Monday, June 25, 2012

Crime and Punishment?

Crime and Punishment? Infants develop based on the care giver's estimation of their basic survival matters, their developmental needs and the intricate determination of the needed boundaries plus the intensity of boundary enforcement.  Parent's have the sole reign, power & right to note a behavior, to assign levels of intentionality, to measure guilt or innocence, to determine the purpose of the behavior, to weigh the proportion of punishment and to carry out the needed reward and/or consequences for the behavior. Read this article and use your judgement as to how punishment, guilt, consequences and shame can make a significant difference in the life a developing person? Is it being done to me, a parent has to ask? Is the baby just discovering his/her boundaries? discovering the self? I would say that " Done to us personally " is where everything goes array. Parent's biggest mistake is the assignment of intentionality. Food for thought!
The convergence of findings between second-party and third-party punishment studies suggests that impartial legal decision-making may not be fundamentally different from the reasoning used in deciding to punish those who have harmed us personally,” said Marois.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 10, 2008) — In a pioneering, interdisciplinary study combining law and neuroscience, researchers at Vanderbilt University peered inside people’s minds to watch how the brain thinks about crime and punishment.

When someone is accused of committing a crime, it is the responsibility of impartial third parties, generally jurors and judges, to determine if that person is guilty and, if so, how much he or she should be punished. But how does one’s brain actually make these decisions? The researchers found that two distinct areas of the brain assess guilt and decide penalty.
This work is the joint effort of Owen Jones, professor of law and of biology, and René Marois, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology. Together with neuroscience graduate student Joshua Buckholtz, they scanned the brains of subjects with a highly sensitive technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI. Their goal was to see how the brain was activated when a person judged whether or not someone should be punished for a harmful act and how severely the individual should be punished.
During the study, the participant inside the fMRI scanner read scenarios on a computer screen, each describing a person committing an arguably criminal act that varied in harmfulness. With every scenario that appeared, the participant determined how severely to punish the scenario’s protagonist on a scale of 0 (no punishment) to nine (extreme punishment). Sometimes there were extenuating circumstances or background information about why the person acted as he did. Was he coerced? Did he feel threatened? Was he mentally ill?
“We were looking for brain activity reflecting how people reason about the differences in the scenarios,” said Jones.
The researchers found that activity in an analytic part of the brain, known as the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, tracked the decision of whether or not a person deserved to be punished but, intriguingly, appeared relatively insensitive to deciding how much to punish. By contrast, the activity in brain regions involved in processing emotions, such as the amygdala, tracked how much subjects decided to punish.
“These results raise the possibility that emotional responses to criminal acts may represent a gauge for assessing deserved punishment,” said Marois.
“There are long-running debates about the proper roles in law of ‘cold’ analysis and ‘hot’ emotion,” said Jones. “Our results suggest that, in normal punishment decisions, the distinct neural circuitries of both processes may be jointly involved, but separately deployed.”
Another intriguing result of the study was that the part of the brain that third-party subjects used to determine guilt in this study was the same brain area that has previously been found to be involved in punishing unfair economic behavior in two-party interactions.
The convergence of findings between second-party and third-party punishment studies suggests that impartial legal decision-making may not be fundamentally different from the reasoning used in deciding to punish those who have harmed us personally,” said Marois

Gut Bacteria and happiness!

Early Gut Bacteria Regulate Happiness

ScienceDaily (June 12, 2012) — UCC scientists have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the 'happy hormone' are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life. Their research is being published June 12 in the international psychiatry journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

This research shows that normal adult brain function depends on the presence of gut microbes during development. Serotonin, the major chemical involved in the regulation of mood and emotion, is altered in times of stress, anxiety and depression and most clinically effective antidepressant drugs work by targeting this neurochemical.
Scientists at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in UCC used a germ-free mouse model to show that the absence of bacteria during early life significantly affected serotonin concentrations in the brain in adulthood. The research also highlighted that the influence is sex dependent, with more marked effects in male compared with female animals. Finally, when the scientists colonized the animals with bacteria prior to adulthood, they found that many of the central nervous system changes, especially those related to serotonin, could not be reversed indicating a permanent imprinting of the effects of absence of gut flora on brain function.
This builds on earlier work, from the Cork group and others, showing that a microbiome-gut-brain axis exists that is essential for maintaining normal health which can affect brain and behavior. The research was carried out by Dr Gerard Clarke, Professor Fergus Shanahan, Professor Ted Dinan and Professor John F Cryan and colleagues at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in UCC.
"As a neuroscientist these findings are fascinating as they highlight the important role that gut bacteria play in the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, and opens up the intriguing opportunity of developing unique microbial-based strategies for treatment for brain disorders," said Professor John F Cryan, senior author on the publication and Head of the Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience at UCC.
This research has multiple health implications as it shows that manipulations of the microbiota (e.g. by antibiotics, diet, or infection) can have profound knock-on effects on brain function. "We're really excited by these findings" said lead author Dr Gerard Clarke. "Although we always believed that the microbiota was essential for our general health, our results also highlight how important our tiny friends are for our mental wellbeing."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Overpopulation in our body cavities ! 100 Trillion? Medicine reexamined?

