real reason, according to Dr. Ariely and his collaborator in the experiments, Jiwoong Shin, an economist who is now at Yale.

They plumbed the players’ motivations by introducing yet another twist. This time, even if a door vanished from the screen, players could make it reappear whenever they wanted. But even when they knew it would not cost anything to make the door reappear, they still kept frantically trying to prevent doors from vanishing.

Apparently they did not care so much about maintaining flexibility in the future. What really motivated them was the desire to avoid the immediate pain of watching a door close.

“Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss,” Dr. Ariely says. In the experiment, the price was easy to measure in lost cash. In life, the costs are less obvious — wasted time, missed opportunities. If you are afraid to drop any project at the office, you pay for it at home.

“We may work more hours at our jobs,” Dr. Ariely writes in his book, “without realizing that the childhood of our sons and daughters is slipping away. Sometimes these doors close too slowly for us to see them vanishing.”

Dr. Ariely, one of the most prolific authors in his field, does not pretend that he is above this problem himself. When he was trying to decide between job offers from M.I.T. and Stanford, he recalls, within a week or two it was clear that he and his family would be more or less equally happy in either place. But he dragged out the process for months because he became so obsessed with weighing the options.

“I’m just as workaholic and prone to errors as anyone else,” he says.. “I have way too many projects, and it would probably be better for me and the academic community if I focused my efforts. But every time I have an idea or someone offers me a chance to collaborate, I hate to give it up.”

So what can be done? One answer, Dr. Ariely said, is to develop more social checks on overbooking. He points to marriage as an example: “In marriage, we create a situation where we promise ourselves not to keep options open. We close doors and announce to others we’ve closed doors.”

Or we can just try to do it on our own. Since conducting the door experiments, Dr. Ariely says, he has made a conscious effort to cancel projects and give away his ideas to colleagues. He urges the rest of us to resign from committees, prune holiday card lists, rethink hobbies and remember the lessons of door closers like Xiang Yu.

If the general’s tactics seem too crude, Dr. Ariely recommends another role model, Rhett Butler, for his supreme moment of unpredictable rationality at the end of his marriage. Scarlett, like the rest of us, can’t bear the pain of giving up an option, but Rhett recognizes the marriage’s futility and closes the door with astonishing elan. Frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.

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Philippine Tuberculosis Society 97 years of combating TB

Posted by Delbert on 28th July 2007

Manila Bulletin Online
Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc.: 97 years of combating TB in the Philippines

TUBERCULOSIS TB is a deadly disease. It is the world’s No. 1 cause of death; about 3 million persons die of TB every year. It is one of the 10 top killer diseases in the Philippines; 75 Filipinos die of TB every day.

Appalled by tremendous loss every year of Filipino life due to tuberculosis, several civic-minded persons in Manila led by Eleanor Franklin Egan, founded the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc. PTSI on July 29, 1910. It started with five clinics and 20 shacks at the Santol TB Sanitarium. It gradually expanded its activities to 40 provinces in the country with the Quezon Institute as its biggest and well-known unit.

A non-stock, non-profit organization, PTSI has pursued its commitment to prevent, treat, and control tuberculosis in the country. Governed by a distinguished board of directors, its vision is to work ceaselessly for TB control in the country. Its mission is to complement the government’s national TB control program by intensifying research and development, and networking with partner agencies and individuals in TB control in the Philippines.

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Wars, disasters take toll on Pinoys’ mental health

Posted by Mai on 28th July 2007

The Manila Times Internet Edition


Wars, disasters take toll
on Pinoys’ mental health

Armed conflict, natural disasters and large-scale labor migration are causing mental disorders for up to a fifth of Filipino adults, psychiatrists said Friday.

Up to 20 percent of adults suffer from some form of mental disorder, with 10 to 15 percent of children suffering from mental problems, according to the Philippine Psychiatric Association.

Mental disability is a “huge public health challenge” in the Philippines since many of its citizens are exposed to various “extreme life experiences,” said Yolanda Oliveros, director of the health department’s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

“We’ve tried to identify the components that could influence the mental status of a person and we found that life experiences such as disasters and armed conflict” affect a person’s state of mind, Oliveros told an annual convention of the country’s psychiatrists.

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The Laws of Chemistry – What is love and why do we love what we love!

Posted by Delbert on 26th July 2007

Psychology Today: The Laws of Chemistry

Page one of four – To read the rest of the story please click the link immediately above this and go to the Psychology Today article.

