Tag Archives: researchers

Switzerland – The first large-scale study links genes and brain anatomy to risk-taking behavior | Instant News

(MENAFN – Swissinfo) In a study of about 25,000 people, researchers at the University of Zurich found that genes and brain anatomy influence whether a person takes risks.

This content is published on 30 January 2021 – 15:56 January 30 2021 – 15:56 UZH / jdp

There is widespread evidence that people tend to take risks. However, there is very little research into how genetic disposition translates into risky behavior. The only study to date looking at structural brain imaging data came from a small, non-representative sample of just a few hundred people.

An international team led by neuroscientists at UZH studied the genetic information and brain scans of more than 25,000 people to understand how genetic characteristics correlate with risk-taking behaviors such as drinking, smoking, driving and promiscuity.

The large sample allows the researcher to control for several variables such as age, gender and other factors to reveal that there is a relationship between brain function and anatomy as well as risky behavior.

The study, published in the Nature Human BehaviorExternal link last week, confirmed several areas of the brain thought to be associated with risky behavior. These include the hypothalamus, where hormones such as dopamine are released, and the prefrontal cortex, which plays an important role in self-control and cognitive judgment.




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Hot houses: How do you keep your place cool this summer? | Instant News

Many homes in New Zealand are deeply saddened by the scorching heat of the summer. Photo / 123RF

Whether it’s see-through curtains or cool sheets, the Kiwi has long had its own tricks for cooling a hot home without air conditioning – now a researcher wants to hear more about it.

Many homes in New Zealand are deeply saddened by the scorching heat of the summer.

A recent NZ Stats survey of the 6,700 homes found 36 percent sat at 25C or more during the summer – and sometimes even above 30C – compared to a comfortable room range of 20C to 25C.

A third is also colder than 18C during winter – or below World Health Organization standards – something related to people renting less isolated homes and struggling to pay for their daily needs.

This winter’s “energy poverty” and its broad public health impacts have been a major focus of Dr Kimberley O’Sullivan’s research at the University of Otago.

“Much of that means we’re focusing on whether people can get warm enough in winter – but actually it means it’s pretty cool in summer too.”

He pointed out that six of New Zealand’s 10 warmest years have occurred in the past decade, and the country is experiencing more frequent and severe hot days, which come with their own implications for health and energy use.

“Over the last 20 years we also have fast absorption heat pumps, and more than half of New Zealand households with heat pumps have reported using them for cooling in the summer,” he said.

“So now households have a mechanism for active cooling – and a greater need to reduce home temperatures in the summer.”

In a recently launched study, supported by the Marsden Fund, he seeks to answer how not only the Kiwis regulate the flow of summer heat through their homes, but also how this changes over time.

“I’m specifically looking for the kind of knowledge that’s sometimes called knowledge – or what people know from experience,” he said, adding that it includes how Kiwis use sizes ranging from curtains to heat pumps.

“This year, I’m going to start with a postal survey of areas with more extreme summer weather to get initial answers to questions like how comfortable people are to find their home in the summer, if they try to adjust the temperature, does it change over time, and whether they think they know enough about the matter. “

He is eager to hear from several generations of the same family, and what advice has been passed down.

“I also want to make sure that we include Māori whānau, Māori have lived in Aotearoa the longest and will have wisdom to offer.”

Finally, this three-year project will collect temperature and relative humidity records using a data logger on a sample of homes, and how people use energy throughout the day of the week.

“As far as I know, these approaches have never been combined like this before to look at these questions – and they certainly haven’t been used like this in New Zealand,” he said.

“One thing that would be quite challenging in my opinion would be to usefully weave all the data back together to make one big story or image, integrating it all at the end in such a way that the number is greater than the parts.

“The sections as an individual study would all be useful, but I hope to do something extra by combining them.

“If we have a very good picture of what people know and do, as well as what they need to manage summer at home, then we may be able to adapt various suggestions and policies where they are needed.