The microbiome project  imposes new dimensions on the world of  diagnostics and treatment. 
 From Asthma to IBS to Autoimmune disorders, to some mental illnesses,  to many infectious diseases. 
 Are diseases driven by Bacteria gone wild? After all they reproduce instantly, our stool is mostly bacteria,
as soon as they exit, they replenish themselves! Are genetic mutations connected to Bacteria? 
Where will treatment of illnesses take us during the next decade as we learn more and more that 
bacteria are not merely passive passengers in our body cavities! 

From the standpoint of our microbiome:
 “we may just serve as packaging.”~Dr. B. Kramer.  Director, Cancer Prevention, NCInstitute.

Examinations of DNA sequences served as the equivalent of an old-time microscope, said Curtis Huttenhower of the Harvard School of Public Health, an investigator for the microbiome project. They allowed investigators to see — through their unique DNA sequences — footprints of otherwise elusive bacteria.

Thank Your 100 Trillion Bacteria

For years, bacteria have had a bad name. They are the cause of infections, of diseases. They are something to be scrubbed away, things to be avoided.
But now researchers have taken a detailed look at another set of bacteria that may play even bigger roles in health and disease: the 100 trillion good bacteria that live in or on the human body.
No one really knew much about them. They are essential for human life, needed to digest food, to synthesize certain vitamins, to form a barricade against disease-causing bacteria. But what do they look like in healthy people, and how much do they vary from person to person?
In a new five-year federal endeavor, the Human Microbiome Project, which has been compared to the Human Genome Project, 200 scientists at 80 institutionssequenced the genetic material of bacteria taken from nearly 250 healthy people.
They discovered more strains than they had ever imagined — as many as a thousand bacterial strains on each person. And each person’s collection of microbes, the microbiome, was different from the next person’s. To the scientists’ surprise, they also found genetic signatures of disease-causing bacteria lurking in everyone’s microbiome. But instead of making people ill, or even infectious, these disease-causing microbes simply live peacefully among their neighbors.
The results, published on Wednesday in Nature and three PLoS journals, are expected to change the research landscape.
The work is “fantastic,” said Bonnie Bassler, a Princeton University microbiologist who was not involved with the project. “These papers represent significant steps in our understanding of bacteria in human health.”
Until recently, Dr. Bassler added, the bacteria in the microbiome were thought to be just “passive riders.” They were barely studied, microbiologists explained, because it was hard to know much about them. They are so adapted to living on body surfaces and in bodycavities, surrounded by other bacteria, that many could not be cultured and grown in the lab. Even if they did survive in the lab, they often behaved differently in this alien environment. It was only with the advent of relatively cheap and fast gene sequencing methods that investigators were able to ask what bacteria were present.

The work also helps establish criteria for a healthy microbiome, which can help in studies of how antibiotics perturb a person’s microbiome and how long it takes the microbiome to recover.
In recent years, as investigators began to probe the microbiome in small studies, they began to appreciate its importance. Not only do the bacteria help keep people healthy, but they also are thought to help explain why individuals react differently to various drugs and why some are susceptible to certain infectious diseases while others are impervious. When they go awry they are thought to contribute to chronic diseases and conditions likeirritable bowel syndromeasthma, even, possibly, obesity.
Humans, said Dr. David Relman, a Stanford microbiologist, are like coral, “an assemblage of life-forms living together.”
Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute, who was not involved with the research project, had another image. Humans, he said, in some sense are made mostly of microbes. From the standpoint of our microbiome, he added, “we may just serve as packaging.”
The microbiome starts to grow at birth, said Lita Proctor, program director for the Human Microbiome Project. As babies pass through the birth canal, they pick up bacteria from the mother’s vaginal microbiome.
“Babies are microbe magnets,” Dr. Proctor said. Over the next two to three years, the babies’ microbiomes mature and grow while their immune systems develop in concert, learning not to attack the bacteria, recognizing them as friendly.
Babies born by Caesarean section, Dr. Proctor added, start out with different microbiomes, but it is not yet known whether their microbiomes remain different after they mature. In adults, the body carries two to five pounds of bacteria, even though these cells are minuscule — one-tenth to one-hundredth the size of a human cell. The gut, in particular, is stuffed with them.
“The gut is not jam-packed with food; it is jam-packed with microbes,” Dr. Proctor said. “Half of your stool is not leftover food. It is microbial biomass.” But bacteria multiply so quickly that they replenish their numbers as fast as they are excreted.
The bacteria also help the immune system, Dr. Huttenhower said. The best example is in the vagina, where they secrete chemicals that can kill other bacteria and make the environment slightly acidic, which is unappealing to other microbes.
Including the microbiome as part of an individual is, some researchers said, a new way to look at human beings.
It was a daunting task, though, to investigate the normal human microbiome. Previous studies of human microbiomes had been small and had looked mostly at fecal bacteria or bacteria in saliva in healthy people, or had examined things like fecal bacteria in individuals with certain diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease, in which bacteria are thought to play a role.
But, said Barbara B. Methé, an investigator for the microbiome study and a microbiologist at the J. Craig Venter Institute, it was hard to know what to make of those studies.