As an anthropologist, I have long been captivated by one of the most striking characteristics of our species: We form enduring pair bonds. The vast majority of other mammals—some 97 percent—do not.

In my previous work I proposed that humanity has evolved three distinct but overlapping brain systems that enable us to fall in love and form long-term emotional connections: the neural systems for the sex drive, romantic love, and attachment. We are all alike in having these three primary brain networks. In other ways, however, each of us is unique. We don’t fall in love with just anyone. We have deep and idiosyncratic preferences. Why do we fall in love with one person rather than another?

There is much evidence that people generally fall in love with those of the same socioeconomic and ethnic background, of roughly the same age, with the same degree of intelligence and level of education, and with a similar sense of humor and grade of attractiveness.

But you can walk into a room of 40 people all from your background, with your level of education, degree of intelligence and good looks, and you don’t fall in love with all of them. “The road of love is narrow,” wrote Kabir, a 15th-century poet of India. “There is only room for one.” How do we form this preference—one that is so crucial to our reproductive future?

Among the myriad forces that sculpt our romantic choices is what I call your “love map,” an unconscious list of qualities you begin to build in childhood. Your mother’s wit and way with words; your father’s interest in politics and tennis; what your siblings like and hate; the values of your friends and teachers; what you see on television. All your childhood (and adult) experiences shape and reshape your template of the ideal romantic partner.

By the teenage years, each of us has constructed an idiosyncratic catalog of traits, values, aptitudes, and mannerisms that appeal to us. Then, when the timing is right and we meet a person who registers on our love map, a cascade of brain chemicals is triggered that tells us with euphoric certainty that we have found the one.

But I have come to believe that there’s more to mate choice than your childhood, your background, your values, and your degree of good looks. These variables act in tandem with a silent partner: your biology. What sparked my thinking on this was a classic study now commonly known as the sweaty T-shirt experiment.

Women are unconsciously attracted to men with a different immune system; they do it by smell. If you are attracted to someone whose immune system is different from yours, why wouldn’t you also be attracted to those with other genetic differences? Mates with distinctly different genetic profiles would produce more genetically varied young.

It is this line of logic and investigation that I embarked on two years ago. Psychologists have searched exhaustively to find personality factors that play a role in romantic attraction. Do opposites attract? Or is similarity the elixir of love? No consistent patterns emerge. Extroverts don’t always fall for extroverts, for example—or for introverts. With some traits, people gravitate to those who are similar; in others, they prefer individuals who complement them. Psychologists report a temptation to throw in the towel on how personality influences partner selection.

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Researchers Seek To Reverse Alzheimer’s

Posted by Delbert on 26th July 2007

Researchers Seek To Reverse Alzheimer’s
Researchers Seek To Reverse Alzheimer’s

Reviewed by: John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
on July 25, 2007 at 10:20 am

Scottish biologists report they have developed man-made compounds capable of blocking nerve cell interactions known to lead to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers believe this finding shows that it may be possible to reverse some of the signs associated with Alzheimer’s.

The biologists at the University of St Andrews found the blocking of nerve cell interactions lead to a successful reversal of the progression of the disease and prevention of the death of brain cells among laboratory animals.

After the procedure the targeted mice displayed improved memory and learning ability overcoming prior brain damage.

The discovery that Alzheimer’s is caused by a toxic protein which kills off nerve cells in the brains of sufferers, has led to the search for a compound which can block or reduce the debilitating interaction.

Alzheimer’s is linked to the build up of amyloid protein which eventually forms ’senile plaques’. The amyloid protein inflicts damage by interacting with an enzyme called ABAD Amyloid Beta Alcohol Dehydrogenase and releasing toxic substances which kill brain cells.

Dr Frank Gunn-Moore’s team, from the University of St Andrews in collaboration with researchers in the US, initially focused on developing the three-dimensional shape of ABAD and understanding how amyloid attaches itself to the structure.

Dr Gunn-Moore, a senior lecturer at the University’s School of Biology said, “Alzheimer’s sufferers produce too much amyloid and ABAD in their brains. Based on our knowledge of ABAD, we produced an inhibitor that can prevent amyloid attaching to it in a living model. We have shown that it is possible to reverse some of the signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The work is now being continued to try and refine the inhibitor into a potential drug. Our research holds a possible key for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in its early stages.”

Source: University of St Andrews

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