Tuesday, August 23, 2011

why say " I am in so much pain" when depressed? Is it mind or body?

Why Does Feeling Low Hurt? Depressed Mood Increases the Perception of Pain

ScienceDaily (June 7, 2010) — When it comes to pain, the two competing schools of thought are that it's either "all in your head" or "all in your body." A new study led by University of Oxford researchers indicates that, instead, pain is an amalgam of the two.

Depression and pain often co-occur, but the underlying mechanistic reasons for this have largely been unknown. To examine the interaction between depression and pain, Dr. Chantal Berna and colleagues used brain imaging to see how healthy volunteers responded to pain while feeling low.

Their findings revealed that inducing depressed mood disrupted a portion of the participants' neurocircuitry that regulates emotion, causing an enhanced perception of pain. In other words, as explained by Dr. Berna, "when the healthy people were made sad by negative thoughts and depressing music, we found that their brains processed pain more emotionally, which lead to them finding the pain more unpleasant."

The authors speculate that being in a sad state of mind and feeling low disables one's ability to regulate the negative emotion associated with feeling pain. Pain, then, has a greater impact. Rather than merely being a consequence of having pain, depressed mood may drive pain and cause it to feel worse.

"Our research suggests depressed mood leads to maladaptive changes in brain function associated with pain, and that depressed mood itself could be a target for treatment by medicines or psychotherapy in this context," commented Dr. Berna. Thus, the next step in this line of research will be to examine this mechanism in individuals who suffer from chronic pain, as these individuals also commonly experience depression. The ultimate goal, of course, is to develop more effective treatments. This is good news for the millions of individuals around the world who suffer from chronic pain and depression.

Use Rumination to Cope with Depression. Empowering!

All of us, at times, ruminate or brood on a problem in order to make the best possible decision in a complex situation. But sometimes, rumination becomes unproductive or even detrimental to making good life choices. Such is the case in depression, where non-productive ruminations are a common and distressing symptom of the disorder. In fact, individuals suffering from depression often ruminate about being depressed. This ruminative thinking can be either passive and maladaptive (i.e., worrying) or active and solution-focused (i.e., coping).
New research by Stanford University researchers, published in Elsevier's Biological Psychiatry, provides insights into how these types of rumination are represented in the brains of depressed persons.

The interactions of two distinct and competing neural networks, the default mode network (DMN) and the task positive network (TPN), are particularly relevant to this question. Whereas the DMN supports passive, self-related thought, the TPN underlies active thinking required for solving problems, explained study author J. Paul Hamilton.

Using brain imaging technology, Hamilton and his colleagues found that, in depressed patients, increasing levels of activity in the DMN relative to the TPN are associated with higher levels of maladaptive, depressive rumination and lower levels of adaptive, reflective rumination. These findings indicate that the DMN and TPN interact in depression to promote depression-related thinking, with stronger DMN influence associated with more worrying, less effective coping, and more severe depression.

"It makes sense that non-productive ruminations would engage default-mode networks in the brain as these systems enable the brain to 'idle' when humans are not focused on specific tasks," commented Dr. John Krystal,editor of Biological Psychiatry. "Better understanding the factors that control the switch between these modes of function may provide insights into depression and its treatment."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tongue Twisters? It is a brain matter not the tongue!

Contrary to what we think, tongue twisters are as a result of the speed of our brain not the muscular structure of our tongue, mouth, nor the lips or facial features. If you read this passage twice or three times, the similarities of the sounds confuse the speed of our brain activity to make proper connections on the path to produce clear complex repetitive sounds. Try it for yourself.

Betty Botter bought some butter,
"But," she said, "this butter's bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter -
That would make my batter better."
So she bought a bit of butter,
Better than her bitter butter,
And she baked it in her batter,
And the batter was not bitter.
So 'twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.

Notes from the gratitude journal: Greater Good Science of a Meaningful Life-UC Berkeley

A gratitude journal is a must for us all. Here are some entries from the UC Berkeley Greater Good Site. It is a valuable reminder to be grateful for all the gifts that life offers us, no matter how small. Start yours today.

I’m grateful for some time up north in the woods. Finally out in nature!
City Girl

I’m happy that my husband is going to take care of the kids for a whole week so that I can go to a writing workshop.
Writing Mama

I am very happy that the money I gave a girl for her hostel(stay) to study for her master’s is doing very well and enjoying her lectures in the college.