“The aim is that it will help increase our resilience to climate change and improve public health and well-being.”

Three tips for keeping the house cool

Easy fix: Avoid the sun by covering the curtains and blinds. Open doors and windows in different rooms to circulate air through your home. Adjust the safety lock to keep the windows open when you go out.

Make a shadow: Plant deciduous trees to shade your home in the summer. They will let the sun in when they lose their leaves in winter. Install external window blinds – such as blinds, awnings or grilles. The roof or roof hanging over the north facing window blocks out the summer sunshine.

Use a fan: The fans on the table, floor and ceiling use significantly less energy than air conditioning. If you have a heat pump, try setting the fan alone with the window open.

– Source: GenLess


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Your Brain Remembers Where You Left Junk Food Easier Than Healthy Snacks, Learn The Hints | Instant News

When humans are looking for something to eat, something in our brains seems to be pushing us towards junk food. This is what some scientists call the ‘optimal foraging theory’, and it shows that our spatial memory, or our ‘cognitive map’, has evolved to prioritize the snacks that are most valuable in calories.

To our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who never know when their next meal will come, this mental ‘drop pin’ will likely come in handy. For modern people tearing up their kitchens, new research shows that sometimes it can be a curse.

A test of spatial memory among 512 participants has now provided direct evidence that human spatial processing is implicitly biased towards high-calorie foods.

When going through a food maze, participants were more likely to remember the location of chocolate brownies and potato chips than healthy foods such as apples and tomatoes.

In the natural world, animals usually seek high-energy food first, but whether humans have this same drive, and whether it involves a higher level of cognitive processing as opposed to reflexes is debatable.

In previous studies, participants quickly categorized and memorized images of high-calorie and low-calorie foods, and brain imaging revealed high-calorie foods reliably involved the reward processing area.

In 2013, small learn among women found improved spatial memory for images of high-calorie snack foods, compared to pictures of fruit and vegetables. This bias also predicts participants’ BMIs, leading the authors to suggest our spatial memory, which evolved over a long period of time, might contribute to unhealthy eating and current weight gain.

New research adds to this idea, and provides evidence the cognitive system is “optimized for energy-efficient foraging.”

In a maze-like room, study participants followed a specific route, sniffing and testing the flavors of 16 foods, sweet and savory, and high and low calorie.

For half of the sample, the volunteers could only smell the food, while the other half could actually taste it as well as smell it. Importantly, no one was told that they would be tested on their spatial memory later.

However, when they remembered fast food it was roughly 27 to 28 percent better than healthy foods, and this was true even after the researchers controlled for other potentially ruling out decisions such as a person’s familiarity with food, the taste of the food, and their explicit desire to consume it. The ratio of protein to fat from these foods is also balanced to stop people from making nutritional decisions.

Even when only smells were available, participants were very good at implicitly ‘knowing’ the calorie content of the sample; In fact, they were one percent more accurate at mapping the locations of high-calorie foods than in taste tests.

Smell and memory are thought to be closely linked in the brain, but humans’ sense of smell is often seen as inferior to other foraging mammals.

“However, our observations demonstrate an individual’s intact ability to distinguish between different odor types, infer the caloric nature of signaled foods from odor cues, and localize odorous objects in outer space,” the authors. write.

“Indeed, a well-developed sense of smell is thought to have provided a survival advantage to the hunter-gatherer (ancestors).”

Our memories may very well be shaped by our unexpected need for food in hunting and foraging, but it is too early to say how these cognitive processes affect our current behavior and food choices.

More research is needed, as currently, there is a lack of literature on high calorie spatial memory and its behavioral effects in modern environments.

Small learn by some of the same researchers, for example, found a spatial memory bias for high-calorie foods, but their findings did not show a clear effect on actual eating behavior.

However, if this theory of optimal foraging is proven correct in humans, it may help explain why it is so difficult to make healthy eating decisions in the modern world.

