Watching Cartoons Has Helped Me Manage My Mental Illness


More than six years ago, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. The traditional approaches ― exercise, journaling and breathing skills ― have helped, as has medication. And I watch cartoons.


Yes, this year I discovered a surprising degree of comfort in a 12-year-old boy named Steven Universe.

Continue reading “Watching Cartoons Has Helped Me Manage My Mental Illness”

New heart attack treatment uses photosynthetic bacteria to make oxygen


Acting like miniature trees that soak up sunlight and release oxygen, photosynthetic bacteria injected into the heart may lighten the damage from heart attacks, a new study in rats suggests.

When researchers injected the bacteria into rats’ hearts, the microbes restored oxygen to heart tissue after blood supply was cut off as in a heart attack, researchers at Stanford University report June 14 in Science Advances.

“It’s really out of the box,” says Himadri Pakrasi, a systems biologist at Washington University in St. Louis who was not involved in the research. “It reads like science fiction to me, but it’s fantastic if it works.”

The organism, called Synechococcus elongatus, has been used recently to produce biofuels, but this may be the first time the cyanobacteria have ever been used in a medical setting, he says.

Other researchers also reacted enthusiastically to the study. “It’s outrageous, but outrageous in a good way,” says Susan Golden, who studies cyanobacteria at the University of California, San Diego. Cardiovascular scientist Matthias Nahrendorf of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston says, “I enjoy the idea. It’s really fresh.”

Bringing oxygen to starved tissues is what Stanford cardiovascular surgeon Joseph Woo had in mind when he and colleagues dreamed up the plan to put light-harvesting bacteria into the heart. In a heart attack, clogged arteries or blood clots cut off blood flow to the organ. Without oxygen supplied by the blood, heart cells die.

Woo wanted a way for the heart to make its own oxygen or access another supply until doctors could open blocked vessels and restore blood flow. Plants make oxygen from carbon dioxide and sunlight, so Woo wondered, “Why not bring the tree to your heart?”

He and colleagues started by grinding up kale and spinach to harvest chloroplasts, the organelles within plant cells that carry out photosynthesis. But the chloroplasts didn’t survive outside the cells. That’s when the researchers learned about S. elongatus, a photosynthetic organism that Golden and other researchers have long used to study circadian rhythms.

After finding that cyanobacteria could provide oxygen to heart cells in a lab dish, the next step was to see how the cyanobacteria would fare in an animal. The researchers stopped blood flow to part of rats’ hearts and after 15 minutes injected either cyanobacteria or a saline solution. The bacteria increased oxygen in heart tissue to about three times the levels measured right after the heart attack, while saline-treated rats had almost no increase in oxygen.

And that was in the dark: When researchers exposed the heart to light, rats that got the bacteria had 25 times higher oxygen levels than they did after the heart attack. Four weeks after the treatment, these rats had less heart damage than untreated rodents, indicating long-term benefits. In fact, the hearts of photosynthesis-treated rats were beating strongly: Blood flow out of the heart was 30 percent higher in rats treated with cyanobacteria and light than those treated with the bacteria in the dark. That extra blood flow could make the difference between life and death for some patients, Woo says. The results indicate that the bacteria need light to supply heart cells with enough oxygen to stave off damage. That presents a difficulty if the cyanobacteria are ever to be used in people: Getting light into the heart is a major hurdle.

“It will be next to impossible to open the chest to light,” says Nahrendorf. “A day on the beach won’t do the trick.” Woo says the researchers are working with engineers at Stanford to make devices that can shine light through bones and skin to reach the heart and other deep tissues.

Injecting bacteria into the heart is also a risky proposition. “What you’re doing is infecting a tissue, and that’s rarely a good thing,” says Nahrendorf. But the cyanobacteria were cleared from the rats’ bodies within 24 hours and didn’t provoke the immune system to attack the heart, the researchers found. Some other cyanobacteria produce toxins, says Golden. “But this organism is benign,” she says.

Cyanobacteria might also supply oxygen to tissues in other diseases, such as brain injuries, strokes or nonhealing wounds in people with diabetes, says Arnar Geirsson, a cardiovascular scientist at Yale University. Photosynthetic bacteria might also help preserve organs for transplant.

“I’m quite impressed,” Geirsson says. “It’s a really unique way to deliver oxygen.”

source: sciencenews

Why Do Men Run Faster Than Women?

sRunning is a sport that both men and women enjoy, whether they’re racing in a 5K or a marathon, or competing for a team or their country while speeding around a track. But no matter the venue, it’s pretty common to see men clock faster times than women do.

Given that both men and women train equally hard, why is it that men, on average, are faster runners than women? Even the world’s fastest man is about a second speedier on the 100-meter dash than the world’s fastest woman: Usain Bolt did it in 9.58 seconds, versus the late Florence Griffith Joyner’s time of 10.49 seconds. Continue reading “Why Do Men Run Faster Than Women?”

Sea creatures’ sticky ‘mucus houses’ catch ocean carbon really fast


050317_SM_mucous-house_main_FREE.jpgNever underestimate the value of a disposable mucus house.

Filmy, see-through envelopes of mucus, called “houses,” get discarded daily by the largest of the sea creatures that exude them. The old houses, often more than a meter across, sink toward the ocean bottom carrying with them plankton and other biological tidbits snagged in their goo.

Now, scientists have finally caught the biggest of these soft and fragile houses in action, filtering particles out of seawater for the animal to eat. The observations, courtesy of a new deepwater laser-and-camera system, could start to clarify a missing piece of biological roles in sequestering carbon in the deep ocean, researchers say May 3 in Science Advances. Continue reading “Sea creatures’ sticky ‘mucus houses’ catch ocean carbon really fast”

How Would Just 2 Degrees of Warming Change the Planet?

umThe Earth is home to a range of climates, from the scorching dunes of the Sahara to the freezing ridges of Antarctica. Given this diversity, why are climate scientists so alarmed about a worldwide temperature increase of just 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius)?

Changing the average temperature of an entire planet, even if it’s just by a few degrees, is a big deal, said Peter deMenocal, a paleoclimate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

“A person living in any one location can experience huge changes in weather and even in climate, but those are often compensated by changes on opposite sides of the world,” deMenocal told Live Science. [Is Global Warming Melting Antarctica’s Ice?] Continue reading “How Would Just 2 Degrees of Warming Change the Planet?”

More Brain Differences Seen Between Girls, Boys With ADHD


Girls and boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder don’t just behave differently. Parts of their brains look different, too. Now, researchers can add the cerebellum to that mismatch.

For boys, symptoms of the disorder tend to include poor impulse control and disruptive behavior. Girls are more likely to have difficulty staying focused on one task. Studies show that those behavioral differences are reflected in brain structure.  Boys with ADHD, for example, are more likely than girls to display abnormalities in premotor and primary motor circuits, pediatric neurologist Stewart Mostofsky of Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore has reported previously.

Now, Mostofsky and colleagues have looked at the cerebellum, which plays a role in coordinating movement. He reported the new findings March 25 at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

Girls ages 8 to 12 with ADHD showed differences in the volume of various regions of their cerebellum compared with girls without the condition, MRI scans revealed. A similar comparison of boys showed abnormalities, too. But those differences didn’t match what’s seen between girls, preliminary analyses suggest. So far, researchers have looked at 18 subjects in each of the four groups, but plan to quintuple that number in the coming months.

Differences seem most prominent in areas of the cerebellum that control higher-order motor functions, Mostofsky said. Those circuits help regulate attention and plan out behavior, versus directing basics like hand-eye coordination. That could help explain why ADHD affects girls’ behavior differently than boys’.

Source : Sciencenews