I’m grateful for my husband; who makes room in his busy schedule to take over with kids so I can have several days away, alone!

I am so thankful for the generosity of good friends, just when I needed help.
Texas Neighbor

I am thankful for an extended family that is willing to be “on-call” when my family is going through a hectic time.
Carly Brown

I am very grateful for libraries. I’m especially grateful for Laura, a very helpful librarian at our neighborhood library.
A Reader

I’m grateful to have a great mechanic and body shop experts. They help me extend the life of my car.
Happy Driver

I’m grateful that when I had to relieve myself of some stressful job obligations, the people who need to understand understood and supported me in my decisions.
Janine Kovac

Friday, August 19, 2011

Math Aptitude? An American Illusive Handicap! I promise you, everyone has it.

So many studies confuse the public about math aptitude and too many American children end up believing that they are bad at math. Math phobia is a national disaster and an unhealthy phobia allowed by early education. I promise you it is not true. This study is confirming that math concepts exists in all people including infants and people with no formal education.

Published: August 11, 2011

Children as young as 3 have a “number sense” that may be correlated with mathematical aptitude, according to a new study.

Melissa Libertus, a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

Melissa Libertus, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues looked at something called “number sense,” an intuition — not involving counting — about the concepts of more and less. It exists in all people, Dr. Libertus said, including infants and indigenous peoples who have had no formal education.

The researchers measured this intuition in preschoolers by displaying flashing groups of blue and yellow dots on a computer screen. The children had to estimate which group of dots was larger in number. Since the display was fleeting, they had to use their number sense rather than count the dots.

Children with a better number sense were also better at simple math problems the researchers posed. The children were asked to count the number of images on a page out loud, read Arabic numbers and make other simple calculations.

Previous studies have shown that there is a connection between number sense and mathematical ability in adolescents. But this is the first study to explore the connection in children with little formal education.

“We were interested in the earliest math abilities that children have, from before they enter school,” Dr. Libertus said. Understanding this could help level the playing field in mathematics among children.

Dr. Libertus hopes that, with more insight, games or training programs could be developed for children to improve their number sense.

The research is reported in a recent issue of the journal Developmental Science.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evolutionary accident? larger brain, due to deletion of 583 genomes half a million years agao??

Most male mammals wield a penis covered with spines made of keratin, the same material that forms fingernails, to sweep out competitors' sperm and irritate a female into ovulating. You can add humans' lack of penile spines to the list of ways we are misfits among primates, along with our absence of tails and fur. Even chimpanzees, our closest relatives, have penile spines. A new study suggests that this feature disappeared due to a chunk of DNA that went missing after our evolutionary divergence from chimps. The researchers have identified another DNA deletion that may have contributed to humans' bigger brains.

The question of what makes us distinctly human is hardly a new one, of course, but developmental genomicist Gill Bejerano and developmental geneticist David Kingsley, both of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, decided to look at the issue from another angle. Maybe humans don't have an advantage over chimps genetically, as we often like to think we do—maybe we've actually lost something. Bejerano and Kingsley compared the chimp genome with the human genome, looking for DNA regions that chimps had but humans did not. And rather than looking at genes, as most research in the past has done, they examined DNA regions that don't code for genes but instead regulate how nearby genes are expressed.

They found 583 deletions in the human genome, and Bejerano says choosing which to study first was a tough decision. "Each region could be its own adventure," he says. They ended up choosing two: a deleted region near a gene for male hormone response and a region close to a gene involved in brain development. The Neandertal genome also lacks these regions, indicating that these deletions occurred more than half a million years ago.

Wow Bacteria can come to our rescue!

Suicide-Bombing Bacteria Could Fight Infections
by Sara Reardon on 16 August 2011, 11:15 AM |
Like any good military unit, infectious bacteria have access to numerous weapons and efficient communication systems. But like soldiers in the field, they're also susceptible to suicide bombers. Researchers have used the tools of synthetic biology to create an Escherichia coli cell that can infiltrate foreign bacteria and explode, killing off the pathogens along with itself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anyone still questioning the power of mother child biological attachment? Positive or Negative!