“The enhanced memory for high-calorie food locations can make high-calorie choices relatively easier to obtain in diverse food environments, particularly for those with greater expression of bias,” the authors. write.

“In this way, cognitive bias can facilitate high-calorie food choices, by taking advantage of an individual’s tendency to choose items that are convenient and accessible when making food decisions.”

Thanks a lot, brain.

This study is published in Scientific Reports.


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Scientists have discovered that these amazing spiral beehives have a lot in common with crystals | Instant News

Humans have turned the construction of space into an art form, but we are not the only species with such dazzling achievements. A particular species of stingless bees in Southeast Asia and Australia really took this idea to the next level, creating spiral beehives comparable to bees in New York. Guggenheim.

We know bees are smart, but how to do this is still a mystery Quadrangle bee Try to create intricate spirals, bullseye and other irregularly shaped beehives.

Now, a team of international researchers has stepped up its search. Surprisingly, when scientists used mathematical models to study the patterns found in beehives, they found that the creation of beehives was surprisingly similar to the formation of crystals.

(A. Elke Haege, bd. Tim Heard)

Above: (a) target or bullseye pattern (T. carbonaria), (b) spiral (T. carbonaria), (c) double spiral (T. carbonaria) and (d) more disorderly terraces (T. hockingsi) Structure.

“Crystal growth and honeycomb structure are two systems operating in very different scientific fields. So, what are the reasons for similar structures? This is the beauty of the applicability of mathematics to nature.” The researchers wrote in the paper.

“It turns out that in different fields of science, similar laws and similar principles govern the formation of very different systems, so they are described by the same mathematics.”

As you can see in the image below, the honeycomb is not a flat structure. Instead, these layers are raised to allow bees to enter the terraces below. The researchers write that this can be imagined as a bee version of the spiral building of the Guggenheim Museum. The Guggenheim Museum is a structure of the 20th century and is known as one of the most important buildings in New York.

Bee Spiral vs GuggenheimSpiral beehive and Guggenheim spiral level. (Tim Heard; Wallygva / Wikimedia / CC BY 3.0)

One of the researchers, Julyan Cartwright, an interdisciplinary physicist at the University of Granada, told ScienceAlert: “One of us-Antonio Osuna showed me some pictures of bee combs and I was hooked.”

“Since then, we have figured out the appearance of these patterns on bees, and we have been able to draw developmental ideas from the study of crystal growth and how mollusks make mother-of-pearl (mother-of-pearl), which shows a very similarity to that of bees. Spiral and goal pattern.”

When the team modeled how this structure is formed, they used two parameters to model the honeycomb. The first is the R value-meaning that different patterns are formed according to the radius of a layer of honeycomb cells.

Then α-provides a random probability distribution. In crystal growth, this may be caused by impurities; in honeycomb construction, it will be the degree to which bees can flatten the layer.

The larger the R, the larger each layer of the bull’s-eye or spiral will be, and the smaller will be overall. The larger the α, the more “chaotic” the terraces will be.

Figure 5 disorder(Cardoso et al., JR Social Interface, 2020)

However, despite our knowledge of a model, this does not really explain why this genus of bees produces such incredible patterns, rather than just building conventional old honeycomb layers.

Although research based on mathematical models alone cannot explain exactly why bees do this, the team believes that this is not a master plan, but rather some behavioral rules that encourage bees to use only “local information” to create these structures.

“When we do manual construction, we usually hire an architect to design the entire structure. This is global information,” Cartwright explained.

“It’s hard to imagine how bees would design combs by architects. But, if bees don’t use global information, how would they build them? For us humans, this is brick by brick without the architect’s plan. Build houses. We will show how bees can do this with only local information.”

This is definitely not the last news we heard about bee smarts- Swing dance, mathematics, And the incredible spiral houses, we are sure they still have attractive sleeves.

The research has been published in Royal Society Interface Journal.


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