242 men and women deemed free of disease in the nose, skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract and, for the women, vagina — the investigators collected stool samples and saliva, and scraped the subjects’ gums and teeth and nostrils and their palates and tonsils and throats. They took samples from the crook of the elbow and the folds of the ear. In all, women were sampled in 18 places, including three sites in the vagina, and men in 15. The investigators resampled subjects three times during the course of the study to see if the bacterial composition of their bodies was stable, generating 11,174 samples.
To catalog the body’s bacteria, researchers searched for DNA with a specific gene, 16S rRNA, that is a marker for bacteria and whose slight sequence variations can reveal different bacterial species. They sequenced the bacterial DNA to find the unique genes in the microbiome. They ended up with a deluge of data, much too much to study with any one computer, Dr. Huttenhower said, creating “a huge computational challenge.”
The next step, he said, is to better understand how the microbiome affects health and disease and to try to improve health by deliberately altering the microbiome. But, Dr. Relman said, “we are scratching at the surface now.” It is, he said, “humbling.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ladies: New about Calcium! Watch for Kidney Stones!

Healthy Women Advised Not to Take Calcium and Vitamin D to Prevent Fractures

The United States Preventive Services Task Force, an influential group that recently recommended against routine P.S.A. tests to detect prostate cancer, issued a draft statement on Tuesday recommending that healthy postmenopausal women should not take low doses of calcium or vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures.
The group, an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, also considered use of the supplements by healthy premenopausal women and men. For those groups, it said, there was insufficient evidence to recommend taking vitamin D with or without calcium to prevent fractures.
The supplements also have been studied to see if they prevent cancer. But, the group said, there is insufficient evidence to say they do or do not. The cancer studies included ones testing the supplements to prevent all cancers as well as ones asking about colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Their analysis of the effects of the supplements included 137 studies, including randomized controlled trials, the gold standard for clinical evidence.
The low doses that the group referred to, at least for the postmenopausal women, were a typical level of 400 international units or less of vitamin D a day and 1,000 milligrams or less of calcium.
At that dose, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a member of the task force who is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, “there is sufficient evidence to say they do not prevent fractures.”
“When you take a vitamin supplement or any therapy for an extended period of time, you have to ask, ‘What is the evidence that it works and what is the evidence of harms?’ ” Dr. Bibbins-Domingo said.
“It is clear that lower doses of calcium and vitamin D do not prevent fractures, and there is a small but measurable risk of kidney stones,” she said. So with no evidence of benefit, there is no reason to risk harm.
Dr. Ethel Siris, who directs Columbia University’s osteoporosis center, said she and other osteoporosis experts already knew the supplements did not prevent fractures.
“That’s why when a patient with osteoporosis says, ‘I will just take calcium and vitamin D,’ we say, ‘That’s not enough,’ ” Dr. Siris said.
But Dr. Bibbins-Domingo said the task force recommendations did not apply to people with osteoporosis.
For most people, she said, there is no need for these supplements and good reason for many not to take them.
“Vitamin D and calcium are part of a healthy diet,” Dr. Bibbins-Domingo said. “Most people can achieve sufficient doses with a healthy diet.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Checking reality! Being abused by politicians!

Am I the only one who has such trouble accepting the practice of presidential fundraising activities and the associated astronomical expense not to mention the disruption? Why do we pay for someone to raise money to secure their next job while already on the job? Makes no logical sense to me. It is as if we are accepting abuse because it is so. The cost of fundraising for a president is mostly on the taxpayer's shoulder since the campaign fund reimbursement is minuscule. No matter which party, this part of our political system is the abuse of power. Campaign reform is certainly called for. I am astonished that for the 11th time the Los Angeles police department announces to the residents to stay away from the public roads and freeways! What about the life of the average person who does not have the luxury to sit home and to avoid going to work or the doctor or to see their ailing parent? Why do we accept this as a matter of fact? We have allowed too much freedom to all politicians and have paid for it without questioning authority. This is the united states of america, we have to exercise our power as individuals to make changes. Help me understand please. Your thoughts?

The price one pays for money, fame and entertainment. Loss of our greatest asset.

We know too much now to continue sports that damage the brain and the central nervous system.