" A mother’s encouraging words heard over the phone biologically aid her stressed-out daughter about as much as in-person comforting from mom and way more than receiving instant messages from her."

Moms talk, daughters' hormones listen
A comforting voice packs a biological punch that instant messages lack
By Bruce Bower, Friday, August 12th, 2011

That’s consistent with the idea that people and many other animals have evolved to respond to caring, familiar voices with hormonal adjustments that prompt feelings of calm and closeness, say biological anthropologist Leslie Seltzer of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her colleagues. Written exchanges such as instant messaging, texting and Facebook postings can’t apply biological balm to frazzled nerves, the researchers propose in a paper published online July 29 in Evolution and Human Behavior.

Seltzer’s group found that 7- to 12-year-old girls who talked to their mothers in person or over the phone after a stressful lab task displayed drops in levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, accompanied by the release of oxytocin, a hormone linked to love and trust between partners in good relationships. Girls who instant messaged with their mothers after the lab challenge showed no oxytocin response and their cortisol levels rose as high as those of girls who had no contact with their mothers.

“At least in our subjects, instant messaging falls short of the endocrine payoff of speech or physical contact with a loved one after a stressful event,” Seltzer says.

It makes sense that speech, with ancient evolutionary roots, can trigger biological markers of reassurance, comments psychologist Jeffry Simpson of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Mothers may have expressed support better in speech than in writing, or the tone of their voices could have had a special impact on daughters, Simpson says.

Unfamiliarity with instant messaging, especially among mothers, may have undercut the ability of digital connections to alleviate daughters’ stress in the new study, suggests psychologist Sandra Calvert, director of Georgetown University’s Children’s Digital Media Center in Washington, D.C. Still, “mom’s voice is very important to all of us who are daughters,” Calvert says.

Seltzer’s team studied 68 girls who reported good relationships with their mothers. Each girl spoke about a preselected topic for five minutes and then tried to solve mental arithmetic problems for five minutes in front of two strangers who maintained neutral facial expressions. Youngsters said that these tasks caused them considerable stress. Researchers tracked cortisol in saliva samples and oxytocin in urine samples.

Afterward, girls were randomly assigned to talk with their mothers in person, over the phone, via instant messaging or not at all. Mothers were told to offer as much emotional support to their daughters as possible.

Although this study found no hormonal benefit for instant messaging between mothers and daughters, children may profit biologically when such messages come from peers, remarks psychologist Kaveri Subrahmanyam of California State University, Los Angeles. A 2009 study found that instant messaging with an unknown peer for 12 minutes eased the sting of rejection among teens excluded from a group game in the lab.

The power of your nose! A window to your brain!

“we may find that most neurological conditions are caused by viruses that enter the brain through the nasal passages.”

Common virus may ride up nose to brain
Herpes bug travels in olfactory cells, researchers suggest
By Laura Sanders
Monday, August 8th, 2011

A common virus may slink into the brain through the nose. After setting up shop in people’s nasal mucus, human herpesvirus-6 may travel along olfactory cells right into the brain, researchers report online the week of August 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Most people’s first bout with HHV-6 comes at a tender age: It causes the common childhood infection roseola, marked by a chest rash and a high fever. “Everyone is exposed to this,” says study coauthor Steven Jacobson of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. “You have it. I have it.”

Despite its ubiquity, very little is known about the virus. HHV-6 may live in tonsils and shed in saliva, some studies suggest. And in some people (researchers don’t know how many), the virus can infect the brain, where some researchers believe it may contribute to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, encephalitis and a form of epilepsy.

Other viruses such as herpes simplex, influenza A and rabies can invade the brain by shooting through the nose, so Jacobson and his team wondered whether HHV-6 could do the same trick.

The researchers found high levels of HHV-6 in the olfactory bulb, a smell-related part of the brain, in two of three autopsy brain samples. The team then looked at nose mucus and found the virus in 52 of 126 different samples. “We were surprised to find so much in the nasal mucus,” Jacobson says.

And in a lab dish, the team found, specialized cells that help connect nerves to the brain were susceptible to HHV-6 infection. These cells might be a route of entry for the virus, Jacobson says.

“Viruses take advantage of whatever they can,” says neurologist Avindra Nath of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who was not involved in the study. “They’ll try to gain entry any way they can, so it’s not surprising that they’d use nasal mucosa to do so.”

Yet the results should be interpreted cautiously, says neuroimmunologist Robyn Klein of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Since the study presents correlative data on a small number of samples, it’s hard to say whether HHV-6 really travels along olfactory pathway into the brain. “Am I convinced that this is how it gets in? No,” she says. “Is it a possibility? Sure.”

Confirming the nose-to-brain passage is important, Klein says, because a virus’s entry point to the brain may have a big impact on the infection’s outcome. Because each part of the brain is distinct, an infection in one part could cause very different outcomes than infection in another part.

Virologist Dharam Ablashi, who codiscovered HHV-6 and now is scientific director of the HHV-6 Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif., says the results may be just the tip of an iceberg. “As research techniques improve,” he says, “we may find that most neurological conditions are caused by viruses that enter the brain through the nasal passages.”

Bigger brain does not mean smarter! what size are your brain & eyeballs?

"The eyeball size across all primates has been found to be associated with when they choose to eat and forage -- with species with the largest eyes being those that are active at night."

Study Finds: Northern Humans Had Bigger Brains, to Cope With the Low Light Levels.
The farther that human populations live from the equator, the bigger their brains, according to a new study by Oxford University. But it turns out that this is not because they are smarter, but because they need bigger vision areas in the brain to cope with the low light levels experienced at high latitudes. Science Daily (Aug. 5, 2011)

Scientists have found that people living in countries with dull, grey, cloudy skies and long winters have evolved bigger eyes and brains so they can visually process what they see, reports the journal Biology Letters.

The researchers measured the eye socket and brain volumes of 55 skulls, dating from the 1800s, from museum collections. The skulls represented 12 different populations from across the globe. The volume of the eye sockets and brain cavities were then plotted against the latitude of the central point of each individual's country of origin. The researchers found that the size of both the brain and the eyes could be directly linked to the latitude of the country from which the individual came.

Lead author Eiluned Pearce, from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology in the School of Anthropology, said: 'As you move away from the equator, there's less and less light available, so humans have had to evolve bigger and bigger eyes. Their brains also need to be bigger to deal with the extra visual input. Having bigger brains doesn't mean that higher latitude humans are smarter, it just means they need bigger brains to be able to see well where they live.'

Co-author Professor Robin Dunbar, Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary, said: 'Humans have only lived at high latitudes in Europe and Asia for a few tens of thousands of years, yet they seem to have adapted their visual systems surprisingly rapidly to the cloudy skies, dull weather and long winters we experience at these latitudes.'

That the explanation is the need to compensate for low light levels at high latitudes is indicated by the fact that actual visual sharpness measured under natural daylight conditions is constant across latitudes, suggesting that the visual processing system has adapted to ambient light conditions as human populations have moved across the globe.

The study takes into account a number of potentially confounding effects, including the effect of phylogeny (the evolutionary links between different lineages of modern humans), the fact that humans living in the higher latitudes are physically bigger overall, and the possibility that eye socket volume was linked to cold weather (and the need to have more fat around the eyeball by way of insulation).

The skulls used in the study were from the indigenous populations of England, Australia, Canary Islands, China, France, India, Kenya, Micronesia, Scandinavia, Somalia, Uganda and the United States. From measuring the brain cavity, the research suggests that the biggest brains belonged to populations who lived in Scandinavia with the smallest being Micronesians.

This study adds weight to other research that has looked at the links between eye size and light levels. Other studies have already shown that birds with relatively bigger eyes are the first to sing at dawn in low light. The eyeball size across all primates has been found to be associated with when they choose to eat and forage -- with species with the largest eyes being those that are active at night.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Human Generosity, Is it Evolution ?

Sometimes we forget how primitive & driven by survival we truly are. Just imagine why would a person tip someone or help a person generously knowing they will never encounter them again? It is based in the dynamic of cooperation and survival. We seem to plan for our survival every step of the way. Giving generously to people across your path, even to ones you may never see again and without any expectation of gain could create a sense of safety and security in the human psyche. A self soothing calm that comes with a sense that survival is insured. That may explain why spiritual leaders who are about giving to others have an aura of peace.

Sciencedaily Aug. 1, 2011
Krasnow and Delton co-authored the paper with Leda Cosmides, professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology; and John Tooby, professor of anthropology and also co-director of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology.

"There are two errors a cooperating animal can make, and one is more costly than the other," noted Cosmides. "Believing that you will never meet this individual again, you might choose to benefit yourself at his expense -- only to find out later that the relationship could have been open-ended. If you make this error, you lose out on all the benefits you might have had from a long-term, perhaps life-long, cooperative relationship. This is an extraordinarily costly error to make. The other error is to mistakenly assume that you will have additional interactions with the other individual and therefore cooperate with him, only to find out later that it wasn't necessary. Although you were 'unnecessarily' nice in that one interaction, the cost of this error is relatively small. Without knowing why, the mind is skewed to be generous to make sure we find and cement all those valuable, long-term relationships."

The simulations, which are mathematical tools for studying how natural selection would have shaped our ancestors' decision making, show that, over a wide range of conditions, natural selection favors treating others as if the relationship will continue -- even when it is rational to believe the interaction is one-time only. "Although it's impossible to know the true state of the world with complete certainty, our simulated people were designed to use the 'gold-standard' for rational reasoning -- a process called Bayesian updating -- to make the best possible guesses about whether their interactions will continue or not," Krasnow noted.

Delton continued: "Nonetheless, even though their beliefs were as accurate as possible, our simulated people evolved to the point where they essentially ignored their beliefs and cooperated with others regardless. This happens even when almost 90 percent of the interactions in their social world are actually one-time rather than indefinitely continued."

According to Tooby, economic models of rationality and evolutionary models of fitness maximization both predict that humans should be designed to be selfish in one-time only situations. Yet, experimental work -- and everyday experience -- shows that humans are often surprisingly generous.

"So one of the outstanding problems in the behavioral sciences was why natural selection had not weeded out this pleasing but apparently self-handicapping behavioral tendency," Tooby said. "The paper shows how this feature of human behavior emerges logically out of the dynamics of cooperation, once an overlooked aspect of the problem -- the inherent uncertainty of social life -- is taken into account. People who help only when they can see a gain do worse than those who are motivated to be generous without always looking ahead to see what they might get in return."

If you Snooze You Win? The power of sleep.

Young basketball players spend hours dribbling up and down the court aspiring to NBA stardom. Now, new Stanford University School of Medicine research suggests another tactic to achieving their hoop dreams.
ScienceDaily (July 1, 2011) —
In a study appearing in the July issue of Sleep, Cheri Mah, a researcher in the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, has shown that basketball players at the elite college level were able to improve their on-the-court performance by increasing their amount of total sleep time.

The study suggests that "sleep is an important factor in peak athletic performance," said first author Mah. In the paper, she and colleagues wrote that "athletes may be able to optimize training and competition outcomes by identifying strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep."

It's no secret that lack of sleep can have negative consequences. Extensive research has shown the impact that sleep debt has on cognitive function, mood and physical performance. But, as Mah and her colleagues point out in the paper, very few studies have looked at the opposite: the effect that sleep extension can have on performance. And few other groups have looked specifically at the effect of sleep on athletes.

While things such as nutrition and physical training are part of an athlete's daily regimen, Mah said competitive athletes at all levels typically do not focus on optimizing their sleep and recovery. They are usually just told to get a "good night's sleep" before a competition.

"Intuitively many players and coaches know that rest and sleep are important, but it is often the first to be sacrificed," she added. "Healthy and adequate sleep hasn't had the same focus as other areas of training for peak performance."

In 2002, Mah conducted a study on sleep extension and cognitive function in Stanford undergraduate students. By chance, several participants were collegiate swimmers and mentioned that they had beaten personal swim records during the portion of the study in which they slept more than normal. A light bulb went off in Mah's head. "We had been investigating the effects of sleep extension on cognitive performance and mood, but I was now curious if sleep extension may also impact physical performance," she said.

Mah began working with sleep expert William Dement, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and they turned their attention to the men's basketball team. Over the course of two basketball seasons, Mah and colleagues worked with 11 healthy players with a goal of investigating the effects of sleep extension on specific measures of athletic performance, as well as reaction time, mood and daytime sleepiness.

The researchers asked the players to maintain their normal nighttime schedule (sleeping for six to nine hours) for two to four weeks and then aim to sleep 10 hours each night for the next five to seven weeks. During the study period, players abstained from drinking coffee and alcohol, and they were asked to take daytime naps when travel prohibited them from reaching the 10 hours of nighttime sleep.

At the end of the sleep extension period, the players ran faster 282-foot sprints (16.2 seconds versus 15.5 seconds) than they had at baseline. Shooting accuracy during practice also improved: Free throw percentages increased by 9 percent and 3-point field goal percentage increased by 9.2 percent. Fatigue levels decreased following sleep extension, and athletes reported improved practices and games.

Using a questionnaire-based sleepiness scale at the beginning of the study, Mah and her colleagues also discovered that many of the athletes had a moderate-to-high baseline level of daytime sleepiness -- indicating that they were carrying sleep debt accumulated from chronic sleep loss. She called this one of the most surprising aspect of the study.

"The athletes were training and competing during their regular season with moderate-to-high levels of daytime sleepiness and were unaware that it could be negatively impacting their performance," she said. "But as the season wore on and they reduced their sleep debt, many athletes testified that a focus on sleep was beneficial to their training and performance."

The findings suggest, Mah said, that it's important for sleep to be prioritized over a long period of time, not just the night before "Game Day." She called optimal sleep an "unrecognized, but likely critical factor in reaching peak performance." She said the findings may be applicable to recreational athletes and those at the high school, semi-pro or professional level.

Mah and her co-authors noted several limitations to their study. The sample size was small and the players' travel schedule made maintaining a strict sleep-wake schedule difficult. (Mah noted, though, that this was an unusual opportunity to study actively competing elite athletes.) It's important to note, also, that the study didn't focus on in-game performance: The team aspect of basketball makes it tricky to do so, she said, but future studies could focus on swimming, track and field, or other sports more conducive to examining individual performance.

Mah has already laid the groundwork for this research. Over the last several years she has investigated sleep extension in other Stanford sports teams including football, tennis, and swimming. She has presented abstracts with preliminary findings on these sports that suggest a similar trend: More sleep led to better performance.

Mah now works with many of the Stanford sports teams and coaches to integrate optimal sleep and travel scheduling into their seasons and also consults with professional hockey, football and basketball teams, in addition to continuing her research. She hopes to next turn her attention to the quality, versus quantity, of athletes' sleep.

Dement was the senior author of the study. Kenneth Mah, MD, a pediatric cardiovascular ICU hospitalist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, was also involved in the research. The work was funded by the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Warren Jeff is the prophet of some? A sad story of the human condition.

So many human are still terribly primitive. They consider individuals such as Warren Jeff as their leader and their profit. The police department follows his lead instead of civil rights. Do not forget that the world is made of different types of individuals and that human evolutionary distortions are prevalent in every home, every culture and every place on this planet. Reality is not pleasant, it is a sad state of affairs, the sad state of the human condition.

Hairlessness defense does not work any more1

Arnold Schultz, the Swiss anatomist measured the number of hair follicles per square centimeter on the scalp, back and chest of human, apes and chimps. The winner is the species called human. It is an illusion that we are more evolved than our ancestors since we are hairless. We actually are not. Just a reminder, we are still animals. Our behavior is clearly animalistic and if we do not acknowledge that we will continue our barbaric behavior endlessly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

meet the next generation, our future care givers, ROBOTS!

Since man cannot create human empathy and love in a machine, soon The morning headlines will read: "care giver robot stepped on his master and crushed him, OR care giver robot picked up the wheel chair with the master in it and threw it in the trunk.... " What is with us mortal beings?

With an elderly population in need of nursing care projected to reach a staggering 5.69 million by 2015, Japan faces an urgent need for new approaches to assist care-giving personnel. One of the most strenuous tasks for such personnel, carried out an average of 40 times every day, is that of lifting a patient from a futon at floor level into a wheelchair. Robots are well-suited to this task, yet none have yet been deployed in care-giving facilities.

According to Science Daily (Aug. 2, 2011) — A new robot using high-precision tactile sensors and flexible motor control technology has taken Japan one step closer to its goal of providing high-quality care for its growing elderly population. Developed by researchers at RIKEN and Tokai Rubber Industries (TRI), the new robot can lift a patient up to 80 kg in weight off floor-level bedding and into a wheelchair, freeing care facility personnel of one of their most difficult and energy-consuming tasks.